51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2011
I own the D3, and have gone over it with a fine tooth comb. While the specs are great, the firmware is not quite ready. Mine freezes up randomly. There is a persistent flaw in the music application that makes the audio cut-out momentarily near the beginning of each new song being played. There is also no access to any app market on the U.S. firmware of the D3. Cowon has been releasing updates rapidly though. These flaws may eventually be fixed, but since this is their first venture using Android on one of their players it is clear they need more experience. It is also overpriced given that a reliable 4th gen 32gb iPod Touch is $299 or less. There is no camera or GPS, and so far no engish version of a User Manual available either. Bluetooth worked fine with headphones except for that audio cut-out flaw. Files transfers over bluetooth failed every time I tried. No Bluetooth keyboard or mouse support either.
At the time of this review my D3 had (Korean) firmware 1.27 on it. The latest North America version was 3.25.
Update 2/10/2011: Cowon updated the firmware today, and with version 3.27 on my D3 the audio cut-out seems to have been eliminated.
Update 2/16/2011: Cowon updated the firmware again, to 1.29 (Korean). I expect the U.S. version (3.29) in a day or two. Now up to 9 home pages. Updates to the Music app including album art support for FLAC files. Still no gapless playback. Still the occasional bug playing music.
Update 3/12/2011: Cowon updated the firmware again. I've got version 3.31 on mine now. The Music app seems to be fixed except for no gapless playback yet. The Video app has a new trick when the D3 is flipped (ff/rw buttons reverse). Still too expensive with no app store and no local network streaming (Home Sharing on the iPod Touch, and available on the Archos android players). The UI is much more fluid now, but still hesitates when the media database decides to update.
My full review: [Google search for 4dthinker]
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2011
This is a niche product. It runs on android. That doesn't mean its usefulness has to be measured by its ability to play fruit ninja. This is NOT a gaming/internet browsing/email reading tiny computer that happens to be more expensive and slower than other tiny android/apple products. This is an audio/video player that is so high-end that it has the processing power to run android and a slew of android apps.
Those apps are not it's main selling point, nor it's main redeeming feature. They are a nifty plus that make you feel better about getting a media player instead of a fancy phone.
UPDATE: Now it does all that app/internet/gaming stuff pretty well too since it got updated to Android 2.3.
The Cowon D3 is about as good as it gets for both sound and video. The audio quality is amazing, loads of formats are supported, and it can be tweaked with BBE settings and an equalizer. The video quality is amazing too. The D3 has a beautiful amoled screen, enough supported codecs to make it very unlikely that you will have to convert a video, and it plays in full HD resolution smoothly. This makes it even less necessary to convert videos, and with a separate cable you can output the awesomeness via HDMI. The built-in internet browser doesn't play flash videos. Instead, those are opened in the JetVD program. Jetvd plays youtube HD video beautifully. I'm really impressed with its quality and ability to play nice with the browser.
The D3 has had several firmware updates, and they make a huge difference. All the professional reviews out there now for the D3 complain of its sluggishness. With the new firmware it isn't sluggish at all. It isn't silky smooth in all things like a true android tablet, but it flows smoothly through audio, video, most non-game apps, and its own interface. This isn't just low standards on my part, I tried the firmware it came with for a while (3.25) and it was painful. Lag galore and it would randomly lock up and need reset. I would have sent it back if firmware 3.31 wasn't already out, 3.31 fixed the lag and lockups (all of them, I haven't had any since upgrading). Plus, 3.33 is out in Korea. It will be on the Cowon english site in a few days, and there is no reason to believe it's the last to come.
The interface is heavily modified by Cowon. It sets the D3 apart and emphasizes the fact that it isn't primarily a tiny tablet. It works as a tiny tablet though, thats what you pay extra for over Cowons last model, J3, which is purely a media player. The D3 runs most apps that are not CPU-intensive. It's terrible with games, just terrible, but I have unit converters, alternative keyboards, app stores, calculators, fring, wifi analyzer, a to-do list widget, and a bubble level that uses the accelerometer installed. They all run flawlessly. Some of the apps were made by Cowon specifically for the D3, like the impressive music player and the snazzy clock on the home page.
This is an opinion that won't be shared by everyone, but I think the D3 looks more sleek and professional than any phone or apple device I've seen. And I find that the unique interface has the same slickness. It also feels pretty sturdy.
In a nutshell, if you are shopping for an android tablet to horse around with, this is a very pricy, sub-optimal choice.(UPDATE: now it's much better for this) You'd be more impressed by a cheaper Archos tablet or a fancy phone. But if you wan't an audio/video player that reeks of quality and can also run handy android apps and surf the internet, this is about the only option that has its priorities lined up in that order.
If you were to buy just about any other android device, you would almost certainly gain processing speed and gaming ability. You would also certainly lose sound quality, video quality, dedicated media buttons, and the unique interface. By far the closest competitor to the D3 (Archos 43) has an inferior touchscreen (resistive, not multitouch), inferior viewing screen (LCD), inferior sound quality, lacks media enhancement tech (BBE and JetVD), Inferior build solidity, a fairly generic android interface, and it looks like a toy with its prominent pasticy rounded ends. But...you can play fruit ninja with it.
UPDATE: The Cowon D3 got an update to Android 2.3 and I am happy to announce that it can now play fruit ninja perfectly. Overall, the D3 is much quicker, and is now a capable internet and horsing-around device. Now there is less of a compromise between multi-tasking fluff and supreme audio/video quality, because the D3 does both.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2011
UPDATE (06-11-2011): The software-related issues described below in my original review have been greatly improved upon with the recent update to an Android Gingerbread-based firmware version. Speed, for me at least, is no longer an issue on the D3; though there are still some software bugs to work out.
Think of the Cowon D3 as a great multimedia system, not an Android device. After all, if you've owned past Cowon devices, what have you appreciated them for?
As a multimedia player, the sound and the video that come from it are great - that doesn't need repeating as it's expected.
As an Android device, it is okay. Perhaps Cowon made the D3 with Android to feed the open community that always developed custom things for other Cowon devices anyway. The OS helps make the device that much more flexible and gives it more potential for other uses, but out-of-the-box, it's not an impressive Android device. But, I can live with that seeing as my past experience with other multimedia devices left me pretty indifferent about the "apps"; I never used them.
In playing around with the Android OS, it really does seem like the D3's greatest faults are software-related. The unresponsiveness of the music application at times can get frustrating (going to the list menu of tracks, occasional cut-outs, playback delay when scrolling through a song, the tiny gap between songs), but it seems like a good software revision can clean up all of these issues in the music app.
I'm assuming the in-house battery tests had the D3 "always awake" because I've been able to last over two days at work playing a mixture of OGG, MP3, and FLAC files without needing to charge it (turning off wi-fi, keeping the device in standby while listening to music, and pausing it when away from my desk all help). Compared to past Cowon devices, the battery life is shorter, but compared to other Android devices, the battery life is very comparable.
Also in comparing it to other Android devices, you'll also find that the price, while seemingly high for a multimedia player, is pretty fair compared to the $500+ that most Android smartphones average at retail; the D3 is simply missing camera and phone components.
If you're looking for a great multimedia device, don't let the battery woes, which are a bit unfair, and the "sluggish" remarks (this is at the least fixable) turn you away. The device just came out, and like all Cowon early-adopters know, it's a bit of a beta test, but the payback is proving to be worth it.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2011
I've owned a Cowon D2 and an S9 in the past, so I know what to expect from them SQ wise. I've owned a D3 for a month now, and the SQ does NOT disappoint - I would argue that this is the best sounding portable player I have ever owned.
In my case, I use it with a pair of HD 600's and a MiniBox E+ headphone amp. Combine that with some cleaned up vinyl rips at 24/48 (their stock player supports that) or some well mastered CD rips to FLAC, and I am in sonic heaven. I can even use the Android port of Rockbox if I want support for 24/96. So, as a music player, I love the device.
However, the love ends there. For most other things, this device needs some work and some of them might not be fixable.
- Telechips CPU. This CPU is already out-dated and it's probably the main reason why the device is still stuck on Android 2.1. A 2.2 update might be possible eventually, but most likely we'll never see any update past that. And a Telechips CPU means no Adobe Flash support.
- 256 RAM, with very little left over for apps. At most I usually have ~50MB left over for apps. That's fine for music playback, but if you plan to do anything else you had best install a Task Manager app to kill all the extra stuff running in the background.
- Limited accessories. This comes with the territory with Cowon products, unfortunately. You definitely want a case if you plan to carry this thing around, and probably a screen protector as well. The Cowon case is nice but will set you back another $30. At $330 for the device itself, they should have probably thrown in the case for free, imo.
- No Android Market, unless you want to hack it. And, the device recovery area is locked down, so it's difficult to mod - you can root it, at least.
- Battery life and boot up time. ~60 seconds to boot up, which is a little slow even for an Android device. And the battery life is not the usual 40+ hours we've come to expect from Cowon. Even with Wifi off, I seem to run out of battery a lot faster with this thing. I really miss good battery life.
- (As of this writing). Music sometimes freezes for a second. I've had this happen on occasion, and others have reported the same thing. Sounds like a bug that Cowon needs to address. Also, I believe that there's no gapless FLAC support for the stock app, although Rockbox has it.
- Cost. Yes, it's a definite factor - at $330+, it's a very expensive PMP. I'm assuming that the capacitive OLED screen is part of the reason, but it's still very hard to swallow when comparing it to a 32GB iPod Touch that's $50 less. Imo, this device should be ~$275 max.
I haven't really used the video playback on this, as it wasn't why I bought it. But with its OLED screen and support for containers like MKV, it seems to be an improvement over my S9. Keep in mind that AVI/MP4/MKV's are just containers and that the real concern is what audio/video codec support the device has. One thing Telechips is known for is good video playback support.
So, to summarize -- if you want an excellent sounding music player with 24/48 support and some extra bells and whistles like Android app support and decent video playback, this might fit the bill. But remember its limitations -- some of which might be fixable with software updates, and some of which might not.
6/16/2011 EDIT: Cowon has released a Korean language beta which updates the base OS to Gingerbread (Android 2.3). I've been using this beta and the device does seem to perform faster than before. Hopefully an English release will be forthcoming, soon. The 2.3 update is definitely a step in the right direction, for the D3. My only concern at the moment is that 48Khz FLAC / Vorbis files seem to have some SQ issues, but I've reported that to them and hopefully it will get corrected before it gets released.
7/1/2011 EDIT: Their Korean Gingerbread firmware has now been released. I'm actually using Rockbox on it (third party app) to get better 24/48 and 24/96 support (less fuzziness in the highs), and gapless. So far it's working great - no freeze-ups in the last 24 hours. Battery life may be slightly improved as well as sleep, and an annoying "delay" bug with JetEffects has been corrected. Lots of little improvements that is now making my purchase easier to swallow, now. 24/96 FLAC is confirmed working on their stock app in this update, btw. Overall performance is better, but of course it's still no speed demon, especially with games.
I assume that a North American update will be coming soon, but the Korean one is fine for my purposes for now.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2011
I'm a simple guy; give me music or give me death. Well not quite, but music is a very important part of my life. I love this little player. Sounds great, fast UI, great screen, nicely made, plays my FLAC files without interruption or problem. I've had none of the problems that I've seen described in other reviews. To qualify just a bit, when I got the player I immediately upgraded the firmware to the latest version (gingerbread). I've had the Cowon S9 player for about a year and a half prior to the D3, and this is a much nicer player. The battery on the S9 lasts longer, thats about my only criticism so far; battery life on the D3 is ok, not as good as the S9. I had no problem connecting to my Verizon Fios system, no problem finding an Android store that works with the D3 ("slideme") and the time lags for for media scanning are really not that bad. I haven't watched a video, I don't use small players to watch video, I just use this player to play music. I made sure I can get on the internet (no problem) but again, don't really bother with a small player to surf (use my macbook air for web work).
I'm in the technology industry, I know from whence I come. I have a high end audio system (very), 5 different computers around my home, high end headphones (latest are the Shure SE535's - when they don't fall out of my ears, they sound great). I know what I expect from a personal device, be it a laptop, ipad, android tablet, etc. Just sold my ipad2 (nice device, but mainly for media consumption not keyboard work) and replaced with macbook air and Nook for reading.
I have no affiliation with Cowon; I just like my music and this plays my music very very nicely. Cowon seems like a small company, a bit quirky but then again, their media player works with all sorts of "out there" file formats and I'll bet at least some of the comsumers of their products are a bit um, quirky. If you do go for the player, buy the Cowon leather case too; fits well.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2011
In my opinion, the D3 Plenue is only option for someone shopping the flash media market as of December 2011. The price may seem prohibitive until one compares it to the cost of the iPod Touch. The D3 benefits from its ability to play pretty much every audio and video file format in use today. I don't have to convert every darn file just to play them as I had to do for the iPod. Also useful is the software that comes with the device the JetAudio program simply makes the iTunes bloatware for Windows look obsolete, constrictive, and just plain stupid.
And I didn't even bring up the Cowon D3 Plenue's unreal audio playback ability with fully adjustable equalization. One wonders why anyone would ever buy an Apple device when the D3 and other Cowon products are available. Unless, of course, if you own a Macintosh PC or Laptop... in that case you are obliged to get the Apple "accessories" with it.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2012
First off- I love the Cowon products I have owned in the past and still frequently use my i9. I also love my android phone (Atrix 4G). The worlds of Cowon audio and android collide here, resulting in a barely functional player. I had planned on augmenting the internal 32GB with a 32GB microSD- exclusively for music- reasoning that even a low-powered device should not labor with music. I was wrong- so wrong. By the time it boots and scans a large memory card you might forget that you wanted to listen to music. And the device can barely keep up with slow deliberate user actions. I have finally just put this device away, in favor of my phone and older devices.
Do not be seduced by the huge discount (like I was)... there are reasons the price on the D3 has dropped by $150.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2011
First I will start with the fact that I don't own this player yet, but had the opportunity to check one out for a week.
the D3 is a very nice player although I was a bit dissapointed in the web performance. I think this player is way overprized,considering what it offers.
Yes it has a beautiful screen and the audio is superb.
but the rest needs improvement.
before I can start considering buying this player the price will have to come down from it's ridiculous high price.
then the player would have to have it's firmware updated, to correct it's defects.
My friend who owns it said he was expecting more for his money.
I do like the player, but strongly dissagree with the price!!!
I have now got me my new player and it's a pretty nice gadget, the price has finally come down a bit and that's how i finally have decided to get it now it's in the neighborhood of were it should be in price. I will still give it four stars simply because the sd card part of the player takes too long to be read. I also own the J-3 and it seems that the J-3 is allot faster when reading the sd cards, over all I think it's a pretty good player.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2012
I am so disappointed in this player. It takes a long time to start-up (more than 30 seconds), the default music player can't play my FLAC files tagged with images (I had to install Rockbox) and the usable playing time is less than 4 hours. To top it off, I can't install most of the android apps I see online because it is not a real android phone and finally the USB stopped working a few weeks ago! I've tried reseting the device and played with the system ]settings all without success. I am giving up on it and trying the J3. I had an S9 which I loved and it got stolen. I read that the J3 is an improved S9 (more memory, expandable, longer battery life).
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2011
I bought this device out of an attempt to fix my mood with shopping, not for a real need, since I already own a Cowon J3 that works like a charm and doesn't need any replacement. I tried to rationalize this purchase by saying that something with WI-FI would have been really useful for me to stream music from cloud services, like Amazon Cloud Drive and Google Music, services that I am using more and more everyday: I noticed that after I started using them, I increasingly spent more time using my phone to listen to music than my J3. It's a weak explanation, but it got me. Unfortunately, the limitation of the Android Version installed on the device made this attempt only a partial success, and barely a success. Even after the update to the last firmware, x.55, and thus to Android Gingerbread, there is no way to use Google Music Beta to stream music (the software works, but the applications running the permissions cannot be installed, so no streaming from your account, only locally), but with a little bit of trials and playing around (and with the help of another rooted Android device), installing Amazon Cloud Player was relatively easy. It works and I am able to stream my music from my amazon cloud storage, which save me from sending this device back: after all, that is what I wanted from this PMP and I finally got it. But I cannot really say that this experience made me happy. The lack of support for official markets and amazon market (which eventually I was able to install with a little bit of inventive) is a big defect of any Android device and takes away many of the advantages that Android offers over other systems.
If the Android features that are considered standard on the most basic phone would have been implemented right on this device, it would have been a real amazing player. At this stage, it is just an interesting proof of concept.
That being said, the sound quality is astonishing, as expected by Cowon, the Interface is not bad at all (although it has a few hiccups), and the system does what it is supposed to do in a more than decent way. The possibility of having a S/PDIF Output is a plus over the older J3 and the plan is to use the D3 as ha fixed playing station docked to my home-theater stereo, from where to stream my music from the cloud. At the end, it was the cheapest solution to do it and the S/PDIF probably means the best quality, once the system is up and running. The availability of an external DC charger makes this idea even more easy, so the D3 seems an ideal choice for that, while the J3 remains the best "on-the-road" player, thanks to its long-lasting battery.
At the original MSRP price of $370 it is absolutely overpriced, but the price recently dropped at $280 and I got it for $270. This makes a lot more sense now, since it is cheaper than the most obvious alternative: an Ipod Touch. My main point to choose Cowon over Apple are Sound Quality, which is subjective, and the incredible amount of sound features, equalization, personalization of the sound output and configurations that Cowon let you do on the player, in order to reach the best sounding experience possible, which are objective. From a PMP, that is what I want and what makes me happy. Also, I think the most important reason is that I pride myself with wanting to "Think Different" and since nowadays, Ipods are just the standard choice of about every person on earth, from the 6 years old kid that want a birthday gift, to the 60 years old manager that shops for Christmas, in order to still "think differend" you ironically need to look somewhere else. Everybody has an Ipod, Ipods are boring. While Cowon is an exclusive relatively little known brand that has always been able to give me something that differs me from the masses of "lazy costumers" that choose Ipods only because they are the "standard mp3 player".
I really wish I could give this purchase more than 3 stars, because I like the player and it works fine after all, but at the current stage of evolution, 3 stars is probably the most honest rate I can give. Consider that a 3.5 stars. You need to know what you're getting when you buy it.