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.
on February 17, 2012
I love my new D3, it sounds amazing and that is first and foremost what I wanted in my new player. The problem is that there is so little documentation on the D3 in the owner's manual (if you can call it that) that I am stuck not knowing how to really operate the Cowon. There are so many things I would like to learn that I don't know where to begin. I've tried looking for some forums online and I found one at Head HiFi but so far no response. I am able to put music on the D3 using WMP, it just works best for me,what I don't know are all the ways to tweak the sound, work all the controls and feel comfortable that I know what I am doing. I can't be the only one who is experiencing these issues but it is difficult to connect with other users.
I love the player, the build quality is excellent, the sound is amazing and if and when I really get to know what I'm doing I am confident I will be happy. For now I almost wish I had an Ipod, just because there would be hundreds of ways of support for their player but I didn't want one because of the mediocre sound. I would be happy to listen to any suggestions from more experienced users. Sorry this review is a solid plus for the product as well as a look into my obvious confusion about the D3. I hope so others have had the same experience and will be able to direct me to some helpful forums to newcomers to the Cowon family. The bottom line is the sound and it is truly exceptional so in that regard I am happy.
Now that I have had 10 days with the D3 I wanted to let people know that it works quite well with WMP and Vista.I was prepared to use another media player like J. River or JetAudio but I find WMP easy and it is what I am used to. Everything is working fine otherwise, a little sluggish online but I can live with it just because it sounds so so good!! I truly have been missing the best part of a large music collection, the sound!!
I am also getting to know the D3 and am getting better at moving around the main menu but I am still learning, Overall I am really happy with the D3, much better than when I first got it, I was a little intimidated but not near as much now.UPDATE 3/21/12 My updated impressions of the D3 are as follows: I love the sound, no question about that but I still haven't learned what all the functions are, no place to really find out since there isn't much info online about this player. There and menu items that I don't understand and I would say that there is at least 20% of this player that I have no idea what I am doing. On another negative point the battery has a hard time keeping a charge, I have to charge it almost every other day and that is not even with moderate use. That might be normal but it is a pain to keep recharging.I am seriously thinking about selling this player and buying one less complicated and more efficient with the battery. The Android is fine but it is no big deal to me so I think if I buy another player I won't really care if it has Android or not, To be really honest; I miss my Zune HD 64gb. It was a much better player and lasted longer on a charge plus it was easier to use and I miss the Zune Marketplace. I will keep updating hoping this helps someone else trying to make a buying decision.UPDATE 5/10/12 I have concluded, after using this device for several months, that the Cowon Plenue is the worst MP3 player I have yet to own. I'm not being silly or sarcastic but stating the fact that this device has been the most frustrating mp3 player I have ever owned and I have had an Ipod, Zune, Sansa fuze+, Sansa e250, Sony Walkman and a few others I can't remember. All had good and bad qualities but after living with the Cowon I find I just put it aside and use my Sansa Fuze+, a player that I like but one which others don't seem to care for. My advice as humble as it is; don't buy this player unless you really enjoy a challenge and don't mind short battery life, slow performance, and overall just a subpar player which does have one outstanding quality; the sound is great. If you can buy one with that as your major reason, you may like it but for me mine is going up for sale! Finally sold my Plenue, just was to frustrating to use,, even in the car with Bluetooth enabled it was a pain so that was the last straw. I really did love the sound and the eq offerings but it just wasn't enough to justify keeping the player. Now I am looking for another product that will sound almost as good and be easier to use and is not an Apple product
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.
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.
on March 13, 2011
I was expecting so much more. I have an HTC EVO 4G smartphone which also uses Android and thought this would be similar but much better for media so I wouldn't have to waste the battery in my phone playing music.
Even with the latest x.29 firmware, its still sluggish, but I heard it'd a lot better than it was before the update. Tracks take a few seconds to start after skipping the current one. I would prefer the new track to be cached. It occasionally hangs with an infinite loop of sound, forcing me to press the little reset button for which I have to carry around a paperclip to push into the tiny hole. Some songs it will skip through them as if I am holding the fast forward button down. The music player in my HTC EVO 4G is faster than the native D3 app.
The onboard speaker is almost useless, as its too quiet compared to the one on my EVO. It's a portable media player so I believe it needs stereo speakers, even if they cost more battery drain. I got some X-mini capsule speakers, and they rock. However, there is something weird about the sound quality when using speakers or a car adapter. I can't quite pinpoint it other than the sense that it doesn't sound as good compared to using headphones.
The amoled screen is absolutely beautiful, almost too bright. I have brightness set to its lowest setting.
The product feels rushed and unoptimized. Android 2.1 is the operating system which should allow for the player to get better and better whether its the OS that gets upgraded, or by installing Android applications to improve the functionality. I don't understand why the player has to scan for media files every time it starts up. I haven't added any new media since the first time I added media. It's so redundant, and seems to have a high priority over all other tasks. Just lower the priority or make it an option to auto scan or manually scan for new media. Even the rockbox app doesn't have to scan media every time it starts.
It seems like a smart phone without calling capabilities or data radios, other than WiFi. That's probably how they got the battery to last so long if you compare it to smartphones that use Android. It comes with 32 gb on board, and and an expansion slot for micro sd cards.
It comes with an ac adapter that turns the player on automatically when plugged in. It also has a proprietary slot for its USB cable and hdmi cable, though the hdmi cable is sold separately. The slot has a very cheap cover that will dangle when its not closed. I can tell that I will break it off eventually.
There aren't many accessories for the D3, yet. I bought a blackberry case with a belt clip and a magnetic closure. It has enough openings for me to plug in headphones or speakers and still be able to use the buttons. There is a case for the D3 available now, though.
Music quality is great. It reads any format I throw at it, with the occasional hiccup on certain files. I can't find any option on the player to delete files or add them to a new playlist. My sansa clip could do that. Instead, I would have to do this at my computer with the included jetaudio program.
I haven't checked out the video player much. I will edit this review when I do.
Time will tell whether it is truly worth the money I paid for it. There is no way this product can get worse. I foresee it becoming a dream once its Android capabilities get unlocked. I should be able to use apps and browse the net while using WiFi from my EVO as a hotspot.
For anyone who likes control over their portable media players, I would totally recommend this product. As soon as some Android gurus get ahold of the D3, or Cowon finally figures out what people want to do with their media players, the D3 will be one of the best, if not the best portable media player on the market. Just so much potential for this player.
on July 8, 2012
Received item in good packaging condition and start using it with the included apps. The design of this Mp3 is very good and the interface is excellent compared to other Mp3. One of the feature I like was the screen which is HD and I loaded some pictures in this device and they are so clear and beautiful. The only reason I give this 4 stars is because the battery doesn't last long as they have advertise from Cowon whis is 21 hours for music and 11 hours for media. I listened to my music while delivering mail and it lasted only 7 hours which is not as they advertise the product. I am a little bit disappointed, i wish Cowon could do something about this. Overall the product is a very good one.Cowon D3 Plenue 32 GB 3.7-Inch MP3 Player with Android - Black
on December 26, 2012
My main and only reason for the functionality of this product is the Sound Quality. For this, it does an amazing job, most of the music I have is in FLAC or at 256kbs or more and with my UE Triple Fi 10s with Chris_himself cables this will make most audiophile's smile with appreciation . I have tried the internet and some of the features on this pmp and they are a little slow but I have a HTC one S that can take care of those other needs. I have had had other setups like an Ipod classic hooked to a Fiio E17 dac/amp which sounded awesome, but I prefer this. For any audiophiles reading this, I know the DAC feature does nothing for the apple when it's in pmp. I would not hesitate to buy this at this price if there are any left. You could get the Z2 which is basically the same thing but a faster processor and more BBE options. So buy a COWON and some nice ear buds like over 200.00 dollars, and depending on your preference, I like the BA vs. the Dynamic earbuds, more speakers is always better. Like UEs or Shure, Westone to name a few, you will be pleased.I forgot to add but the newest ones here are updated to version 3.55 already so no need to update when you get it.
Update: After a few months of light use the buttons play pause, fwd and rewind no longer work, I had to send in for repair. I still like the sound but reliability has me worried now.
on February 20, 2012
The price has dropped on the D3, the quality of sound is the best in the industry and video is excellent. These are the reasons I chose the D3 rather than the ipod. Yes the processor is slow and its not as responsive as some smart phones. I have loaded
both skype and kindle apps and both are working just fine. There isnt anything else that sounds as good and has these little extra perks.
Oh oh didnt have the player but 4 months and it froze up. I got an RMA from Cowan and sent it to them for repair. Got the player back about four weeks later. Guess what its frozen again.
When will Cowon learn to perform the proposer quality control on their products.
When will Cowon learn to train their customer service people properly.
I'm in the market for another player and I do not think it will Cowon.
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).
on September 14, 2012
If this MP3 worked properly, it would be a dream come true. I wanted a lot of storage for my music and I used the bluetooth transmitter on this to play music in my car. When it worked, it was great. But, it often freezes up, screen turns green, buttons are un-pressable and you have to wait for the battery to die to start all over again and then it works for a little while and does the same thing all over again. Then, I dropped it from about a 1 1/2 foot height and the whole screen shattered into tiny pieces and now it says the battery is disconnected, so my money is out the window. I had this thing for about a month. waste of money, dont buy, i've had mp3 players last me 4 years. I was soooooo disapointed, i've heard great things about the company and it was really a sharp looking mp3 player.