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Customer Reviews: 6
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Helpful Votes: 197

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WD Blue Notebook 1TB SATA 3.0 Gb/s 2.5-Inch Internal Notebook Hard Drive Retail Kit
WD Blue Notebook 1TB SATA 3.0 Gb/s 2.5-Inch Internal Notebook Hard Drive Retail Kit
4 used & new from $49.99

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars False Advertising on Product Page, aweful cloning software, April 20, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought this drive off of Amazon due to Western Digital's main website stating their 2.5 Blue Drives are 7mm, the size of what Ultrabooks use. Sadly, After trying to place the drive into my Laptop's bay, I come to find out it won't fit - it's a 9.5mm drive. I was so mad as It took me Half a day to try to clone my current drive off their aweful acronis software, which failed multiple times and borked my system in the beginning (had to go into my bios to fix). Ended up just backing up my computer but once I did, I found out the drive didn't even fit in my ultrabook. I spent a whole night trying to do this and this was my result! I could have spent time with my son if all of that was for nothing! What makes matter worse is that after uninstalling Acronis, it keeps bit and pieces on the computer for some reason - even the horrible boot loader! I had to do multiple restore points to find when I didn't have the dang software installed, what a mess. Amazon was kind enough to take it off my hands without any serious questions and will be issuing me a refund in the near future, I can always trust in Amazon's FANTASTIC customer service! Do yourself a favor and stay away from WD, I'll be going with Seagate next time once they release their 1TB 7mm drive later this year most definitely!

Suggest Amazon for two things:
Update the product page to say it's a 9.5mm drive
Allow "No Star" reviews, that's how I feel about this product. Do I really have to give it a star :(...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 19, 2013 7:31 PM PDT

A Charlie Brown Christmas
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Price: $4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Love the Charlie Brown Christmas book!!!, December 23, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: A Charlie Brown Christmas (App)
Loved the movie when I was a kid and tried to watch it every year. Now that I'm older and work has come into my life to support my family, it's very hard to find it even playing on TV. This is a wonderful app that really makes me feel as if I'm watching the show but it's in a interactive book form - making me feel as if I'm actually a part of what is going on. Can't wait to have my son play with this! Really love that the person who did the voice of Charlie Brown is the narrator - it's a personal touch that wasn't needed but greatly appreciate it that the devs of this app went the extra mile to do so.

COWON J3 32 GB Portable Media Player (Black)
COWON J3 32 GB Portable Media Player (Black)

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cowon J3 Review and Impressions, January 23, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
One day... one day is all it took to fall in love with Cowon all over again. The Cowon J3 may be a refresh of Cowon's flagsh[/B]ip model the Cowon S9; it has some welcome improvements that justify it as being a successor of the Cowon S9. So without further ado, here is the Cowon J3 - the very mp3 player that rolls out the red carpet to its faithful customers and fans to let them know that Cowon does listen and learn from their mistakes.

As some may remember I have been with Cowon since the Initial D2 era and followed deeply when the Cowon S9 was announced as the Cowon D2's probable successor and months waited intently for specs and a release date (even a delay or two from it projected release date.) The Cowon S9 came out as entirely different device than expected with a drastic curved design and an introduction of Gorrilla glass on top of a beautiful AMOLED capacitive screen. BBE++ and eventual introduction of BBE 3.0 made enjoying your music even better with some great customizability and fantastic sounding presets. Greeted by positive reviews by almost everyone (*shakes fist at CNET*), the Cowon S9 became a smash success - moreso to the point that Cowon decided to pop out their first foray into the 32GB flash memory field. I'm sure in Cowons building everything seemed great, another device they can put under their belt as being another great.

But with every good must come a bad; the S9 feels that due to pressure building to its release, some things feel rushed interface wise and certain design choices didn't entirely make sense. Due to the drastic design of the Cowon S9, button placement like the play button and such are placed near the very top of the device which are a bit hard to reach and the play button looks to be possible to break in the future as its protruding a bit outside of the device (Donald bell from CNET almost broke it off as he thought it was a stylus for a capacitive screen) The on/off/lock switch is also most likely to eventually break off as most have already did as its design alone reminds me of the breakable d2 switch. Also, a few potential customers like prior D2 owners were bummed out that there was no expandable memory slot. Now the UI was a straight debacle with an awful widget mainmenu that even an update wasn't enough to make it any better. A music UI that seemed to be stuck in the D2 days of small album art with an added blegh of an unknown coverflow system with forced album sorting and an unnecessary quick list (again an update did improve the UI but not by alot). The mainmenu UIs were easy enough to follow but were to generic to even bother writing home about. The Cowon fan Community was the only thing that saved the UI of the Cowon S9.

Cowon must have read of these flaws from somewhere or knew they rushed the device out as we now have here this pretty great device that addresses all the issues mentioned above.

Same with the Cowon S9, a design was chosen to bring the Cowon J3 to the forefront as being a sleeker device over the Cowon S9. The Cowon J3 is a much slimmer device than the Cowon S9 with the Cowon J3 being less than 10mm versus the Cowon S9s 13mm. The Cowon J3 is less curved as well - it's able to lay completely flat on a table unlike its older boat like design of a brother Cowon S9. Don't be surprised for passerbyers to confuse the Cowon J3 as a phone as it somewhat really looks like one. The bigger models that have been released worldwide are black (recently released 8gb model is white) all around with the exception of its front chrome border (imagine the Creative Zen 2008 model). It still feels about the same weight as the Cowon S9, probably because the device is still made out of plastic as well, though there is this very small metal piece near the bottom of the front of the device.

With these design improvements, Cowon decided to fix the button placement and put all the play control buttons on the sides of the device similar to what most phones now a days have. The play button on the J3 looks like the rest of the buttons on the device and not a confused Donald bell S9 stylus. After all the devices made by Cowon, the on/off/hold switch has finally been ditched - Instead you now have a multifunction button that does all the work now. Pressing it once locks the screen, pressing it twice turns off the screen, and pressing it once in lock or screen off mode brings the device back to a useable state while holding the button turns on or off the J3. This may become a problem in the future as it's really easy to get out of lock/ screen off mode, which could cause some wasted battery amounts unknown to the user if it was in their pocket and they happened to bump into the button by accident.

That's pretty much all there is about the buttons on the device, the bottom side of the device is where people get excited about. Beside the headphone jack is a long compartment with a latch that holds the similar usb port on the Cowon S9 and drum roll please... an expansion slot, something alot of D2 and S9 users were wanting on the original S9! It's of course the now standard micro sd cards expandable to 32GB - which means 8GB users get 40GB, 16GB users get 48GB, and 32GB users get 64GB maximum. Take note that the micro SD causes longer power on times and that it only merges with your music in album/artist sorting mode, its considered as a separate drive on other occasions.

Another subtle hardware improvement is on the back of the device where the mic and reset holes are still at - a builtin speaker! For those who own a Cowon S9, the only way to listen to your music is by plugging something into the headphone jack. The Cowon J3 gives you two ways for you to listen to your music and even though listening to your music through the speaker doesn't sound as good as a pair of headphones, it's still pretty loud and allows you to easily "share" your song with someone without a headphone splitter or letting them use your headphones.

The last improvement was requested by alot of Cowon S9 users. Even though the Cowon J3 still sports a Gorrilla glasssed 3.3" AMOLED screen (which is still gorgeous to watch videos and pictures on), the capacitive screen was given a function this time around to put it to good use. You thinkin' what I'm thinkin'... multitouch! Yep, chucking that zoom slider, you can now pinch to zoom in or out of your pictures and text files. This is something I've recently started to grow to love due to my tablet and I'm lovin' the addition to the Cowon J3. Its hit or miss sometimes but most of the time it works. So overall all the hardware improvements on the J3 are enough to make you wonder why the S9 didn't have these set features.

User Interface and Interaction
On the UI side of the J3, it seems Cowon learned their lesson and decided to spend more time on the J3 this time around or spent some money to bring in a UI designer. All three of the mainmenu UIs are really thought out well. First one is a bit similar to the Cowon S9 but has a better icon set and is g-sensored enabled meaning the icons turn according to where the devices position is turned to (forgotten to mention earlier that this device also has a g-sensor). It also has a small "Whats Playing" bar near the bottom of the mainenu. The second mainenu is a very informative UI as it counts practically all your files per file type on the menus bars. Imagine a simplified Zune interface (not the HD model) with access to move the menus bars around by holding it with you finger and then sliding it down to wherever you like. Each menu bars description like Music for instance hae below its title the number of music types it found on the device. Pretty cool but also as mentioned very informative. The third mainmenu is also a big question mark just like the S9 was, it's technically non-existent but at the same time is due to custom UIs being able to access it. The fourth mainmenu, the widget mainmenu, is still not that great but it is alot better than the S9's current rendition. All three of the usable mainmenus have a bottom slide bar that gives options of switching UIs turning off the device or making go into sleep mode. The music UI has been improved with a nice simple layout and big album art. They ditched the quicklist and revamped their coverflow which is a bit similar to the upgrade the S9 users received, although a bit snappier but still using the forced album sorting. Cowons browser isn't so ugly this time around and is very smooth, especiallly nice is that they added a search function. All mainmenus though, with the exception of the widget mainmenu, is replaceable through custom UIs. Playlist support isn't too good though just like the S9 but custom UI's like Kizunes recent music UI help alleviate a bit of the pain.

The big buzz right now is Kizune's Chakra and Aero Music UI, which are so customizable, super rich with features, and fun to use - S9 and J3 owners both agree that they have no clue why Cowon hasn't bothered to offer him a job yet (all custom UI's by the way are found on iaudiophilesvJ3 or S9 forums). El Maco has also brought a big contribution to the J3 and S9 community by making a fully functional coverflow that can be used with any music UI, even moreso to the point that it's a major plugin for Kizunes Aero Music. As you can tell, Custom UIs have been a great cornerstone that Cowon allows and supports (guides are online) for most of their devices like the J3.

Additional Info
Since we delved into the devices internals, software wise, the Cowon J3 still impresses with its technical specs just like the S9. With so many formats supported by the J3 for music, it's surprising that AAC is now supported on the J3 - albeit unofficially but it's also something alot of prior fruit users were wanting on the S9 (in other words, J3 has mostly all possible format for music now). Cowon is still the cream of the crop when it comes to sound quality and the J3 is another testament to the continued praise. BBE 3.0 sound enhancement and Wolfson sound chip combo alone is what kept me staying with my Cowon S9 and the J3 is following in the same footsteps. Love, love, love popping on my favorite songs on the J3 and fall head over heels everytime (especially paired with my Sunrise Charms and Fiio E5). Video formats supported by the J3 may not be as large as the O2 but the J3 does have unofficial support (again) for H.264, at least on re-encoding through the baseline format like the S9. You'll get 11 hours of video playback just like the Cowon S9, most devices on the market do 8+ hours so anything above that is great! When it comes to the hours for the J3 for music, it is much higher than the Cowon S9 and trumps the D2 as well - 64 hours is a great accomplishment compared to other mp3 makers (excluding Cowons X7). This number is dependent on its material as Cowon tests these hours in backlight set at 1 or off and with a 128kps mp3 format song (lovers and friends on most of Cowon's devices) song lasting about 4 minutes (and Bluetooth off). My testing was about the same (Bluetooth off and screen off) but different range of songs - which resulted in 50+ hours. Again, that's still pretty high compared to others. So expect less recharging and more enjoying of your music if you strictly use it for that (which I do).

Final Thoughts
So the question remains... If you are a Cowon S9 user, should you jump ship and board the J3 wagon as an upgrade. Well it depends on your wants and situation, as the J3 is a minor refresh like the D2+, fixing problems and improving the device for the better by design and feature wise. If you love your Cowon S9 but wish the button placement was better or that it wasn't so curved, the J3 may be for you. If you wished the Cowon S9 had multitouch due to its already capacitive screen or you want to let others to hear your music but wished the S9 had some sort of speaker so you didn't have to share the device or headphones, the J3 may be the answer. Finally, if your Cowon S9 is about to burst at the seams due to your storage capacity is almost full or hate swapping in your music to and from your computer due to the full capacity of your S9 and wished they had included some sort of expansion slot for hotswappping cards out for an almost limitless amounts of your music, than the Cowon J3 may be the upgrade you've been wanting. The Cowon J3 is highly recommend by me as it literally addresses alot of the issues I and alot of others (as owners, previous owners, and potentials) have had to put up with when it came to the Cowon S9. Worthy upgrade from my Cowon S9 in my opinion, take a chance and give the Cowon J3 one as well, you won't regret it! No matter how you look at it, Refresh or not, the Cowon J3 is THE successor of the Cowon S9 and current, previous, and potential D2 and S9 owners should gaze a little over here at the Cowon J3 - best mp3 player I bought from Cowon!

+ Sleek, Thin, flat style almost identical to modern phones (Improvement over S9)
+ Beautitul Amoled Screen (Ref. S9)
+ Gorilla Glass (Ref. S9)
+ Capacitive touchscreen w/ Multitouch (Improvement over S9)
+ Great button placement on the sides (Improvement over S9)
+ Play/ Pause button now a common button (improvement over S9)
+ On/Off/Display off & On/ Lock combo switch ditched, now a button (Improvement over S9)
+ Cowon Mainmenu UI's and Music UI very friendly and stylish (Improvement over S9)
+ Nice browser for files and has a search function (Improvement over S9)
+ Custom UI support still great
+ Cowons Trademark fantastic Sound Quality
+ BBE 3.0 best sound enhancement available w/ customizable EQ settings
+ Many audio formats supported, AAC unofficially supported (Improvement over S9)
+ Good amount of video formats, H.264 unofficially supported (Improvement over S9)
+ 11hrs of video, 64hrs of Audio (Improvement over S9)
+ Micro SD slot, accepts up to 32GB Micro SDHC cards (Improvement over S9)
+ Loud Small speaker in the back (Improvement over S9)

- Long Initial load screen if using a Micro SDHC card
- On/Off/Display off & On/ Lock combo button too easy to get out of lock mode
- Above button issue may also cause wasted battery usage unknown to user
- Playlist support just like the S9, not a good thing. Aero Music fixes the problema bit
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 27, 2011 2:26 PM PDT

Sony HTCT500 3.1 Speaker System with Complete Built-In A/V Receiver (Black) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Sony HTCT500 3.1 Speaker System with Complete Built-In A/V Receiver (Black) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)

61 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CT100 trumped by it bigger brother, the CT500, February 15, 2010
As many know, I was a big fan of the CT100. CNET loved it and so did many other reviewers, and others noticed it as well due to its extremely low price that it was the best bang for your buck you could get at the time. That's when critics and users had a mixed result on, some liked it and some didn't with varying reviews from the user/consumer base. Even though I didn't have as many issues as others, It most likely had to do with where it was located (small room), tweaking the CT100 (which I'm famous for), and what I primarily used my CT100 for (Blurays and PS3 gaming). With that in mind, people had either horrible results due to the opposite; Using the CT100 in large or very large rooms, not tweaking the CT100 at all (expecting it to sound good right out the box), and using the CT100 for cable/Satellite/broadcasted channels or DVD's only.

Well I did have problems with the CT100 as well and some are in accordance to what others were having problem with. DVD's were hurting my CT100 often as some production companies of those dvd's recorded their audio in very low volume. Due to this, with the CT100 only pushing out "250 watts", often times the CT100 still wouldn't be able to push out the volume needed to even enjoy the movie, even at max volume and Tweaks. Some dvd's were fine but some were a different story, unsurprisingly though I never had problems with Blurays as those use uncompressed audio(higher quality) which output in LPCM unlike compressed audio (lower quality) in DVD's which output in Dolby Digital or DTS.

This problem in regards to sound didn't stop at movies, games were effected as well. With me being a PS3 owner (currently), I am given the option to enjoy my games in uncompressed audio fashion but the CT100 forced my hand with the "other audio formats". Often with the CT100 outputting uncompressed audio in my games, I would either be missing my rear sound and surround effects as well. For example, playing games like Resistance 2 or Ratchet and Clank Future: ToD would often have the CT100 mute the rears and it felt like there was no surround at all, which sucked. Only switching to Dolby Digital fixed the problem but if I wanted to enjoy Dolby Digital or DTS in my games, I would have either just waited for something better to come along in regards to soundbars or got a 360 over my PS3 (plan to get a 360 soon but not at this time).

Other than those two things, I didn't really have any other beef with the CT100. I grew to love it despite its few shortcomings andd found ways to tweak it to sound good in the room I placed it in (small room). Soon though, rumors flew around that Sony was going to pop out another Soundbar, which later became known as the CT500. It pumped out "400 watts" and supposedly fixed all the issues the CT100 had complaints about (low volume, not enough settings to tweak, etc.) With a few people being the first to try, my thoughts of getting it were dwindling as it looked like Sony tried to rush out the product in the beginning of the CT500's life and caused many units came out to be defective. So despite my rough times I was having, I steered clear of the CT500 until the bugs were ironed out or until full production of the unit came to be standard (equaling less defective units). Finally, after doing my taxes, my wife gave the go ahead for me to purchase the CT500. Didn't have to ask me twice, I ordered it with next day delivery so I could try it out before V-day weekend.

Now here we are with my CT500 being delivered to my doorstep, I'd have to say the first thing that came out my mouth was... "WOW! That box is HUGE!" In all seriousness, the box was pretty big, larger than the CT100 was but pretty well built with a blue lining instead of a red (CT100). Pretty much gave all the information of what the CT500 can do, output, and specs, though I will say some consumers will be a bit confused over the 400w and 280w being displayed at the same time unless you read the fine print beside those numbers. After I sorted that out I immediately cut the box open to find small foam boxes laid out to keep the CT500 safe in its travel to me. Two small foam boxes included brackets to attach to XBR(top tier) or W (120hz) models of Sony's Bravia TV's, which is a bit of a downer as I wanted to mount the CT500 to my Bravia TV which it doesn't support or able to be attached to (yep, tried to attach it but couldn't). Wish Sony placed a universal mounting kit or just not have bothered with the brackets at all in all honesty but whatever. Last things left when it comes to accessories included with the CT500 purchase were located in a small cardboard box where manuals and additional cables lay, well get into the cables later.

What was most important in the box was obviously the CT500 soundbar and its subwoofer. Going to tell you right now that the new models look nothing like their younger siblings. The CT100 was about the length of a 32in. (or maybe bigger) screen TV with a girth of 2in. As for the subwoofer that companioned with the CT100, it was tall and pretty slender, with mesh on the right side for the speaker. The CT500 on the other hand is about the length of a 40in. (or maybe bigger) screen TV with a girth of 1in. As for the Subwoofer that came with the CT500 soundbar, it's pretty short and in a lack of better words, chubby compared to the CT100's subwoofer. Now the two subwoofer do have one thing in common and that is they both house the connections for your devices. Both have three HDMI IN's and one HDMI out along with a coaxial input, three optical ports, an RCA Audio IN (Red and White), along with Sony's proprietary DM Port. That's where the comparison stops as the CT500 has many more connections than the CT100 has. Along with what was mentioned above, you now get with the CT500 analog ports like component ports (blue, green, and red), RCA Video port (Yellow, Red and white), and AM/FM ports (what?).

It also includes an S-Air port which confuses the heck out of a ton of people as some believe this allows you to use external rear speakers. I understood it didn't as it is a soundbar after all (a soundbar by definition is suppose to eliminate the need for additional speakers to be hooked up to it as it is suppose to push the surround around the room, even rears), but alot of people just don't understand what a soundbar really is meant for or what S-Air is when it comes to Sony's Soundbars at least. Stated by the CT500's manual and website, it only uses S-Air to allow you to hear the same sound in another room with connectable S-Air components/speakers in another room (wirelessly). Hopefully that clears things up but I doubt it (rolling eyes)...

Anyway, two probing things that have changed with the CT500's Sub is its cable that connects the soundbar to it and settings display. Now with the CT100, the cord that was used to connect the soundbar to the Subwoofer was a PC-Serial cable that you could easily find/buy to extend the length of the original to give you better distance between the subwoofer and the soundbar. For some odd reasoning, Sony decided to go with a proprietary cable on the CT500 that is neither able to be extended or able to bought from any store whatsoever to add length. [Correction, CT500 manual states on page 26 that you can extend the speaker cord but seems too complicated for the novice audio user.] I was first upset about it but then my worries ceased when I saw how freakin long the cable was! I know some have mentioned that it doesn't have enough length but I have no clue where people get this notion. 8FT isn't enough? I know each person's needs are different (some need the sub woofer somewhere else instead of being next to/near the soundbar), but for me my soundbar can easily sit on top of my TV with no problem with cord length. If anything, the subwoofer of the CT500 is lighter and is easily able to be set on top of a TV stand (as it's not nearly as big as the CT100's sub) if you want the cord to be a bit "more flexible" when it comes to its length. I will also mention that the cable of the CT500 includes a cord that allows you to be able to point your remote to the Subwoofer AND soundbar. Prior CT100 owners [and current] often pointed the remote to the subwoofer when the IR port was in the soundbar itself actually, thus resulting in what some called a "lag" or unresponsive as they pointed at the subwoofer for a response. Along with this cord change, the settings display has changed as well.

Now the CT100 and the CT500 have a small display on the front of their subwoofer that display information for users to what audio is being pumped out of the soundbar and volume level. The CT100's display was also used for changing settings within the CT100 itself but this has changed with the CT500. Whenever you want to go to the CT500's settings menu, you press the GUI Menu button on the remote and instead of popping up settings on the CT500's display on the subwoofer (like the CT100), it pops the menu On-Screen on your TV. With a slight pause/black screen, it pops a Sony Bravia like menu which is a bit more intuitive and easy to use unlike the [cumbersome] CT100 subwoofer menu. The CT500 also gives you a chance to play with some settings not available on the CT100, like Treble and Bass along various other things like HDMI Video Direct (OFF outputs the video through a video processor while ON Pass-tru's the video with no video processor).

Of course you still can control your DRC, Subwoofer level, Center Level, along with various other things to accommodate to various room types and peoples tastes but my CT500 for some reason sounded great right out the box. This is a first as with my CT100, it didn't sound that good until I tweaked it a bit to make it sound better. This gave me what some called me the CT100 guru as I posted my settings and they worked well for alot of people. Sadly, if anyone is hoping I have some tweaks for the CT500... I can't help you this time around (at this time at least). The CT500 just sounds fantastic right out the box and I'm thoroughly surprised over this fact! Besides Bravia Syncing and adjusting the Standby mode, I haven't touched a single thing because the CT500 sounds so much better than the CT100. Sony pretty much fixed all the complaints I had.

No longer do I get low volume on my DVD's, this thing is pretty loud now when it comes to the dialog (which had the most problem on the CT100), I have yet to max the volume on the CT500 (unlike the CT100 which I often had to sometimes). I often had a remote in my hand with the CT100 so I could raise the volume so I could hear the dialog and lower it so I wouldn't kill my ears when action scenes or loud noises popped up. This is no longer the case with the CT500, It's now at a level sound field where everything can be heard (dialog, music, sound effects) and I no long need to play the lower/raise volume game. If dialog is ever low, all I have to do is adjust the treble and/or center and a fix is achieved. This is a big improvement over the CT100 (which alot of people hated with the CT100, low dialogue), the CT500 pretty much allows me to enjoy my DVD's again and TV broadcasts are so much better, it's really a great relief that Sony really put some effort in listening and improving their soundbar line. Heck, I don't even touch the remote anymore unless I want to feel my subwoofer more.

Speaking of which, this subwoofer sounds alot different than the CT100. I don't know if I can explain it well enough but I'll try. Both Subwoofers produce that boom you expect in theatres with the explosions, loud noises, or presence of instruments that use bass. Problem with the CT100's subwoofer was that no matter what setting you put it at [even at -6db], it would still "vibrate" the loud sound to the floor (which is not a good thing if you live in apartments). The CT500's Subwoofer gives you the freedom to fix this problem with the subwoofer AND bass settings so that the vibration is nearly not there anymore. I also do notice that he CT500's subwoofer is a bit punchier than the CT100's subwoofer but not nearly as loud (CT100's subwoofer seemed louder than the CT500's) but with the CT500's subwoofer being a bit deeper in regards to Bass, It's an easy tradeoff.

What also sounds different on the CT500 is the surround compared to the CT100. To my ears, it seems like the CT100 was meant for small to medium sized rooms (but failed at larger rooms) while the CT500 seems to fit medium to large rooms (small rooms extremely benefit from the CT500). Not easy to define I'm sure but the surround field on the CT500 seems to be alot wider/larger than its younger brother. This mostly is due to the TWO Center channels that are only on the CT500 compared the CT100's single Center channel speaker. Not only this but it seems that the Surround fields available to the user has been doubled and each settings sounds the best when matched with its proper output device. In other words for example- when playing games, you obviously would want the surround field to be set at Games and when watching DVD's or Blurays, you may want to switch to the Movies sound field. You can also now switch the surround field on the fly with the new Universal CT500 remote (yep, the CT500 includes a universal remote but you have to set it up yourself if you don't own a Sony TV or component, PS3 excluded).

Oh the surround doesn't stop there, many will remember that I mentioned in my settings that Dolby Digital sounded best for games and for good reason when it came to the CT100. As mentioned before, the rears were muted and general surround was flat when setting your games to LPCM (aka uncompressed audio). What is a shame was that PS3 owners are given the option to enjoy their games in Uncompressed audio form but the CT100 made the decision for the user as alot of games just didn't sound right with that audio format and as a result you had to switch to Dolby Digital or DTS. Which in no means is a problem as you have to go to that setting for your DVD's but if you have a device that's capable of something, why should you let it go to waste (my opinion of course). Well I guess Sony found this out and fixed whatever the problem was that caused games to sound like crap in the Uncompressed Audio format as now games like Uncharted 2 and Ratchet and Clank Future:CiT sound SO MUCH better in LPCM mode (7.1 Channel FTW Finally!) Rears are heard fine now and have a better presence unlike ever before and the surround is just fantastic, the CT500 shines in this aspect especially! It's unexplainable but the CT500 just has a better surround and sound quality is pretty crisp overall, whether you are playing games, DVD's, Blurays, or watching your favorite show, the CT500 could very much shock you into what you are hearing!

So there you have it people, If you haven't noticed, just like my first love, I absolutely adore my CT500 and I'm pretty happy with the purchase. I'd say it's worth every penny I spent on it and it was a pretty great price already! My advice is to anyone thinking about purchasing this to not bother comparing apples to oranges, you know what I'm talking about. Soundbars are in a totally different league compared to full fledge [separated] sound systems, it's just as bad as people comparing softball to baseball, they are nearly the same but are also entirely different. If you are sic of the aweful wires from seperate speakers [hidden or not], having to find ways to place speakers in certain places of the room, and just would prefer a great sounding sound system with less clutter and more convenience than maybe a soundbar is for you. It may not be on par as a full fledge sound system but it still produces a good "envelope" of surround and is pretty loud with great sound quality. Surround is surround in my book and the CT500 is still a great purchase anyone could make if you are taking the first plunge in sound systems or wanting to move unto something more simpler. If anyone is on the fence, just hop over already and make the purchase, I'm glad I did!

P.S. Don't let anyone "smart" fool you, some people just can't fathom the reasoning for anyone wanting to purchase a soundbar , don't worry Gaming Desktop owners are the same with Gaming Laptop owners, convenience never crosses their minds whatsoever. Even if the CT500 produces great sound and semi-believable surround, doesn't warrant it being any less than a full fledge system. Also the CT500, like the CT100, can accept 5.1, 6.1, and 7.1 channel surround and can output the audio despite the soundbar being labeled as a 3.1 sound system. A better understanding would be is if you ever used Dolby Headphones, which can surprisingly convince your ears into thinking something is on the sides or behind you. The technology used to produce surround from soundbars is something that tricks our ears and mind into thinking sound is coming from someplace around the room or behind us despite the soundbar being in front of us. Even if it is "faux" surround does that mean it's better or worse than the real deal, well as stated before, surround is surround in my book no matter what is supposedly producing it. Bear that in mind and don't let someone persuade you otherwise. The only person who can tell you if the CT500 or any soundbar sounds great is yourself. So give it a try...

P.P.S Would like to point out to anyone that currently I have no tweaks at this time for the CT500 as the CT500 sounds great out of the box IMO. Give me a bit of time though as I might pop something up down the road (just like the CT100)...
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 20, 2010 7:17 AM PDT

Creative Labs 51EF0180AA001 Sound Blaster Arena Surround USB Gaming Headset
Creative Labs 51EF0180AA001 Sound Blaster Arena Surround USB Gaming Headset
Offered by Outlet Digital
Price: $59.99
3 used & new from $20.00

20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a Creative way to listen to Games..., January 2, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Introduction and Backstory:

It's been a while since I've done a review but with my most recent purchase, I like them too much to keep the enthusiasm inside myself no longer. As many know from my last review [...], my laptop setup consisted of sound wise was my Sound Blaster 5.1 Surround USB External Soundcard and Razer Barracuda HP-1 5.1 Gaming Headset. Now don't get me wrong, the speakers on my G71GX-RX05 are pretty alright, especially if I want to listen to some shoutcast radio within the house while I chill writing or doing chores. It's gaming that I have a high standard for in regards to audio.
First things first though, some back story - it will be a bit long winded but it'll hit the review process sooner than you think.

Unlike alot of people, I'm optimistically positive of Creative. Yes, they have somewhat lost their touch over the years since the Audigy days we all remember. Even I had a hard time finding the right [vista] drivers for my [old/removed] desktop's Creative Xtreme Gamer X-Fi sound card. The one thing though once I did find the right drivers was fall in love with EAX and the X-Fi's sound itself(Alchemy is ESPECIALLY Helpful with my older games). I love how certain games just make the X-FI sound good, especially with EAX (like Doom 3, etc.) Because of this though, I can't suffice with onboard sound anymore, games sound lacking to me without EAX or X-Fi sound. So once I got my new laptop, I immediately grabbed the X-Fi Surround 5.1 USB External Soundcard and then I fell in love with my games sound all over again.

This may come as a shock but my G71GX-RX05 travels with me alot, unlike what people think I find the laptop to be very portable and not that heavy at all (I do go to the gym alot though). So I can't be hunkered down to my desk with speakers, it's one of the main reason why I grabbed a laptop in the first place, to lose the shackles to the desk and one room. So with the External sound card I grabbed the Razer Barracuda HP-1 5.1 Headphones... yeah I know what you're thinking but these headphones were a bit different than others I've tried. They really had three different drivers (Sides, Rear, and fronts) and sub that convinced me pretty well where things were at and bumped as well. I was happy with it so don't judge :P! I was pretty happy with the sound setup until...

We fast forward to today...

With me transporting my laptop nearly everywhere I went with my Targus backpack, it was a pain to plug in my external sound card and headphones due to how much wire they provided, too much in fact that I often just had a bundle mess of wire always. The headphones were getting a bit subjective as well as I had to always be adjusting the drivers individually all the time (yes, it had a external controller for that). I was sick of the mess and clutter and reminded me too much of my desktop days with speakers. I just wanted some good sound without the problems I was currently having. I almost reverted to using the onboard sound of the laptop and just buying some good stereo headphones but reminded myself alot of what I would be missing (EAX, X-FI, Alchemy, etc.) so I held unto my current setup.

That's until Creative decided to answer my prayers... they popped out the Creative Sound Blaster Arena Headset. The day I saw them, I knew - I wanted them, so I waited until I saw a good price (found mine for $50 during the Holiday rush) and grabbed them.


I do realize that these headset absolutely don't match my laptop but I actually like the white ! Now these do come in Three flavors and the differences are very minor (besides price):

Arena (White & Black- not Soundcard dependent),
Complexity (White and Red - not Soundcard dependent),
And Fatal1ty MKII (Black & Red- Somewhat Soundcard dependent for Silencer)

Besides the different color schemes , all three have the same design wise, each with two plush leather (non replaceable) cups with a detachable boom mic on the left side. The plush leather material is also used for the top of the head rest, but in my opinion is used at a bare minimum compared to the headphone's cups. Which is a bit disappointing as it means you could get some discomfort within a few hours of use if you have the headrest clamped a bit close to your head. Good thing the headset is adjustable on both sides as you can raise the headrest a bit from your head and for those with bigger heads, it's a bit of a good thing.

To go deeper about the cups of this headset, they are movable by the way by about 130 degrees, so it tries to conform to your head pretty well. It also means that it can also come in handy for easy packing and travel as it can lay flat unlike other headphones which stand straight up on their sides. The plush leather on the cups are very comfortable but due to personal preference, I'm not a fan of leather on headphones/headsets. They produce higher heat and sweating can happen, making the leather a bit sticky/nasty. I kinda wonder why they didn't use velor-type material, as it's more comfortable and breathable than leather. The pads are still comfortable mind you and I'll still use the headset but be ready to clean the cups from time to time.

Now the boom of the mic is pretty cool as it's not only detachable but very flexible. Now detaching is pretty easy but alot of people might have a hard time attaching the mic back as there is only ONE way to do so. You have to attach it into the hole while the portion in which you would talk into has to be point straight UP in the air (like towards the ceiling). I've read a couple reviews already of people not being able to attach it from the side or downward but reason - there's only one way to attach it and I already explained how. Anyway, the mic is very flexible and can be totally away from your face if you want but it reads best with being a bit close to your face. The mic can rotate about 180 degrees so that's also a plus.

I will come out with it as well that the headset does look a bit cheap with all the plastic around the headrest and cups but with the leather plush cups (and headrest), metal adjusters, and pretty much other pluses I mentioned above salvages that "cheap" idea quickly. I can understand that all the plastic was meant to make the headset be/feel alot lighter which it does. So thumbs up for that Creative, it's a very well rounded, well made, and lightweight design!

Software and Drivers:

Well, due to it being a usb Headset, it's surprisingly plug and play ready. With that, no drivers are really needed for it to work immediately which is nice, literally runs off your onboard sound. Onboard sound sucks IMO, so what's the point anyway. So in goes the installation cd that is provided with the headset, pretty much holds your hand through the whole installation process too - very user friendly for beginners in the ordeal. It does have Vista 64bit drivers by the way for those who were wondering, not too sure about windows 7 but forums have reported that it is working on Windows 7 (I won't take the jump until I hear that Steam and a few other programs fix their kinks to the change over).

Due to its already plug and play workmanship, if you wish to use your onboard sound and/or laptop speakers, just unplug the usb cord from the slot. Within a few seconds your onboard sound/speakers will kick in like you never even installed the headset (like regular 3.5mm headphones), nice! I do sometimes to listen to my shoutcast radio around my home while I chill writing or doing chores. It also works vice versa as well, plugging in the headset will disable your onboard sound and speakers and revert to your Soundblaster drivers. Some configuration may be needed on your part though, like for me I had to disable my optical out and HDMI out for some reason for the switching to work properly. It all varies and might be different for each owner, it does work rather well all in all.

The software that get's installed that is a bit important is... of course the driver but I was talking about the Creative Entertainment Console. Now you can't change the Speaker configuration [headphones] obviously but what is important here is the Bass Settings, which don't sound too good out of the box. Thanks to CNET Australia reviewing these headphones before me, I was able to find a great sweet spot in regards to Bass on the Arena Headset with the settings at 6dB gain and the cut-off frequency at 30Hz.
Once with those setting , the bass on the Arena can beat pretty hard, just don't go too loud on the volume or you'll distort a bit. Now the volume can be adjusted through the Entertainment Console or general volume icon on thee startbar but you can also change the volume through the attached Volume controller (forgot to mention on the Design portion of the review) along with muting the mic or turning it on. Volume on the Arena is pretty excellent as I never have to go above 10, so this can get extremely loud and blow your ear drums out as it can go up to 100.

Now I personally don't have EAX selected in the Entertainment Console as it becomes too echo like for my taste but it kinda is automatically used (no matter if the setting is off or on) in games that use EAX, so enabling it in the Entertainment Console is kinda pointless. Now the X-Fi Crystalizer is pretty well done and supposedly it makes your audio a bit crisper and clearer, to me it sound like it makes certain instruments louder, so I leave it at the Maximum setting. Personally though, I don't bother listening to my favorite mp3's on my laptop, I have a Cowon S9 mp3 player that has the Best Sound quality you can buy with BBE+ 3.0, which sounds better than anything IMO.

Back to the headset though, Personal preference goes out to how you the user wants to have the Equalizer and Mixer set at, I pretty much left those alone. Now the one cool setting is Microphone. As stated on the box, it includes the Silencer Feature. It blocks out/ muffles outside sound in order for you to talk to your team mates or friends clearly. Now don't knock me too much but I'm not much of a online gamer on PC but user reviews say the Silencer Feature works pretty well. Hats off for that, the online community will be glad you have it as well. Now you also have a VoiceFX feature for your Microphone which can make your voice sound like various people like an Alien, to a demon, to even a Robot (heck they even have a male to female setting). It's pretty funny and fun to jerk your friends around with.


Looks like we are now down to the nitty gritty of what this review is more about and the headset is meant for, GAMES! Now the X-Fi CMSS-3D of the Entertain Console was meant to be enable for, you guessed it, games! X-Fi CMSS-3D does what you think it should do, create a 3D like surround sound that you can't believe your headphones are producing. It's quite outstanding and jaw dropping when it comes to games. The games that I think utilize surround sound well for example are Condemned, F.E.A.R, Quake 4, Doom 3, and Wolfenstein (all used for my test/review) - all shooters, I know but pinpoint sound is really a godsend!

First games I tried were made by the same people, Monolith Production's F.E.A.R and Condemned. Both excellent scare fest first person shooters, that require a keen ear to bums who are either sneaking up on you or needing to find where the next soldier is screaming at. I will start with saying that the ambiance in both games is unbelievable! I could swear up and down all the time that I could hear stuff right outside my the headset, and you probably wouldn't believe me. Seagulls screeching off in the distance, telephones with the answering lady repeating herself from afar, stuff like that sounds like they're not even near you or near the cups of the headset. What you do hear "inside" the headset helps a whole lot, pinpointing where your bullets need to fly at. The CMSS-3D works so well, I can literally hear in between the left and right channels and literally behind me of where I need to shoot. It feels as though you have your very own cheat key and the games got easier as you can tell by the footsteps where your enemies are coming from and where they are headed, it's something I expect from a 5.1 sound system not from a headset!

Next games I tried were from the good guys from ID Software (technically), Doom 3, Quake 4, Wolfenstein (2009). Doom 3 was like a benchmark back a few years ago in various areas, whether graphics, sound, and gameplay (felt more like a giant tech demo but that might be just me). What it did pretty good was knowing the right moment to pop out the enemies when you least expect them, like those Imps right behind ya. The Arena pinpoints where they are at rather well now though, so even though it wasn't that scary then - it's not much even moreso due to this headset (I recommend setting the ingame sound to surround instead of stereo to widen the surround field) . The EAX in Doom 3 though is not to my liking though, a bit OVERsaturated so expect lots of engine noise constantly [from the machines in the game]. Quake 4 on the other hand has been perfected by the Arena headset! Let me explain, my Surround 5.1 external sound card, no matter what driver, had the OpenAL in Quake 4 broken. Popping sound in and out like you were jumping in and out of a pool, this even happen on my desktop's Xtreme Gamer sound card - which is strange that OpenAL works fine on the Arena Headset. The EAX, Ambiance, and pinpoint sound accuracy is really well done in Quake 4 in combination with the Arena Headset, so now I can finally enjoy Quake 4 like it should be (so be sure to go into Quake 4's Advanced Audio settings and change it to OpenAL). The 2009 Wolfenstein is on the same level as Quake 4 in sounding pretty great but be sure to switch to 5.1 in the ingame sound settings.

Pretty much, if the game has some in game sound settings, despite you using the headset, switch to 5.1 sound if you are able to get a broader sound stage and better results with CMSS-3D!

Final Thoughts:

Looks like we are nearing the end of the review but let's drop a few things left not mentioned in the review so far.

The last nitpicks I have might just be due to personal preference than being problems themselves. As mentioned above, CMSS-3D is pretty awesome but the same can't be said if enabled while listening to music. For some odd reason your songs will sound a bit brighter and the bass will be a bit subdued which I particularly don't like (but as mentioned before I listen to my songs on my MP3 player anyway.)
Some people may like it but I believe a few people will agree with me that CMSS-3D is meant for games.
Also, be sure not to lose the CD for the Arena Headset, because Creative has not bothered to pop some drivers on their website at all for the Arena. So if you lose the cd and want to install the drivers, you could be out of luck for a long while.

Now For those who were wondering, the cord is about 8ft long but I keep mine wrapped up a bit with some Velcro, laptop owners don't need that much cord. There is also talk of due to the usb port being used for audio, it strains the cpu a bit but in my tests it is so minuscule you don't notice the frames that are dropped (maybe 2 or 5 frames in your games, that's all). Nothing to cry over.

Other than that, the audio is great , crisp and clear and the surround is pretty convincing. Besides a few things I kinda cried about, the Creative Sound Blaster Arena Headset is worth every penny I spent on it. My games have gotten much better to listen to and play, there's less mess/cords for me to deal with, and overall is one of the best products I've seen... I mean heard from Creative in a long time. Hopefully this is going to be a trend for Creative from now but at least they brought a smile to my face. I hope this review was helpful to anyone who may become future purchasers and for those who were wondering about this new headset from Creative.
Until the next review!

+ Fantastic Sound
+ Impressively Convincing Surround
+ CMSS-3D is a MUST for games!
+ Comfortable leather Plush Cups
+ Very lightweight design
+ Travel ready
+ Easy Installation
+ Plug and Play
+ Able to switch from headset to onboard sound conveniently
+ Generous 8 Foot cord
+ Volume controller easily accessible on the cord
+ Microphone software is pretty cool, Silencer works along with VoiceFX
+ Nice Color Scheme
+ Great Volume
+ Mixer and EQ very configurable
+ Headrest very adjustable for any sized head
+ Cups comfortably conform to head

- Could use a bit more padding for the headrest
- Would have preferred Velor padding for the cups
- Cheap look plastic design may turn some people off
- CMSS-3D not so good for music IMO
- Don't lose the CD, Creative has not bothered to put the drivers on their website
- May be too much cord for some people
- Uses a bit of CPU but not too much to even be concerned about

Side note: Didn't use Source/Valve/Steam games due to the fact EVERYONE does for these type of reviews and I thought I'd think outside of the box. Also, no DVD playback was mentioned whatsoever in my review due to me not having the right software on my computer at the time of me writing this (getting Windvd next week) and I also watch my DVD's/Bluray's on my PS3. Thought I'd let the few people who pm'd me or future people know why neither two subjects weren't even talked about.

Here is some video's of the unboxing of the Arena headset and Complexity version along with two interview video's. I will also provide the links of CNET's Review and Kotaku's Review of the Arena headset. Hope you enjoy!

Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 14, 2011 9:35 AM PDT

Cowon S9 16 GB Video MP3 Player with Touchscreen (Titanium Black)
Cowon S9 16 GB Video MP3 Player with Touchscreen (Titanium Black)

94 of 110 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cowon S9 Review, February 23, 2009
As I chilled on my sofa playing my PSP,
a knock on the door caused me to jump up with glee.
As I opened the door, there stood the UPS man,
standing there with a tantalizing package inside his hand.
While outside, I signed happily with a smile on my face,
Gave me the package and then I went back inside my place.
As I set the package on the floor, opening it carefully with a knife,
The phone rang, yet I ignored it... hopefully it wasn't my wife.
After rummaging through the peanuts, what do I see in the corner of my eye,
The very item I've been waiting for, a smaller box holding my long awaited prize.
Tore the box apart and there it was, there was the Cowon S9,
As I held it in my hands, I whispered, "You're finally mine!"

Alright enough of this long nursery rhyme,
it's time to delve into my review of the Cowon S9.

The Cowon S9 has been called THE best MP3 player on the market (at least by non-apple users) and rightfully so. It's specs pretty much speak for themselves but let's look at the highlights.
- 55 hours for Audio, 11 hours for Video (That's freakin long)
- AMOLED Screen (LCD, you are doomed)
- Cowon Sound Quality (Best of the Best, cream of the crop)
- G-Sensor (disabled on Music but great for video)
- BBE+ (sound enhancements "better" than other Cowon players)
- Flash UI (very customizable, user created content already available)
- Sleek design (Curved, somewhat light weight, lots of buttons)

As MC Hammer's songs would put... Let's "break it down!"

Sleek design
After seeing the device in so many pics and in people's hand via videos, I thought this thing was going to be big... like Zune big (like the original Zunes, I know there is a few of us who've owned, previously owned, or seen one). After getting my S9, I've realized one thing about its size, I needed to chuck that Zune size thinking out the window (*Sound of a window breaking*, *Car Crashing noise*). This thing is really small, a pretty good portable size actually. It's 4 Inches long, about 2 and a half inches wide, and a half a inch thick, for those who were wondering (tape measure wise).

The device is curved but rests easy on its back and in your hands. I did grab the Titanium color because I know the device will get fingerprints on its screen but it wouldn't show up too badly on the back and sides as much. I know it would look far worse on the Chrome color in my opinion, as fingerprints would show up everywhere with no hassle.

Now the exterior is made out of plastic and I know people are groaning by now (*"AAAAWWWWW"*) but when you hold it yourself, you get over it pretty quickly. The back does feel like it's made of plastic but it has a very smooth finish feel to it. The sides of the S9 are a different story as I know both of the sides are made out of plastic but it sure doesn't feel like it, it feels a little bit cool to the touch like metal and taping it with your fingernail sounds just like metal as well (unlike the back of the S9, which tapping on it sounds like plastic). Some people have said the screen on the front of the S9 is made out of plastic but it has been mentioned it is glass from numerous sites (Gorilla Glass actually). I did do a test though, I... put my S9 in my pocket with... my keys (only for a little bit mind you). There was not a scratch on the S9, my D2 wasn't so lucky when I put it with my keys (I didn't know better at the time). So if it's a plastic screen like the D2... it's some pretty tough plastic. Also, the Cowon S9 has a capacitive touch screen, so a stylus isn't even needed (the D2 did have a stylus because it had a resistive touch screen), all you need is your smooth finger (not a dirty one, go wash your hands!)

The buttons on the device are pretty self explanatory and placed *somewhat* in good places (huh, I'll get to that later). I had the D2 as my first Cowon device and will say the S9 has a lot more buttons this time around when it comes to Cowon's recent MP3 line. There are five on the top; Play/Pause, Volume Up, Volume down, previous track, next track. Now these are multifunctional and even though they were meant for your music, it also can navigate the menus within the device. The play/pause button is kinda unique as I've never seen a device do it like the S9. If you've seen the pics, it's that middle silver button near the top and... Oh hey Donald Bell from CNET, I was just about to... what are you doing... IT'S NOT A STYLUS YOU IDIOT! Get out of here! (*Sound of smashing dishes*)*Cough*As I was saying, the silver button on the top is curved and slides easily when you press it to play or pause your sound (also when depressed it for a few seconds, it will take you back to the main menu *Thanks pseudohippy*). There's even a >/II stamp on the back of the S9 underneath the play/pause button so morons like Donald Bell can see that it's not a stylus (The S9 doesn't even need one).

The bottom of the player consists of the power on/off and hold switch on the right, headphone jack in the middle, and the USB (20-pin) plug on the left. Alright... I'm going to put this out there as my first negative in this review... why is the headphone jack in the middle. So there's no misunderstanding, I can live with it being there (in that way) but I raise my hands up and ask Cowon... "WHY"? (*"Why" Echoing in a cave*) Maybe it's because I've dealt with many mp3 players in my life that has the headphone on the far right or far left. I know the D2 has the headphone jack on the far left because I've owned one, so maybe that's why I'm criticizing it... I'm just not use to having the headphone jack in the middle. It also doesn't help when you're laying it down while it's charging or transferring music that the headphone jack get's somewhat blocked because of the cover for the usb jack. You can move it down a bit of course but you have to do it almost everytime. Not too much of a big negative but I thought I'd bring up one I've found so far.

Let's jump to weight; I'm not that big... I weigh just... Wait, we're talking about the Cowon S9 here. After seeing some... Questionable reviews (oh I'm looking at you CNET), I was afraid the device was going to be so light that it either felt like a toy or was as light as a feather, flimsy if you will. I'm here to tell you that the Cowon S9 carries a bit of weight (maybe it ate a bit of cake). This thing is lightweight, but still is heavy enough not to have your pinky picking it up easily. It carries a bit of weight, maybe the same amount as a D2 (I'm sure owners of that will understand what I mean about weight better). No it's not as heavy as a brick but it isn't light as air either. It's more of a middle ground, not too light, not too heavy, which I like. I prefer a MP3 player that doesn't feel like I bought at Toys R US but also not like I grabbed a large stone from the front yard.

Pros+: Sleek Design, lots of buttons that are also multifunctional, love the play/pause button, REAL scratch resistant screen, solid construction, not too heavy/not too light- I like it!
Negatives-: Headphone jack could be in a better place than in the middle, Headphone jack can be possibly blocked

The G-Sensor is pretty cool, glad Cowon grabbed it. Sorta acts like the ... ooohhhh, you almost got me to say that four letter word ($%^&)! The G-sensor works best while you are watching your favorite Movies, TV Shows, Anime (yep, I said it), and even trailers! You can watch your movie vertical but when you turn the player it goes horizontal, it's... pretty cool (Someone slap me, why do I keep saying that *SLAP*). Pictures are pretty much the same way but you can do this in 360 degree fashion. Right side up, side-ways, upside down, sideways again, I was having fun for a bit. The G-Sensors Cool factor got killed when I got to music though. I'd be listening to my music, enjoying the big album art and with one slight turn of the S9 and BAM (*sucker punched in the face!*), Coverflow. Good thing you can disable the G-Sensor now in Music mode cause that would have been quite annoying and added as a negative in this review, good thing Cowon was listening.

Now if only Cowon was listening about making the G-Sensor getting implemented in the Text Viewer or Flash (games). I'm a person that likes to read ebooks but it would be really cool If I could read them in widescreen mode. I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks this (hopefully). Now imagine if the G-Sensor was used for some Flash games like the ... ooohhhh, you almost got me to say that four letter word again (#&%@)! Cowon needs to pop some G-sensor games on this baby to maybe make it a bit more interesting when we are playing the Flash. At least allow it so that some games that use widescreen formats can be used like that, widescreen (sideways).That way they aren't being cut in places. The G-Sensor is still pretty cool though... somebody shoot me, that's the third time I've said th... (*BANG!*)

Pros+: Used very well in Pictures, Movies, glad Cowon gave us an option to turn it off in Music mode
Negatives-: Wish it was implemented in Text Viewer or Flash (Games)

First thing I noticed when I first turned on my Cowon S9... the AMOLED screen. Sorry... is that drool on my keyboard, I need to stop staring at the Cowon S9 sometimes. This is going to be a hard section to go over... I don't know if I have the words to explain how beautiful this screen looks. My jaw literally dropped when I saw even the sample pictures and movies (Cowon provided) on the screen. The color was so vibrant, so rich, so eye popping that I could swear up and down that I was looking at the real thing. The screen was so sharp; it stabbed me in the eyes (AAAAAUUUGGGHHHH)... I'm kidding but the resolution on this thing is absolutely wonderful! With 16million colors too, I've not seen a screen, big or small, look this good (especially since it's only a 3.3 inch screen)! Again, I can't really explain how it looks; you have to see for yourself.

AMOLED is a new technology that requires no backlighting, it uses organic substances that produces its own light ("Does that mean I can glow in the dark?", "Man get outta here!") LCD's like the D2 and O2 use backlighting and causes some viewing angles to look weird, blacks aren't as deep, whites aren't blinding (my eyes!!!), colors aren't extremely vibrant, and blur is a killer. AMOLED's colors is so vibrant... no words can express how great it is! Colors literally jump off the screen and are drop dead gorgeous! Blacks are super deep (better than plasmas in my opinion) and whites are way better than LCD! You can literally view the screen at any angle and still look AWESOME (not being washed out like LCD's) and there's no blur at all either (unless you are watching The Matrix or F.E.A.R gameplay videos of course). Like to mention The Dark Knight looks FANTASTIC on the S9, looks better than DVD, almost Hi-def even (saying it looks like Bluray may be pushing it ).

The Cowon S9 does support XVID, AVI, and WMV, and pretty much no conversion is needed. Well... except for other video formats of course. What strikes me about Cowon (oh boy, this sounds like it's going to be another negative), is that with such a beautiful AMOLED screen, why not allow it to accept any video format. I mean, I got Divx files and H.264 and would love to just toss them on the S9 without converting. I would have actually liked Cown to allow the same Video formats that their Cowon O2 supports. Why let such a great looking screen on the S9 not be used to its full glory? I know the Cowon S9 can do it because of its 500mz dual core processor is pretty fast enough to handle it (slower mp3 players can do it too). I don't know... XVID, AVI, and WMV still look great on this so I guess I can't complain too much. I would like to mention the screen is a fingerprint magnet, so please buy a soft cloth to clean it (or use your shirt if you want, the one with the recent mustard stain...)

To those wondering what I used for converting, I used what's great for my PSP; Xvid4PSP.

Pros+: Awesome AMOLED Screen, better than anything I've ever seen, flat out gorgeous colors, sharpness, vibrant, I'm at a loss for words at how great the AMOLED screen is!
Negatives-: Only XVID, AVI, and WMV support, would have loved more file format support

Flash UI
I'm so glad Cowon gave this option up front; being able to customize the Cowon S9 anyway we wanted. Flash UI is great as we already have a lot of themes created by the Cowon Community and some people got really creative. Some made the S9 look like our favorite game, anime, or even mimicked some other players interfaces like the P3. I still like how Cowon made its original Interface, very clean, easy to use, pretty much friendly even to new users. I even applaud Cowon for making big album art finally (*"Hallelujah, Hallelujah!"*) The D2 only allowed user created content on the Music portion of the player and album art was really small (user created content made it bigger of course). Now, my only gripe about the Cowon S9 is that I wish my album art was bigger, so Nova came through for us by making it bigger and more people made listening to the S9 that more enjoyable by making very unique themes (please people, slow down on all the anime themes though, we got plenty already).

Ahhh, Now... If only that fixed what Cowon blundered on (hide under the bed, the negative is coming!) Me and dfkt was discussing this one time before I owned my S9 and now my eyes have opened up to what he was saying since I now own one. What the heck is Quicklist and Coverflow for? Seriously Cowon! The way it is implemented is so freaking weird that I'd rather it not even be there. If I was in charge of making Coverflow and the Quicklist, I would create Quicklist and Coverflow so that you could flip between albums and have the Now Playing screen switch between songs. NOOOOO! It isn't like this whatsoever, Both the Quicklist and Coverflow flip between songs just like the now playing song, WHAT THE FLIPPIN PANCAKE COWON! I guess I can live with it and cross my fingers that someone from the Cowon community will fix it (or give us something better), because I'm pretty sure Cowon isn't going to fix it unless people start emailing Cowon like crazy (*"Inbox Full"*).

Pros+: Great freedom to make almost anything to the flash UI, a lot of user created content from the Cowon Community already, Original interface still great and friendly
Negatives-: Seriously Cowon... what the flippin Hamburger were you thinking when it came to Quicklist and Coverflow, just rewrite the Quicklist and Coverflow so it flips albums not songs like the Now Playing screen...

Cowon Sound Quality and BBE+
This doesn't need to be said because almost everyone knows this on this website but Cowon's devices are undeniably the best sounding mp3 players on the market. Music on Cowon players sound so much clearer, feel a lot warmer, and richer sounding than any other player I've ever listened to. No question, Cowon's players are the best in producing high quality sound and that's not considering EQ settings or BBE, just Flat. Cowon's S9 is not any different by providing great sound but with the new BBE+. Now the Cowon S9 still has excellent sound with it being flat with no sound enhancements, it's a Cowon Player after all. It's personal preference of if you want to use BBE, EQ, or nothing at all, everyone's tastes are different when it comes to this choice just like music. I believe there is not right or wrong way in my opinion. So if you aren't into BBE or EQ, you may want to skip to the next section because I'm going to be talking about it.

Now I believe BBE+ adds a lot to the music, making songs feel more alive and making compressed music sound almost like the original. Here are my findings when it comes to BBE+, sorry if they are kinda rough.
A) Normal- Everything Flat
B) BBE- Boosts BBE only
C) BBE Viva 1- All enhancement varying in settings to sound good, MachBass is low
D) BBE Viva 2- Same as Viva 1 but some enhancements were upped like MachBass
E) BBE MachBass- Basshead #1
F) BBE MP- boosts BBE up and MP Enhance is turned ON
G) Headphones 1- Same as Viva 2 but is louder
H) Headphones 2- Vocals are clearer
I) Headphones 3- Bassheads #2
Other settings are your usual preset EQ setting for various genres (with a kick of BBE enhancements at the lowest settings). You also got your own USER created slots that can be configured any way you like.
All I can say is to each their own, but my Personal Favorite BBE is BBE Headphones 1 and Personal Favorite EQ is Rock. What your favorite is entirely your preference, not wrong or right because YOU are the one who likes it and your ears like it too!

There are a few negatives that were brought up to my attention that I should mention. The Cowon S9 doesn't support AAC or any other format that the elppa (what does this say backwards, I'm clever) mp3 players force you to convert to, so that may be a downer to a few people. Same can be said for DRM related music... it's a no-go, sorry (who cares anyway, DRM should be dragged in the road and shot *BANG!*) Gapless is going to kill a few people too, Pink Floyd may not sound right at all. I can't believe still no gapless though Cowon? I know a few people who would be upset.

Since I got that off my chest (*got done shaving my chest hair*), let's continue. The Cowon S9 has a broad range of accepted audio formats and is what really got me into the Cowon brand! The Cowon S9 supports what most people accept now a days, compressed music of MP3 (MPEG 1 audio and MPEG2 Audio also), OGG, and WMA. Now for the Music Purists, the Cowon S9 also accepts Lossless audio of WAV, APE, and the Famous FLAC (*"Mr. President!"*). As mentioned before, Cowon players make all these audio formats sound so much better than any other player. Now a simple tip is to toss those headphones Cowon gave you. I had those ones and thought music was great on my Cowon before until I grabbed me a good set of headphones (I have Yuin PK3's now) and couldn't imagine my music sounding even better yet it was! I was hearing stuff that I never heard before and instruments were so much more lively! A good pair of headphones makes all the difference in making your music off the great sounding Cowon MP3 player oh so much better.

Pros+: Supports the popular compressed and Lossless formats with no problems, sounds excellent like all Cowon Players, a good set of headphones make your music sound even better off the Cowon S9
Negatives-: No Support for Gapless, (and If you want to call these negatives...) No support AAC or any other format that the elppa mp3 players, also no DRM support, and may have to spend a bit for some good headphones

To those wondering what I use for tagging my Music, I kinda use 3 different programs, all free !
A) SonicStage 4.3 (uses gracenote/does album art too)
B) MP3tag 2.42 (rips album art out embedded MP3's)
C) Media Monkey 3 (Grabs info/album art from online stores)
Battery life

Let's touch base here ("You're out!", "No I'm not you son of a ..." *Bat smacked across dude's head*). This is what looks extremely enticing and sold me the first time I saw it, Cowon Devices have a long battery life, more than normal players out there. Look at the flash devices Cowon makes for example...
iAudio7: 60 hrs
Cowon D2: Music- 52hrs, Movies- 10 hrs
Cowon O2: Music- 18 hrs, Movies- 8 hrs (due to size, it's pretty long battery life)
Cowon S9: Music - 55 hrs, Movies- 11 hrs (making it the longest video player on the market!)

In other words, Cowon has been consistent when it comes to battery life and the Cowon S9 is no exception. Due to AMOLED using no backlight and no expansion bay being used (yeah, a downer but few won't care), Cowon S9 users are most likely getting the longest battery life Cowon has ever given (besides the iAudio7). A staggering 55 hours for music and 11 hours for video is freakin awesome (I don't even think I could listen to music for that long in one sitting without falling asleep either)! Results will vary of course but Cowon has mentioned from their tests that the hours can be reached. I believe them and it's great knowing the Cowon S9 will last a very long time!

Pros+: Fantastic Battery life both for music listening and Movies watching!
Negatives-: No expansion slot...

Hey you, Wake up! I know this was a long review but it's the conclusion for crying out loud. Now, The Cowon S9 looks to be the best MP3 player Cowon has ever made! Awesome battery life, Beautiful AMOLED screen, fantastic Cowon Trademark Sound quality with new BBE+, great Flash UI customizability, this look like the best MP3 player I've seen in a long time. Cowon has a winner here in my opinion and me as a customer forever with them. I may have gotten my Cowon S9 yesterday but have spent enough time to make this review and believe this is the best MP3 player I've bought in a very long time. The Cowon S9 once held, seen, and heard will cause you to have a pure desire to want it, love it, and be glad you own it!

P.S. Take into account this is not biased like some reviews comparing this to the itouch and iphone, I personally could care less about wifi or phone capabilities(I have a blackberry already). With that in mind, I compared this actually to other TRUE PMP players (Sound, Video, portability). Extras are ok, but not required, in my book...
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