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Showing 1-10 of 143 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 195 reviews
on July 31, 2009
Excellent Sound Quality
Amazing OLED screen
Infinity tweakable interface
Great codec support
Frequent firmware updates and new features provided by Cowon

Screen difficult to read in bright direct sunlight
Default user interface can be a bit un-intuitive

This is a great player. The screen is absolutely great, except in direct sunlight, which makes it pretty much unreadable. The price is great for the capacity, and the fact that you can run different user interfaces (UI) means that if you don't like the way it is by default (which isn't bad), you can just download one that you like. If you know how to program flash, you can make your own, because Cowon makes it really easy.

The greatest thing is that Cowon is constantly updating the firmware, about once a month. Each one brings new features, such as the latest (as of late July 2009) was gapless playback for many music formats. Just make sure that you rip your music properly.

The S9 has great video format support, including Xvid, DivX, and WMV. The videos look great on the screen, and playback is smooth.

It supports both MSC (Mass storage, like a flash drive) and MTP (media transfer protocol, use Windows Media Player or equivalent to sync), so you can get the best of both worlds.

It's really a good player if you want a nice looking, touchscreen player,and you are moderately good with computers, but you don't want Wi-Fi and tons of other features you may not use. My thinking was that I would rather have something that does a few things really well, like the S9, rather than something that stretches itself too thin, like an unnamed Apple product.
22 comments| 34 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 1, 2010
Updated 4/16/2010

Here is my updated experience with Cowon S9 since my original review:

1. I got used to how the UI works, so there is no more frustrating fumbling search to get to the screen I want.
But, still, I think an overhauled UI will benefit users.
My suggestion is to simulate the behavior of any browsers - back button takes you to the previous screen.
And, Home button, accessible from all screens, which will take you to the top menu.

2. The USB connector is proprietary shape, and it takes me between 1 to 10 seconds to plug into S9 because the
jack is located slightly into the concave area.
I consider it a lucky day when I can plug in the cable in 1 second.
Cowon should make it such that it should be effortless to plug in the cable.

3. Sleep setting, which gets reset upon turn-off, is annoying. Many times, the battery would drain because I forgot to
set the sleep time.
This should be easy for Cowon engineers to include in the next firmware release.

4. This is thumbs up and high five to Cowon: The Video quality is really amazing. I am dazzled by it.
Cowon turned my occasions where I have to wait in my car or in a long store line - yes, including bathroom calls - actually welcome moments
because I can catch up on videos or dramas in a glorious screen and sound. Nice job!

All in all, I like S9 very much, and recommend it over other brands.

I have owned S9 for about a month now.
All the ravings you read about on high quality sound and video are, in my opinion, justified, and I agree with them.
I am particularly pleased that AVI files play so well with no compression.
All in all, I am impressed with this unit, and have no regret that I chose it over iTouch.

Here are some my own feedback.
Don't get me wrong. I like Cowon s9, and am a satisfied consumer.
However, I am making the following points, hoping that Cowon will address these issues in the future version:

1. The User Interface does injustice to this otherwise gem-like gadget.
In well-designed UI, I believe that the user must be given an option to navigate to the top level from any screen levels below.
Not S9. It takes many frustrating trials to finally understand what the UI designer had in mind, but at best, it is still confusing and
inconsistent. For example, in Music playing screen, "M" button takes you to the top menu. But, when you are browsing albums, "M" disappears.
When the screen is in landscape mode, there is neither "M" nor "X" for cancel.
In Document screen, "M" is denoted as "X".
These are just some inconsistencies among others.
I think that a totally redesigned UI is warranted and would be a real welcome.

2. Sleep time seems to be reset each time it is rebooted. Can it be saved?

3. Being able to download your own fonts was a pleasant surprise too. Thank you, Cowon, But, can I have more than one user-defined font?

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on May 7, 2009
This is so cool. It's my second Cowon MP3/Video player. The first was the rather clunky, thick, square D2. I bought it for it's highly rated audio quality. It also played video at high resolution.
This unit surpasses the D2 in all respects, (except one).
The audio quality is just as excellent. Best of any MP3 player in my opinion.
The OLED display is just incredible. Put it next to a iPod touch, and you'll see what I mean. OLED screens have no backlights, each pixel is actively lit. Blacks are deep, brights are scintillating. The refresh rate rate is also much more rapid than LCD. So fast moving video does not ghost.
The user interface is much improved over the D2 which was all touch screen. This is a touch screen, but has top buttons for several common functions.
-I just wish it had a SD card slot. That was one of the reasons I bought my D2. So I could upgrade the memory capacity with cheap SD memory cards. My S9 had 8GB, which is adequate.
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on October 10, 2009
Update: I have owned the S9 for a few weeks now. Here are my thoughts...

Great form factor. Battery life is amazing -- the unit can go about 2 weeks before the battery runs low. Stellar audio quality. The UI has it's quirks -- navigation for common tasks can require a few presses, but it's still a lot better than other units I've owned. I've been using Media Monkey to manage my music library and sync with the S9, and this has proved to be a winning combination. I splurged and purchased the Pro version. It will take me some time to fix the tags in my MP3 files, but Media Monkey does a pretty good job at most library management that I need, and I have a lot of music. I am very happy with this player, and would still give it 5 stars.

Original review:
This is the 3rd MP3 player that I have owned. My first was an iRiver HP-120, which was absolutely awesome, but was getting a little technologically dated. I then made the mistake of buying a Zune 120 GB. The capacity, build quality, and form factor were awesome, but the walled garden of MS's terrible software eventually led me elsewhere. Furthermore, the sound quality was just OK (and no EQ settings!), and the battery life was way overstated by MS. The online 'social' was useless to me -- I'm a grown adult, and I own a vast music collection that I started when I was a kid. I purchased a Cowon i6 for my wife about 2 years ago, and she still loves and uses it everyday -- so I thought I would give the S9 a try. I read some encouraging reviews of it, and it's slim pickin's these days for a true MP3 player not aimed at the average teenager. I received it this morning, and let me tell you, this little device is awesome. The sound quality is truly impressive, as others have reported, which is one attribute that Cowon players are known for. The screen is also amazing -- the OLED technology really shows off it's stuff on this thing. The touch screen is actually quite nice, and responds well. Those with small or large fingers shouldn't have a problem here. The dedicated volume, track, play/pause buttons are welcome, and the build quality is high. The selection of materials, the fit in the hand, and the size and weight are perfect. I also purchased a Cowon leather case for mine, which fits like a glove, while allowing full access to all of the important bits. I'm still learning the UI and the various features, but it seems like almost every aspect of the device can be customized. The UI is great, fairly easy to navigate, and the device responds quickly. I can't comment on the battery life yet, but I'm sure that it will be as advertised. The unit charged initially for 2.5 hours on AC when unboxed, and I upgraded to the latest firmware before starting to use it.

In short, this MP3 player looks like a keeper. I feel like an idiot for not buying it sooner. I will post an update to this review as I continue to become familiar with it, but so far, this looks like the one for me. Check one out for yourself -- I think you'll agree.
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on June 27, 2010
Yes, this is a beautiful player. It has a stunning screen with deep contrast and brilliant saturation and is protected by a highly scratch-resistant screen. It supports a wide range of audio and video formats (except for AAC) and any operating system will recognize it as a USB drive so you don't have to deal with MTP software. The sound quality is excellent and highly configurable. The FM receiver is very sensitive.

Unfortunately the user interface is needlessly cumbersome. I honestly feel the designers had never used any other MP3 player. I have several examples. On my Creative Zen, deleting a video is simply selecting "Delete Video" any time I'm playing it. The S9 will tell you that you can't delete it -- the "X" which means delete will be grayed out. What? Oh yes, you have to go through the file browser, find the video file in the "Video" folder that you were playing and delete that. You'll find that most of the interface is file-oriented so get used to thinking of your songs as files again.

There are countless other confusing methods of doing what are mundane tasks on other players. Selecting random shuffle will give you silence. You didn't know you had to select a song before it would play anything? Adding a song to an active dynamic playlist is a series of confusing operations, and without third party interfaces like Claw, the S9 wouldn't have more than one playlist. Even trivial operations have surprises. Start recording FM radio and you'll discover now you can't adjust the volume. Why? I guess they never thought anyone would want to listen to what they're recording.

But there is a major problem that many S9 owners are experiencing. Sooner or later you'll copy something to the S9 and that will be the last thing it ever does. The copy will abort, you'll restart the S9 and it will say "No fonts No resources" and that will the The End. Nothing will bring it back. Mine lasted eleven months before dying but others have had their S9 die as soon as they start copying all their music to it. It's a hardware defect and Cowon, being a small company, ignores it.

I certainly can't recommend a $200+ product that didn't last a year.
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on October 4, 2009
- Great sound quality
- Classy looking, packaging was equally classy
- Crystal clear and vibrant display; the best I've seen on a portable media player.
- Screen made of Gorilla Glass and is virtually unscratchable
- Excellent file format support - plays all of my XViD movies flawlessly which was a major selling point for me
- FM Radio works well, though I wish it supported HD radio
- Best battery life on the market (I use it all week at work without charging it and still have juice to spare)
- Boots up very fast (3-5 seconds)
- Completely customizable since the GUI is Flash-based
- Frequent firmware updates, and Cowon seems to listen to people's requests which is a refreshing change
- Not an iPod

- You cannot use the device while it's plugged in to USB/charging. VERY annoying! I've heard you can use it if it's plugged into the wall charger, but I don't know if it's true.
- Button placement on the outside of the unit can be awkward
- Proprietary connector for charging; they should have just used mini USB
- Little rubber cap that goes over the charging port is extremely flimsy.. it WILL eventually fall/break off
- Wall charger must be purchased separately
- Bluetooth is a battery sponge, you'll get 1/10th the battery life while using it
- 4-hour charge times when connected to a USB port (much less if you buy a wall charger)
- Flash 6 (from 2002), so no new flash games/apps will work
- UI is very unintuitive, and takes a lot of getting used to
- Touchscreen is somewhat unresponsive/laggy
- Album covers must to be named cover.jpg which can be a slight pain if you already have your music catalog set up differently

If it's not clear by the large amount of pros and cons I listed, I could go on and on about this thing. It's a great portable media player, but there are quite a few things I don't like about it. If you buy it expecting to be able to download a bunch of custom Flash themes, you may be disappointed, because there simply aren't many out there. If you buy it expecting to download and play flash games, you're in for a major disappointment, because the only flash games you'll be able to play are those that were released pre-2003 or so. Those are features I would suggest you just ignore all together. The UI can be daunting for those who are used to the idiot-proof navigation menus found in Zunes and iPods, and you may find yourself referring to the manual often to find out what a particular icon means, as they are not very well representative of their functions.

However, if you want a unit with great file support, great audio quality, and best-in-class picture quality, this is the unit for you. It does what it advertises and it does it extremely well.
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I bought this back in the December of 2009 - and I still consider it one of the best PMPs out there. If not the best.


1. Sound quality. Easily beats iPods (oops, that name is unspeakable on this page). Since I'm not an expert on this, won't try to gas any further.
2. Excellent construction. It's light and the matte back is largely scratch-resistant.
3. The screen is scratch proof. I had a scratch guard put on but realised it was not required. Removed it. No problems for 2 years.
4. The customizability of the player is simply amazing. Not just can you set EQ bands, you can also set the frequency. I haven't seen any product allow that amount of customization. Stunning.
5. Plays anything. Most of my music is in FLAC and that's what sold me onto Cowon back in 2008, even though a lot of players have it now.
6. Wottascreen! Lovely. Even a normal 700 MB AVI looks gorgeous on it.
7. The battery life. A staggering 52 hours with audio, 11 hours with video.


1. Bad stock earphones. But nothing new there, unless you have a high-end Creative.
2. No memory card slot. Ouch.
3. No WiFi, if that matters to you. Doesn't for me.
4. Not the best of UIs. iPod Touch has a lovely interface, and Cowon has miles to go before they can be as easy-to-use. But then, maybe it keeps only the geeks in.
5. The lack of a bundled wall charger, which the D2 had. What this means in practical terms is - you can charge it only using the computer, and while doing so, can't listen to music. There are ways of dealing with this (blocking the data strips of the USB with a piece of paper while plugging it in, and just getting a wall-USB charging thingy).
6. Your Cowon S9 takes up all your time, so writing a review on Amazon comes only a year after you buy it.

A lovely player. I'd still recommend it - 2 years after it came out. Couple this with a good pair of earphones, and it's unbelievable. I love my S9, and I think I'll spend atleast a year more with it.
The only reason I'd upgrade, though, is because of the lack of a memory card slot. I don't need WiFi or a bigger screen or anything else.

PS: If pushed to name the BEST PMP on the market at the moment, I'd probably go for the Cowon J3. Basically it's the S9 with a memory card slot, so yeah.
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on March 20, 2009
I am in looooooove with this thing. I was looking for a mp3 with 1) GREAT sound quality, 2) that plays all video formats without conversion, 3) great video quality, 4) long battery life, 5) good design (i like pretty things...).
soooo. based on that specs, i did lots of research, read reviews, etc, and bought the cowon. And it is, indeed, a perfect match for me.
Other perks: The screen is amazing, all sharp and shiny colours -and responsive-. I can change the wallpaper, the look of the icons, decide which icons i wanna see in the main menu, etc. The device is really light so is easy to carry around. I upgraded the headphones and the sound is just delightful. So clear. and it has like 20 preset options for the equilizer (hip hop, dance, jazz, ballad, blues, rap, pop, xbass, vocals, rock, techno...). I have saved a bunch of pdf books as text format and i can read them on the s9 (the background in which one reads the text can be changed to like 12 different colors). And you can erase pics, videos, etc, directly from the device. Aaaand i also bought the tv out cable and everything in the world is just peachy: I can watch my videos saved on different formats on my tv.
To keep in mind: true that the interface isn't the most intuitive out there. I took me a while to figure things out but, hey: DONE! i master it now.
Another thing: THE PLAYLISTS... now this may be an issue to some. Playlists can be saved to the s9 (change the usb mode to mtp and save the playlists, then you can switch back to msc) BUT if, after you have saved them and another day you decide to add something else to the s9, say another text doc or more music, then your playlist is GONE. erased! So i've worked around that and created folders instead of playlists. But, you know, cowon might surprise us all and take care of that with some firmware. They've already corrected other things and added some fun stuff to the s9.
All in all: I LOVE IT. I am very happy with my decision. Great device!!!

Have fun!!!! and ENJOY YOUR MUSIC!!!
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on July 13, 2010
I bought the Cowon S9 because I wanted a high quality MP3 player and did not like the experience of being tethered to iTunes when I had my previous iPod. Overall, the S9 was what I was hoping to get.


- The battery life on this thing is fantastic. I have it running 10 hours a day when I am sitting at my desk at work, and it will go for several days before needing to be charged. Usually just plugging it in for a hour once a week to load on more music is enough charge time.
- The OLED display is vibrant and clear; no dead pixels.
- Playback quality on both music and video is nothing short of great.
- File compatibility is top notch; this thing has played every file type I have thrown at it with no problems. Playing native xvid video files is extremely convenient, no need to convert videos to a lower quality just so you can add it to your PMP.
- The plastic screen is made out of Gorilla Glass which is pretty much impossible to scratch, so it is very durable and you don't need to worry about stuff grinding against it when you have it in your pocket.
- It allows you to bookmark a spot of a MP3 file - this is a great feature for me because I listen to MP3's of radio shows that can be several hours long. This has been a feature that all of my previous players have lacked so I was pleasantly surprised to find this.
- File management with this player is simple, you just treat it like any other external storage you would plug into your computer and copy your files onto the device.


- The interface is awkward and takes getting used to. Now that I have been using it for about a month it is fine, but it took awhile for it to make sense. You can download user made interfaces and install them on the device if you are interested.
- While rare, I have experienced some odd bugs. Occasionally it will register several mp3 files more than once and I have to restart the player to get back to normal. Nothing huge but they are an annoyance when they come up.
- Hardware was a little smaller than I was expecting. The screen is maybe 30% smaller than a iPod touch.
- The ear bud headphones that come with the player seem pretty cheap, I replaced them immediately.
- FM radio player is extremely bare bones
- No music visualization effects (some of the promotional videos I found on the internet made it looks like it could do this, but I found out it was just displaying movie files that looked similar)

Overall I am happy with the purchase. I use this MP3 player with Ubuntu Linux and it works fine (occasionally it is read only when I mount it, but reconnecting usually fixes it). While I think this player will last me a long time, it has made me a fan of Cowon and I would consider purchasing more of their products.
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on November 16, 2010
I bought the Cowon S9 a couple of months ago, and have been using it ever since. I bought this after I killed my 5th Generation iPod classic (which I was running Rockbox on). After doing some investigation, I decided on this player for a couple of reasons:
* it can play FLAC files, which was something that I wanted.
* it has a touchscreen.
* it can be very easily customized. (I'm using Claw's UCI to tweak things)
* I liked the thought of the screen being very hard to scratch. (My iPod was scratched significantly within a few weeks)
* I know that the Rockbox team has ported to Cowon players before, so I have hope of a port coming in the future.

* The AMOLED screen is AWESOME. Blacks look very black, colors tend to "pop".
* The glass on the front of the screen seems unscratchable. I can take my Swiss Army Knife to it without any visible damage. I've had it in my pocket almost constantly for the past 3-4 months, and I can't see any large scratches. (I have one or two very small scratches on it, but nothing that gets in the way of the display)
* The sound quality is amazing.
* I don't need to use any specific software to sync it. (I use the file browser on my Ubuntu machine)
* It plays video very nicely. I haven't tested battery life while playing video, so I can't provide any information there.
* The player seems pretty durable: as I mentioned before I've had it in my pocket for the last 3-4 months, and there seems to be minimal visible wear.
* Battery life: I charge it up about once a week, averaging about 2 hours a day. (I keep it in standby mode when I'm not using it)
* It fits very nicely in my pocket; it's almost unnoticeable.
* Audio controls are pretty good.

* No replaygain/volume normalization. (something that I really appreciated in Rockbox)
* I haven't figured out how to make playlists bigger than 256 tracks. (I can make 256 track playlists using Claw's UCI. I really don't want to use MTP.)
* It doesn't play AAC files. Not too much of a problem for me, since I don't have any music in that format.
* Non-expandable.
* Non-standard USB connection.
* Not really a complaint about the player itself, but the price dropped $10 the day after I bought it. :/ Oh well.

Other thoughts:
I really like this player. If I had seen the J3 before I bought this, I probably would have gone with that. One other thing I had trouble with was getting it to display album art. I eventually figured out that it had to be embedded in the audio files. (I used MediaMonkey to do that.)

Some people complain about not having gapless playback, but that doesn't bother me too much. (I listen on shuffle most of the time anyways.)

I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking into something without fruity branding.

Edit (2010-12-13): I just figured out how to make M3U playlists using MediaMonkey; it is quite simple. My method involves importing all of the music on the S9 into MM, making the playlist in MM using the files from the S9, and saving the playlist on the device.
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