Feature | Tech Up! – Cowon D20 32GB Media Player

By Adam Riley 24.12.2013

Cubed3 previously had the chance to try out the X-mini UNO Capsule Speaker as a great form of external audio, and now it is time for Tech Up! to look at something that it can connect to, namely a media player such as the intriguing, miniscule D20 from Cowon.

"Power in the palm of your hands" - that is an ideal that many developers aim for, yet seldom achieve without various drawbacks. The Cowon D20 32GB Media Player is a feisty piece of kit that offers a range of uses, a decent amount of storage space (internal and expandable), all for under £120. However, it all comes in a tiny package that does not do it any favours. When playing any of the supported music files (MP3, WMA, FLAC, OGG, APE, WAV) or the FM radio, it is not too much of an issue. However, when it comes to enjoying a film, viewing documents, using the in-built calculator, or even using a typewriter to store notes (why?), it becomes rather ridiculous. Even trying to use a fingertip can prove almost impossible and it comes down to trial and error when attempting to go where needed on the menu screen.

Image for Feature | Tech Up! – Cowon D20 32GB Media Player


What does not help is how the touch screen interface of the 2.5-inch TFT screen is highly unintuitive and, more often than not, extremely unresponsive, probably due to the screen itself being so small. Another issue is that the volume cap is not sufficient, with the highest volume not emitting a strong enough sound from the in-built speaker, and only more powerful headphones/earphones doing music/movie content justice.

The advertised 90 hours from one three-hour charge sounds impressive, but as always it comes with the age-old caveat of 'depending on what the device is used for' (in other words, movies: up to 13 hours continuous play), plus it is not powering a large screen, which will certainly help the strain on the rechargeable battery. Whatever the case, the length of its life for those listening to just music is impressive, as is the storage space since it can be expanded to double the initial 32GB using a standard-sized SD card. Positives in an otherwise negative review, yet not enough of them to encourage readers to rush out and spend cold, hard cash on it...

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Whilst the Cowon D20 32GB Media Player has its benefits - like the great storage space and long battery life - sadly there are too many downfalls that unfortunately hold it back. A cumbersome interface, unresponsive and inaccurate touch screen system, a screen that proves too small for ease of viewing most media types, and a speaker that is too weak for use anywhere other than a quiet room - it is a disaster all round. Anyone wanting to use it for music purposes only will still have problems due to the awkward cataloguing and frustration of actually getting to the right song to play. It gains points for its TV Out capability (cable not included, though…), but who is really going to use it for hooking up to a TV when the interface is so poor and fiddly? Basically, steer clear of this and put the money towards something far more impressive. Unless wanting to use this as an expensive Dictaphone, perhaps?

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