The whole appeal of a PMP is superior audio and video quality and the Z2 passes this in spades. Cowon has heavily modified the stock media player giving it a very simple and streamlined look. The main selling point, however, is the new audio enhancement technology, called JetEffect 5, which gives the Z2 an edge. For those who are really anal about how their music should sound, the Z2 gives you some crazy levels for customizations, including a total of 48 different customization modes left at your disposal. JetEffect 5 involves a combination of various proprietary audio technologies from Cowon like BBE+, Stereo Enhance, EQ and Reverb. You can read the detailed explanation of these enhancements, here and here.
Just wish we could get missing album art through the player
Other enhancements that can be enabled or disabled, include Mach3Bass, 3DSurround, MP Enhance and Stereo Enhance. We recommend ‘BBE Headphone 3’ as a good preset to start with. It worked well for most genres of music. Needless to say, the audio quality is nothing short of amazing with well defined mid-range and thumping bass. The stock headphones may not look like much, but they’ll surprise you with kind of audio they manage to deliver. We have no qualms about the player, other than the fact that you download missing album art directly through the player. Audio formats natively supported by the player, include MP3, WMA, OGG Vorbis, FLAC and PCM. The player can’t parse ‘cue’ files, however, but thankfully you can install PowerAmp and fix that. The player features called ‘Matrix Browser’, which is sort of a coverflow cum Safari (new tab view) look to it. Tapping an album reveals the song list.
The built-in radio interface
Just like the audio player, the video player gives you access to ‘Folder View’ as well. The dedicated ARM NEON chip can easily handle 1080p video in multiple formats, like AVI, WMV, MP4, MKV, MPG, DAT, TS, TP, TRP and 3GP. Codecs supported, include DivX, Xvid, H.264, WMV 9/8/7 and MPEG 1. The stock player easily handles 1080p video without breaking a sweat. The video player supports subtitles, different aspect sizes, change the speed of playback and most importantly, access to all the same audio presets you get in the audio player. In fact, it’s also available for FM Radio. The video quality is really good, thanks to the AMOLED screen and the high resolution. There’s also very little to no colour shift when viewing it at an angle with the kickstand.
Misc. pre-bundled apps
Cowon has also customized a few other apps that come pre-installed, like the gallery, notepad, voice recorder, calendar, calculator and Twitter. JetVD lets you search and play YouTube videos, while Documents lets you open up word files. Of course, this being Android, you can install almost any other app from the Play store. We tried Angry Birds: Space, which works very smoothly with no lag, whatsoever.
The media shaortcut buttons
The Z2 is fitted with a non-removable Li-Ion battery, which managed to deliver about 7hrs and 40min of video playback, so more or less fits what Cowon claims. We used a SD video in loop, using the stock media player. Audio playback clocks out at about 21hrs, which again is very good.
The Cowon Z2 is available in three storage flavours, the 8GB is priced at Rs.18,500, 16GB at Rs.20,500 and and 32GB at Rs.23,500. Compared to its direct competitor, Apple’s iPod Touch, it comes off as a bit expensive. Having said that, this is by far one of the best PMPs we’ve come across in a long time. The Z2 delivers great audio and video performance, good connectivity options (Wi-Fi ‘n’, Bluetooth, HDMI), ease of use (drag and drop simplicity of Android), good selection of apps, expandable memory. If you want a solid alternative to the iPod Touch and don’t care about the camera, then we highly recommend the Cowon Z2.