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My first impression of the D2 was that it is too retro. What with all the brushed-metal sandwiched between the black. I mean, seriously! We have seen some innovative makes (including some of the hideous ones available). But this one is just too, let's just say, ordinary!
After so much ado about integrating media players with touch screen support, one would think separate volume buttons is a far cry from innovation. But trust me; you'll learn to respect Cowon's decision to have them placed on top of the player. Bunched in between the volume keys is the menu button. Another ingenious move! It's the most useful button, as you can use this one-touch technique to access the menu in haste.
The power button is a cool slider that shuts/starts the player when slid softly and held in place to the left, and locks it when slid to the right. What I like about the D2 is that it allows you to switch off the LCD screen when you are done using it, which means you don't have to wait till it goes off on its own when left inactive. Just softly push the power button to the left to turn the screen off, and touching the screen will put it back on for use. Lock the machine and you are ready to go. Not bad I say!
The mic’s placed right in between the power button and the volume keys. I tried it, and I have to admit, it’s very effective. Right at the bottom, you will find the SD slot.
Now the stylus for the D2 is a rather fascinating object. It’s very much like a guitar pick. This triangular stylus, despite its vulgar look, is not shaped so without a reason. Apparently it also justifies the presence of the vertical slit beside the screen. The stylus can be slid-in to fit the slit so that the player can be propped up at two reclining angles. This may seem unnecessary, but I quite like it. Pretty useful too, since you won’t have to hold it all the time. The only thing that I don’t like, or find quite cumbersome rather, is that due to this, the stylus can’t be stowed away. It’s irritating to have it dangle all the time.
On the left hand side of the player is the 3.5mm earphone jack, and right below it you will find a cover that has the mini USB port and the charging port encased in it. All good, only I still think the D2 could have been given a look to kill.
Looks apart, the player wades through our sea of hopes with much fanfare. Let’s start with the screen. It’ a 2.5 inch, 24-bit QVGA (320x240) TFT-LCD touch screen that can display up to 16 million colors. As far as the sensitivity of the screen is concerned, it works pretty well. In spite of the stylus it’s more convenient to use your thumb. And although the touch screen support is good, we don’t vouch for its longevity. That, only time will tell.
The User Interface will take a little bit of getting used to. Rest assured, it’s a hassle-free process. Navigating is a piece of cake once you are well aware of where to find what.
And now to talk about why you would really shell that dough to buy the D2! The music player supports MP3, OGG, WMA, FLAC, WAV and APE. You can convert any other file format you have in mind using the bundled JetAudio software.
The music quality is awesome. What's more, the music player also displays the album artwork. I’m smitten! All the settings are easily accessible by using the options displayed at the bottom of the screen. If you want to set your own play list, you can do so by adding songs to the Dynamic Play List.
I strongly recommend shelling out some extra cash for a decent pair of head phones. The proprietary earphones that come along with the player suck! There is the usual bunch of presets you can select, or arrange the frequencies as per your taste using the equalizer. There are other surplus functions like BBE, Mach2Bass, 3D surround, Stereo enhancer—a waste of time!!
The video quality is good too. I had a nice time watching an episode of South Park and a whole Fleetwood Mac concert. As far as music and pictures are concerned, you can just drag and drop them. But playing most videos will need you to go through the painful conversion spree with one of their proprietary software. A major hassle! Why, when Creative Zen allows you to simply copy and paste. Very bad!! Apart from this it also reads text files.
FM radio reception is in all honesty quite good too, and the recorder has a roomy reception quality.
Memory / Conclusion
The player comes in two options, 2GB and 4GB. SAD!! It’s like an iPod Nano, only with a bigger and better screen. Even the Zen comes with 30 GB in-built memory. If you compare the two, buying a memory card to extend the memory on the D2 will bring the cost close enough to the Zen’s.
This alone makes the D2 look like a bad buy. True? Not really. While, the Zen is HD based, the D2’ storage is flash-memory based. (It’s skip free and more durable). Which means, unlike the Zen, you can take the D2 out with you for a jog. Although, it would have been a lot better if the D2 had the drag-and-drop option for videos.
The player still has a much faster UI, and do keep in mind the touch-screen factor. (I like the way the menus pop up and the fraction of a second it takes to load a video or a song).
Personally, I prefer the Vision M. But I don’t go for a run. And I still think, at Rs. 12,500, it’s a nice buy.