Cowon’s D3 PMP was announced way back in December of 2010 and while it didn’t really make it here officially, we managed to wrangle a device just to see what it was all about. The Android 2.1 toting D3 is, however available on pre-order on the Cowon Indian website, but here’s a quick preview to help you decide if it’s worth your time and money.
The D3 comes off as a rather HTC-like smartphone with a 3.7-inch AMOLED capacitive touchscreen that sports a 480 x 800 pixel resolution. A set of three touch sensitive keys – Return, sub menu, Home, are located at the bottom of the display. The problem I have with the front section is that there seems to be quite a bit of wasted space. The 3.0cms of space below the display seems quite useless and would have been better utilized with a larger display. The D3 weighs in at about 120g which is a tad heavy for a PMP that lacks even a camera like the iPod Touch 4th Gen that comes in at 101g.
Not the slimmest PMP
On the right side (11.8mm in depth) of the device are player control keys – Play/pause forward, rewind and volume buttons. On the left are the power/sleep button and microSD card slot. Incidentally, the D3 is available in India in 8GB and 16GB capacities, we got the 8GB model. At the bottom of the device, you’ll find the charging and 3.5mm earphone sockets and a proprietary USB/HDMI out port in between. A USB cable is provided of course but you’ll have to buy the HDMI adapter/cable which would set you back by a few hundred rupees.
Running on Eclair aka Android 2.1, one tends to expect quite a bit of functionality form the device which would include provision for apps, games and alike. Sadly, Cowon is still not yet shipping the device with the Android Market on board. The only alternative is to try and do a work-around which isn’t always a good idea. A simpler option is to download .APK files and copy them into the APK folder on the drive. You can then install files directly on the device.
Runs on Android 2.1
The UI is customized quite a bit and although a little bit dull for my taste, it’s nevertheless something any Android user can get used to very quickly. Dedicated customized widgets for the multiple desktops are available and the color layout is aptly selected to go with the devices brow tint. Since the device I received was a prototype/tester, I could attribute that as the reason the UI had a buggy flow to it. However, it did seem to be a bit of a trend even with other reviewers.
A few links (not independent apps) for Facebook, MySpace, Wikipedia etc. are thrown in but it would have been a better value for your Rupee if they were at least native Android applications instead. Everything else about the UI is quite standard to the Android OS.
A Cowon, iAudio device is known for outstanding audio and video quality catering to the audiophile in you. Aside from the comfortable earphones that are more than capable of providing comfortable listening, I’d recommend getting a high-end set of earphones to fully “unplug” and let loose this audio beast on your auditory senses. With features that include Cowon’s JetEffect 3.0 audio enhancement tech that comes with 34 pre-customized presets and 4 users customizable presets, the D3 also allows for further customization with a 5 band EQ setting, BBE+ for definitive bass enhancement and a few additional effects like Reverb and Stereo Enhance. There’s really nothing more you could ask for. It’s like having a miniaturized studio mixer in your pocket. Suffice to say, this baby seriously “brings it” all in the audio department. Peaking the volume is just not a good idea on the D3, you could injure your eardrums.
Supports full 1080p video playback
In the video department, the D3 also manages to come out as a real winner. It’s capable of supporting virtually any and all popular video codecs including .MKV, DivX and XviD. Thanks to the drive being formatted to NTFS, copying large HD files to the on-board memory is not an issue. The D3 has full support for full HD i.e. 1080p (1920 x 1080)video files and they look really good on the display and playback occurs without any lag whatsoever. I tried all kinds of resolutions in all kinds of formats but nothing phased the device. It handled everything I could throw at it.
An FM radio with a recording feature is also thrown in. It took a little over 20 seconds to scan through the frequencies but did mange to find all the available stations. Reception quality was average. A separate microphone is also provided for voice memos etc.
The D3 is equipped with Wi-Fi, Stereo Bluetooth streaming, USB 2.0 for PC connectivity as well as TV Out, as I mentioned. The native Android browser is very capable for internet surfing and audio always sounds much better via Bluetooth, the only issue you’ll have to deal with is your battery meter dwindling away with either or both of these option switched on. Cowon has included a Twitter app and email support for the D3. Why FB is not included is beyond me.
Avilable in two color options
A document reader that reads .TXT files for eBook reading, a clock with an Alarm function, calendar and Contacts apps that syncs with your Google account and a calculator are all part of the device's features set. A few extras include a comic book reader for .CBR files and a Paint app for drawing. If only you could get more apps, it would be great.
With regards to audio, the D3 will run non-stop for 21 hours, just as the company expected. It also fares quite well for video clocking in at 9 hours (average) of non stop video playback.
Could have used a mini HDMI port
The Bottom Line
The biggest issue to contend with is that sans the Android App market the entire value of this device falls. With a price tag of Rs. 18,000 for 32GB and Rs. 16,000 for 16GB with extended memory support for both via microSD cards, multiple codec and full HD video playback support the D3 comes off as a really great device. But it still lacks the ability to enhance it’s worth with downloadable games and apps. It’s biggest competitor, at the moment would be the new Apple iPod Touch which features a camera and Apple’s Face-Time video chat function. They’re even facing off in the price bracket. But if you were to base this challenge purely on audio and video capabilities, the D3 will win hands down.
It’s slated for a May launch in India, but let’s just hope that when it get’s here, we’ll see a FroYo device with the App Market preloaded, that would make it a hard device to beat.