When it comes to portable music Cowon has an awesome reputation amongst most audiophiles. The C2 succeeds the D2 and is made specially keeping the budget conscious in mind. So will the C2 continue Cowon’s legacy to deliver stellar audio quality? That's what we're here to tell you, read on to find out just how it fared in our labs.
Design and Build Quality
Since I’ve seen the Cowon X7, I can say that the C2 definitely bears a resemblance to it. By no means can you call the C2 a slim, you-wont-feel-it-in-your-pocket kind of a PMP. The bezel at the vertical ends are quite slim but is a tad thicker at the sides. It’s a little strange but Cowon’s given the front a rather dull matte finish whereas at the back it’s all dark chrome-like. Not that it matters a lot, but one would expect the attractive side to be facing front, right?
Daily Life UI pretty cool and intuitive to use
There’s the 3.5 mm audio jack at the left side and on the right, there’s a flap to cover a MicroSD card slot (memory expandable to 32 GB) and Cowon’s proprietary USB slot meant for charging and transferring files to the device. The flap fits in well enough and ensures that both these openings stay safe from dust that you’re bound to encounter during everyday travel. At the top there are four buttons, one of them can be used alternately as either a Screen Lock or Microphone button. The next is the menu button which brings you to the main menu no matter how deep you’ve lost yourself into some folder. Following this are the volume control buttons. At the back, there are tiny stereo speakers situated at the top right corner.
The bundled earphones that come with the C2 compliment the device as well. They are not in-ear phones but have a nice, well-built base made of hard plastic and are capable of dishing out clear and well defined audio. I didn’t like the fact that the wire is thin but the good thing is that it doesn’t entangle easily. There’s no noise cancellation or isolation as such, but the playback is very good. I’ll stick to the fact that you can get a much better experience if you invest in a better quality set from another company.
MicroSD card lets you increase capacity, USB/AV port for charging, transferring data and TV Out
The design is not extraordinary as such, but the build quality of the C2 is top-notch. Right from the buttons, the flap and the ports underneath it to the grill speakers at the back, all of them will not give you a cheap feel.
The C2 has an interface that’s a little similar to the X7 but operates very smoothly. The 2.6-inch screen has a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels, which is not too impressive. Then again you can’t expect much from a screen of this size. Users can choose between two different themes called the Visible Layered UI which has all the icons listed in a grid form and the second called the Daily Life UI, which has six different animated menu screens (for some reason Cowon’s site lists it as a UI) for different parts of the day. It’s not meant to be very interactive, but they do add to the coolness quotient of the device. Navigation between menus is absolutely fluid and despite being a resistive touchscreen, it responds very well.
An alternate UI is a good addition
While that’s what is good about the interface, I must add that the UI is not completely flawless. The navigation buttons - like going back one menu or going to the previous list are very tiny. More often than once I ended up pressing the bezel around the screen because trying to press the option directly wasn’t responsive. Also, once you dump some more media onto the player, it takes a little too long to update the database. Other than these issues however, I don’t have anything else to complain about.
Impressive looks, sturdy design and an easy to use interface but that’s not what the C2 is all about. The feature that quite literally sets it apart from most other PMPs in i's segment is the media playback. The C2 like most of Cowon media players, has a wide range of support for audio formats like MP3, WMA, WAV and to add to this there’s support for OGG, APE and FLAC as well. The video formats (AVI, ASF, WMV) it supports is not as impressive and that’s because the C2 is aimed at those interested in audio rather than video.
Stellar audio quality
Starting off with the audio quality, the C2 affirms how Cowon sticks to making products with exceptional audio quality. The JetEffect 3.0 settings comes with 35 presets and 4 user presets to choose from. Good enough for tweaking your way to the ultimate music experience. In normal mode also, the audio quality is brilliant. The highs are just a wee bit faint, but the same doesn’t go for the mids or the lows. The bass in particular feels awesome with just the right level of boom and thump. As spoken of earlier, if you like it any other way you have 4 presets (5 band equalizer settings) to customize it as per your requirements. Plus there’s the usual BBE+ settings that include BBE, Mach3Bass, 3D Surround and MP Enhance. The C2 also has special effects like the Stereo Enhance and Reverb as well. All in all, your ears will attain Nirvana after a nice lengthy session with the C2!
There are some more settings as well but that’s not to enhance audio experience, it’s more to add to the ease of use of the device. Settings like Bookmarks and Favorites let you choose a particular track as your favorite. Cowon’s added an A-B Loop option for listening to a section of a track on loop. This is of course handy when listening to audio recordings.
Video performance is quite average
The video quality doesn’t quite match up to what the audio has to offer but whatever it can do, like playing AVI or WMV files, it does decently. At the same time, I wouldn’t recommend it for watching full length movies, but music videos or clips that are about 10-15 mins are not too bad.
The C2 also has an FM Radio that plays quite clearly and at such times, you’ll be thankful for the plethora of EQ settings that can be used to make listening to even FM an even better experience. There are 24 preset stations and the player can automatically scan and pick up the channels quickly.
The C2 is no iPod touch but I don’t think that Cowon was aiming the device to be like one either. Nevertheless it has its own little features to boast of. There’s a calculator with basic options that works pretty well as the virtual keypad is big enough to quickly punch in numbers. The same cannot be said for apps like Notepad and Typist. The former lets you scribble stuff quickly on a page that saves automatically. The problem is with such a small resistive touchscreen it’s quite a task to scribble anything, let alone do it quickly. Typist is a nice idea for an app, but unfortunately it’s riddled with issues. Sometimes your press will be registered twice and some other times it won’t be registered at all. Add to that, the tiny little keyboard that can be very cumbersome for people with stubby fingers. There’s a recorder as well as a stopwatch app which is nothing out of the box for PMPs to have.
Virtual QWERTY keyboard is tiny
The C2 can read documents as well but only in the TXT format but Cowon should have added support for PDF documents as well. The Flash player is meant to play flash files but it couldn’t do much with a couple of SWF files that I had dumped in the player. So when it comes to extras, the C2 doesn’t really have much to talk about but again, it’s not that I was expecting much either.
Cowon claims that the C2 can go on for 55 hours non-stop playing audio while the video playback was clocked at 10 hours. Audio playback did not really match the standards they claimed and the battery conked off in about 35 hours. Now that kind of battery performance is definitely not bad at all. Video performance was pretty good, with the device playing for 7 hours.
Will give you an Eargasm!
The C2 is priced at Rs. 6,725 for 4 GB, Rs. 8,250 and Rs. 9,250 for the 8 and 16 GB versions respectively. You can add another 32 GB to the in-built memory via the MicroSD card slot. There were some quirks here and there like small icons on the UI or for that matter, a small screen for watching videos. However, the positives are that you have a player with a superb DAC that can play a wide range of audio formats. Plus, the C2 will ensure that all this entertainment lasts for a whole day and a half, nonstop! At Rs. 6,725 look no further, the C2 is a good buy.
We'll miss you C2, for sure!
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