As I sit here at the beginning of a long overdue week off work, stranded in Rugby after working late to finish a project and getting my car locked in the car park, my thoughts turn to my recently deceased 16 GB Cowon iAudio 7. I loved that thing. It was a fantastic player, near enough 60 hours continuous playback (honestly), tiny and like the rest of the iAudio range, it plays Oggs and the sound quality was excellent. None of that iPod bullshit for me We were planning to marry and raise a family.
My romance with Cowon started in 2006 or 2007 when I was looking for a portable media player that supported the Ogg format, which offers better quality and smaller file size compared to MP3 and is unencumbered by legal bullshit. On a recommendation I bought a Cowon iAudio X5 and was delighted with it, even though I never actually watched any movies on that ‘larger than anybody else but still quite pokey by today’s standards’ colour screen I paid unnecessarily for. It finally died last year when I dropped my bag on the connector which was propped upright, meaning it could no longer be attached to the charger or a PC and I’d just bought a replacement battery for it, having worn out the factory fitted one.
I drifted for a little while, with various vain attempts at glueing it back together making it worse until I came across this post by my evil twin Felim Whiteley about the iAudio 7. After asking a few suspicious questions I decided to buy one and was really, really happy with it, even more so than the X5. It works on Linux, it shows up as a USB storage device, it’s tiny, lightweight, the battery really does last the advertised 60 hours of playback, it plays Oggs and the sound quality is way better than an iPod. Then I dropped it last week and it wouldn’t turn on any more
Having destroyed the screws with an over sized screwdriver, I had to get my dad to drill them down so I could prize it open, but having done so and re-connected the on-off button to the internal mechanism, either the fall did more damage than I thought or the drilling/reconnecting process damaged other stuff. It turns on but the screen is corrupted, it doesn’t play anything and well, the casing looks pretty shitty after being drilled in each corner. And I can’t find anyone who stocks a replacement. The last one was £116, but they’re out of stock now and so it seems are everybody else. What appears to be the replacement in the product line is the iAudio 9 (sometimes referred to as the i9 to differentiate it from the Cowon S9) and it seems to start around the same price as it’s predecessor, but is larger, less attractive to my eye and has half the battery life (though 30 hours isn’t bad, if they’re as honest with this one a they were with the iAudio 7).
So, the purpose of this winsome ramble is to solicit opinion. I need a new Ogg/MP3 player. Smaller would be better, Ogg playback is essential, looks not so important, 12-16 GB preferable, sound quality should be very good, battery life should be more than 24 hours, must show up as a mass storage device on Linux and understand when you copy new tracks to it without using some bullshit media player to update an internal database before it will notice you added new songs.
Specifically though, I’d like to hear your recommendations, particularly from owners of other Cowon models, other manufacturers who support Ogg and maybe, with hope in my heart, from anyone who has a 16 GB Cowon iAudio 7 they would like to sell
Guess I’m going to end up buying an iAudio 9.