To top off the feature list, the Cowon iAudio 6 can be used as a text viewer and a USB host for transferring digital images from cameras. You can bookmark songs, as well as tweak the playback speed, resume, autoplay, fade in and so forth -- basically, if you want a small player you can twiddle with, this is the one. The iAudio 6 ships with standard earbuds, a line-in cable, a USB cable, a USB host cable and a software CD with JetShell/JetAudio VX software, which -- among other things -- helps you get your photos and video on to the device.
Another thing -- the iAudio 6 uses a small drive, but it's still susceptible to shock. Cowon may have been better off using a flash drive, which it will introduce in the 2GB version of the iAudio 6, though we predict a flash 4GB iAudio 6 would be priced higher than the competitive £190 tag.
The Cowon iAudio 6's sound quality is superb -- it has a good dynamic range with bright sound and nice bass -- and it gets a boost from Cowon's excellent set of equalisers (seven settings, plus a user-definable five-band equaliser) and BBE surround and bass enhancements. It records to 128Kbps WMA files, and they sound great. Voice recordings are easy to make, though the internal mic picks up noise when you touch the device.
Battery life for the internal rechargeable battery is rated for 20 hours. We achieved a little more than 18 hours, which is respectable. While the internal processor can handle multitasking -- that is, viewing photos and listening to music -- you'll notice minute pauses while rapidly skipping through tracks, which is characteristic of hard drive players. You'll also have to contend with a long 20-second boot-up time.
Cowon has produced another gem of a high-end multimedia player. Ease of use has improved a tad -- it's more intuitive, to be exact -- but the physical controller should be tested by prospective buyers. Nevertheless, the Cowon iAudio 6 will be a big hit among the MP3 underground, thanks to great performance, as well as a slick set of features and format compatibility.
Additional editing by Nick Hide