Cowon built the iAudio G2 with the premise that less is more. Without the FM tuner and USB 2.0 connectivity found in the iAudio G3, this 1GB flash-based player has excellent sound quality and audio-control options, its main selling points. For £100, the Cowon iAudio G2 is a good choice for anyone seeking a fairly basic but great-sounding device that can play WMA (DRM 9) and OGG files, in addition to MP3s.
At 64 by 46 by 18mm and a lightweight 37g with the single AA battery, the Cowon iAudio G2 is rather large for a flash player, but the rectangular, dark-blue case and blue-backlit screen is hardly ugly. To the right of the four-line display is a navigational joystick that controls fast-forward/rewind and volume, as well as letting you view the main menu and the track directory. The top of the device houses buttons for power/play/pause, mode and recording -- the mode button, new to Cowon players, is a welcome addition. It's difficult to say how well the all-plastic design will hold up to long-term use, but we liked the firm snap of the protective flip cover for the line-in and USB ports, and we found all the buttons responsive and easy to control.
The Cowon iAudio G2 plays MP3, OGG and protected WMA files, so you can play tracks purchased from online music stores such as Napster, though not subscription-based tracks. You can install the included JetShell software to transfer your media files, but the player is also compatible with Windows Media Player, Musicmatch Jukebox and Yahoo Music Engine -- or you can simply move unprotected tracks using Windows Explorer.
What we love most about the Cowon iAudio G2 is its crisp, clean audio quality with well-defined highs and lows -- the included earbuds are better than what typically comes with MP3 players. Even better, the iAudio G2 has a wealth of audio adjustments, including six equaliser presets and a five-band user-defined mode, as well as BBE, Mach3Bass, MP Enhance, 3D Surround and Pan effects. Plus, it supports line-in and voice recording, and it captures to the MP3 format. Recorded sound quality is, again, excellent.
We can forgive Cowon for excluding the FM tuner, but downgrading to a USB 1.1 connection was an odd choice for a 1GB player. As a result, file-transfer speeds averaged only 0.48MB per second. The company claims as much as 40 hours of continuous playback from a single AA battery for the iAudio G2 -- an impressive figure, though less than the G3's rated life of 50 hours (37 hours according to our tests).
Edited by James Kim
Additional editing by Nick Hide