With so many video formats supported, you're going to have an absolute blast with the Q5W -- the screen is second to none, meaning image quality's terrific, video playback is smooth and the screen actually has some awesome viewing angles. Audio quality is equally superb and outputting a high-quality video to a TV gives amazing performance. If only there was a 160GB hard disk option available we'd be absolutely over the moon.
Alas, while its feature set impresses to new and unrivalled levels, its ease-of-use does not. Navigation is all touch-based, true, but it requires you use tiny buttons split into two thin columns, each sitting to the far left and far right of the screen, and browsing can be sluggish. Although you do get used to where frequently used controls reside, it does require some patience and is far from intuitive. This gives the Q5W even more of a professional, not-for-the-kids touch.
We do wish there was a kick stand or something around the back, though. This would make propping the player up on a plane's tray table less annoying. And this brings us to an important issue: this thing gets very hot. Actually, it gets a little too hot with prolonged use, and that metal case doesn't help, making us further wish there was a kick stand.
Battery life is rated at 13 hours for audio, seven for video. We'll be confirming or denying this as soon as the Q5W finishes its exhaustive tests. Check back soon for the results.
Despite its complicated and slightly sluggish menus, Cowon's Q5W should be seen as the Holy Grail of media players, or more specifically video players. Its unprecedented compatibility with file formats, terrific performance, many levels of customisation and superb TV-out results, make this must-see choice for anyone who demands everything for their video. The only issue is cost, and as functionality not relating to media playback is forgettable -- not to mention the small hard drive capacities -- we don't feel the high price is justified. Though if you can afford it, you will be blissfully happy.
If Web browsing is your main need, with video playback to boot, look for the Archos 605 WiFi -- even with a 160GB it's still cheaper. If you're after something slick and lightweight for full-screen video and Web browsing, look for the iPod touch -- it's significantly less expensive and painfully simple to use.
But if you're a video obsessive, neither of these alternatives come close to the Q5W, meaning if you want everything from your video-centric lifestyle, coughing up for this Korean behemoth might actually be your best bet.
Available from AdvancedMP3Players.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday