Cowon may be an underdog in the market in terms of sales, but this Korean company does know how to make a quality MP3 player. The Cowon iAudio D2 is a solid and compact player dominated by a 64mm (2.5-inch) screen.
Photos of the Cowon iAudio D2 really don't do the player justice -- it has a really nice feel to it, so we definitely recommend some hands-on time with the player before you pass final judgment. The sleek body is wrapped in a brushed-metal border, where you can find some tactile controls: a power/hold slider, volume buttons and a menu key.
On the left edge, hidden beneath a flap, are two USB ports: one standard mini for syncing with the computer and one proprietary for use with the included power adaptor. The bottom of the device features an SD card expansion slot for adding more memory. At 76mm by 56mm by 15mm, the player is pleasantly compact overall, though it feels a tad on the weighty side at 60g.
The D2 is dominated by a 64mm (2.5-inch) colour screen, which makes it look quite similar to the iRiver Clix. Unlike the Clix, however, the D2's display is touch-sensitive, which means the majority of navigation is accomplished by poking at the screen PDA-style. Your finger will do the trick, or you can use the included stylus -- which also acts as a nifty kickstand.
The D2's touchscreen is responsive, but we prefer tactile controls for MP3 players since a touch interface makes blind navigation impossible. All in all, the D2's user interface is pretty straightforward, with an icon-driven main menu that reminds us of Archos' portable video players, but deeper navigation will take some acclimation. Still, anyone with a bit of tech experience should catch on swiftly.
As with all Cowon players, the D2 is teeming with features. It offers support for multiple audio codecs, including MP3, Ogg, WAV, FLAC and WMA -- including subscription tracks. We tested the player with URGE and the D2 had no problem playing back the tracks and recognising prebuilt playlists. (You can also create a dynamic playlist on the device itself.)
Music playback options include shuffle and repeat modes, six EQ presets as well as a user-defined mode, and BBE sound effects (Mach3Bass, 3D Surround and Stereo Enhance). You can also view photos and videos on the device. It supports WMV and AVI natively, and the aforementioned JetShell can help you with other formats, such as DivX. There's also voice and line-in recording, as well as an FM tuner with autoscan and a seemingly limitless number of preset slots.