What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Fri, 2 Dec 2011, 1:10pm

Cowon iAudio E2 2GB

Tested at £40
60100
3

Stylish look and feel, and some hi-tech touches, but sound lets the side down

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For

  • Stylishly minimal
  • the keyring loop is useful
  • voice prompts are a nice touch

Against

  • Sound lacks detail and authority, even with better earphones
  • fiddly button placement

Cowon seems to have taken its design cue from those fobs used to open fancy dan keyless cars. The iAudio E2 is light, and both pocket- and keyring-friendly, and the size and finish make for an object that feels good in your hand.

There’s no screen, so control comes via four buttons, two on each side, and voice prompts. The button placement isn’t great – they’re at the same spot on each side – so you have to be careful not to press one button when you’re pushing at its opposite twin. The volume changes in tiny increments, too.

You can fill the 2GB memory with songs to repeat in order or to shuffle; it supports AAC, FLAC, MP3, OGG and WAV files and will deliver around 11 hours of music on a full charge.

The bundled headphones look smart but sound so-so. Switch to a better pair and still songs lack detail and authority. So, this is a smart-looking unit, but fiddly controls and an average sound let it down, even at this price.

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