Cowon iAudio 02 review

This Cowon's a solid and dependable machine - it just looks a little outdated against some of its contemporaries Tested at £243.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

When it comes to music and movies, the Cowon is an extremely versatile machine, but it still lacks the all-round finesse of the class leaders


  • +

    Compatible with numerous audio and video files

  • +

    easy to use

  • +

    clear, colourful picture


  • -

    Sounds flat and unexciting

  • -

    plain looks and dated menus

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Some of us crave the simple life. A working knowledge of a handful of file formats is enough to get us by, and an online store, such as iTunes, is our only port of call for tracking down video and audio content.

But more computer-savvy folk have more expansive needs. They flit between different file formats as regularly as a WAG changes her shoes, and for them, the Cowon iAudio 02 is ideal.

The O2 can handle a huge range of audio and video files, including Apple Lossless, WMA, OGG Vorbis, XviD and the current format of choice for video encoders, MKV.

Doesn't ooze sex appeal
The Cowon doesn't exactly ooze sex appeal, and its on-screen icons and menus look dated too, but the 4.3in screen performs very well. There's good clarity, colours appear rich and the player does a fine job of producing deep blacks, hindered only by a small trace of motion judder.

The iAudio 02's supplied headphones aren't overly comfortable: we'd upgrade with Sennheiser's CX-300-IIs (£15). Do so, and the Cowon picks up decent levels of detail, but dynamically, it still sounds too flat.

The O2 will appeal to those who require a solid, dependable and seriously versatile machine. However, more attractive options do exist.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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