Portable media players become more and more versatile, sometimes resembling small computers. How much of an “ordinary” MP3 player does the Q5W from Cowon still have in it?
The segment of ultramobile computers is still a niche for a group of selected people – multimedia players are a different matter. The latter have become an integral part of the technology we use. Apart from basic MP3 players and video players, the market offers true multimedia combos. One of them is Q5W from Korean company Cowon.
In a large size box we will find the player, USB-mini USB cable, charger, remote control to control basic functions of the device and a chinch-composite cable to connect the player to the TV set.
The Q5W measures 138.8 by 88.5 by 20mm and weighs 380g – that’s a lot, such dimensions exclude the Cowon device from the “pocket player” segment. In this case we are dealing with a Portable Video Player. Hence, such a size.
Using the term “mini-computer” is most appropriate here. The device has on board AMD Alchemy processor clocked at 600 Mhz, 64MB of flash memory, 128MB DDR2 SDRAM and Windows CE 5.0 Professional operating system. On top of that there is a 40-gigabyte disk. Now it is clear where this size comes from.
The device looks good, although you can see that the engineers focused on functionality. The Q5W has a WI-Fi (IEEE802.11g/b) and Bluetooth module, a radio, and a voice recorder. Interestingly, we need to expand the antenna for proper Wi-Fi operation. Two USB inputs are hidden behind a removable tab, on top there is an on/off button, infrared and a great-looking aluminum stylus. The latter will be useful for operating the player thanks to touch-sensitive navigation.
The display – just like the capabilities of the Q5W – is impressive. It is 5 inches with WVGA resolution (800×480 – LCD-TFT) and supports 16.7 million colors. We have to admit that Cowon has delivered a top-notch display – crystal clear image, great effective viewing angle and good picture even despite sunlight. Time to turn the device on.
A real combo device
The capabilities of the Q5W are really impressive – the player plays MP3, WMA, ASF, OGG, WAV, FLAC, APE and MPC audio files. However, the real pearl is the video capabilities of the tested player, which supports DivX, XviD, MPEG4, WMV 7/8/9 and additionally enables you to view photos in JPG, BMP, PNG, RAW up to 10MB. And to top it all off, there is a TXT text file reader. No conversion necessary, just drag and drop and you’re home. Revelation.
From the Cowon application we can at any time switch to Windows. A compact version of Windows awaits us there, including WordPad (so why make a separate TXT reader?), MSN Messenger and Internet Explorer. Working in two environments is not a problem, but it is surprising that Cowon has not prepared a single overlay.
Speaking of the Microsoft browser – definitely one of the biggest pluses of the Q5W is the built-in Wi-Fi module. Today, this is slowly becoming standard on better player models (iPod Touch). After jumping over the settings issue we can surf with IE. A large, ensuring a good image display provides easy navigation, and a large amount of RAM and a good processor eliminate problems with loading pages. Although the player can’t handle several extended pages at once. But this is not a computer.
According to the manufacturer’s data, the Q5W will last 7 hours of watching video content and 13 hours of audio content. Such data is due to the large display. However, it is one of the biggest pluses. While watching movies we can use subtitles in SMI and SRT format. In addition – thanks to the USB 2.0 port – we can connect a mouse, keyboard and portable memory to the player.Since the Q5W has Windows on board, additional modifications are possible, but this is a topic for a separate article.
Finally, we should ask the question – what do we expect from the Q5W? The biggest scare for the average customer is the price – the player costs 2.2 thousand PLN, as much as a good, used (or not) notebook. The Q5W gives a lot of room for improvement, but we have to pay for it. How many people will decide to take that step? It’s a matter of taste.