We just got our hands on the D2+ MP3 player from Cowon, which started shipping in the US this week. UK availability hasn't been confirmed, but the device is expected in the next couple of weeks, costing around £140 for the 8GB version and £170 for the 16GB version.
If you remember the original Cowon iAudio D2 from 2007, then the D2+ won't provide many surprises, as the majority of features are the same. The D2+ has a 2.5-inch QVGA resistive touchscreen, support for the MP3, WMA, FLAC, OGG, WAV and APE audio formats, and support for the AVI and WMV video formats. It can also display photos and has an FM radio, text reader and voice recorder.
Rated battery life is the same as that of the D2, at an excellent 52 hours of audio and 10 hours of video. Dimensions are the same. Buttons are the same. Kickstand, USB port, SDHC slot... same, same, same.
Fortunately, we're big fans of the original D2, so Cowon didn't need to do much to keep us interested.
The big news is that Cowon has upgraded the D2's already mind-blowing audio-enhancement settings with the latest BBE+ technology (also included in the recent Cowon S9). We can subjectively say that the sound really is fantastic, and we found the EQ and effect settings on the D2+ a little easier to navigate than on the S9, which emphasised presets over individual settings. The EQ on the D2+ also offers adjustable EQ frequency filters and bandwidth settings for super-picky users.
The graphical user interface on the D2+ has also been given a thorough polish, borrowing from the Cowon O2's cleaner, more modern-looking icons and menus.
We do have some initial criticisms, though. First and foremost, there's no AAC audio support. We made this same complaint about the S9, but it seems even more relevant now that iTunes sells its music in the AAC format and has ditched the DRM that once made songs incompatible with non-iPod devices. Don't get us wrong, we think iTunes should sell songs as MP3s just like the rest of the world (add an option for FLAC, while you're at it, Apple), but Zune, Sony, Samsung and Creative have all seen the light on AAC, and Cowon should too.
Another complaint we have about the S9 that applies to the D2+ concerns support for H.264 videos. In the two years since the original D2, the worlds of online-video downloads and podcasts have exploded, and much of the content uses the iPod-compatible H.264 video format as a standard. If you could drag and drop this content onto the D2+ without tedious conversion, life would be sweet.
The third thing we noticed is that Cowon has left off the metal accents that made the original D2 feel so classy and durable. Instead, the D2+ uses an all-plastic design that, frankly, feels slightly cheaper. To make up for it, though, Cowon is selling a kit of metallic stickers (sold separately) to give your D2+ a little added bling.
We'll have more thoughts to share in a review soon. Until then, take a look at our photo gallery.