The Cowon A2 is "a movie theatre in the palm of your hand", so it basically will play you all your favourite films, whilst you’re sunning yourself in St Tropez or squashed into Economy Class. It also plays MP3s and displays your photos. Available in 20GB and 30GB it costs about £290 and £350 respectively.
Viewing films on the A2 is a pleasure, as the display is bright and crisp. Four inches is also a comfortable size for viewing film for a decent amount of time, so won’t leave you with a headache after 20 minutes. As it happens you get 10 hours video playback, or 18 hours of music. The A2 is not short on compatible formats, taking video as WMV, AVI and ASF and music as MP3, WMA and WAV files.
There is also a number of added features you’ll find, such as the text reader and an FM radio. You can record audio through the inbuilt speaker, from the FM tuner or through the line-in connection.
When it comes to navigating through the menus, it’s all fairly intuitive. The unit front is mainly dedicated to the screen, with just a column on the right hand side with a tiny joystick controlling volume and the ability to go forward and back. Below that there’s an eternally useful ‘back’ button which takes you back a menu, as well as 3 soft keys, which change their use depending on which screen you’re on.
Whilst it’s a handy size for holding on your lap, there is no stand or remote included, so it’d be tricky propping it up on a desk or the like. And since it weighs about 300g, you’ll get soon get fed up with keeping it in your mits.
And the radio is useful, but there was no chance of getting anything but static in the test itself. Whether this is something to do with the fact that you can’t narrow down your region anything further than Europe (versus Russia, US, Japan and Korea) is unknown, but either way, it’s no good.
They’re right, it is a "movie theatre in the palm of your hand" – it does weigh about the same as your local Odean. However, if you can find a minion willing to hold it for you, it will show you cinematic wonders in a screen that is clear and sharp, with a battery life that will far outlast your poor tired hands.