Cowon has a tendency to keep us guessing what they’re going to come out with next. And this one, their new J3, is definitely an iPod killer.
The J3 is as generic in design as they come. But it’s still a sleek device just 9.9 mm in depth. The 3.3-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen (capacitive) display sports a 272 x 480 pixel resolution with 16 million colours and is crystal clear for viewing. It’s scratch resistant to quite an extent. There’s one inch of empty space below the display, and we’d have less complaints if this had been utilised well.
On one side you’ll find a set of navigation keys to scan through videos. Below that is a play/ pause button followed by the volume keys. A power/screen lock key is on the other side. At the bottom, under a flap, is the USB port that also doubles up as an AV out. The J3 is packaged without a cable for it. Beside that is a MicroSD card slot — an 8 GB card, loaded to the hilt, worked without a hitch. The 3.5 mm standard earphones socket is also at the bottom. The bundled earphones are easy on the ears in both tone quality and comfort, and there’s also an inbuilt speaker that can be compared to most mobile phone devices.
Features and interface
The Flash based UI is simple and responsive but not without minor quirks. The accelerometer is a bit strange — in landscape mode the desktop icons flip over, but most features are standardised to portrait, which means you’ll have to flip the device back to portrait. Like most new touchscreen devices, the J3 also employs the use of multiple pages. Options can be dragged to different screens — press, hold and drag. Slide the power icon at the bottom of the display and options for displaying the menu show up. The vertical option looks like the Zune’s desktop while another offers widgets to be placed on the desktops. The J3 also supports multitouch, which is as responsive as Apple’s. There’s also a zoom bar at the bottom of the page for single hand usage.
The J3 can dish out some high quality tones for both average quality and optimised music files. It’s never necessary to peak the volume. The most impressive feature is the iAudio’s Jet Effect 3.0 settings. It offers customisable options to enhance audio quality. Not only does it offer presets including BBE ViVA and ViVa 2, but also a five-band graphic setting for customisation.
As if that weren’t enough, BBE+, a licensed audio enhancement engine, includes Mach3Bass, 3D surround and an MP3 Enhancement booster. That’s in addition to a separate option for Stereo Enhancement and a Reverb effect.
Video playback is also a plus point seeing as how Cowon allows you to drag, drop and play videos of most formats like DivX and XviD without conversion. The drop-down menu includes access to audio functions like presets, screen capture and stretch to fit options.
The FM radio worked quite well, although it took over 15 seconds to locate channels. It also allows for recording and access to the EQ settings. The J3 has a built-in microphone for the voice recorder function. The Dictaphone’s reception is really good even at a distance of three feet.
The image gallery opened up quickly even though it was full of large 8 MP sized images. However, a lag was evident while swiping to the next image and using the pinch to zoom function. An accelerometer-based game called Game Hunter has is preloaded.
The J3 is designed to read text files and eBooks. Flash games, too, are supported, so you can simply copy-paste the files to start playing. The J3 supports Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP. If you’re looking for a better audio experience, you could invest in a Stereo Bluetooth headset. This is one PMP that refused to die. With music playback on a non-stop loop, the device ran for over 50 hours. It may have fallen short of the 65 hour mark that the company claims but over 52 hours is still excellent. When it came to video, Cowon claimed it’d provide 11 hours of non-stop playback, but the J3 ran for a little over 9 hours and 45 minutes.