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3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
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on 17 May 2012
This is just a quick review which I hope to expand as I use the player more (just bought it).

So far no regrets as I am upgrading from Cowon i9/Sony NZW S639 (both are respectable players), there are some improvements over previous model but not in every department.

Let me start with interface which seem to be the Achilles heel of Cowon for years. Cowon come up with great design (and this player is by far the best-looking audio player out there, including Apple, Sony, Samsung and other products) and have great sound quality but have so difficult and confusing interface. Having used previous Cowon model with similar touch-pad interface I though I won't have any problems here but I was hopelessly wrong. Now one week since using this player I still can not adjust the very basic settings. I will have to download (it is not supplied) the manual and read how to do it. It should not be this way! If you are not familiar with Cowon players, please get the manual straight away - you will need it!

If you get pass the interface and make it play the music, your efforts will pay off.

1 - You can use lossless files (flac/ogg etc), not just compressed MP3 or other formats, which immediately improves the sound quality.
2 - Cowon reproduced sound brilliantly, full stop. For a better sound you are looking to buy an audiophile-quality player worth hundreds of pounds and much bigger/heavier.
3 - No need for any software to transfer the files, just copy them in Windows explorer

Now, an important tip. Sound volume will be very low if you bought this player in the UK/EU - as all other manufactures Cowon have to limit the sound volume as per EU directive (big brother always thinking about you!). I was contemplating whether to buy an amplifier or return the player when I found out how to remove this limitation.

Open a player in Explorer, go to System, find and delete PARAMS.CFG file. You can copy and save it on your PC if you want. Restart the player. It will start with the options. Select your language, then go for Non-European Union!!!! - this will remove the sound volume limit and even further improve the sound.

All in all, sound quality outweighs quirky interface for me so no star deductions.

UPDATE August 2013

Now after a year or so of this player's use I am quite disappointed (thus downgrade from 5* to 4* as the battery life went all the way down from about week on standby and a day or two heavy use (ie when travelling) to 2-3 days in standby and a few hours of use. As the battery is non-replaceable and charging cable is non-standard so you can't use normal USB charger on the go this becomes just home-use player and even then needs constant recharging. That's such a shame for otherwise good player.
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on 8 November 2012
The cowon i10 is a fine product if you consider the audio quality and the quality of the equipment that produces it. It is probably one of the best players out there. I had a cowon player before and comparing the two, this product is also nicely designed and has a lot more memory capacity.
However there are a few major cons in this product:
- The actual USB cable that comes with it is terrible; It is difficult to fit it in the connector of the equipment.
- The cable that comes with it is non-standard and that is a major con, so i need an extra cable type hanging around my PC.
- The cable that comes with it doesn't work that properly it is very sensitive to powerfluctuations or something. It took me a lot of attempts to actually get music on the player. I solved this problem by buying a very short cable (actually especially made for this i10 by some manufacturer in Hong Kong). AND THAT CABLE WORKS!! Shame on you Cowon for delivering this product with a horrifying cable...
- One other major flaw is the picture viewer of the equipment. If i put mp3 and jpg in one folder the equipment stops seeing music it goes into picture viewing mode... I don't want that... But at least leave the mp3 files visible Cowon.... (terrible).
- The setup of the equipment is terrible, it lacks things... Or they might be there but i cannot find them. I don't want to read a cyclopedia to operate equipment...
- The controls of the equipment are pretty much difficult.. i am getting used to it... but still... horrible...
Overall this player is a good player when you consider music quality and batterylife, but in my previous iAudio it was actually saying charging..when connected to a power source this doesn't...
Cowon should consider the normal user that wants simple usability!!!
Still i would recommend this player... but the cons mentioned are big CONs!! It gives me a little bit less pleasure using it then expected....
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on 25 April 2012
After reading several reviews about this product I was hesitant as the user interface was constantly criticised but the sound quality seemed to forgive that. Anyway, I took the plunge and purchased a 32Gb player ! First impressions - No frills packaging, useless manual and the FAQ on the web site no use whatsoever. So you are pretty much left on your own to work out how this player works. The player itself is light and the (Black) unit I purchased looks sleek. I managed fairly easily to do a Firmware upgrade and transfer some mp3 files onto it.

Their are 30+ pre-set sound options far surpassing an iPod but realistically how many of these would you use ? The headphones supplied are useless (I can't understand why manufacturers provide such cheap quality headphones). I have B&O in-the-ear headphones and they are awesome ! Using the BBE pre-set the sound is impressive and is far better than my iPod (or am I just hoping it is?). The user inteface is a small touch pad and inititially it is tricky to master, in fact after a couple of hours of hitting the wrong keys I almost put this back in the box to return but I stuck with it and now find it fairly easy.

The USB cable supplied is proprietary which is a pain (I hope I can buy a spare) and seems a bit flimsy in the player. I will stick with it as the sounds seems better -

Pros - Good Looks, Light, long Battery Life, storage capacity and Sound options
Cons - User interface, online & Supplied manual, USB cable, lack of protective cases
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on 7 January 2012
I am not a gudget expert but even then, think I can still guarantee that this product is really good!!! It is true that until you get used to it, touch screen is a bit of mess, no controll at all but once that period is over, you will just love it! I have had ipod shuffle and nano for over 6year. Immediately realised a huge difference on sound quality between apple products and cowon i10, this is so much better! All I needed was enough space to store all my cds with less budget than apple products require, and I got what I wanted.
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on 15 September 2013
I've owned this mp3 player for about a year now. It replaced my old iPod nano, which my music collection had outgrown. I was determined to try a non-Apple mp3 player, and with its high capacity, interesting design and sensible price, the Cowon i10 looked like the right choice. After this experience, I will probably go back to Apple in future.

One thing I really cannot stand about this player: it interferes with your music! It uses some sort of equaliser or something, which somehow seems to separate out different sound sources in the music and make them more distinct. My music sounds completely different when played through this device - some sounds are clearer, but others are completely gone. It has a tendancy to make the background sound like the foreground and vice versa, which can be quite grating. I wouldn't mind, if only it were possible to turn the feature off, but even when I use a custom setting with none of the equaliser features enabled, it makes no difference.

Worse still, it gets completely flummoxed by certain songs and KEEPS SKIPPING BITS OF THE MUSIC COMPLETELY, presumably because the equaliser process can't keep up. This seems to happen most often with choppy, spiky music like Interpol, which is a pain because I like that kind of music. Some songs are just completely unlistenable as a result - it skips several seconds ahead, every few seconds, repeatedly. This happens consistently every time you try to play an affected song - it doesn't matter how often you try it, or if you try winding back; it will always skip over the same parts of the song each time. No other player I've used has any trouble with these songs.

Also very bad: the battery doesn't hold a charge for long. I don't mean it runs down quickly when you use the player - it certainly doesn't play for anywhere near as long as my nano did, but that doesn't bother me as I only need it for a few hours at a time. What I mean is that the battery runs down quite quickly over time even when you are not using the player. Whereas my nano would hold a charge for weeks on end if I wasn't using it, if I leave the i10 alone for a fortnight, it's guaranteed to be dead when I try it again. This is a pain, but once you're aware of it you can work around it if you think ahead.

A related issue: you can't turn the backlight off completely. If the screen is on, the backlight is on. In practice, this means you can't keep the screen on all the time, or you'll waste all the battery charge. I'm used to my nano, which kept the display on all the time it was being used but allowed you to turn off the backlight to save power. It's a pain having to keep turning the screen on to see what is playing.

One reason I wanted this player is that it is supposed to be Ogg Vorbis compatible, and I was hoping to switch my music collection to that format as it is more space efficient than mp3. However, in practice, only a tiny fraction of my Ogg files play on this device. Although they've all been encoded and tagged with exactly the same software and everything else can still play them, all but a handful cause the player to stop playing and you have to manually tell it to skip the track. A real pain! I've reluctantly returned to mp3s, and I'm glad I have most of my music in both formats.

The player also occasionally jumps to the next song for no discernible reason, or just flips out and switches itself off without warning (and I don't mean when the battery is low).

I don't really have anything good to say about the device. The colour therapy thing means you can customise the display a bit, which is nice, but I would much rather have an ugly player that actually works!
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on 14 July 2012
After using it for couple of months I have to say that the music quality is amazing, better than on walkman or ipod. I was looking for something with great music quality and this is what I got. Just the music quality, because everything else is not so good. Lets start with the screen; comparing to my previous walkman a series, it is ugly. Everything looks pixelated, especially images when they are higher resolution than the screen itself, the colours are terrible and viewing angles even worse. I am so dissapointed. Another very dissapointing feature is the UI. It lags, hard to use, not intuative, takes ages to get used to, has some nice design features but mostly it is boring and nothing interesting. Only good thing is that you can change the look of the menu and the colours. I definatelly prefer the sony walkman ui, it is a lot nicer and easier to use. The music quality as I said before is amazing, I've fallen in love again with the tracks that used to bore me, many equalizer presets, nice bass, clear sound. But, when using preset called BBE Mach3Bass and after putting volume higher than 27, the sound is distorted and bass is horrible. Firstly, I thought that it's my headphones fault but after testing several different headphones the problem is the same. The Design of the player is quite nice, nice to the touch, fits in the hand good as well. I think that it could be thinner and smaller, because when I press on the front of the screen or the back cover it clearly bends inside like there is a lot of unused space. The lock button is way too easy to press, when I put the player in my pocket with my phone or sometimes even without my phone, it unlocks itself and changes my tracks or stops the music because of the touch panel. Speaking of which, the panel is working good, its not too sensitive. Loudspeaker is good enough, I wasnt expecting anything amazing out of it, it's good that they included it, something that many players are missing. Its a nice feature when you want to show someone a track or something. Unfortunatelly Cowon has put their own 20 pin usb port, so if you are travelling somewhere and you didnt take your cable then you're screwed. Also I have experienced that my ps3 sometimes doesnt recognize it, and my bravia tv doesnt at all for some reason. I managed to get it working twice but thats it. Its very nice that I can play lossless music formats like wav and flac, however when I want to fast forward a bit, I press and hold the button, as usual, and everything works fine, but when I release the button it keeps rewinding! very annoying. I think that I covered everything, it is a great music player if you are looking just for the music quality and if you dont mind EVERYTHING else. Ive probably put off everyone from buying it but that is the truth, after having it for some time I regret that I didnt just went for walkman which still has very good music quality without sacrificing all the functions.

The sound distortion which I talked about when going over 27 in volume was just a European volume cap. When you first start up your i10, make sure to choose any region other than Europe. If you've already chosen Europe, reset the player to factory settings. It shouldn't delete your music, mine didn't but if that happens I'm not responsible for your loss.

Also If you want to get most out of this player I suggest you to invest in decent pair of headphones. In fact the earphones it comes with are still a lot better than the ipod ones. I've had AKG K450 for about a year (until the cable on them broke so many times I decided to throw them away) and they sounded really good. Now I'm using V-Moda LP2 and I have to say that they sound just amazing. They go very well with this little player as they don't need much power so there's no need for an amp. Highly recommend them, they really sound better than some headphones which cost twice as much.
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on 9 October 2013
Bought mainly because wanted to record radio. MP3 easy to use and sturdy. It did not take much for me to get the hang of it. People with big fingers may struggle with touch control which I found responsive to the right amount (I did struggle with my previous Cowon). Reception is very good provided the headphones are plugged in. Recording works well and there is good amount of memory. Sound quality is very good as it is widely known and further improved by using a decent headphone. I do not use it for video so cannot comment on that but the demo looks good. Loses one star because it is expensive. There is plenty of detailed review on google.
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on 8 March 2013
Cowon make great products. I bought this particular item to replace a Cowon J3 that I lost. This doesn't even compare to the J3 but as a comparison to all other market cotenders, this is easily in the top few percent. It has an incredible sound ship and great equalising options. The user iterface is considered terrible by some, I quite like it in a 'quirky' way - it certainly isn't from the Apple school of easy to use design.

They're really pushing the Colour Therapy gimmick, and that's all it manages to be.

My one concern with this product is battery life. The J3 managed around 35-40 hours and this is supposed to be capable f 30. From my experience it is sub 20. I don't know if i've done something wrong when originally charging/not charging it or whether this is simply an exaggeration from Cowon.

It is far from a deal breaker however. This is an excellent product and outclasses much of the price-range competition.
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on 17 July 2014
Oh dear. Had it for six months now and gone back to my old Sony Walkman NWZA818 - which is a much better mp3 player - better controls, better sound quality. The Cowon is well built but it doesn't really offer anything new or worthwhile. Colour therapy is just a gimmick. The Jet Effect presets are worthwile and do enhance the listening experience. The control system does take some time to get used to but is not as problematic as some review make out. I found sound quality average (using both mp3 and FLAC with high quality Sony headphones) and battery life OK and as other users have noted, the usb cable supplied is shocking and intermittently cuts out when plugged in. Its not really worth the extra cash and am so glad I kept my Walkman. Not one of the best mp3 players I've used and I wouldn't recommend.
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on 25 June 2012
This mp3 player really is like nothing else on the market.

As other reviews have said this mp3 player takes some getting used to. When you set up make sure you set it to non-europe so you can turn the volume up and change the EQ settings to BBE. It is really easy to install music as it is just drag and drop like a memory stick. Getting used to the controls is a little confusing at first and what each button does changes for each menu. Stick with it and it becomes natural in a few days.

When you start playing music (with some good headphones, not those provided) it sounds absolutely brilliant. Miles above apple idevices, PCs and any smart phone I've heard. You get defined but not overpowering bass, incredible detail and clarity without any harshness, a sweet sound. It lacks the power and weight you get from a proper headphone amplifier but without using one I doubt you could get a better experience.

Get one.
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