Cowon O2 Hands-On: Will Play Your Most Rebellious Media Files

CNET got their hands on Cowon's new flash-based PMP, the O2, and they think it's one of the year's best dedicated media players. The 4.3-inch touchscreen player has a truly ridiculous list of supported codecs, an SDHC slot to expand its internal 8, 16, or 32GB memory, solid (if not too flashy) GUI, and a surprisingly affordable price: only $219, $249, and $299 respectively.

It'll play every file you throw at it: on the audio front, we've got (take a deep breath) MP3, WMA, AAC, AC3, FLAC, OGG, Monkey Audio, and a bunch of others I've barely heard of. For video, which is the real draw of the O2, we've got AVI, WMV, MP4, MKV, H.264, DivX and XviD, and again, way more. It'll play videos up to 1,280x720 resolution at 30 FPS. What does that dictionary of acronyms mean? No more converting videos. Ever.

The GUI looks a little dated, awfully similar to my aging D2, but very functional all the same. The O2 has Cowon's vaunted stellar sound quality, but battery life isn't all that hot: 8 hours of video, which is great, but only 18 hours of audio, which is below average these days. Still, this looks to be right at the top of the heap of portable video players, if only because it'll actually play your videos without making you transcode first. The Cowon O2 goes on sale tomorrow (the 25th) in black or white, direct from the manufacturer. [CNET]