Sure, you can get an iPod. If you want to have shitty sound properties, and even shittier build quality; the price justifies what you receive.
However, there are a select-few of us who deem ourselves as audiophiles, and deeply care about our sound and build quality of portable devices.
With that said, I want to show you guys what I recently bought, and give you a quick synopsis of why I personally think the COWON J3 is the best mp3 player in the world.
Lets go ahead and dig right into why I personally believe this is the best mp3 player money can buy. First, the technical specifications:
Specifications - Hardware
- Size: 2.2 x 4.19 x 0.39 in ( 56.0 x 106.5 x 9.9 mm )
- Color: Black / White
- Weight: 2.68 oz ( 76g )
- Display: 3.3" 16;9 Wide AMOLED, 480 x 272 (16million colors)
- Channel: Stereo
- Max Output: 16 Ohm earphones : 29mW + 29mW
- S/N ratio: 95dB
- Frequency Range: 87.5~108 MHz (KR,US,EU), 76~108 Mhz (JP)
- Video: Composite
- Video Format: NTSC / PAL
- Audio: Stereo
- Builtin Battery: Builtin Rechargeable Lithium Polymer Battery
- Battery Charging: Charge from Mobile Charger (4.2V, 750mA) 3 Hours, By USB port 3.5 Hours
- Flash Memory: 4GB / 8GB / 16GB / 32GB, FAT32 file system *
- External Memory: Standard microSD Card Slot
- Touch Interface: Capacitive Touch Screen Interface
- Flash UI
- USB Device USB 2.0 High Speed
- 6 Buttons: POWER/HOLD, FF, REW, VOL+, VOL, PLAY/PAUSE
- Microphone / Linein / FM Radio
- File Format: AVI, WMV, ASF
- Video Codec: Xvid SP/ASP, WMV 7/8/9, DivX 3/4/5
- Video Resolution: 480x272, 30 fps recommened
- Audio Codec: MPEG1 Layer 1/2/3, WMA
- Subtitle: SMI
- Playback time: Max 11 hours **
- File Format: MP3/2, WMA, FLAC, OGG, APE, WAV
- Audio Codec: MP3 : MPEG 1/2/2.5 Layer 3, ~320kbps, ~48kHz, mono/stereo WMA : ~320kbps, ~48kHz, mono/stereo
OGG : ~Q10, ~44.1kHz, mono/stereo
FLAC : Compression Level 0 ~ 8, ~44.1kHz, mono/stereo
WAV : ~48kHz, 16bit, mono/stereo
APE : Fast, Normal, High, 16bit, v3.97 ~ 3.99
- ID3 Tag: ID3 V1, ID3 V2.2/V2.3/V2.4,Vorbis Comment
- Lyrics: LDB 1.0, 2.0
- JetEffect 3.0: 39 Presets (35 Presets + 4 User Presets)
BBE+: BBE, Mach3Bass, 3D Surround, MP Enhance
Special Effect: Stereo Enhance, Reverb
EQ: 5 Band Equalizer (EQ Filter)
- Playback time: Max 64 hours **
- File Format: JPG
- Resolution: No limit. (Progressive format: LT 1M pixel)
- Text Viewer TXT
- Bluetooth 2.0 Stereo Headset (A2DP, AVRCP Profile)
- Supports 20pin USB Connector
- GSensor Supports auto pivot by Gsensor
- Builtin Speaker
Alrighty then. Technical data out of the way; time for the fun to begin! I will break down the next components into three sections: Sound Signal, Display and Interface, and finally, Features. These three categories will have three products going head-to-head, the COWON J3, the Zune HD, and the iPod Touch. (All three players are 32GB-sized players).
So, what does this exactly all mean for the average person who doesn't deem themselves as an audiophile? Allow me to break it down for you:
In the music world, SnR (Signal-noise-Ratio) is a ratio which explains distortion and general noise which is not pure signal, or, in layman's terms, just noise. To measure SnR, one plays a silent audio clip at maximum volume and measuring the noise heard. An example of an audiophile sound card is the Asus Xonar Essence STX, which features an industry-leading 124dB SnR. The average motherboard sound chipset will provide the listener with an 86SnR - a fair amount, but once again, "average".
So, to summarize, higher SnR = clearer audio. If we take a look at the competition, the Zune HD does not have any official release from Zune or any other credible source with sound specifications. All SnR results have been derived from end-user testing, and the general consensus results at an 85dB SnR, which is worse than even an on board chipset for a computer.
Moving on to the iPod Touch, we once again find no official release from Apple, or any credible website. The only statistic we can find is from a website which claims a test to result 93.01dB SnR, which is far superior to the Zune HD.
Okay. So SnR is out of the way, leading to the COWON J3 winning this competition with a 95dB SnR (officially released on the website, which is also very pleasing to the audiophile). Now, on to compatibility!
Display and Interface
Display and Interface. Probably one of the hardest sections to tackle, since there is a strong bias towards what one considers nice, compared to somebody else. For this section, I will have to stay a bit more textbook with my opinions.
The COWON J3 features an AMOLED display, which is what Samsung and Nintendo are implementing into their handheld devices. AMOLED displays feature extremely rich and crisp color quality, which truly is remarkable.
AMOLED technology is able to deliver pixels 1,000x faster than LCD screens, is able to be viewed from any angle without sacrificing display to the slightest bit, and uses technology which boasts over a 10,000:1 contrast ratio.
As seen above, the screen size of the J3 is 3.3". As compared to the iPod Touch, which features Apple's award-winning Retina display, the 3.5" screen is slightly larger. However, the Retina display featured on the iPod touch is no small competitor; it truly does offer one of the most beautiful displays of any portable device on the market. Boasting a 960x640 display, the Apple iPod Touch has one of the most gorgeous screens on the market. Now, not to leave the Zune HD out alone, however the Zune HD is a baby compared to these two beasts; it has a 3.3" OLED screen, which also features 480x272 px, the same amount of pixels that the COWON J3 features. However, the OLED display is nowhere near as good as the AMOLED display, which is just pure fact.
The best way to tackle this issue is to provide pictures of the individual screens themselves (I cannot find a side-by-side comparison of the exact same image; if anyone can, please PM me and I will upload those images).
As you can see, it is a close competitor. In my unbiased opinion, the iPhone display looks better, due to its way, way higher resolution. Since the COWON J3 has a lesser resolution, I will have to succumb to the iPhone 4 for taking this round. It was close, though; by no means a blowout.
Now, on to the last round.
The biggest feature (and in my honest opinion, the reason why the COWON J3 will win this round) is the upgradable memory. The COWON J3 allows for a 32GB microSD card to be inserted into the MP3 player, which can instantly allow you to double your MP3 players size without having to buy a completely brand new MP3 player.
Now, although it is true that there is a 64GB iPod Touch, I think the pricing on it is absurd, and not worth it. The ability to upgrade memory at your own will is a feature I truly value.
The Zune HD does not officially announce on their website if you can upgrade memory, however some posts on forums say there is a possibility to do so, but I find a majority of posts saying that you cannot. So with that said, I will say that you cannot upgrade the memory, since I don't see any way to do it.
Both the Zune HD and the iPod Touch have WiFi ability, and the COWON J3 does not. This, I find to be a huge drawback for the COWON J3, however in practical terms, I don't personally put a lot of value on WiFi for an MP3 player, because I have a Blackberry which has Internet Access, and have no need for WiFi on an MP3 player. So with that said, I will have to give this round to the COWON J3 once again. However, depending on who you are and what your priorities are on features, one may find either desirable.
Of these three beasts in the MP3 industry, I must crown the COWON J3 as the king of MP3's, for it's superior sound properties, gorgeous AMOLED display, and upgradable memory feature. It truly shines as a high-end audio device. This MP3 player is perfectly suited with a Sennheiser HD 5xx series headphone, and I would recommend this product to anyone who is serious about their music, and wants to venture into the world of audiophiles.
The King of MP3 Players.