Cowon iAudio T2
At a Glance
Cowon iAudio T2
The T2 is small enough to hang around your neck, but the tiny size hampers its ease of use.
Cowon describes the $140 (as of 1/9/07) iAudio T2 as a necklace inspired by a black diamond. However, the player looks like what it is: a little plastic box that hangs around your neck from headphone cords connected in a loop.
The T2 weighs barely more than an ounce, so you'll hardly know you're wearing it. You can pull off the black chrome cube at the top to use the player with your own headphones. The device comes with 2GB of memory and a lithium-polymer battery that lasts an estimated maximum of 12 hours on a single charge.
The placement of three little buttons on each side of the T2 seems more of a misguided attempt at aesthetics than at ease of use. One side has menu navigation buttons; the other offers play/pause and rewind and fast-forward functions. We found these buttons fiddly, especially when the player is dangling on your chest. It's very easy to hit the fast-forward or rewind buttons when you're trying to hit pause. The player also lacks a slider for locking the controls: It takes only an accidental tap on the play button to turn the device on and run down the battery.
With a resolution of just 96 by 96 pixels, the 0.9-inch color OLED display is sufficient for the T2's modest functions. The device plays MP3, WMA, and Ogg Vorbis music formats, and is compatible with Microsoft's PlaysForSure digital rights management system for subscriptions and purchases from a variety of online music stores. The device can't play video, but who would want to watch anything on such a small screen? It does have one feature that's rare for an audio player: You can set a timer to schedule recordings from its built-in FM tuner. You can also record voice memos using the integrated microphone.
The T2 comes with both a USB cable and an adapter that lets you plug it straight into a USB port for syncing and charging. A mini CD-ROM provides the JetShell software for uploading music to the player, but you can also copy files directly using Windows Explorer, or sync from Windows Media Player.
The T2 turned in mixed results in our audio-quality tests. It produced clear sound at high volumes in our output test, earned top marks for its signal-to-noise ratio, and showed good frequency response. However, it produced lots of noise in our distortion test and a narrow stereo field due to its high levels of crosstalk (blending of the left and right channels).
If you want an especially small player, or you're sure you'll like wearing a player around your neck, the Cowon iAudio T2 is worth considering. But you can find better audio quality and more features in slightly larger units that cost about the same.