From its stylish black case to its bright colour screen, the Cowon iAudio X5 is a class act. Weighing 145g and measuring 103.7mm tall by 60.8mm wide by 14.3mm thick, this hard drive-based digital media player crams in plenty of features.
The iAudio X5 can play back audio and video, record from its built-in FM radio, and record from a line input. The unit can also copy files from other USB devices such as digital cameras without requiring a PC to act as intermediary.
A 1.8in LCD screen dominates the compact case, and a joystick underneath handles volume and menus. Play/pause and record buttons are located on the side of the device, as is the power/hold switch. The controls are a pleasure to use. On the bottom of the X5 you'll find a port for connecting the "subpack"-a small plastic dongle with ports for power, USB, line-in, and line-out. You'll need this to recharge the device in a wall socket.
As an audio player, the X5 performs admirably, generating bright, clear sound. It's versatile, too: the X5 can play MP3, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, and .wav music files. And its supported video file formats include MPEG-4 (XVID), AVI, and WMV.
Battery life was good: I got around 13 hours of audio playback. Playing a video reduced the battery life to around 3.5 hours. A slightly thicker iAudio X5L model with extended battery life (rated for 35 hours of audio) is also available for $549 (20GB).
Verdict The display delivers sharp images and bright colours, but it's simply too small for extended viewing. Nonetheless, I found the X5 to be a great little digital media player that gives you lots of features for the price. Richard Baguley
Cowon iAudio X5
Price: $529 (20GB); $589 (30GB)
Phone: 02 9553 8399
Specs: 20-30GB hard disk, 1.8in display (160x128 pixels, 260,000 colours), 5-way joystick control, 95dB signal-to-noise ratio, supported formats: MP3, OGG, WAV and FLAC audio and MPEG-4 -4 (XVID), AVI and WMV video; USB 2.0; 103.7x60.8x14.3mm, 145g.