Priced at Rs 32,000 for the 80 GB version the Q5W is certainly interesting enough to consider despite the fact that its more than double the price of serious PMPs like Cowon’s own D2 and Apples iPod Touch. No other PMP has all its features; and chances are none will. For those looking for a terrific PMP with a lot of additional features and a wonderful touchscreen the Cowon Q5W is just what you’re looking for; irrespective of the price tag. If you’re wondering whether its worth it or not; chances are it won’t be to you; ditch the idea and buy a regular PMP.
Heavy Duty Pocket Entertainer
Cowon is a brand that we respect and rightly so; their D2 and i7 were two PMPs that still stand out amidst all the competition. However there was something missing; Cowon has a video PMP in the A30 series but other than a 4-inch screen there’s nothing unique the A3 and Creative’s Zen Vision W is a serious threat. And we like a bigger screen; the bezel on the A30 is something that wastes too much of space with fancy large buttons. Enter the Q5W, Cowon’s attempt at cramming aboard every possible feature a PMP user might want. We could fill a page with this thing’s specifications alone; but we’re not about to.
The Q5W is large; much bigger than most PMPs and heavy. It’s solidly built and the dark navy body goes well with the silver-grey bezel that runs around all four sides. Everything about the design bespeaks restraint and with its very sophisticated look sans any sort of buttons on the front bezel, the Q5W looks intimidating. For starters it’s got a colossal five inch touchscreen that displays 16 million colours and has a whopping resolution of 800 x 480 pixels. And it gets better. The Q5W actually runs Windows Mobile 5.0, which means it’s a full-fledged PDA.
WLAN means you can get online and surf, Internet Explorer for WM is part of the package. If you install MS Office for WM you have the option of working with documents, spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. A mini-USB port connects to a computer while a full size USB (type A) port has been provided to enable connecting with USB keyboards. This is a powerful connectivity option since this is one feature that most PDAs lack; which make them rather useless for anyone needing to do a lot of typing. Bluetooth is present and wireless headsets are supported.
The menu system is very simple; there are two sidebars which hold all the options and finger touches work as well as the stylus. The option on the left of the screen is the main one; clicking on this will open up sub-options on the right side. Holding the Q5W in both hands means these left and right menus coincide with both your thumbs; obviously something Cowon did deliberately and once you use this PMP you’ll slowly appreciate the genius of the navigation system.
An AV cable with both Component and Composite connects is provided as is a remote control unit. This coupled with the fact that the Q5W plays .AVI, .DivX, .XviD, .WMV and MPEG4 files out of the box means that you have your very own portable DVD player. Copying a movie to the Q5W is as simple as a drag and drop and there’s no encoding involved, like some of the other brands that use proprietary formats. Even audio formats are supported in plenty — MP3, WMA, OGG, WAV, FLAC, APE and MPC files formats are supported. This makes the Q5W immensely versatile and somewhat of a rarity in this format-restricted world of digital entertainment.
We tested the Q5W as an MP3 player first and were pleasantly surprised with its quality. Even on our reference headphones the Q5W produces accurate and detailed mid-range and highs, while the bass is tight and impact full with nary a hint of flab. We like the tonal neutrality; and with support for playback of .FLAC files, audiophiles will not be disappointed. People who really like movies on the go will also not find anything worthy of complaining about; the screen is as large as possible while retaining some sense of portability.
Used as a PIM or for browsing; the Q5W has all of WM5’s flaws and all its merits. It’s a very feature rich device that delivers the performance goodies as well. If there is one thing that the Q5W does fall short in; its in the expectation that Cowon had that a fully converged, all-in-one device will appeal to everybody. The concept is flawed; not the device. Someone wanting a simple music player could look elsewhere since there are cheaper alternatives around. Anyone looking at portability will definitely skip the Q5W; as this heavyweight is anything but compact.