New Toy – Cowon G3 MP3 Player!

Woo Hoo, I got a new toy yesterday! A Cowon 1-Gig G3 MP3/Ogg Player. This thing is really COOL! I researched this thing looking for an iPod-ish musicbox which would:

1) work w/Linux & usable/managable as a flash-drive w/o special Windowsey software.
2) play ogg-vorbis encoded music files (as well as mp3, wav, etc.)
3) include a radio, at least FM
4) be able to record radio and voice.
5) use a removable/replacable battery (no rechargin’ – swap in new battery).

This was one of the few I found that met these specs. It also bosted some additional nice-2-haves, ie. clock/alarm, preset timed wakeup/radio-program record, pretty blue backlit screen, easy to work joystick & controls, and a control-lock swich for use when jogging to prevent the volume, etc. from being bumped.

After carefully reviewing online reviews, I took the plunge and orderd from ZipZoomFly.com and 4 days later had my new toy 🙂 The package includes earbuds, a mostly helpful 28 page manual (rtfm first), a USB cable, a line-in cable, and a basic transparent soft-plastic carrying case w/beltloop, but no shirt pocket clip.

It worked perfectly out of the box – preset some radio stations and tested the single MP3 file preinstalled. Sound is excellent with the cheap headphones I used – I have never been able to get earbuds to work well for me. Then came the big moment of hooking it to my Linux ‘puter and downloading some files. This simply required (same commands to mount my USB flash drive):

sudo mkdir /mnt/iaudio
sudo chmod 777 /mnt/iaudio
sudo mount -t vfat -oumask=0000 /dev/sda1 /mnt/iaudio

cp /path/to/my/music/someLegallyObtainedSong.ogg /mnt/iaudio/music/
sudo umount /mnt/iaudio

and I was in business! I tested and it worked perfectly! Next, I backed up my entire iaudio filesystem to my hard-drive (in case the system files or directory tree ever gets corrupted). This can be accomplished via:

mkdir $HOME/iaudio
cp -R /mnt/iaudio/* $HOME/iaudio

Then I created some subdirectories (“albums”) under the music directory and downloaded files there and begun listening. Unfortunately, the player does not normalize volumes, but I don’t think any of them do that I know of – no problem – just did following:

cd /tmp #SO normalize-ogg WILL STORE TEMP. UNENCODED FILE ON HARD-DRIVE (FASTER)
normalize-ogg /mnt/iaudio/music//*.ogg

This levels out all the volumes and close to what comes over the radio too!

So far, I read some reports that this player has “died” for some people, usually within the 1 year warrantee, but I’m crossing my fingers that this does not happen to me, if so I’ll post back! Otherwise, I am very well pleased with my choice of players. The only thing I could knock is the color – plain white (rather plain, but certainly not ugly) – but looks aren’t very important anyway – it’ll spend most of it’s time in my pocket. I didn’t like the detachable neckstrap either and will probably just pocket it anyway. That’s about it – this player does everything I wanted it to do and was reasonable at $139.99.

Battery life seems pretty good, but I don’t expect the promised 40 hours, since I keep fiddlin’ with it (changin’ stations, songs, volume, options, etc), which lights the backlight for a user-selectable 5 seconds each time a button is pressed. Also, I read that Ogg-decoding sucks some extra power. You could get less power usage by using unencoded wav files (but then you’d only get about 30 songs onboard).

There are many options, including a 5-band equalizer with several default selections for different music types. You can set the amount of time the light stays on, recording sensitivity settings, clock display, song order, up to 20 radio presets, some sound effects, ie. 3d, megabass, sampling rates, left-right shift/balance, sterio/mono, play-lists, alarm, date/time, etc.

The 1-Gig version that I bought appears to hold between 350 and 400 songs (in ogg format), but I haven’t filled it up yet. To see how full it is, do a “df -k” in Linux.

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