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New Cowon A3 PMP, amazing format support!
bryant
post Sep 11 2007, 16:14
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It suddenly occurred to me that perhaps everyone doesn't read every WavPack thread from top to bottom, so it might be a good idea to mention the new Cowon A3 PMP here also. The interesting thing about this player, and what might make it particularly appealing to HA members, is the vast array of formats it handles. I was jazzed because it has complete support of WavPack, but it also has 4(!) other lossless audio formats and tons of other audio and video codecs. I believe that it is also the first PMP to support the Matroska container.

It's obviously nice for the average user to be able to just copy over any file and have a pretty good chance that it will play. But I think maybe part of this marketing decision was to go after the “high-end” type of user that hangs out here, and I think that Cowon should be applauded for that.

I have an A2 and have been very happy with the video quality and brightness on its 4" display. Well, the A2 display is 480 x 272, but on the identically sized A3 this has been upped this to 800 x 480! I just hope they make ATSC an option for the US release (right now only DVB-T is available).

Anyway, here is an official spec sheet on the German Cowon site (I haven't seen an English one yet) and here is an independent look including a video of the unit in action. Pretty cool! smile.gif
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willardjuice
post Sep 11 2007, 22:11
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I agree; I can't wait for this to come out in North America! I have been waiting patiently for months to buy the A3.
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beto
post Sep 11 2007, 22:46
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I got one A2 in my last trip to the US. I am really satisfied with it. To me it has the best cost/benefit. I just wish it had more HD space like the new Ipods.


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jcoalson
post Sep 12 2007, 01:37
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that is pretty cool, I wonder what cpu is in there to do wavpack extra high, some of their earlier players were getting close on flac -8. also they previously only supported ape fast and normal which I think is still the case.
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bryant
post Sep 12 2007, 05:44
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QUOTE (jcoalson @ Sep 11 2007, 17:37) *
that is pretty cool, I wonder what cpu is in there to do wavpack extra high, some of their earlier players were getting close on flac -8. also they previously only supported ape fast and normal which I think is still the case.

The A3 has got one of those TI DaVinci chips which has an ARM core plus some dedicated video processing hardware, and I believe TI supplies Linux with it. The ARMs in those run in the 200-300 MHz range, so there's quite a lot of CPU available. Even the highest WavPack mode takes less than 75 Mhz from an ARM core (in an iPod). I believe they still only go up to APE normal, although I haven't seen that admission anywhere for the A3 yet (maybe they're close to having “high” working).

The iAudio line is so big that they probably have all sorts of CPUs in use (I know ColdFires are in the units Rockbox supports). But, anything that will play APE normal will play any WavPack or FLAC without even breaking a sweat! smile.gif

edit: added Linux

This post has been edited by bryant: Sep 12 2007, 05:47
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bryant
post Dec 15 2007, 20:09
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The A3 is now available just about everywhere, including the USA. The final price here is $350 for the 30 GB version and $400 for the 60 GB. Very nice! smile.gif

http://www.cowonamerica.com/products/cowon/a3/
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absence
post Dec 15 2007, 22:45
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But does it have gapless playback?
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Fuchal
post Dec 15 2007, 23:17
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10 hours audio playback battery life sad.gif

That is very poor. Otherwise it would be nice.

This post has been edited by Fuchal: Dec 15 2007, 23:19
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kornchild2002
post Dec 16 2007, 00:52
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I thought about getting this device due to the large amount of both audio and video codec/container support and it goes all the way up to 720p. However, the battery life just isn't that great. I know this player has a large screen and it uses a hard drive (two things going against it) but 10 hours just isn't going to cut it whenever a 1GB iPod shuffle gets 12 hours and many other DAPs on the market get at least 15 hours and above.

It is impressive to see a DAP that supports Apple lossless though given that only iPods have been able to play those up until now.
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Martin F.
post Dec 16 2007, 02:52
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QUOTE (bryant @ Dec 15 2007, 20:09) *
The A3 is now available just about everywhere, including the USA. The final price here is $350 for the 30 GB version and $400 for the 60 GB. Very nice! smile.gif

blink.gif
Here in Germany it is much more expensive:
30 GB € 450–500 (US$ 650–720)
60 GB € 490–550 (US$ 705–790)


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bryant
post Dec 17 2007, 06:04
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QUOTE (absence @ Dec 15 2007, 13:45) *
But does it have gapless playback?

Unfortunately, no. I mentioned this to the engineer who did the WavPack integration and he said it was something on his "to do" list, but he wasn't sure when it would happen. You can always use disc images of course, but since there's no cuesheet support yet, you can't seek to specific tracks.


QUOTE (Martin F. @ Dec 15 2007, 17:52) *
QUOTE (bryant @ Dec 15 2007, 20:09) *

The A3 is now available just about everywhere, including the USA. The final price here is $350 for the 30 GB version and $400 for the 60 GB. Very nice! smile.gif

blink.gif
Here in Germany it is much more expensive:
30 GB € 450–500 (US$ 650–720)
60 GB € 490–550 (US$ 705–790)

Wow, that's a big difference! Good reason to come here for a vacation! smile.gif

I've actually noticed this with lots of things. With the recent weakness of the dollar, even German cars are cheaper here than in Germany!
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Antonski
post Dec 18 2007, 14:42
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QUOTE (bryant @ Sep 11 2007, 17:14) *
Anyway, here is an official spec sheet on the German Cowon site (I haven't seen an English one yet) and here is an independent look including a video of the unit in action. Pretty cool! smile.gif


Here one can find the English site, there is also a press releases site here.

~
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absence
post Dec 18 2007, 19:57
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QUOTE (bryant @ Dec 17 2007, 06:04) *
QUOTE (absence @ Dec 15 2007, 13:45) *
But does it have gapless playback?
Unfortunately, no. I mentioned this to the engineer who did the WavPack integration and he said it was something on his "to do" list, but he wasn't sure when it would happen. You can always use disc images of course, but since there's no cuesheet support yet, you can't seek to specific tracks.
Yet another useless player for now, then. I wonder why virtually every manufacturer fails at this point. CD players have done gapless playback for 25 years! What are they, imbeciles?
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greynol
post Dec 18 2007, 20:00
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QUOTE (absence @ Dec 18 2007, 10:57) *
CD players have done gapless playback for 25 years!

You're comparing apples to oranges.


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saratoga
post Dec 18 2007, 20:05
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QUOTE (absence @ Dec 18 2007, 13:57) *
QUOTE (bryant @ Dec 17 2007, 06:04) *
QUOTE (absence @ Dec 15 2007, 13:45) *
But does it have gapless playback?
Unfortunately, no. I mentioned this to the engineer who did the WavPack integration and he said it was something on his "to do" list, but he wasn't sure when it would happen. You can always use disc images of course, but since there's no cuesheet support yet, you can't seek to specific tracks.
Yet another useless player for now, then. I wonder why virtually every manufacturer fails at this point. CD players have done gapless playback for 25 years! What are they, imbeciles?


Because manufacturers are buying codec libraries for many of their formats from vendors and dropping them into whatever framework they've written or licensed elsewhere. Getting gapless would require both the framework/OS and the codec to work together by passing metadata about pregaps and postgaps back and forth and carefully managing buffers to ensure theres no down time between tracks. THis level of coordination between the two groups doesn't seem to happen most of the time. The notable exception being Apple, probably because they were big enough to force their vendors to do what they wanted, or even to write their own codecs.
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greynol
post Dec 18 2007, 20:10
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...and audio CDs aren't comprised of separate files. wink.gif


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absence
post Dec 19 2007, 12:05
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QUOTE (greynol @ Dec 18 2007, 20:10) *
...and audio CDs aren't comprised of separate files. wink.gif
What about MP3 + cue, AAC with chapters, or something similar? That can't be too hard, even with licensed decoding libraries.
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xmixahlx
post Dec 19 2007, 17:29
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damn... a little portable that will play full dvdrips in full anamorphic? my oppo doesn't even do that - it is limited to 720x??? - cool!


later


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soiaf
post Dec 23 2007, 16:50
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I got my A3 a few days ago and I'm very pleased with it. I got it primarily for Video playback, it works great for this. You're able to connect to a TV screen using either composite, s-video or component connections (with the cables all provided with the player), but the screen on the A3 itself is excellent. I've watched a couple of DVD rips on it as well as some divx files and they've all worked well and look great.
For music playback I've tried MP3 and WavPack so far. I'm impressed with the WavPack support, I tried a varied selection of test WavPack files and I only came across one file it didn't playback (that file had an unusual sample rate, 37500). Actual music playback of the files is good, I think it has impressive sound quality for a portable device.
One criticism I do have with the A3 is that its possible to connect it to an external USB hard drive and copy files to/from the internal drive, but it doesn't seem possible to play files directly from the external drive. This is definitely something I'd like to do with both videos and my main music collection.
So overall I'm happy with my A3! biggrin.gif
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