Cowon S9 Portable Media Player

Most Apple aficionados would be hard-pressed to say that any player out there can really challenge the elegantly simplistic iPod Touch in the style department, but if there’s one that’s up to the challenge, it might be Cowon’s upcoming Curve S9. From the glinting chrome trim on its sides and the gentle arc of its rear panel, to the expansive 3.3-inch OLED screen on its face that melds seamlessly into the rest of its body, it’s clear that Cowon spent some serious time tweaking this thing for style, and we think it may be ready to topple the Cupertino giant.

The choice of materials on the S9 may bear some passing resemblance to its Apple competitor, but Cowon has also set it apart in a few distinct ways. Most significantly, the curved back plays with dimensions in a way few manufacturers have thought to try so far. The arc draws the eye away from the player’s plain rectangular top profile and more to the side, where the player looks like a sliver shaved off an enormous wheel of chrome. It’s simple, smooth, and – we expect – should reduce the pocket-poke-through factor of a traditional brick-like design.

Cowon S9
Image Courtesy of Cowon

The S9’s display also stands out as a high point in its engineering. Though MP3 players (and car stereos, along with plenty of other gizmos) have harnessed monochrome OLED displays before, Cowon will be one of the first manufacturers to use the technology the same way TV manufacturers are beginning to – as a huge, full color display for video. Though it’s a hair smaller than Apple’s 3.5 incher, the S9’s OLED display should boast superior color reproduction, viewing angle and response speed, the same way OLED televisions like Sony’s XEL-1 do when stacked up against LCD and plasma competitors.

Inside, the S9 gets more computational fortitude than yesterday’s laptops from a dual-core 500MHz CPU, and the feature-set to match, including a full Flash-based user interface, music, movie, picture and document capabilities, and even TV output. There’s also an accelerometer for games and other possibilities like gesture-based controls, plus Cowon’s feature-laden JetEffect equalizer, dynamic dictionary, Bluetooth, FM tuner, voice recorder, and T-DMB digital TV capability for regions that support it.

The OLED display also saves energy, extending battery life to a whopping 40 hours. And the touch-screen isn’t the cheap resistive type you find on most players, it’s capacitive, like the one on the iPod Touch, which allows for better clarity and more accurate input.

Despite the generous press shots Cowon pumped out for its press release at IFA 2008, the company hasn’t been too forthcoming on two significant details: capacity and price. Both will soon be revealed when the player debuts this October. In the mean time, more details and photos can be found at Cowon America’s S9 teaser page.

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