I have used many different MP3 players over the last few years and one of the devices that has stood out the most for me was the iAudio F2.
It is small and packed with features, and along with audio (MP3, OGG, WMA, FLAC, ASF and WAV) it plays video, pictures, radio and can display song lyrics.
Battery life seems to be around 20 hours which was great when spending a day at the beach in summer and recharged within a couple of hours.
The UI is a very nice 3x3 grid but navigating it at first can be confusing. Instead of the usual up/down and left/right system one would find on a mobile phone, each button corresponds to a menu option. After getting used to this it is a much faster way to select the mode you want. There are plenty of settings available to get your audio sounding just the way you like it.
After getting used to it I found the UI much nicer and easier to navigate than that of an Apple iPod for example.
The display is a 1.3inch TFT LCD with 128x160 pixels. While it does look very good it is almost impossible to view on a bright day though.
The F2 has excellent sound quality and came with the best set of earphones Iíve ever used. Support for a range of formats and Play for Sure is very appealing.
Although the F2 supports video (AVI and WMV) it really is a pointless exercise as the screen is so small also there is no support for Divx/Xvid which really limits the files that can be viewed.
The F2 allows users to upload images to it and can play them in a slideshow but once again this feature is limited by the tiny screen. The best use is the ability to set an image as a screen background.
The FM radio included with the F2 is great and gets very good reception in places that usually would see other receivers struggle. It allows you to save your favourite stations. But as I found it has an autoseek function which take several minutes to scan and cannot be stopped, you canít even turn the player off during this. This was a major source of annoyance as I kept accidentally pushing the autoseek button.
One of the drawbacks to the iAudio F2 is its very small buttons. For a person like me with big fingers this poses quite a problem as it makes pushing the right button something of a random chance. This is not helped by the fact that the rows of buttons are not in a straight line, but curved. If they were nice square buttons then there would be no real problem.
The Cowon iAudio F2 measures comes with USB 2.0 Interface and options for 512MB, 1GB and 2GB storage. It measures 34.8 x 72.9 x 16.7mm and weighs only 39g including the lithium-polymer battery.
All in all the F2 is a very good device and well worth its price tag. After using it intensely for about a month I was sad to have to return it. For me it is one of the best MP3 player in its class. I would rate it above an Apple iPod nano which seems to be be its Apple competitor. It has a far superior battery life, sounds better and supports a wider range of formats.
Small and light
Good looking form factor
Easy to use interface
Long battery life and fast recharge
Excellent sound quality
Tiny oddly shaped buttons
Small screen makes watching video and viewing images a waste of time.