There’s already a good, in-depth review on gadgetaholic.com of Cowon’s new, wi-fi enabled, super-PMP (personal/portable media player), the Cowon Q5W, but I’m going to attempt to answer a burning question of current and would-be Q5W owners: “How can I get more storage than 60gb?”
The simple answer is, “Stick a bigger hard drive in it!”. Can it be done? The only answer I can give at this moment is, “I don’t know…yet. But I intend to find out!” First thing I need to do is figure out what’s going on inside of the Cowon. I’m looking to see what kind of hard drive it has, the hard drive connector type, general layout of the internals, available space, etc. That means I have to pull it apart.
Update: This upgrade is possible! Read on…
Beware!If you choose to follow along with the following steps, you WILL void your warranty. I’m accepting the risk for my own Q5W in the name of science and bragging rights, but you might want to think twice about messing with yours and wait to see if I blow mine up first!
Tools you’ll need:
1. A Torx head screwdriver, size T5 (I have no idea what T5 means, except that it’s pretty small). If you’re not familiar a Torx fastener, it’s sort of like an allen head fastener, except instead of a hexagon shape, its more of a star-like shape. I bought a T5 Torx head screwdriver at Radio Shack this afternoon.
Next,we’re going to remove the back cover of the Q5W. This is very easy.
2. Gently wiggle the cover off. Be careful here because the battery is mounted to the back cover that you’re tugging on and there is a VERY short battery connector cable to the main circuit board. The connector cable is at the bottom of the unit, so as you’re wiggling off the back, once it’s free of the unit, swing it open as though it’s hinged at the bottom. This will ensure you don’t pull on the connector.
4. There are some springy mesh shock absorbers stuck on the drive. Gently pull them off and peel back the hard drive cover. It too is stuck on the drive. Pull it back from the direction where the ribbon cable connects to the drive. Once part of the ribbon is exposed, hold it with your thumb while you continue to pull the cover off so you don’t put undue stress on the ribbon.
My observations so far is that the Q5W’s hard drive is a 1.8″ Samsung model number HS060HB. It has a ZIF ATA-100 connector, similiar to the 1st generation Zune 30gb (not sure about Zune 2), Creative Zen Vision W, and 5th generation video Ipods. It is a thin drive, thinner than the stock 60gb drive in the Zen, which I have, but there is no problem fitting athicker drive into the Q5W, there is ample room.
What’s next: I am going to attempt to stick ahigher capacityhard drive in the unit (a 100gb 1.8″ Toshiba MK1011GAH). The Q5W is a Windows CE device at its core, so it won’t be a simple matter of swapping out the old drive and putting in a new one. It’s a bit more complicated, so stay tuned!
Dec 18, 2007 Update: New drive has been shipped. Should be here by Friday, Dec 22nd, so I will be working on the upgrade, hopefully with an update by the next day.
Dec 24, 2007 Update: New drive has arrived! Once again the Q5W was on put onto the operating table for the hard drive transplant. Here are the steps I performed to do the upgrade.
If all goes well for you, go into your Q5’s system stats and marvel at the additional 40gb of storage.
Some of you are probably already thinking bigger, like the new crop of 160gb drives from the iPod classic. Beware! I examined one of these drives and it does not have the same type of connector as the Cowon’s stock drive. The iPod classic uses a CE-ATA connector which is smaller than the Cowon’s ATA-100 connector.
Hope you enjoyed this article. I found the upgrade easy to do once I figured a few things out. I didn’t immediately discover that the file system on the Cowon’s stock drive was FAT32, but using the Disk Manager in Windows XP allowed me to determine the file system. You can format disks with Disk Manager, but the only formatting option is NTFS.
If you would like me to perform this upgrade for you, I’ll charge you a modest fee of $50 (plus postage) to do the work. But you should really try it yourself! It really is easy. If you still feel unsure of yourself, and want me to do the upgrade, you’ll need to send me your Q5 and the Toshiba drive. Important: Performing this work WILL void your Q5’swarranty. I cannot beheld responsible for any repercussions related to a voided warranty. Do this at your own risk!!!
If you’re still interested, leave me a post at the bottom of this page (I won’t publish it for public viewing) with an email address forcontacting you, and I’ll send you a shipping address.
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