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The Archos 605 WiFi is a touch screen portable media player, it is fairly old now (released 2007) and even when it was released it was no where near the standard of the first generation of iPod Touch. I still believe that it is good for its price (mine was £60 3 years ago) and in this review I will be explaining my reasons why.
The Archos itself:
The back of the archos is made of a very grainy sandpaper textured plastic, in fact I think it might be possible to use it as a nail file! Scratches are very visible as they appear lighter than the rest of the device. The Archos is quite thick in comparison to other devices of this style (ie iPod Touch). On the front features a large 4.3" resistive plastic touch screen and an array of 6 rocker buttons. Also there is a visible speaker (more on this later). On the left hand side there is a standard 3.5mm headphone jack and 3 LED's that provide statuses of the battery and WiFi.
The Archos 605 comes with a modified version of Linux created by Archos. It however isn't open source so custom "Apps" or "Mods" are not available (more on this later). There are alot of icons on the main menu screen for web browser (more on this later), video player, music player and other things such as PDF viewer. It is fairly customisable with wallpapers and colour schemes but you cannot move the icons about like iOS.
There is no App Store for this device so you are limited to what is preloaded. A feature of this device is WiFi, HOWEVER Archos have been very cheeky and ask you to pay £20 for a slimmed down version of Opera Web Browser!!! You can download shockwave flash games but they run very slow and if they require keyboard then you are going no where. As mentioned before you can read PDF files but changing pages takes quite a while to load.
Video quality is quite good, around the same as Standard Definition (Analogue) however getting videos to work on the Archos is a pain. The best way is to let Windows Media Player convert the file to the device during syncing.
The sound quality is fairly good on the device. The speakers provide clear and loud sound. No included headphones so cannot say much about that, but I can say the headphone jack works quite well using my own headphones.
The screen is resistive and plastic, not like the capacitive glass screens found on newer devices. Included are 2 styluses but I dont use them as the screen is fine to type on and is good enough to navigate through the simple menus. It is 4.3" big which is .8 inches bigger than an iPod touch.
Battery life on the Archos 605 is pretty average. It isnt as good as an iPod touch and I can only get 2.5 hours of video playback. Charging seems to take an age (charge overnight still not done in the morning!).
The Archos 605 is a fully functional multi media player that is controlled via touch screen technology enabling the user to play movies, record videos (although an additional bullet camera is required), listen to MP3s, look at photographs, carry out voice recording and browse the internet (with an additional plug in) amongst others.
The video quality is very good and perfectly acceptable to watch. It is a vast improvement on the AV700, whose resolution was absolutely awful. The 604 enable the option to run in wide screen, full screen or normal modes. This is very useful for different sized videos. The frame rate is also very good, much better than many of its competitors, in my opinion.
If using just the video function I have found that the battery life is about 5 hours, which may present some problems. I find that if I have to travel to London for work the battery will just about last for the journey there and the journey back, providing there are no hold ups.
The user-friendly audio menu makes this function very easy to use (especially with the touch screen and stylus) and it is easy to transfer music in and out of the play list. You can browse all your music as you are listening to a track, just like you can with an iPod. There is the option to rate play lists just like on a PC or laptop. Whilst this is a great feature once all the music has been rated actually doing this can be very tedious.
In my opinion it would be better if the ratings that you had given the songs on the computer could be directly transferred along with the track.
The voice recording function is probably not of much use to most users, however, I have used it to dictate some work letters just to check how easy it was to do and the quality of the recording. Whilst it was easy to dictate and record, the quality is very poor, certainly no substitute for my Dictaphone, but it will be acceptable for those who like leaving themselves vocal reminders of things to do.
The audio quality is good but it is not up to the same standard as that of the iPod which is a shame, but then maybe that would be asking too much, especially given the price of the Archos 604.
If using just the audio function I have found that the battery life is quite good and generally lasts up to 15 hours.
It is possible to store and view photos on the Archos. I have yet to find a digital camera which will directly plug in to the Archos to transfer the photos so this must be done via a PC or laptop.
There is the ability to display a slide show which is a nice feature.
The Wifi function is a great idea, but in my opinion, it is not fast enough. Searching for networks can take a little time but transferring files or accessing work files generally works OK. I have encountered times when I could not get the Wifi to work but these occasions have been few and far between.
The internet browsing capability is OK for looking at emails and doing searches on Wikipedia and the like, although it is not that good for large, complex and detailed websites as it can take a while to load up. It should be noted that the internet browser does not come as standard and is an additional plug in that needs to be bought, and downloaded, from the Archos site.
Whilst internet browsing the keyboard is used (of course!). The keyboard is easy to use. One thing that I was unsure of before I got my Archos was how to type because I could not find any information about it at all. Basically, when ever you touch a text box the keyboard takes up half the screen and then you can just hit the letters and they are displayed on the screen. It is very easy to do and comes quite naturally after a while.
One function that I feel is missing is the ability to listen to music whilst surfing the internet, although I feel that this is probably beyond the capabilities of the Archos 604. It would, however, give the user something to do whilst waiting for the web pages to load up.
****The touch screen****
The touch screen is very, very good. The balance of sensitivity is spot on, i.e. not too sensitive (which I think renders things useless) and not so un-responsive that you have to press hard on the screen. It is possible to get near pin-point accuracy with the stylus.
****Recording from external sources****
When transferring movies on to the Archos you are fine as long as the video, clip or whatever is on your PC in the correct format.
It is possible to transfer movie content direct from a DVD player or a television. In order to do this the DVR station accessory is needed, and at £60 it is not cheap, but it is an absolute must have to really enjoy the full capabilities of this multimedia player.
The DVR station combines all video in and out. There are 11 ports on the back not including the one to charge enabling it to be used with almost any external video source you can imagine.
The DVR station also comes with a handy remote, which is very useful unless you like to sit right by the external device.
It is possible to view PDF files on the Archos 604. This is easy to use and the user can zoom into the page to all necessary magnifications. It would have been good to have a text viewer to show word documents or such like and then have the ability to edit the documents using the keyboard but this is not possible.
As you'd expect there are loads of accessories for the Archos 604 including cases, additional power packs, headphones, leads, adaptors, DVR adaptors and camcorders amongst other things.
The downside is that all these things come at a price and you need really deep pockets to fully kit out your Archos. The accessories are much more expensive than similar items for other types of multi media players.
As well as lots of hardware there is a lot of software and plug-ins, that need to be downloaded directly from the Archos website, available. Without this software you will not be able to do certain things (such as browse the internet or look at and use specific file types). Once again, this additional software is very expensive.
The additional software required is a bit of a con. I bought the Archos under the impression that it is a fully functional multi media player that could deal with all file types, and it can deal with all file types but you need to pay for this. I could not see this fact stated in any Archos literature. Once you have bought an Archos you will inevitably require additional software and Archos has the user bent over the proverbial barrel in these cases.
A good place to get Archos accessories is Newmp3technology.com.
****Transferring data to/from the Archos****
The file transfer to/from the computer is acceptable. It is not blisteringly fast, but then it is not really slow either. Its about the same as transferring files between a laptop or PC and an removable hard drives, which is effectively what the Archos appears as once linked up to a computer.
This allows you to drag and drop items as opposed to having to use file transfer programs, like iTunes in the case of iPods.
****Prices and availability****
Prices vary greatly depending upon where you get the Archos. I have seen these as cheap as £110 from Overstock.com and as much as £180 from Play.com.
****Final thoughts and comments****
The Archos looks sleek and stylish. Whilst the Archos has a large screen it is not too big and can easily be slipped in to a pocket.
****Would I recommend it?****
The Archos is a great multi media player and full of features and gadgets and I would recommend one.
Whilst it is reasonably cheap to buy the basic unit, the additional bolt-ons, plug-ins and accessories cost a lot and you will need deep pockets to get every thing. Provided you consider the additional cost of these then I can't see this being a problem and you won't get any surprises.
There are other multi media players out there but none have as many features, nor are they as versatile, as the Archos.
Overall Rating: 76%
I've owned lots of Archos media players over the last couple of years - starting with the old 300 series, then two 500 series ones, and quite recently the 605 Wifi. If there's one thing I love about it, it's the touch screen. If there's one thing I definitely don't love, it's the attitude the developers behind the firmware - it constantly bugs you to buy things. 'Buy this plugin now!', 'buy the stand so you can connect it to a TV!', 'buy this accessory to improve your experience!'. The worst part of this is that even if you own the accessories it's badgering you to purchase, it will continue to nag you when they're not connected. However, while this is quite agitating, the overall experience of the product is a good one.
The Archos 605 is a little harder to use than the older ones, but that's a given since it also has lots more options. It's a handy device, and it's great for recording from your TV, listening to MP3s or using as a dictophone. The internet browser is of somewhat limited use; this is because of two things. First and foremost, the fact that you have to buy a DLC plugin to use the browser in the first place, and secondly because lets face it, why would you want to browse the web on a 4" screen when you need a wireless connection and thus more than likely have a web-capable PC anyway. I'm not saying it's 100% useless - there's that great "I'm cool" feeling you get when you're browsing the internet in the kitchen while the spag bol is on, but is that really worth 300 big ones for that? If you want to buy it solely to get on the internet, I wouldn't bother (however, it can be good for travelling - read on...).
I've personally made good use of the 605 however, because more than anything it has a surprisingly good mic built into it. The audio recording features of it, like the models before it, are really good for recording... well, anything really. I've used it to record my friends messing around, ideas for songs and even full on high volume band practice sessions with drums. It's very versatile in this area - if it was sold as a dictophone alone and made a little smaller and a lot cheaper I'd give it 5 stars.
The second real nice feature is the video and audio capabilities. It's brilliant for watching a movie. The screen is just about the right size and the sound isn't too shabby, especially through a good pair of head phones. The ability to record from a TV (or a games console, or any video source that's not HD) makes this all the more special - and this makes it brilliant for having around on a long train or plane journey. Just think - you've recorded the last 5 episodes of Life on Mars (or whatever), and you've got a nice long 5 hour journey ahead of you. This makes it painless. This also justifies the inclusion of the internet facilities a little bit - if you're a YouTube fanatic and your plane/train has free Wifi you're in luck. The browser is based on Opera and supports Flash, so you can view YouTube videos on it.
Other notes on usability are that it can be used as an external hard drive for file storage, which is a nice bonus, but unfortunately the loading times for the different applications seem to be rather long. I'm not sure why, but is can take 5-10 seconds for the internet browser to load.
The form of the 605 series is more or less standard Archos fare; it's a little bit big, because of the screen, it's not heavy, and for the price it's not the best build quality. These things will break. Not as much as the older models, but it just doesn't feel as solid as it should. I haven't had any problems so far, touch wood, but I can't imagine they would survive a 5 foot drop onto concrete very well.
To conclude, the Archos 605 is a real treat if you travel a lot and like to watch movies while you do so. If you can get free Wifi, all the better. It's also good if you do a lot of relatively low-quality audio recordings - great if you're in a band and you want to record your new riff to show the others at your next band practice. As an mp3 player, its size makes it a bit too clunky - if you want to buy it just to listen to mp3s, it's a big no-no, especially considering the price. If you want to combine all of these features though, it's a steal, and that's why I buy these things. I'd say that the whole set of Archos media players serve the same niche, and that's people like me that are gadget junkies, travel a lot, and like new toys to play with. If you do want to get yourself one, though, do yourself a favour and at least get the 30gb version.
Disclaimer; I post all my reviews on multiple reviewing sites under the username "Ultima2876", where applicable.
Archos 605 WiFi
Whats In The Box?
Archos 605 Unit
ARCHOS USB cable
Adapter for DVR Station Gen 5
Instruction Manual Written In French, English, German, Spanish & Italian
The Archos 605 allows you to read PDF files, Create your own photo slideshows with music and transition effects, Full player customisation is possible if you download the relevent plug-ins from the manufacturers website, It has a built in loud speaker with high quality sound output which is really loud and clear, A Web navigation function which allows for video playback and streaming with optional Web Browser plug-in available, The WiFi connection allows you to play stored digital files on your computer or download new files direct to the unit, File organisation is made easy with the ARCLibrary software and a TV programme guide is also available with the optional plug-ins.
I purchased my Archos 605 from E-Bay just before christmas and really couldn't be happier with it although it only has a 4gb memory capacity it can be upgraded via an SD memory card it is really easy to use and customise and is compatible with near enough all of the files i have tried playing on it and plug-ins are available for all the files it doesn't play. The WiFi connection is a little slow but is still really usefull as it allows you to download or stream files from almost anywhere however you do need to download the web browser plugin from Archos's website to do this. The screen is a good size for watching films on and is really high quality also the addition of a stand was a great idea as it means that you dont have to hold onto it for an hour and a half while you watch a film. The player software is fast and reliable and i have not experienced any problems with it so far!
All plug-ins for this player are available for purchase from www.archos.com
Price & Availability
The Archos 605 unit is available from Amazon for £130 on Ebay at £120 and is also available from Argos for around £135
Memory: 4 GB Expandable to 16 GB with an SD card
Battery life: 5.5 hours (Video), 17 hours (Audio)
Dimensions: 122mm x 82mm x 15mm
LCD Display: 4.3" TFT LCD touch screen, 16 million colours
Resolution: 800 x 480 pixels
Supported Video Formats: MPEG-4, WMV, Video Podcast, MPEG-2, AVI
Audio Formats: NTSC, PAL, SECAM, MP3, WMA and WMA protected, WAV, AAC4 & AC3
Photo Formats: JPEG, BMP, PNG
Audio Output 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack
Software: ARCHOS Link
Compatible With: Windows XP, Vista, Mac OS X
**** This Review Is Also Available At www.ciao.co.uk ****