Sunday, September 21, 2008
Archos 605 Official Home-made Review
So, I have been promising a review of the Archos 605 WiFi 30GB for a couple of weeks now and here it is officially. First a little bit of info on the unit, then we will get onto the functionality.
The Archos 605 Wifi 30GB is a PMP (Portable Media Player) and plays most of the digital content available out there (i.e. movies, TV shows, photos, music, etc.) We can call this unit the main competitor to the iPod Touch series since this unit sports:
- Touch Screen
- Internet access via a Wireless Access Point
- Content Portal (to download movies, TV shows, etc.)
What sets the unit apart from the iPod Touch is that with the optional DVR station (which I also bought), as the name implies, you can use the unit to record TV shows (or anything actually via the input be it a VHS, camcorder, etc.). Other differences, the unit support more music formats and of course, there's the very pretty 4.3'' screen (800 x 480). Movies look very great and so do pictures (still you can notice that the black levels are not deep enough). Finally the last difference is the capacity and of course PRICE! For $270.00 I got the 30GB PMP unit, and the DVR Station (a similar iPod Touch with the same capacity is like $400 but at least it's not a hard disk drive ;-))
Ok, so let's get to the meat of it.
Video Support: The unit comes with a couple of video demos so that you can experience out of the box the capabilities of this little thing and I have to say that the videos looked quite good. But of course, I had to test some of the videos I had here on my PC. I quickly uploaded a couple of videos:
1) Dexter Season 3 episode 1 -- DivX format 480 x 360
2) Boxing vid: Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Joel Casamayor -- XVid 512 x 384
3) Pablo Francisco Stand-up (Mpeg2 + mp3 audio)
4) extra miscellaneous videos I had lying around.
The First 2 videos played flawlessly. They looked good, they sounded good, just like they played on my PC or through my Playstation 3 (I got my PC set-up as a Media Server -- more on that later!) Now for the other 2 or 3 videos.... a pop-up appeared:
"In order to view the contents, you need to acquire a plug-in"
OOoookkkk... I get it. We get the unit, it plays a couple of formats but in order to access all formats you need to pony up more $$$$ I don't have a problem with this business model, I mean, if you don't want to pay up, just convert all of your movies to Divx or a supported format and that's it! Once I got the plug ins everything was gooood.
Once you are watching a movie, you have access to a couple of settings such as Brightness, Contrast, etc. You can zoom in a video, select from full frame, original aspect-ratio,etc.
Audio Support: Just like any other media player, the unit supports MP3 audio and also supports WAV, WMA and protected WMA. I copied some of my files in different formats and bit-rates and they played without problems! There are a couple of audio settings out there and even an equalizer. You can customize the sound or use an already created preset.
Web Browser: So, again, the unit comes with the capability to do something BUT, you have to pay for it! For a couple of bucks you get access to the Opera Browser for the unit and to tell you the truth, it actually works quite well. It's not the fastest in the world but it works! The unit found my internet access point, I configured it (sine I have WEP activated) and connected within minutes. Accessed the usual sites (google, facebook, techimo, ps3fanboy, youtube) and everything worked great and displayed correctly. Videos from youtube pop-up in the video player if you like or you could just play it from the browser. You can also access the Content Portal where you have the ability to access more "movie" sites. I'm still not sure regarding the purchase of video content since I have not tried it but, hey, if it works and you are into it, the option is there to spend more dough! :-p
I was surprised that the unit recognized my Media Server (using TVersity) without any configuration on my part! I could access all of my "shared" files through my WiFi connection which is great since I can just now listen to music and watch videos at home in my room without being near the PC. So this was a nice surprise!
Finally the real winner here and one of the main reasons I bought this... the DVR STATION!
With this little device you can record your favorite TV shows, movies, series directly on the ARCHOS 605 unit. You can even download a TV Guide and program it to record at certain hours or per show! It works with most video sources such as satellite/cable box, VCR, DVD player and records in MPEG-4 format. Most important of all, it WORKS! ;-) Also, you don't have to program the TV Guide or download anything if you don't want to as there is a "manual" record tab so anything you connect through the inputs, it will work.
The unit comes with the Station, 2 audio cables, 2 S-Video cables and a remote control.
I used the composite connection (not the S-Video one) with the supplied audio cables! Also, the DVR Station charges the Archos way faster than the proprietary USB cable provided (the cable is like 8 hours while the Station charges it in 3!)
Below you can access a video I made from the DVR Station (a bit of an I Love Money episode). I put it up in rapidshare (it's 17MB). You can download it and judge the quality yourselves! ;-)
I Love Money clip with DVR Station
All in all I think this was a good investment.
To summarize, let's go out with Pros and Cons.
1) PMP that plays audio (MP3, WMA, WAV and more if you buy plug-ins), video (MPEG-4 including Divx and Xvid, WMV and MPEG-2, VOB, etc. if you buy a plug-in)
2) Beautiful 4.3 '' touch-screen
3) Ability to record shows or anything via the DVR Station
4) Good sound and video playback quality
5) WiFi capabilities means you can access your media server and access the web also with the optional plug-in
6) Has a little kick-stand so you can set it up in a table
7) Price! (considering is a 30giger)
1) In order to play other formats you have to buy optional plug-ins
2) Volume levels are not that great
3) Touch-screen is not as responsive as the iPod Touch
4) Web Browsing is not lightning fast ;-)
5) No slot to store the stylus (forcing you to use your fingers on the screen)
6) Can't listen to OGG, FLAC or WMA Lossless files
7) Proprietary USB cable!
Well, that's all I can think of right now! :-p
Hope you find this useful... BUT!!!!! Archos already has new players out there... well, they are calling them "Internet Media Tablets" but well, it's actually the next generation of their players so you might want to check into those. They are actually more expensive but they seem to kick ass too so... you have been warned! ;-)