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ARCHOS Generation 5 Portable Media Players (6/2007)

    by Douglas Dixon

Generation 5 Line Summary
Playback and Capture
Wireless Content
Portable Media Player / Digital Video Recorder
Product Summaries
Media Formats: Archos 405, 605 & 705

Overview of the full line of the current Generation 4 Archos Portable Media Players
See more on the Gen 4 Archos 704-WiFi
See more in the Portable Media Players Gallery, under Hard Disk Video Players

ARCHOS has just announced its new Generation 5 line of Portable Media Players (PMP), with prices ranging from $170 to $500, for devices featuring 2 to 160 GB of storage (www.archos.com). 

The new line will be available at retail beginning in September. This overview is based on preliminary announcements and brief demos, and therefore is incomplete...

The new products look very familiar from the previous Gen 4 players. If you liked the Archos 704-WiFi you get the same basic case design and user interface -- just with new bonus of thinner and lighter and less expensive -- plus adding interesting upgrades like fun Widget applications and streaming Flash video over WiFi (yes, you can watch YouTube).

Generation 5 Line Summary

The top of the line, the ARCHOS 705 WiFi and 605 WiFi, have 800 x 480 widescreen displays with touch screen interfaces, and, obviously, the WiFi wireless networking.

  • The larger ARCHOS 705 WiFi has a 7 inch screen, and comes with an 80 or 160 GB hard drive, and weighs a noticeable 22 oz. The price will range up to $500.
  • The pocket-sized ARCHOS 605 WiFi has a 4.3" screen, weighs 6.7 / 9+ oz., and is available with a 30 GB hard drive for $299 or 160 GB for $339.
  • In a new development, the 605 also comes in a version with flash solid state memory -- 4 GB, plus a SD Card expansion slot, 4.2 oz., for $229.

        ARCHOS 605 WiFi with kickstand

Then ARCHOS is offering two additional flash-based players, without WiFi.

  • The ARCHOS 405 is a smaller version of the widescreen players, with 3.5'' 320 x 240 display, 4 GB flash memory, and SD slot, at 4.2 oz. -- a lot for $169.
  • And the ARCHOS 105 is a different animal -- a mini media player with 1.8'' OLED display, 160 x 128, 2 GB flash memory, and weighing 1.8 oz. It supports a more limited set of formats and features than the other players.

        ARCHOS 405

     Look up the Archos 704 WiFi on Amazon.com.

Playback and Capture

The ARCHOS players are designed to support all forms of digital media, and in many formats (see details below). They play music and photos, including slide shows with transition effects. And they play video, including movies and recorded TV shows.

Like the Gen 4 products, the full-size players (all but the 105) support an optional DVR Station Gen 5 accessory ($99) that plugs into to add video output, for displaying all your media on a television. And the DVR Station supports capture, so you can set it up on a schedule to record TV shows using the integrated program guide. There's also a DVR Travel Adapter ($69)

        ARCHOS 605 WiFi with TV program guide

ARCHOS is also offering a new remote control -- a tiny device, but with a full keypad handy for Web surfing.

Wireless Content

With the WiFi players, you can stream and watch videos stored on your local PC network -- either by browsing your Windows network neighborhood as before, or now also by accessing your media devices and content through the Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) interface supported on consumer electronics devices (and computers).

If you want to surf the Web and access Internet media, ARCHOS has lowered the base price of the units by unbundling the Opera browser into a separate plug-in ($30), and also offers an Internet Radio plug-in ($20).

The Opera browser works well for Web surfing, displaying most sites in full width on the 800 x 480 displays, though you'll want a stylus to accurately tap small links.

The Opera browser also can stream videos in Flash video format (i.e., from YouTube). You can't stream videos in other formats over the Web (only over the local network), although you can download them to play back from local storage.

To provide access to additional downloadable content, there's the new ARCHOS Content Portal, offering movies and music, both free and for purchase. ARCHOS also is working with content partners such as CinemaNow for movies, TV shows and music videos, and BurnLounge for major label music. Since the player hardware can identify itself to the Content Portal, once you register your purchasing information once, you can purchase and download new content immediately, without needing to login or enter credit card information each time.

Portable Media Player / Digital Video Recorder

Put all these capabilities together, and an ARCHOS Portable Media Player becomes a quite powerful set-top box to play back right on the TV -- with the ability to display stored music, photos, and videos; schedule recordings of TV shows; stream content directly from networked PCs and other devices; and download and play premium content purchased online.

It almost makes you feel guilty when you un-dock the player to take it on the road as a portable device -- now you can't record more shows, and the TV is no longer connected to all that alternate content. You could buy another player to stay with the TV, but instead ARCHOS is offering a new product -- the ARCHOS TV Plus -- basically all the functionality of the ARCHOS PMPs with DVD Station, but in a small set-top box (roughly 1 foot wide) -- designed to display on a TV and be controlled with the ARCHOS remote control.

The TV Plus acts as a stand-alone DVR with hard drive storage, and supports both analog and HDMI outputs for viewing on a TV. And it has built-in WiFi and Ethernet connections for playing networked content and Web surfing on TV. Plus there's a USB connection to synch content including recorded TV shows with an ARCHOS PMP.

Product Summaries

ARCHOS 105

1.8'' OLED color screen, 160 x 128, 262,000 colors.
Intuitive menu with icons.
2 GB Flash memory, stores up to 2 Movies, 20,000 photos, or 1,000 songs
Video: WMV - SP QCIF @ 15fps
Audio: Stereo MP3 decoding @ 30-320 kb/s CBR & VBR, WMA,
Protected WMA and WAV (PCM) - ID tag 3 compatible
Photo: JPEG
Battery life: Up to 18 hours
Rechargeable Li-Ion Batteries, Charge via USB 2.0
1.8 x 3.3 x 0.3 in., 1.8 oz
Price announced this fall

ARCHOS 405

3.5'' TFT LCD, 320 x 240 (QVGA. 4:3)
2 GB Flash memory (stores up to 2 movies, 20,000 photos, or 1,000 songs
SD Card slot for additional memory, up to 16 GB (SD, mini SD, micro SD cards)
Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery, Charge via USB 2.0
Battery Life: Music playback time up to 16 hours, Video up to 5 hours
3.9 x 3.1 x 0.5 in., 4.2 oz
$169.99

ARCHOS 605 WiFi

4.3'' TFT LCD, Touch screen, 800x480 pixels (WVGA, 16:9 widescreen), 16 million colors
4 GB Flash memory, with SD Card slot, up to 16 GB additional (SD, mini SD, micro SD)
30 or 160 GB hard drive
Lithium-Ion Polymer battery
Battery Life: Music playback time up to 16 hours, Video up to 5 hours
Approx.: 4.8 x 3.2 x 0.6 in., 4.2 oz/6.7 oz (4, 30 GB)
Approx.: 4.8 x 3.2 x 0.75 in., 9.2/9.8 oz (160 GB)
4 GB: $229.99
30 GB: $299.99
160 GB: $399.99

ARCHOS 705 WiFi

7-inch TFT, Touch screen, 800x480 pixels (WVGA, 16:9 widescreen), 260,000 colors
80 or 160 GB hard drive
(160 GB stores up to 200 Movies, 1 million photos, or 95,000 songs)
Mini B for USB 2.0 computer connection
Mini A for USB 2.0 host connection
Removable Lithium-Ion Polymer battery
Battery Life: Music playback up to 25 hours, Video up to 5.5 hours on built-in LCD.
Approx. 7.05 x 4.96 x 7.75 in.(0.75)??, 22 oz
Price Announced this fall

Media Formats: Archos 405, 605 & 705

Video Playback

MPEG-4 (ASP@L5 AVI, up to DVD resolution)
WMV (MP@ML, up to DVD resolution).

Video Plug-Ins

Optional software plug-ins:
- Video Podcast plug-in ($20): H.264 up to DVD resolution and AAC sound.
- Cinema Plug-in ($20): MPEG-2 MP@ML up to 10 Mbps (up to DVD resolution), DVD VOB, with AC3 stereo / surround sound (5.1); select language and subtitle
- HiDef Video Plug-In ($20): HD TV up to 720p resolution @24 f/s MPEG-4 format
- Real Video Plug-In ($20): Play Real Video Player Format

Audio Playback

Stereo MP3 decoding @ 30-320 Kbits/s CBR & VBR,
WMA, Protected WMA, WAV (PCM/ADPCM).
With optional software plug-ins: AAC stereo audio files, AC3 stereo sound files

Photo Viewer

JPEG, BMP, PNG.
Transfer photos directly from a digital camera (705)

PDF Viewer

Reads PDF documents. May not implement all PDF features.

Video Recording

Via optional DVR Station GEN 5 or DVR Travel Adapter:
Records NTSC/PAL/SECAM to MPEG-4 SP files with ADPCM stereo sound,
VGA resolution (640 x 480) @ 30 or 25 f/s, in AVI format.

Audio Recording

Via optional DVR Station GEN 5 or DVR Travel Adapter:
Records stereo line-in, WAV (IMA ADPCM or PCM) format.

Interfaces

USB 2.0 High-Speed Device (compatible USB 1.1):
Mass Storage Class (MSC) and Media Transport Protocol (MTP).
USB 2.0 Host : Mass Storage Class (MSC) and Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP)

The current Generation 4 Archos 704 WiFi has a large 7-inch widesceen color display (800 x 480) with a touch screen interface. It's available with an 80 GB hard drive for $549.99, and weighs 22 ounces