Archos 605 WiFi Page 2
The Short Form
|Price: 605 WiFi: $300 plus software plug-ins; DVR Station Gen 5: $100 / archos.com / 866-489-4718|
|A talented touch-screen player that delivers the content whether copied from a computer, downloaded wirelessly from the Internet, or reccorded directly from a video source.|
|•Large, touchscreen interface •Hard buttons offer alternative to onscreen controls •Bright, high-resolution video screen •Wirelessly downloads movies, TV shows, and music without a computer •Compatible with most YouTube content|
|•Not a multi-touch screen •Optional "plug-in" software means player isn't fully functional out of the box •No stylus holder|
|•30GB hard drive (other capacities available) •4.3-in (800 x 480 pixel) 16:9 touchscreen •Wi-Fi (802.11g) ready •Built-in speaker •Inputs/Outputs USB, earphone, connector to optional DVR station •4.8 x 3.2 x .75 in; 6.7 oz|
The 605's 4.3-inch screen is nearly an inch larger than Apple's and, unlike the iPhone, iPod Touch, and Apple TV, the 605 can play YouTube's entire library in its native Flash format. So, I was able to use the 605 to find and play my own obscure YouTube contribution, which was impossible with the iPhone since the video hadn't been converted to the required MPEG-4 format. I was also able to stream Internet radio stations, a function not supported on the Apple products.
The 605 supports a variety of music and video formats including songs, movies, and TV shows containing Microsoft's Digital Rights Management protection. That includes paid content from such services as Napster and CinemaNow. It does not support DRM-protected content from Apple's iTunes Store. Archos recommends that you install Windows Media Player 11 or higher on your computer for synching video content.
I downloaded a commercial-free episode of The Dick Van Dyck Show ($1.99) directly into the 605 wirelessly from CinemaNow, one of Archos's content partners. I chose to play the program with side bars on the Archos's widescreen display, and the blacks and whites really popped on the crystal-clear screen.
The best investment you can make for the 605 is the DVR Station Gen 5. The dock not only charges the player but it lets you make unattended recordings from a cable or satellite receiver. The DVR Station is equipped withinputs for composite, and S-Video, and stereo audio, for routing signals from you source for recording or playback. It also has outputs to feed your TV with composite and S-Video and component video and analog stereo or SPDIF digital audio. It comes with a remote, an infrared emitter to control the source component, and two USB inputs - one for a PC connection and the other for a USB host or storage device. Even if the 605 is detached from the DVR Station, you can download a program guide for your local cable system via Wi-Fi or connected to your computer. If you're a DishNetwork subscriber with a 622 or 722 receiver, you should soon be able to download a plug-in enabling you to transfer programs from the satellite receiver's hard drive into the 605 using a high-speed USB connection. Another coming plug-in: the ability to stream live from a Sling Media Slingbox, which would make it possible to watch and control your cable or satellite DVR, for example, from any location with Wi-Fi and broadband.
I set up the 605 to record The Daily Show and The Colbert Report nightly at 11 pm from my cable box. Then, as I went out the door each morning to head to work, I undocked the 605 and watched the programs on the subway. The picture quality was excellent: 640 x 480 resolution at 30 frames per second with impressive color and stereo sound, though with less volume than I would have hoped for. (The audio recording level wasn't adjustable, and my cable box volume was as high as it could go. My workaround on the noisy subway was substituting my own over-the-ear headphones for the earbuds.) Though during my commutes I was faced with the chore of periodically tapping the screen to bring up the scroll bar in order to pull the elapsed program bar past commercials, I felt smug knowing I'd saved a $1.99 per show versus downloading the same episodes from iTunes.
Bottom Line Archos has been making portable media players longer than Apple has been inundating the world with iPods. Having reviewed several of the company's earlier efforts, I've been impressed with their range of capabilities yet put off by their general lack of novice usability. Adding a touchscreen, even if not a multi-touchscreen, helps with the interface problem, though consigning some of the system software to optional plug-ins just sets up roadblocks to immediate out-of-box gratification.
Ultimately, the Archos 605 WiFi 30-gigger may not be as slim or as dazzling as Apple's touch-screen models, and probably comes with a little less status. But it does store a lot more content, is compatible with many more formats (with plug-ins), and, when combined with the DVR Station, pays off in added versatility and savings.