Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Archos 605, Wi-Fi PMP for the Techie

The Archos 605 Wi-Fi PMP, isn’t going to score you any cool points in the eyes of hipsters, they're hypnotized by shiny apples. But, as far as you and your cohorts are concerned this Wi-Fi enabled touch screen PMP is straight off the pages of Buck Rogers, and excruciatingly hip. Its elegance is not in its presentation. The beauty lays in its functionality, functionality that isn’t tied to a one-way file transfer or DRM video content from the manufacture’s own media store. Archos 605 mounts its internal memory as a drive on Mac or PC via USB, pretty basic (for any non-Apple PMP). You can then transfer whatever media or data files you wish, to and from the player’s memory. The memory offerings, which are substantial, come in 30, 80, & 160 Gigs capacities.

Screen size is always a draw with portable video players. Archos 605 has one of the largest on the market at 4.3-inchs. It displays in 800x480 resolution, so movies, pictures, and WebPages look the same as they would on your PC. They’ve also made the touch screen smudge resistance, somehow.

The best design features on any electronics are practical ones and because nothing screams impracticality like having to hold your video player while watching a two hour movie, this player has a sturdy metal stand built in. Also built into the unit is a speaker for sharing your movies in group viewing sessions. Archos 605's design drawbacks are the proprietary USB connection, its scratch magnet of a case and dirt prone white front buttons.

Archos 605 is a standalone player for music, videos, photos, and PDFs. The content portal, which is like online store, allows you to buy or rent movies and music from different providers, (how novel, competition in digital media distribution).

As with many devices from Archos, the 605 is a base for many add-ons. Marketing fluff aside, what you get in the box isn’t going to allow you to fully utilize the player’s capabilities. But then you wouldn't want to pay extra for stuff you might never use. At 20 bucks a pop, plug-ins allow for high definition playback, Wi-Fi internet radio, reading multiple video file formats, and more. If you plan on using Archos’ Wi-Fi connectivity to browse the net you need to purchase Opera web browsing software, $30. This mobile browser is highly rated and the flash plug-in gives you more of the web than Mobile Safari browser, which has no flash plug-in.

The most expensive, and consequently the most useful, add-on is Archos DVR Station, or dock. It adapts the video signal to your television, then, turns your digital video player into a digital video recorder, hence the DVR in the name. The DVR allows you to record and playback your favorite television content on the portable player, or on your television. Why pay a charge to watch shows on your PMP that you’ve already paid for in your cable subscription? Archos DVR Station also includes a physical keyboard on the DVR’s remote making web surfing and emailing while lounging in the EZ-Boy much more viable.

Archos has released a versatile, relatively inexpensive, customizable portable player that is unmatched in screen resolution. You may have to drop some additional cash to enhance functionality, but the investment is completely worth it, especially when you travel. If you are thinking iPod consider what you’ll be giving up, drag and drop hard drive support, wirelessly rent movies and music, and DVR. Sure the presentation is a bit lacking, but do you buy PMPs to impress others or yourself?