Monday and Friday of last week was like Christmas. On Monday I received a HD video camera. On Friday I received the Archos 605 WiFi portable media player. I bought it for a couple of reasons. First, my wife was feeling like a second class citizen because she doesn't have one. And second, because I wanted to.
The Screen, Size and Feel
The Archos 605 I purchased is the 80GB, 4.3" widescreen model. It's slightly thinner than my Zen Vision W. I took some pictures of it next to some of my other players for comparison.
Comparison to the Sony PSP Comparison to the Apple iPod Video Comparison to the Creative Zen Vision W Pictured using built-in stand
Comparison to the Sony PSP
Comparison to the Apple iPod Video
Comparison to the Creative Zen Vision W
Pictured using built-in stand
The 4.3" screen is a touch screen. As a result, the screen does not have a glossy finish like the Zen, PSP or iPod. The screen itself seems rather rigid. I hope that means it's going to last a long time. So far I haven't found a big need to touch the screen much. You can do nearly everything with the menu button and directional keys. Because the screen is big, the unit isn't small. The native resolution for the screen is 800x480 pixels with 16 million colors. That's about twice the resolution of most of my other players and a bunch of colors although I haven't counted them all.
The actual size of the unit is 4.8'' long x 3.2'' wide x 0.75'' thick. It weighs 9 ounces which is twice what my 80GB iPod Video weighs. If you look at the pictures at http://www.archos.com/products/gen_5/archos_605wifi/download.html?country=us&lang=en, you'll notice the unit looks gray metallic (beaded in the close ups) with gray keys. Those pictures must have been an early prototype because my unit is slightly different. The keys on mine are white and the unit itself doesn't have the polished stainless steel finish like you see in flash animation on the main page. That's fine with me because I like the finish my unit has. It doesn't show fingerprints and it is easy to hold.
Video Playback and Battery Life
Out of the box it plays most if not all of the Windows Media Video and AVI files I have. I haven't tried any WMV HD. There are some optional plugins to add support for H.264 or MPEG-2 with AAC and AC3 respectively. I doubt I'll purchase those plugins. I'm ripping everything I have to DivX AVI or WMV and it plays them great.
I'm getting 5 hours of continuous video playback with default brightness and contrast settings. That's also with 2500k bit rate video. I'm wondering if I produce different video bit rates if I can reduce I/O to the hard drive and thus extend the battery life more. I don't think it's a big deal so I'll probably just continue doing what I'm doing. The last time I went to Hawaii, two movies was plenty so this should be sufficient.
The Archos 605 I have has the 80GB hard disk. To give you an idea, I already have 35 movies on it and the hard drive isn't even half full. To bring this into perspective, I can load the complete Harry Potter movie set, all of the Star Wars movies, the extended Lord of the Rings set, all of the Matrix movies, all of the Indiana Jones movies, all of the Aliens movies, and about 30 other movies. I'm in the process of doing that right now. Impressive eh? Let's see the 16GB Apple iPod Touch do that. No possible way.
In case you were wondering, the typical two hour movie is ripping to about a 1GB disk file. So I'll end up having about sixty to seventy movies on the disk when I'm done. The Creative Zen Vision W I have will hold a little less. Basically either of the devices will hold a killer collection of pictures, music and video.
The Archos 605 comes with an assortment of other features. Some of those features are uninteresting to me, but might come in handy for other people. For instance, the 605 has a DVR Station option that allows you to record television programming. I already have HDTV recordings via my TiVo and Media Center PC so I don't really need yet another source of programming.
My player comes with WiFi and several networking options. For instance, I could purchase Opera and load it on the 605 and turn it into a cute little coffee shop surfing device. This is mildly interesting to me, but since I don't have a nationwide hotspot plan, I don't have a big need for this.
It appears the Archos 605 is running Samba or something to allow network browsing of shares on my homelan. According to the docs and features, it's also supposed to have streaming capabilities. Again, all of this stuff is kewl and all, but I'm using my 605 as a standalone portable media player.
The Archos 605 WiFi is a solid player and lives up to its billing so far. I purchased mine through Amazon.com when they went on sale (10% off). I also had a $35 gift card and got free shipping. I've only been playing with it a few days and so far I only dislike one thing which I plan to fix. The supplied charge cord sucks. The cord I'm talking about is the USB cord that allows syncing, charging or both. It charges extremely slow via USB. I need to find a quicker charging method.
The screen is fabulous and will work in "torch mode". In other words, you can really crank up the brightness and contrast. If you do, you'll knock some of the battery life off. For instance, I turned it up and it knocked the video playback time down to four hours fifteen minutes. If I buy an extra battery or quick charge method, I'll probably run the brightness somewhere less than torch, but something higher than default.
And in case you were wondering about my honey, she's getting the Zen Vision W. So I'm loading it with all of the mushy chick flicks and some of her dance videos. Shhhhhh, keep that a secret. It's a surprise.
You'll notice no comparison and only this brief mention of Zune. My Zune is Microsoft owned and I gave it to Bryan Von Axelson. He promised he was going to put it to good use. I'm waiting for the next generation Zune to show up.
[UPDATE] I spoke with Archos Technical Support about the charge times I'm seeing with this unit. It takes about eight hours to charge (when fully drained) if using the USB cord plugged into my laptop or desktop machines. That is apparently the norm. That doesn't really surprise me because USB doesn't supply that much power. So I ordered the battery dock pictured here at right. This little mini dock serves several functions. First, it does a quick charge of the battery in the unit. It also has a built-in battery which extends the video playback by another 4 hours (or so I'm told). I should know if any of that is true by this time next week. If so, it looks like I'm ready for a trip to an exotic location. Tahiti anyone?
[FINAL UPDATE] I received my Archos mini dock battery charger. bhphotovideo.com sells them for $39. It adds 4 hours to the playback time of the unit. Nine hours of nonstop video playback is pretty killer. Charging now takes less than four hours. I have forty movies on my Archos 605 WiFi player, so far. I think I am travel ready now. Grin.
FYI, I had to correct the link just above because apparently my source sold my battery doc for the wrong price then corrected the online catalog.
I just received mine yesterday and I couldn't tell if it was charging through the DVR station so I attempted it through the USB cord. When I looked at it 8 hours later, it was still charging. How long did yours take to charge?
It takes mine 8+ hours to charge. In other words, it takes too damn long via the USB cord.
Brian, I would be grateful if you could run some tests over the next couple of days. I'd like to know if the DVR station cuts the charge time in half or something.
Please report back. Thanks.
thanks for the review, I just put an order for a new one down lastnight on ebay and should be receiving it in the next week or two.
How does the SD card slot work? Is it similar to an external drive i.e; can you put a film or two on an SD card and then just plug it in the bottom of the archos and watch them from the card?
Also, are there any applications out there that offer a 'microsoft office' type of application plug-in?
Thanks again, very helpful blog.
My 80GB 605 WiFi does not have a SD card slot. Regarding apps, I guess thats going to depend on the market. I have not seen any viewers or editors like that yet.
on the topic of the battery dock, the link you have is going to the mini dock which is 30 bucks, but doesn't have a battery in it, the one you have is listed at http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/518328-REG/Archos_500977_Battery_Dock_for_Gen.html
and sells for 40. everywhere else including archos.com it is out of stock for those potential buyers
Apparently I got lucky. Looks like they corrected the online catalog and bumped the price to $39. You are correct, the new link at http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/518328-REG/Archos_500977_Battery_Dock_for_Gen.html is the correct link.
Hi, I just got my 80 GB 605 tonight.. I bought the travel Dock & the DVR Dock. This last dock is sweet with the remote control.
its a nice device. I use my Iphone for short clips here and there, and this device is for watching my movie collection on my TV.
I've just purchased the 605. The manual states that the green light wil blink when the unit is fully charged. Well, it's been 23 hours since I've plugged it in my PC's usb port. The light is still solid green. Why does it take so long to charge via USB the first time?...I'm ordering the DVR dock this weekend.
Karl, I had a similar wierd instance. The first time I used the battery doc, the light never flashed. I would not worry about it right away. Use it for a few days and see what happens.
I have this USB Power Adapter that u can plug USB into one end and charge to the outlet. So that one you can eliminate by using your computer to charge. The thing is.. will it miss up the Archos? Here's the spec for the USB Power Adapter.
Input: AC110-220V50/60Hz AC 10mA Output: DC6.00+-0.20V DC180mA +- 30mA
J, regarding using the charger, I'm not sure I would do this. I would hate to see you turn the 605 into a brick. I'm sure Archos would say you voided the warranty. Seems too risky to me.
Actually I found out that the USB on your desktop provides 500mA so more then the USB Power Adapter (180mA).. i guess we all just have to buy the Power charger from Archos. ;)
what software you all using to rip to AVI? I am using Apex Video Converter and having trouble playing on the unit. When fast forwarding to anywhere in the movie, it will just stuck there and won't play.. btw i am ripping to Divx 6.6.1
I'm wavering between the archos 605 flash and the itouch. Are there 3rd party apps for the archos like there are for the itouch?
J, I'm using http://www.xilisoft.com/dvd-ripper-platinum.html. You can see some details at the bottom of http://blogs.technet.com/keithcombs/archive/2006/12/29/dvd-adventures-with-the-psp-ipod-zune-and-zen-vision-w.aspx.
For the Archos, I'm converting everything to Divx .AVI, using the above tool. They work well on both the Archos 605 and the Creative Zen Vision W.
Carl, I doubt we'll see many 3rd party apps or plugins. It would appear Archos is the only company offering extensions right now for things like Opera. With Apple's popularity, I would imagine developers will focus on their platform.
I could not bring myself to buy their iPod Touch. If it had at least 30GB of space, then I probably would have.