Ramblings from another nerd on the grid
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 was going to get iPod Touch before I heard of Archos. Same reason as you, the Touch just too lack of capacity space; as 16GB can't really store anything.
Carl, the first night I got my Archos 605, I immediately bought the Opera plugin since I love the way to surf the web wifi. It worth the $30 bucks and their built in Flash.
Thanks Keith for your Ripper recommendation, I'll check it out. I was just using WinAVI Converter, it works okay but I having trouble ripping some .rmvb to .avi
Regarding the xilisoft product, download the trial first. There are probably plenty of other products on the internet that will do what you want for less than the $45 xilisoft now wants. I tried it first and decided it was for me because it will let you create the formats used by the PSP, Zune, Creative Zen, and iPod. Now that I have the Archos, it also works for it very nicely.
Now if there was a format they would all accept...
Has anyone be able to purchase the Archos mini dock battery charger for 5 series? Sold out everywhere I checked online..
I really need help. I bought this today because I really dmired its superiority from ipod touch which I would buy. After reading the manual I came to th conclusion that when I charge my archos, it should have a small battery wih a lighting on top of the screen. When I firstly got it, I opened it after 15 mins o charging for a very little time and everythingreacted perfectly(I am talking about 2 mins). After that I got away and whe I returned 5 hours later the screen wouldnt show any signs of life, even thought the charge lght is open when I connect it with my pc. When you charge it for the first time does your screen work; Is it on while you charge;; If yes I have a problem
My suggestion would be to charge it overnight before you attempt to do anything.
Thanks. I did and I will leave it even more to be sure .During the first 6 hours I had my pc off and even it had the charge light on I suppose it may didnt take so much power. Now it is 9 hours of apropriate charging in te usb and I will leave it for 6 more. The only thing I care about is that I can't open the screen even though the power light is on. Anyway, really thanks for your review and your quick responding to me. I hope that I will be able to take the best out of my archos today.
can u only buy the plug in for the archos 605 wifi for the internet only once u buy the actual product or can u buy the software before u buy the product how does it work
U is spelled you. What are you asking? If you are asking about the web browser, that is an addon product and costs extra. I only use my player for video so I will not be using it in that manner.
Does that answer your question?
Can the Archos 605 play native Tivo files that I've used Tivo ToGo to download?
Good question Stanley!!! I'll try that this week. I am only recording in high definition so it'll be interesting to see what it takes to create and move a recording to a portable device like my Archos 605, Zune or Zen.
More holiday fun coming...
FYI, most likely I'll just create another blog post on the subject.
Thanks for the reply, Keith. I'll look forward to your update on this. I'm pretty sure I'm going to ask my family to give me the 80gb 605 as a Christmas present.
No problem. I've been meaning to purchase the TiVo Desktop Plus version (which I did today). I'm transferring Heroes, Grey's Anatomy, ER, and a couple of movies right now. I also have it set to create H.264 versions which I'll drop to my Zune 80 and Archos 605 WIFI.
I purchased the Archos plugins last weekend to support all of the video formats it possibly can.
The transfers are going pretty slow. I'm pretty sure this isn't just a copy because the TiVo is on the GigE network I have so network performance should be a non issue. I would imagine it's also doing a conversion. It seems the TiVo desktop software writes checkpoints because you can stop the transfer before it's complete and still play the file.
It would appear the files will be tranferred and converted by morning. I'll play with things then. I'm off work this week so I need something to do. Hee.
One of the people that discovered my blog and the Archos 605 WIFI posting asked me about using TiVoToGo
Is an access control or sign-in security application to lock out the device available? Also my pictures do not go in the full screen mode, they stay in the original size. Any ideas?
Mine has been charging for over 24 hours now. Still no flashing light.