Product: Archos 605 WiFi
Price: 4GB, $199.99; 30GB, $299.99; 80GB, $349.99; 160GB, $399.99
Pros: Big screen; high resolution; low price; wireless movie downloads
Cons: Sluggish interface
For video viewing on-the-go, it’s hard to top the experience the Archos 605 WiFi [sic] offers. Combining a large screen, slim profile, and an exceptional image, it offers an ideal combination for mobile movies. But then mix in a touch screen interface, good price, and support for both Windows and Mac computers and you’ve got a fantastic overall player.
The 605 WiFi will appeal to people who want more than a postage stamp-sized movie experience, as it offers a big 4.3-inch diagonal screen with a surprising 800 by 480 pixel resolution and 16 million colors. Details look sharp, and the colors on videos are rich and vibrant. It supports MPEG-4 and WMV files out-of-the-box.
It’s also a fine music player (MP3, WMA, WMA DRM, and WAV) and photo viewer (JPEG, BMP, and PNG), with playlist support, equalizer settings, and bass boost for music and slideshow ability for photos. We tested the 30GB model, which measures 4.8- by 3.2- by 0.6-inches. The two larger capacity models are slightly thicker.
Every wireless portable brings something new to the table, and the 605 WiFi uses it to better the video experience. Windows users can stream video wirelessly from their computers, if they’re using Windows Media Player 11, to the device. If you’ve got the 605 WiFi connected to your television (with the optional $99 DVR Station), you can then play any content from your computer to your set.
The DVR Station, by the way, also lets you record TV to your player and watch it back on your set or on the device.
The 605 WiFi includes an application for visiting Archos’s online store, where you can download movies or plug-ins to add more abilities to your device. The store wasn’t working correctly during our testing, but we know that movie rentals are typically around $3.99 and plug-ins around $20. The plug-ins let you add support for more formats, and the buy-in system keep the device’s price down by letting people choose which advanced formats they really need.
Users can download an Opera browser, which works nicely with the large clear screen, although we found selecting text boxes could be difficult. There’s no e-mail client, but users can access online mail services as long as they have a wireless connection.
The device lacks wireless sharing, which isn’t really a problem, but we would have liked to have wireless synching with home computers. The player offers 802.11g networking.
Windows users will be able to sync local content easily if they’re using Windows Media Player 11. Mac users can only drag-and-drop content.
The natural comparison for the 605 WiFi is the iPod Touch, which is also made for video. The iPod Touch costs a lot more (32GB for $499) but also delivers a far more responsive interface. The 605 WiFi is lovely to look at, but offers noticeable lags when opening apps or switching tasks. Both devices can download fresh content, but the iPod Touch doesn’t allow wireless video purchases.
The 605 WiFi offers a few other features that the iPod lacks, such as an integrated speaker and a kickstand for hands-free viewing. It even comes with some enjoyable, attractive games for passing the time.
For people who prefer a non-iPod player, the 605 WiFi is a great choice. It’s slim enough to carry anywhere, but offers a big movie experience.
Troy is a regular contributor to Web Video Universe, PDA Street, Intranet Journal, and Laptop Magazine. He also writes a weekly consumer technology column, which is published in the Jersey Journal newspaper and distributed by the Newhouse News Service.