Archos 5 Internet Media Tablet
Bored of iPod-this and Zune-that? Then here’s something really interesting: a portable music player with more features than you can shake a stick at. So many, in fact, that it’s marketed not as a portable music player, or even a portable media player, but as an ‘internet media tablet,’ and rightly so. Intrigued?
The Archos 5 is a September 2009 release from the French company, Archos. They grafted Google’s Android app architecture onto their media device, and you’d have to say the operation was a success.
The Archos 5 really is an amazingly full-featured device. Here’s a list of what you can do on the Archos 5:
- Store and playback music in just about any format, and the same for video files (you’ll never have to tediously convert an .avi again);
- Output 720p video over HDMI;
- Navigate with the built-in GPS;
- Connect wireless to other devices using Bluetooth;
- Listen to radio through the FM tuner;
- Browse the web wirelessly using a browser that supports some Flash and a touch onscreen QWERTY keyboard;
- Use the included email software;
- Use Twitter, Craigslist and PDF viewer apps;
- Download whatever apps your heart desires from the Android Market app store;
- Buy/ rent media from the Archos Media Club, and
- Use the FM transmitter to stream music to a radio.
There’s no other way to put it – the Archos 5 is a media junkie’s dream come true. If you want to do anything and everything on just the one device, there’s really no way to look past this feature list.
All this feature-y goodness comes to you in an attractive package that’s black stainless steel and 5 inches wide by 3.1 high. How thick it is depends on whether you have a flash or a micro HD model. The flash models come in 8, 16, and 32GB sizes and are 0.4 inches thick, whereas the micro HD models are 160, 250, or a gigantic 500GB and are all 0.8 inches thick. No matter what model you have you get a sizable and very pretty 4.8 inch display, which allows for a native resolution of a whopping 800 x 480 pixels. Battery life is claimed to be good for 24 hours of music playback or 7 of video.
Other physical features of the Archos 5 include a built-in speaker for listening to music and sound effects without headphones, a built-in microphone for making voice recordings, a dedicated physical volume control, and a folding stand for hand-free viewing. All useful stuff.
Any flies in the ointment? A few, yes. First, and most significant, is the screen. Yes it’s big and it looks good, but the touch control is noticeably sluggish. That’s because it’s a resistive touchscreen as opposed to a capacitive one; it needs a slight pressure in order to register a touch, and this quickly becomes annoying.
The other potential problem is that the Archos 5 is a ‘techy’ kind of device. The interface doesn’t spoon feed you like an iPod does, and that means you need to be a little more tech savvy to get the best out of it. That could actually be a feature if you’re that way inclined, but if not then it might be off-putting.
The last fly in the ointment is the price. The Archos 5 500GB has a list price of a hefty $489, and even the 8GB model has a list price of $249. For that kind of money you’d want to be sure that you got a lot of use out of your internet media table…but then that really shouldn’t be a problem!