Archos 5 Internet Media Tablet – First Look

By | Sep 23, 2008

10/22/2009 – Check out my latest Archos 5 Android review here.

10/22/2009 – Check out my latest Archos 5 Android review here.

Archos attempts to introduce a new class of PMP devices with the Archos 5 and 7. Only they’re not called PMP’s anymore; they’re called Internet Media Tablets. Sure, why not. Mine just arrived today, so read on for a first look and my early impressions…

What attracted me to these new offerings from Archos is their immense storage capacity. The Archos 5 pictured above comes in 60, 120 and 250gb models. The price differential between the different models is small, so it really only makes sense to spring a few more bucks for the 250gb. Or, step up to the larger Archos 7 with up to 320gb!

This is the packaging as it arrived. Pretty nice! The back of the box highlights the main features.

Open the box and the familiar smell of new electronics wafts through the air. That’s a good smell.

Front and back views of the Archos 5.  The back also has a nice rubbery texture to it. The front is shiny and looks like a fingerprint magnet. (Update…it is.)

The 250gb is a bit thick, but not too bad. I don’t have my original 605 anymore to compare, but specs put it at around the same thickness as the 605.

Included accessories are a bit sparse. No carrying case as with the 605. Charging is done through the included, proprietary (boooo) USB cable. A wall charger can be had with other optional add-ons like the DVR and battery docks.

Interface is vastly improved over the previous 605, which I thought was pretty nice. Main functions are easy to get to. Flyout sub-menus for each main menu item appear next to the main menu items as they are touched.

This is the Archos 5 compared to my Cowon Q5W.  Screens are about the same size, but the Cowon has a little more case size.

Using the Archos 5 – First Impressions

Interface – I really like the interface on the new Archos 5. Its big icons are easy to navigate and the layout is intuitive. Setup was easy. After powering on, the Archos walks you through your regional settings, wireless network settings, and product registration. If you have a wireless network, registration can be done right from the device. 

Video – Video quality was a little disappointing. Colors looked washed out and lacked contrast. This is one area where the Cowon Q5W, with all its faults, like its lousy interface, really shines. Video on the Cowon looks spectacular, with accurate flesh tones, good contrast, and an overall warm (images lean towards yellow) look to them. The Archos 5 renders flesh tones a little too pinkish-red, and the overall image looks cold, (images lean towards blue) and flat. I noticed this same quality with the 605 and was hoping for an improvement, but quite frankly, it’s still pretty good. Also, it may come down to your personal preference as to which device may provide the best image. I will say, though, that flesh tones are a good measuring stick for how good ANY device renders color, and I think the Cowon wins hands-down here.

Music – Sounds typically crappy through the included earbuds. But pop on a good set of headphones and it sounds great. With a set of Bose QC3 headphones, bass has terrific punch, if you like that (I do!).  Highs are crisp, midrange nice and saturated, and this is out of the box with no adjustments whatsoever. I’m sittin’ here listening to some Lazy Eye by Silversun Pickups and its thumpin’. I don’t understand the whole earbud thing. Sitting normally as they do in your ear, earbuds sound like cheap, tinny, trebly audio junk, but just take them and push them into your ear and hear how the deep base tones and midrange come alive. Look at all that sound you’re missing just by using crappy earbuds. Do yourself a favor; you just spent $450 on an awesome PMP, sorry, IMT; go get a good set of in-ear headphones, or nice normal size headphones and hear the true potential of your Archos, Cowon, iPod or whatever you have. Of course, you could walk around with your fingers in your ears all day, pushing in your earbuds, but you’ll look like a 6 year old who doesn’t want to listen to his big sister.

The Archos magically picked up all the album art I have in my music folders (.jpg’s) and picked up all the properties of my MP3 files (Artist, Album, Title, etc).  Nice!

Web Browsing – The Archos 5 thankfully includes the Opera web browser with the unit, as opposed to being an option you had to purchase with previous devices like the 605. Screen resolution is 800 x 480 pixels, so most websites render normally with only vertical scrolling required to view additional page content.

Email – The Email app on the Archos 5 is in Beta at the time of this writing. The only options for adding and email account were Yahoo and Gmail, and I have neither, so it will have to wait until the promised full email client is released from Archos.

Charging – Out of the box, charging the Archos 5 is done only through the USB cable included with the Archos 5, and it is sloooooow. Also, the charge light is supposed to blink when the unit is fully charged, but often it does not. I think I know why this is. If you leave the unit on while it is charging, but leave it alone, eventually it will go into standby mode. If you allow this to happen, the charge light should blink when it’s fully charged. If, however, you power the unit completely off just after starting a charge cycle, the charge light will shine, but it won’t blink when the charging is complete. So, leave the unit on when starting a charge cycle, and let it go into standby by itself. You should see a blinking light when charging is complete. What’s not clear to me, is that if you get into a situation where the charge light doesn’t blink, is there a risk of overcharging? I don’t know the answer to this. Another crazy quirk with charging the Archos, if you plan on using your the Archos 5 (and the previous 605) AND charge it at the same time via USB, the unit can consume more power than it receives while connected to a computer, so it will run out of battery power and go into standby mode, even though it’s still connected to the PC! So, you and I will want to opt for the wall chargers that come with the optional battery dock or DVR station. 

Annoyances – Did I mention slooow charging via USB?

Lastly (for now), the Archos runs HOT. I thought the Cowon ran hot, and it does, but the Archos 5 runs just as hot. How hot you may ask? I measured with my Raytek infrared digital thermometer and hit 107’F (42’C). The 605 ran cool as a cucumber. Must have something to do with the Archos 5’s new processor.

I haven’t played with many other features as of this writing. I plan to hook up my IMAP email accounts and load some photos shortly, so I’ll add more to this review as I work through this stuff.


New Open-Box Archos 5 250 GB Wi-Fi Internet Media Tablet (501332)

New Open-Box Archos 5 250 GB Wi-Fi Internet Media Tablet (501332)
Current price:
Ends in:
1d 12h 47m
Seller: eBay

Archos 5 500 GB Wi-Fi Internet Media Tablet - Grade A (501332)

Archos 5 500 GB Wi-Fi Internet Media Tablet - Grade A (501332)
Current price:
Ends in:
1d 12h 42m
Seller: eBay

Archos 5 250 GB Wi-Fi Internet Media Tablet - Grade A (501129)

Archos 5 250 GB Wi-Fi Internet Media Tablet - Grade A (501129)
Current price:
Ends in:
26d 16h 4m
Seller: eBay

Archos 5 250 GB Wi-Fi Internet Media Tablet - VGC (501129)

Archos 5 250 GB Wi-Fi Internet Media Tablet - VGC (501129)
Current price:
Ends in:
0d 23h 8m
Seller: eBay

Archos 5 500 GB Wi-Fi Internet Media Tablet (501332)

Archos 5 500 GB Wi-Fi Internet Media Tablet  (501332)
Current price:
Ends in:
27d 6h 5m
Seller: eBay

Archos 5 160GB Internet Tablet - Android (501323)

Archos 5 160GB Internet Tablet - Android (501323)
Current price:
Ends in:
15d 6h 40m
Seller: eBay

Archos 5 250 GB Wi-Fi Internet Media Tablet - Fair (501129)

Archos 5 250 GB Wi-Fi Internet Media Tablet - Fair (501129)
Current price:
Ends in:
7d 10h 21m
Seller: eBay

Archos 5 120 GB Internet Media Tablet - Wi-Fi 4.8in - Black

Archos 5 120 GB Internet Media Tablet - Wi-Fi 4.8in - Black
Current price:
Ends in:
13d 18h 5m
Seller: eBay

Archos 5 120 GB Internet Media Tablet - Wi-Fi 4.8in - Black (501123)

Archos 5 120 GB Internet Media Tablet - Wi-Fi 4.8in - Black (501123)
Current price:
Ends in:
3d 17h 2m
Seller: eBay

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Cowon Q5W GPS Cradle
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Upgrade Your Cowon Q5W (and others) to 240GB!
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26 Comments so far
  1. fraggo September 30, 2008 4:30 pm

    I wish Cowon would release a new Cowon Q5 with a better interface that plays 720p files.

  2. john swan November 2, 2008 11:07 am

    hello any news on the email for the archos 5 250 gb
    regards john swan

  3. rcgrabbag November 2, 2008 11:17 am

    No news yet. Still in beta with no announced update.

  4. burak November 4, 2008 4:40 am

    For fist charging put in Achos 5 250gb to my notebook’s USB port yesterday 3;00 PM and wait but charging light doesn’t blink. in manual book 8 hours for charging. What can I do ?

  5. rcgrabbag November 4, 2008 8:41 am

    The only way I can get the light to blink is to hook it up to a PC via USB and leave the unit on while charging. I will go into standby shortly thereafter and afer about 5hrs, the light should blink. If you turn the unit off while charging by holding in the power button for about 5 seconds, then the charge light never seems to blink no matter how long you charge it.

  6. john swan January 5, 2009 6:28 am

    hi any news on the email for the 5 yet regards john swan

  7. rcgrabbag January 5, 2009 8:28 am

    Yes, the email client is fully functional now with a firmware update from Archos issued in December.

  8. john swan January 9, 2009 12:01 pm

    thank you for all your help regards john swan

  9. Stephen February 12, 2009 10:13 pm

    Great review man! I just got the Archos 5 over ipod touch, pretty satisfied. But had same problems you did with it, it takes forever! to charge, and it got so hot in my hands one time I thought there was something wrong with my unit. Is it normal for it to get that hot? Cause Im about to exchange it for another. Also hate how hulu does not work… Anyway great review, thanks!

  10. rcgrabbag February 13, 2009 10:45 am

    If you get the battery or mini-dock, you get an external power supply for charging with it that is much faster.

  11. Sidney March 8, 2009 1:57 pm

    I have the Archos 5 IMT. I see that you mentioned that the Archos magically picked up all the album art you have in your music folders (.jpg’s) and picked up all the properties of my MP3 files. I wish I can say the same. It did some but not all. How do I get the album artwork for all of my music files?

  12. rcgrabbag March 28, 2009 3:05 pm

    I noticed it did not pick up artwork for albums for which I did NOT have a .jpg of the artwork in the root of the album folder. I use iTunes too, and it has its own way of storing album art. I noticed that album artwork acquired through iTunes did not make it to the Archos. As long as there is a .jpg for the artwork in the root of the album folder, the Archos should see it.

  13. dez June 22, 2009 1:00 am

    how long do you have to wait after step6/6 end of registration before you can actually use the product ???? pls some one help

  14. rcgrabbag June 22, 2009 8:51 am

    You should be able to use it immediately.

  15. Andy Warren July 17, 2009 11:32 am

    just downloaded the latest firmaware (1.6.54) for my Archos 5 250GB and all the album art (except for 2!) has disappeared from the 180+ albums
    Any idea!

  16. rcgrabbag July 20, 2009 10:24 pm

    No idea. Looks like you may have to reload your music on the Archos.

  17. paddyboy September 30, 2009 3:05 pm

    hi there great reviews , i bought the archos 5 250gb and when i go to storage in settings it says 114.2gb (99%) how is this .. that is half the memory and when web browsing my batt drains like mad is this normal ….thanks

  18. rcgrabbag September 30, 2009 3:49 pm

    Web browsing may suck the battery life because of the additional power drain due to the Wifi usage. Regarding the storage space issue, which number is correct, the 114.2gb or the 99%? Are you sure it’s not 114mb (not gb) in use with 99% free?

  19. paddyboy September 30, 2009 4:29 pm

    thanks for the reply rcgrabbag… as for memory i have just put a load of photo albums etc on and now it says free storage space: 108.6 gb 0f 114.2gb( 95%)

    would this suggest that this unit is not therfore 250gb but instead 120 gb hd ??
    bought the unit from an ebayer who has sold a load of these but i am thinking that he has sent me a 120 instead of 250 gb


  20. rcgrabbag September 30, 2009 4:45 pm

    Oh wow, yeah. Sounds like you have 120gb of storage. What does it say on the back cover of the device (120 or 250gb)?

  21. paddyboy September 30, 2009 4:51 pm

    it says ca0 98*** 120go i think it an o beside the 120g

    been in touch with seller as i had my suspicions and he cant under stand how this happend but will send the right one once i send this one back:)

  22. rcgrabbag September 30, 2009 5:12 pm

    That’s good, whew!

  23. kostas November 2, 2009 5:41 am

    Does anyone know from where can I download the 1.6.53 firmware?

  24. rcgrabbag November 2, 2009 10:03 am

    Do you need that specific version? Because the latest firmware is available here:

  25. Paul December 6, 2009 1:37 pm

    Just noticed this post. Just picked up an Archos 5. Only a year late! 😛 — but it was only $179 and I’ve been looking for something to replace my Zen Vision W for a while now (still a great player after all these years, but storage is too limited and I’m a touchscreen snob now).

    There are only 2 significant things that I’ve noticed that have frustrated me since I purchased it, and maybe you’ve encountered solutions to these problems over the last year (or maybe you didn’t even perceive them as problems… who knows?).

    1) There is no “sleep timer” at all, whether officially for that purpose or not. All the Creative products I’ve owned have always had an “Shutoff after ___ mins idle”, which can work as a sleep timer as long as I don’t press keys during that time. The Archos 5 allows up to 9 whole minutes before standby kicks in, which is not nearly enough, considering a large chunk of my listening time takes place while going to sleep.

    2) The video support is way less than I thought it’d be. I make videos, and they’re mostly in 720p. They’re a variety of formats (FLV, MP4, and WMV). None of the 720p videos will play, and none of the MP4s will play no matter the video resolution unless I buy a codec. I was under the impression this player could handle both right out of the box. Do you know of any solutions to this, or have you even bothered trying to play those formats/sizes at all?

    Should I have just sprung an extra couple hundred bucks and bought the new Archos 5 Android Internet Tablet?

  26. rcgrabbag December 7, 2009 3:49 pm

    Yes, unfortunately there is no sleep timer. As for video, according to the Archos website, you should be able to play 720p files, but you will need the add-on codec as you’ve now discovered. Archos is famous for dinging users for add-ons. Here is a full spec on the Archos 5 IMT (non-Android) I suggest you check out the same for the new Archos 5 Android before you plunk down any more money, but it looks like the Android includes the 720p codec out of the box:

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