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!
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.
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