Cowon Q5W vs. Archos 605 – My Pros and Cons list

By | Jan 6, 2008

After a couple of weeks with both of these devices, I’ve leared to love and hate many features between the Cowon Q5W and the Archos 605 Wifi. Here is my list of pros and cons based on my personal experience. These are just my opinions, which may or may not reflect your own.

Cowon Q5W Archos 605
Image Quality Sharp, clear image. A bit on the warmer side, leaning towards green/yellow, which I like. At 5″ in size, it’s one of the largest on a PMP Sharp, clear image, a little bit on the colder side with a bluish tint. Very slight, and not a major concern. At 4.3″, it’s a bit smaller than the Cowon.
Music Quality Great. With a set of Bose headphones, music is clear. Low bass has a good punch. Also great. Using the same headphones, I think it sounds as good as the Cowon.
Ease of use Not good. The interface seems very kludgy, with cryptic labels on many buttons. Icons are very small so it’s difficult to use without the included stylus. Seems half baked with it’s Cowon interface sitting on top of Windows CE. Trying to get a playlist created for music is a nightmare. I still haven’t figured it out. I simply want to play all my music in random order. Anyone know how to do this? The manual is no help. It’s full of bad grammar, punctuation, and spelling. For the price one pays for this device, that’s unacceptable. Great interface with large, asy to see and use buttons. In addition to the touch screen, the Archos offers an array of buttons that allow the user to quickly navigate to common functionas. They take up some space on the front, but not too much where it becomes obtrusive.
Included Hardware Accessories The Cowon includes a wall charger, video connection cables (all-in-one composite, component and audio), standard USB cable (full size connector on one end, mini-USB on the other), and ear buds. A stylus is included and has a special slot on the device to store it. Cowon’s jetAudio is included as a syncing package. I haven’t used it. I just drag and drop files onto the Cowon. No carrying case (huh?). The Archos comes with a non-standard USB cable (full size connectoron one end, custom connector on the other), earbuds and a carrying case. The carrying case is pretty much useless because it’s too small for the device. Two cheap, plastic stylus are included, but there is no place on the device to store it. No included syncing software.
Notable Features (Or lack thereof) USB Host, for connecting a wide variety of USB devices, like just about any camera. Built in Wifi, although you have to use a fragile pull-out antenna to get meaningful range. Web browser is provided (Internet Explorer). It has two built in speakers for true stereo sound. They are small and don’t sound real good, but this is typical of built in speakers for devices like this. Wifi built in, but no web browser. You need to buy it as a plug in. Has a single built in speaker.
Charging Done with wall charger only. 6-7hr charge time. Will not charge through USB. Charges through USB, but very slowly (12-14 hrs). Quick charger is available for purchase but requires a dock to attach to the bottom of the device.
Build Quality Good. Built like a tank and weighs almost as much as one. Not quite as good. The Archos feels a fragile compared to the Cowon. When holding it, I can feel it’s hard drive and cooling fan vibrating the unit. Still, it’s not poor. It feels quite nice otherwise.
Battery Life For video it’s about 4 hours. Well below Cowon’s claimed 7.5. Haven’t tried with music yet (mainly because of the playlist ssue. How do I simply ‘play all’ songs? Does anyone know? For video, I’ve only gotten about 2.5 hours out of it. That’s not good.
Storage Capacity Poor. 40 and 60gb versions only as of this writing. That’s it. In this age of 160gb iPods and Archos, 40 and 60gb is paltry. Especially when you’ll be encoding video at higher bit rates to take advantage of the excellent screen. A two hour movie encoded with DivX at 720×480 takes about 2gb of space. 60gb is going to be swallowed up quickly. I upgraded mine to 100gb with Toshiba’s MK1011GAH Hard Drive, but that added another $200 to an already high price tag, and I’m still well short of the Archos’ 160 capacity for a much lower price. With the availability of a 160gb version, the Archos has
Camera connectivity Has a USB host which can support just about any camera. Also has support for Nikon’s RAW image format. A plus for photographers out in the field. Available with the purchase of one of several docks (DVR, Mini, Spare battery docks).
Price $579 at Amazon. Very high considering it’s features. $369 at Amazon. Good, but you’ll pay for extras.
Operating Temperature I’m only adding this category because of the Cowon. It runs HOT when watching video. I have a leather case for the Cowon and if I leave the Q5 in the case while watching video, it literally gets too hot to touch. Runs cool. Has an tiny internal fan to keep it that way (probably why the battery life isn’t so great).

Recommendations? I’d have to go with the Archos. Yes, you’re nickel-and-dimed for every add-on, but at a base price of $369 for 160gb of storage, you can buy just about anything you need for it and still come out ahead over the Q5 in terms of price and storage. I’m not thrilled about the Archos’ battery life and the charging times. I have to continue playing with it to test it better. I can at least do something about the long charging times by purchasing one of the available charging docks.

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6 Comments so far
  1. Jason January 22, 2008 8:39 pm

    Very, Very Great Review…Yes the Cowon is very pricey and lacks plenty storage but i still like it better than the Archos.

  2. rcgrabbag January 22, 2008 8:55 pm

    Thanks, Jason. I like the Cowon, I just tip the scales towards the Archos. BTW, do you know how to get the Q5 to simply play all my songs? I can’t figure it out for the life of me.

  3. Jason January 22, 2008 9:05 pm

    🙂 …i haven’t even gotten my Cowon yet..its gonna b ordered tomorrow…i’m just biased towards it :)…i’ll b sure to let u know if i figure it out though. Nice website BTW…

  4. Bill April 19, 2008 9:02 am

    to play all songs, you have to click on the file view. That shows you all of the songs currently in your “audio” file. Also, i’m having trouble with the wi-fi, can you help me out?

  5. rcgrabbag April 21, 2008 8:02 pm

    I can try. What’s the problem you are having?

  6. Foxenesys August 9, 2008 7:34 pm

    There is no cooling fan into the 605.

    The only vibrating part is the hard disk, especialy with the 40 GB and higher models wich sports a 2.5 inches drive instead of the 1.8.

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