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Detailed Review of the Archos AV420 PVR 157

Posted by michael
from the things-ebert-carries dept.
ilovealpacas writes "The Globe and Mail has posted a step by step look at the Archos AV420. For about $1000 Canadian (I think that's $800 US), you get an 80GB portable video player and recorder that also plays MP3's and has a CF slot for pictures. Hmmm.....laptop?"
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Detailed Review of the Archos AV420 PVR

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  • but... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @03:04PM (#10442996)
    Yes, but does it run linux?
    • by Cyberllama (113628) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @03:34PM (#10443329)
      It will run Qtopia to be exact. . . They say it will be out before christmas and will have all PDA functions in addition to a hard drive and audio/video functions. It should be a nifty gadget if it doesn't cost an arm and a leg.
    • From http://22surf.org/zurich.html & http://22surfboard.com

      Surf's up and the LAMP developer community is ready to rock out--they just need a surfboard to surf Moore's Law, Metcalfe's Law, and Constitutional Law on home. As soon as somebody manufactures handhelds and media-servers that can readily run common Linux and LAMP (Linux/Apache/MYSQL/PHP) applications like postnuke and phpnuke, the floodgates of innovation will open. The technology is there. Move over iPodTM, TiVoTM, iPaqTM, and MicrosoftTM. O
  • Yepp, everything will become a PC.
  • Laptop? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BeerCat (685972) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @03:05PM (#10443014) Homepage
    Aren't laptops cheaper than that, though?
    I mean, even an iBook works out less.
    • Re:Laptop? (Score:1, Insightful)

      by pronobozo (794672)
      yeah but you don't get a cheap laptop with an 80 gig drive. It's for people that don't want a laptop. That don't want to spend hours installing software to get it running. To have a bunch of crap they don't want. Ease of use.
      • yeah but you don't get a cheap laptop with an 80 gig drive. It's for people that don't want a laptop. That don't want to spend hours installing software to get it running. To have a bunch of crap they don't want. Ease of use.

        I agree with BeerCat. It still sounds like an iBook, especially given your description.
        • It still sounds like an iBook, especially given your description

          Doesn't sound like the one sitting right next to me (well, Powerbook, really). My Powerbook came with a bunch of crap I don't use, has taken weeks to find and install software to get it to do what I want, and if for no other reason than the fact that Apple STILL doesn't grasp the fact that a one-button mouse is useless, ESPECIALLY if I have to hold down a key on the keyboard or two in order to do a lot of thing, is not easy to use.

          On the
    • Read the article! It's damn inconvienent to wait 2 minutes for a laptop to boot, plus laptops are much bigger than this unit.

      It's your choice - if you think you need a cheap laptop more than this device then get one. But I already have a $3000 laptop, and can easily see where a pocket sized, instant-on alternative would be better.

      -James.
      • I still feel like someone with the disposabal income to drop $800 on a portable media player is in need of some kind of moneyectomy. It just seems really extravagent to me.
    • A laptop cannot fit into my camera bag when I go on vacations. Most laptops can't plug into the big-screen TV for all the relatives to get a sneak-peak at the photos I've taken during the week. I've been lusting after an Archos previously, but the requirement of a dongle for CompactFlash reading was a limiting factor.
    • Yes, and their batteries die after about 2-3 hours (unless you get a battery upgrade). This device has an estimated 12 hours of battery life.
    • I want to know where you're getting $800 iBooks with a warranty, cuz AppleStore says they start at $1099. I didn't think the education discount was that good.

      Oh, you mean you're including the other functionality of the laptop in your cost calculation.... got it.... ok, so then I gotta ask you where are you getting those iBooks that fit in your pocket?

      I thought so...

      --D
    • From the article:

      If you can afford the $700 Cdn. (20GB) or $1,000 (80GB) price tag, the AV420 is at the top of its class.

      It's $1000 Canadian, which at the current conversion factor is roughly $0.50.

      Bet you can't get a laptop for that.

      Seriously though, assuming it costs the same in the US, it's $792.29 USD (according to www.xe.com).

      Admittedly, you still can get a cheaper laptop, but it won't have recording and it sure won't have a 4 hour battery life.

      And forget about an ibook :)

  • PC? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by erotic_pie (796522)
    when will they stop making all this specialized crap and just make better software and hardware based on laptops or PDA's to do the same thing why reverse engineer things
    • I'm still trying to reverse engineer your sentence. Ever heard of question marks?

    • when will they stop making all this specialized crap and just make better software and hardware based on laptops or PDA's to do the same thing why reverse engineer things

      When people stop buying them and/or it's no longer profitable????
  • Overkill? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Benw5483 (731259) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @03:08PM (#10443036) Homepage
    This definitely brings up the question of what overkill is. I think I may enjoy something like this, but at the same time, how much would I really use it for anything other than audio and maybe a little video.

    For me it would probably end up as little more than an 80 GB mp3 player with a lot of extra hard drive storage space.

    Does anybody out there think this would be better than a laptop? The only place I can see using this for movies or pictures would be on vacation or business trips where a laptop would be more practical.
    • Everyone has different needs, I am buying the Gmini400 which is smaller and cheaper, but plays video, for my brother who lives in Japan and has a 2 hour commute daily to/from school. This would be great for that. The Gmini 400 even plays simple pixelart games.
    • I have the AV320 (earlier generation). It has a 20gig harddrive, does the video playback/record and mp3/wav playback/record. It has an external card reader. In addition you can get a camera attachement for it.

      So.. basically it's the same type of unit as this new one, just not as much memory, different control layout and mine doesn't have batteries that I can replace (well, not without breaking the warranty seal).

      Now why did I buy the AV320?

      Well I don't have a laptop...

      I had just gotten a digital came
  • by lottameez (816335) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @03:08PM (#10443042)
    [curmudgeonly sneer] You bums need to read books instead of wasting yer money on these fancy schmantzy doo-dads. What? Too afraid to talk to the guy sitting next to you on the airplane?

    Why, when I was a youngster...cough cough KACCCCCHHH...phtt.


  • by signe (64498) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @03:08PM (#10443048) Homepage
    Personally, I will never buy another piece of equipment made by Archos. I had to take apart one of their Jukebox Recorders to try and get it to function at all. I discovered that the 4 circuit boards inside (which pretty much make up the entirety of the interior, and what the outer casing attaches to) are all held together with solder joints. As in they have attached the circuit boards to each other using solder. In addition, the battery contacts are on circuit boards at either end of the main boards. So when you put the batteries in, the pressure of the springs puts stress on the solder joints that hold the thing together.

    Needless to say, I was not able to revive this piece of crap.

    -Todd
    • by DarkBlackFox (643814) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @03:33PM (#10443314)
      Why is it that comments negatively portraying a company are always modded up around here? There's two sides to every coin.

      I've had an Archos Jukebox Recorder 10 for well over 5 years now, and haven't had any problems with it. I still get +/- 5 hours of continuous play out of the original NiMH rechargable batteries that came with the unit. I've taken it apart a few times (mostly to use it as an external USB enclosure to try salvaging files from a dead laptop drives), and never had any problems with shoddy solder joints or breaking anything putting the batteries back in. It's been a very solid unit, and survived many falls and trips around town in my backpack, all with the original IBM travelstar hard drive.

      I'm tired of seeing all the "my thing broke so this company sucks" comments here, and felt like chipping in my positive experience with this particular product.
      • I've had the 20 GB model [amazon.com] for about 3 months now and it makes me feel a lot more safe than when I used my laptop in public to watch movies. I can't really comment on the constuction except to say that it has survived 100's of rural bus rides so far this semester.
      • by signe (64498)
        Because the interior construction of the thing isn't a matter of a subjective experience. Using solder joints to secure one circuit board to another is bad construction.

        I'm glad your jukebox works. Given what I know of the interior of these things, I would consider you lucky.

        -Todd
      • by rdewalt (13105) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @04:12PM (#10443842) Homepage
        Same here. I've got the same model (AJR-10) that I aquired from a friend when the drive died.

        Tore it apart, bought an off-the-shelf 40gb drive, did the magic hand wave incantation (i.e. formatted it FAT-32) dumped my MP3's to it, replaced the 1500mAh's with COTS 2300mAh's, and re-assembled. Cable went the way of all those Special Cables, so I grafted two USB-A Male ends together and made my own. Installed the RockBox rom, and BOOM replaced the standard archos rom with one that has the functionality I needed.

        For $125 in parts cost, and an hour's work. I got a 40gb mp3 player that does about 12 hours on a single charge. I pop the plastic battery plates, and I can swap in any regular AA size batteries. Doesn't hook to the USB port on my big FreeBSD machine. No big deal. five minutes with the screwdriver, and the drive is free again, I stick it right on the IDE chain. Who the hell would xfer gigs of data over USB, when you've got IDE.

        I've got four people who want me to make them one, all I need is the parts. Okay, so the construction is not Most Ideal. But I can fix a solder weild if it goes bad. Hell, Archos haven't gone forth and shut down the "How to mod your Archos" people, nor the 'open source rom' people. Isn't that something that slashdotters like?
      • by torpor (458)
        Why is it that comments negatively portraying a company are always modded up around here? There's two sides to every coin.

        Look, comments being modded 'up' or 'down' are not a valid indication of their 'worth' to the subject matter. Stop thinking so linearly! Break the dialectic noose!

        Slashdot comments work to 'categorize', not 'valuate' a posts' validity to the thread. "Negative" feedback on a company/product is typically not moderated because of its negativity, but because it is feedback.. just as ma
      • I agree. The Archos Jukebox has always been solid for me as well. The fact that you could replace the batteries with higher-capacity ones was great, and the rubber corners made it survive quite a few falls (although they ARE really ugly).

        Had it a while, and only replaced it today because I found a killer deal on a Dell DJ - I wanted something a bit more elegant.
      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @04:39PM (#10444164) Journal
        I still get +/- 5 hours of continuous play out of the original NiMH rechargable batteries that came with the unit.

        Wow. It must really suck when you get -5 hours out of them, huh?

      • I'm of a mixed mindset about it.

        I bought the original Archos model 6000 with the 6GB disk. It ran without problems for about a year, and then the charging port and power ports both died. No big deal, the batteries charge more efficiently in an external unit anyway, and swapping them out takes about five seconds, so I can live with that. I only ran it on AC in my car, but given the battery life I can live without that as well. About a year and a half after purchase, the USB port starts getting flaky, throwi
    • The problem with Archos is their advertised battery life is usually double real world results. Furthermore their technical support is slow and impersonal ..

      On the plus they do seem to be improving the look and feel of their portable players.
    • I'll second that. They're pieces of junk with no quality control. I have an AV140 (it was bout $400 at the time) and the battery barely gets me to work in the morning. Sometimes it'll last less than 30 minutes, sometimes I can get a hour. As I understand it, it's kind of a crap shoot as to whether your unit will be like this or not. It also gets into a funky state where it'll play two songs at the same time. Sometimes it crashes for no reason and sometimes it becomes totally unresponsive (even the off butto
    • Archos has changed their products a _LOT_ since you purchased yours. I have had almost every generation player they have released up to the Gmini 120 and they make very solid stuff -they all still work!

      My old Jukebox recorder (like yours) was dropped (by a friend using it) into the ocean (read: completely submerged). We fished it out, and on a whim dried it out thoroughly at a low heat, and it WORKED AGAIN!

      Not to mention Archos value, and support for advanced users. Such a community has grown up around
  • No DVD! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by darth_MALL (657218) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @03:09PM (#10443054)
    It couldn't have been that much of a stretch to add a DVD player could it? I'm sure all the other features are great, but when I think of mobile entertainment, DVD is 1st on the list. Ahh well I can't afford it anyway, so it's back to work.
    • Re:No DVD! (Score:3, Informative)

      by samhart (89298)
      Actually, these things are smaller than a DVD ;-)

      Besides, this is more in the uber-iPod arena than the portable DVD arena. I have a AV320 myself and I take it to the gym for MP3 listenning. I wouldnt want a full DVD player there ;-)
    • It couldn't have been that much of a stretch to add a DVD player could it?

      Uh, yeah, it would have been a stretch... at least 2 inches since the device is only 3" x 5" to start with. Then you'd have to double the thickness to accomdate the drive, and there goes one of the greatest features, the pocketability.

  • AV320 (Score:5, Informative)

    by samhart (89298) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @03:09PM (#10443060) Homepage
    I have an AV320 that I got from some consulting I did a while back (because he couldn't pay me in cash, har har har) and I absolutely love mine.

    It's powered by embedded Linux (which I love) and it works like a dream. There have been many an airplane ride that was made easier because of my AV320 ;-)

    My biggest problem with mine (could not apply to this version) was that the screen wasn't well protected. A simple $8 camera carrying case and a pack of Palm screen protectors and this problem was solved.

    • Got any support for your claim that the Archos AV320 (and presumably other models in the Archos product line) are powered by embedded Linux? I have a Gmini 400 and there's nary a copy of the GPL to be found...

      • Uh... Google helps. The very first link shown is from a PC Magazine review stating it uses Linux.

        Less anger, less laziness.

  • Hmmm.... (Score:4, Informative)

    by exhilaration (587191) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @03:09PM (#10443065)
    If one can get a 2.4 Ghz laptop for $889 [bensbargains.net], then is this thing overpriced?
    • by Em Ellel (523581) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @03:19PM (#10443170)
      If you have to carry a notebook anyway with sufficient battery life, by all means - take that instead, but given a choice, i'd rather carry a 10oz device that works vs a 8 lbs device that runs microsoft.

      -Em
      • ' i'd rather carry a 10oz device that works vs a 8 lbs device that runs microsoft. '

        And who says that it has to 'run microsoft'?

        One can just as easily install another operating system on that as any other laptop, you're not locked in to Microsoft...
        • And who says that it has to 'run microsoft'?

          One can just as easily install another operating system on that as any other laptop, you're not locked in to Microsoft...


          Although I would disagree with you on your choice of word "easily" - it is not the point. I did not say it HAS to run Microsoft, I said it DOES. Take a poll of a random 100 people you run into with laptops in an airport, and I would be surprised if you find more than one running Linux. But that again is not the point.

          The point is that Linux
      • And I would rather have something that takes up the same amount of space (or only slightly more) and can do a little more than merely play MP3s and video. I can't understand who would spend close to a grand for something that only really does a couple mundane tasks.

        - A.P.
        • Slightly more space? Did you even LOOK to see how big the Archos is? You can shove it in your pants pocket.

          That's like saying, "Who would want to buy an iPod when you could get an old pentium 133 laptop for the same price and use it to do more than play MP3s!"
          • Yeah, I want to see someone going jogging while playing MP3's on their laptop. (Sales pitch - It is a music player AND a piece of excercise equipment!!!)

            On the flip side, the device is about the size of a PocketPC - wouldn't it be nice to have a PocketPC (running MS, or Linux, or PalmOS, or anything programmable and extendable) in the same form factor with a Hard Drive. When will those come out??? Now THAT would be something!

            -Em

  • ... and you can't timeshift live TV. Hardly a PVR. This thing needs some serious refinement for it to be the primary device in my home theater (or "theatre" in Cannuckistan ;-) ).
  • FTFA: And unlike most laptops, it boots up in a few seconds making it easy to use at any time.

    But didnt I just read a story on Slashdot a while back about a laptop with an embedded linux distro which would boot the laptop in seconds for multimedia use? Imagine one of these in the 12" slim form factor with a tablet display and you've got an only slightly larger PVR which doubles as a laptop and looks oh so nifty you just know they'll all be using them in the 24th century.
  • What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FiReaNGeL (312636) <fireang3lNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @03:11PM (#10443082) Homepage
    I don't get the point of these portable DVD players... most of the time, they're the price (or cost more!) than a laptop that you could use to do MORE than listen to video... Anyway, I don't even see a purpose for them. To listen to videos... in your car? Maybe? Someone care to explain?
    • Re:What? (Score:3, Funny)

      by El_Smack (267329)
      You don't use them to listen to videos, you use them to see music.
    • If all you are interested in is watching DVD(s) then this is probably not the device for you. I own a portable DVD player (a couple of years now). The battery lasts for about 2 ½ movies...vs ½ a movie on my laptop. Boot time on my portable is close to instant. Plus connecting to TV's on the road is sweet. Airports, waiting at the dentist...these tasks go by faster with a good flick.
    • Maybe you don't get the point of this Portable DVD player because it's not a DVD player. It's a portable "media" player. There is no DVD drive. Or CDrom drive. Or floppy drive. It's the size of a deck of cards. Think "iPod that can also play video, if you want it for that."

      You're probably thinking about one of these [discovery.com]. They cost 200 dollars. You think you can get a halfway decent laptop for 200 bucks? Please tell me where.

    • I don't get the point of these portable DVD players... most of the time, they're the price (or cost more!) than a laptop that you could use to do MORE than listen to video

      If you've ever taken a laptop on a plane just so the kids could watch a Disney(tm) flick you'd understand that 2 hours on a modern laptop is pretty good, 4 hours is you happen to have a pair. This device claims 12hrs of battery life. If you were on an extended flight and trying to keep the kids amused which would you rather have?
  • by Swift Kick (240510) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @03:11PM (#10443091)
    The article description might be a little deceptive.
    The Archos AV420 is only 20GB and it retails for about $470 on Amazon.com.
    The AV480 is 80GB and is about $715 also from Amazon.com
    Check out more information on the devices on Archo's own page located here [archos.com].
  • by revery (456516) * <charles@ca[ ]net ['c2.' in gap]> on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @03:12PM (#10443096) Homepage
    Hmmm.....laptop?

    Maybe you're not familiar with how this works. You submit the story, we make the jokes.

    You owe someone a +5 Funny.

    --

    it's all part of the new Slashdot Comment subsidy program.

    • "Maybe you're not familiar with how this works. You submit the story, we make the jokes."

      hehe. The stupid thing is that this is a niche product, and actually its size makes it more useful for this particular purpose than a laptop.

      If I were still at my previous company where I had to travel frequently, I'd probably invest in one of these. Laptops on a plane, no matter how small, are not fun.
    • by Minwee (522556)
      Maybe you're not familiar with how this works. You submit the story, we make the jokes.

      Yeah, kids these days. What's next, a story about Soviet Russia which ends with the words "First post!"?

  • Why??? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Skraut (545247) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @03:16PM (#10443143) Journal
    I guess if you have nothing else to do with your money, this may be something interesting, but it just doesn't seem to fit.

    I have an iRiver IHP-120 which I love, and have with me virtually everywhere, and beat the hell out of just by daily use. The cost of this Archos would make me leave it inside rather that drop it in my pocket and hop on the tractor (yes there are some of us rural type geeks :) I'd be too afraid to crack the screen, or otherwise break it.

    So you're left with a movie player. An $800 portable movie player. WHY? As others have said you can grab a decent laptop for less than that, or even a $200, 3 year old laptop off of ebay will do everything device does. Sure it's not as cute or pretty, but seriously...

    • Also, portable DVD players seem to be going for $250-$400. Why an Archos video jukebox? Sure, you can store more videos on it but I can deal with saving nearly $500 instead.

      Right now, I have a 1.5 year old (with 1.5 yrs left on the warranty, 14" SXGA+, 5lb laptop for $650 that I bought on eBay. And no, the Archos can't compare, doing less at a higher cost. It is smaller, but it looks larger than what would fit in a normal pocket (cargo pants don't count, IMO), so I'd still need to drag around a pouch o
  • by aardwolf204 (630780) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @03:23PM (#10443200)
    Lastly, the folks at Archos saw it fit to just let the AV420 be recognized as a hard drive. As in all other functions, files can be moved, renamed or deleted right on the device. Just plug it in via USB 2.0 and just drag and drop any files to your heart's content. If you prefer to synchronize your tunes, you can always use the included Musicmatch software.

    This is where they got it right, whether a PVR is in the stars for you or not everyone should adopt this practice (that means you apple!). There is nothing more upsetting than getting a device that only wants to talk to its software for importing files. My old iPaq PocketPC would annoy the hell out of me because I couldn't just plug it in to any USB port on any computer and get files to/from it. At least the iPod lets you get at the "other" files stored on the HDD without iTunes or other synch software.

    Or am I just crazy? Should we all just install Music Match and Real One so we can get files off our USB flashpenthumb drives with stickers on them?
    • I have a Gmini 120 and I purchased a 40gb CREATIVE Jukebox for my brother, and within hours we took it back. It REQUIRED a driver install, and an 11MB 'Jukebox Explorer' add on to move files to it, and it could not store files larger than 500mb without errors. Also, it only read ID3 tage and maintained a database you would sort through. So if your albums didnt have ID3 tags you were screwed, on top of that you couldn't have dupee database entries, so any albums with general ID3 tags wouldn't transfer to
    • The iPod is a firewire mass storage device. Points for Apple.

      iTunes is required to construct the index of all the songs on the device. It's required to acheive the 12 hour battery life. It means that the index is loaded into memory and that the index is searched, browsed, and read, instead of spinning up the hard drive willy nilly whenever ID3 data is required. The ONLY reason the hard drive is ever touched outside of bootup is to load up music data into the buffers.

      You could argue, "Let the device genera
      • But I argue, you would only need to regenerate the index once every time you change the music on it, in which case its plugged into a computer and charged off USB or Firewire, this nulling your arguement.

        iTunes Schmietunes. I cant for the life of my get used to using that software, and no, the plugin for Winamp 5 isnt much better. I guess I'm just a file tree / Winamp 2.8x kinda guy.
        • You're arguing then for making the iPod more complex, then. Take the work the computer is doing indexing, normalizing, rating, and organizing, and instead reassign it as follows:
          Organizing and rating, you
          Indexing and normalizing, iPod

          I dunno, it seems to me most people like having the computer do the hard work of organizing and rating, indexing, and normalizing because they then get the results on iTunes as WELL as the iPod. But to each their own.

          I mean, the iPod interface is the same as the iTunes interf
  • by manitee (2974)
    I had one of the 20 gb Jukeboxes and it was very reliable. An associate has one of their video players and enjoys it.
  • "does not allow for it to stand up on it's own"

    Now, major publications are letting mistakes like this slide into their text. I mourn.

    Bob's Quick Guide to Its and It's, You Idiots [angryflower.com]
  • I bought a gMini400 from Archos to primarily watch movies/shows on long commutes. I'm on a train/bus/plane. I'm not the one driving. Why not enjoy myself?

    As for the pure "geek" factor: you can get a 20 GB iPod for $300. For $60 more (if you shop around) you can get the same hard drive space with the ability to play DivX movies, read from compact flash and get roughly the same battery life (the gMini is rated for 10 hours playing MP3s). Why *wouldn't* a geek get one over an iPod? The only reason I can
    • UI and size, iPod wins.

      iTunes *is* nice software for doing library management, at least for me. A combination of iTunes (to do management/transfer to the iPod), CDEX to do tagging on extraction, and Tag 'n' Rename to do retagging of poorly tagged files is what I use.

      But basically, UI and size.
      • Actually, the gmini400 he's talking about is 4.17" x 2.37" x 0.69", comming in at 5.6 ounces. The ipod is 4.1" by 2.4" by 0.57", also 5.6 ounces. So... just UI?
      • The gMini400 is identical size. I'm actually using an iPod case for it.

        As for software, again: UI. That's about the only thing Apple has left. (Personally, I write my own software. iTunes inability to store ratings within ID3 tags drove me nuts).
        • Whoops. I didn't realize Archos made anything small; the only Archos things I've seen were quite sizable, and the UI drove me nuts on them. I recently got to play with a clickwheel iPod (mine is a 3G model) and was very impressed; they got rid of the few irritations I had, like the fact that buttons activate either way too easy or not at all on occasion, and replaced it with nice positive feedback for button activation.

          I don't really use the ratings thing, as I have a pretty good idea of how much I like
  • Today's Daily Wireless [dailywireless.org] has piece about a chip that can be added to a lop top to give it decent video [I am assuming playback not capture] capability.
    • I checked the article...it actually looks like ViXs is selling a full-up MPEG core. I hope some enterprising manufacturer that is talking up convergence [are you listening GateWay?] puts this thing in a laptop with a good built in camera. I could have my video's edited by the time I got back to the office. The capabilities include:
      1. High quality dual encoding at low bit rates
      2. High-speed transrating and transcoding
      3. 3D comb filtering and analog noise filtering
      4. Mini-PCI or PCI interface
      5. Multistream MPEG rep
  • I had -- yes had -- an Archos FM Recorder.

    A decent use of off the shelf components, but the actual unit quality was abysmal -- I and many others found that the unit broke down quickly with merely normal use.

    And the software -- the device's OS sucked. For the recorder, a much better alternative existed in the Rockbox replacement software, but not only did Archos never support this volunteer effort that probably saved their product line, their new revenue model includes selling "keys" to activate various cl
  • by stratjakt (596332) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @03:32PM (#10443313) Journal
    This is not a laptop any more than an iPod is a PDA.

    It's all about the UI. You turn it on and it plays movies. You don't log in or wait for stuff to boot, etc.

    Also, most laptops don't have 80 gig drives, and are quite frankly not designed to watch movies or listen to music. The speakers and displays suck for such tasks. I have a little portable DVD player, and it's 7 inch screen is easier to see from a distance or angle than my laptop's.
    • Seriously, it's a portable media player - who is going to use the speakers? This is for plugging in and spacing out of the daily commute. Oh, and it'll make you pray that the leery, deep breathing guy doesn't stand beside you on the over-crowded bus/train/metro and pretend to look at it whilst engage you in frottage http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=frottage/ [reference.com]
    • Well, my PowerBook takes about 2 seconds to "boot" because it just sleeps when I close it. So that argument is out. A PowerBook is a great DVD watcher, and it's just about as fast as this thing, and it can do 4000 other things the Archos cannot.

      I have no need for the Archos. Others may, but the "boots a lot faster than a laptop" just means you're using a laptop with crappy power management.
  • Something like this will probably really appeal to the high-end digital photographers, with the CF slot in it. Shame there's only a 320x240 screen though, PDAs are slowly making their way out of that resolution (although I do understand that pushing any more pixels than that will require substantial processor power)

    Can any photography buffs out there see themselves using something like this? A step up from the storage bricks I could imagine.
    • Can any photography buffs out there see themselves using something like this? A step up from the storage bricks I could imagine.

      Not really. There are a lot of reasons, perhaps most importantly, there's not likely to be a RAW converter built into it, which means that I can only see the JPG's I shoot. If I want to look a the images, I have to either dump it to a laptop or use my camera. So that fancy screen doesn't do me a whole heck of a lot of good. Why not just save a step (and some cash?)

      As for the
  • Their Gmini 400 [archos.com] is only 30 dollars more than a 20gb iPod, and has a lot of the same functions listed int he article (no PVR, smaller screen, 20GB). I have been an Archos customer for a long time, the Gmini 120 is one of the best devices I have ever owned! And I am actually buying a Gmini 400 today for my brother.

    Anyone who is considering a high 200's priced MP3 player (iRiver, iPod, etc..) should take a look at the Gmini 400. And on the cheap, the Gmini 120 (~$150) is a great product!
  • I thought this was an over the top toy at first, but it's turned out to be invaluable. It's about the size of the original Sony cassette Walkman. I.e. smaller then a CD. It's thick and a little heavy, and doesn't come with a belt carrier or other protection. I can lay hours of tivo recording (from my 300 hours modified tivo) and whenever I'm board or waiting in line or traveling, I can just watch a show. Or if I prefer listen to anyone of the songs from my entire album collection. And it's fantastic f
  • -1 : STUF-NOW detected

    Seems Technical Frontpage Userpost (but is ) Noncomparative Obvious "Wow"vertisement

  • I can watch Half-Baked on my 420.
  • by curran (228669)
    I travel alot and just bought the av480 for $650 at Compuplus.com - I now have my entire MP3 collection (30 Gig) All my photos (20 Gig) with 3 gig left over for recording TV and copying pron. Add the FM receiver and you can now "Tivo" FM radio (30 second buffer) as well as record what you're listening too.

    They seem to update the OS on a regular basis, my only compliant at this point is that the Direct TV receiver model D-10 is not in the av480 list but I spoke to Archos yesterday.

    To set up the Tivo-like
  • Plusses and minuses (Score:4, Informative)

    by jangobongo (812593) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @04:12PM (#10443840)
    Plusses:

    - Use it to time-shift your TV shows
    - Can edit out commercials
    - Can alter the screen ratio to normal, full, 4:3, or 16:9 (letterboxing)
    - Boots up in seconds (as opposed to laptops)
    - Shows recorded on the unit can be played on your PC (or is that a minus?)
    - Can import TV listings from Yahoo! for programming
    - Create playlists on the fly with s split screen and allows you to sort music files by artist, album, title, genre, year or playlist
    - Built in microphone for live recording in addition to in-line recording

    Minuses:

    - For the best video playback at 2,500 Kbps (near television quality), using about 2GB per hour of recording; so 20GB model holds about 10 hours (80 GB model holds about 40 hours)
    - Device will record files up to 2GB in size before closing that file and starting another
    - By default, external speakers stay on, even when you plug in the headphones (potentially embarassing and annoying)
    - Freezes on last image when fast-forwarding or rewinding so that you can't observe your progress
    - Can't program for repeat events (such as weekly episodes), each episode has to be programmed seperately
    - Gapless playback of songs is not supported
    - Navigation buttons are not backlit, making use in very low-light situations difficult
    - Records in WAV format only
  • by dspyder (563303) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @04:40PM (#10444178)
    Loading the content!

    I have the older Archos JBMM20, and it's a wonderful machine despite its quirks and lousy firmware and small screen. However, the biggest pain in the ass is converting my downloaded video clips into the resolution and codec that it needs to play. It's a slow and tedious process.

    Now, my brother has a DirecTivo set to dump to his NetApp drive array. My UltimateTV can't do that, and even if it could... I'd have to convert those videos to put them on my Archos anyway.

    Same goes for DVDs. To rip a DVD I legally own, to use on my own portable hardware, I have to pay for some [possibly illegal] software and deal with the frustrations of getting those to work right.

    What is needed is a play-any-content, tightly integrated to video-on-demand services and all of the other video-related hardware in my house. Of course, Disney (Michael Eisner is the devil) is fundamentally opposed to that view of the world. While you're at it, why not allow me to stream the videos on my device (no hard drive) from my central server over Wifi or ?

    --D
  • A laptop can't play a whole movie without running out of batteries whereas a special purpose device such as this can play several in a row.
  • I bought one last week, and it arrived this morning. Sadly, the one thing I was dreading (after reading pretty much everything there is to read about the AV series) came true and it had shipped with a defunct hard disk. After fully charging the battery I would power on the player only to get 1 second of hard disk activity followed by an auto-shutdown. I got an RMA and shipped it back. Here's to hoping the second time's the charm.

    I've had other Archos products, and the only real problem is getting one t

Real Users find the one combination of bizarre input values that shuts down the system for days.

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