capsule review

Archos 605 WiFi

At a Glance
  • Archos 605 WiFi 30GB Portable Media Player

    TechHive Rating

For watching video on the go, the Archos 605 WiFi media player offers a near-perfect combination of usability and portability. The 4.6-inch, 800-by-400-pixel wide-screen LCD is just the right size for close-up viewing on a train or plane, yet it slips easily into your bag or coat pocket. The touch screen makes it a cinch to operate, and wireless connectivity lets you easily stock up with media.

I tested a $300 (as of 9/1/2007) version, which comes with an internal 30GB hard drive. It has plenty of space for storing music and photos, but not much for videos, considering their size. However, you can easily solve this problem by buying the either the 80GB version (for an extra $50) or the 160GB version (for an extra $100). It connected easily to my home wireless network, although it sometimes lost some of the security settings I'd entered into the player, requiring a few extra steps each time to fix. I found it relatively easy to surf the Internet using the optional--but expensive, at $30--Opera Web browser. It includes support for Flash, so I could even go to YouTube and other video sharing sites to watch videos.

The player's wireless Content Portal let me browse a variety of Web-based video services for downloading and watching live video. Many of the sources were still marked as "Available Soon" when I was testing the 605 WiFi, but I was able to browse a beta version of Cinema Now that typically offered TV episodes for $2 and movie rentals for $4. Cinema Now is one of the few content providers that Archos has already signed up (more are expected), but by syncing with my PC via the included USB adapter cable, I was able to load movies I'd purchased or rented from Amazon Unbox. Archos promises a "Widgets" plug-in later this year, which will let purchasers view simple utilities, such as a Web-based calendar, weather forecasts, and games.

Also included with my test unit was a $100 docking station, which connected between my cable box and my television, turning the player into a mini-DVR. This let me project the player's output onto the big screen (but let me watch TV as usual when the unit was off). It comes with a 3.3-inch-square remote control, which includes a small QWERTY keyboard that makes Web surfing from the couch much easier. A touchpad on the remote lets you move the mouse pointer around in the Web browser, but it doesn't yet work with the rest of the user interface to simulate using the player's touch screen.

Via the wireless connection, I set up the player to download a week's worth of TV program guide information. A few quick settings, and the docking station's built-in IR transmitter could change channels on my cable box. I could then schedule the Archos to record prime-time shows for watching on my way to work the following morning. But note that the device must be docked to record TV: When I was out for the evening, I usually took the player with me, so I missed some programs.

At twice the screen size and five times the resolution of the video iPod, I loved watching video on the Archos 605 WiFi. With wireless connectivity and the optional DVR Station, you'll never be short on video content--and it plays music, shows photos, and lets you surf the Web, too.

Paul Jasper

This story, "Archos 605 WiFi" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    This player features Wi-Fi connectivity and a screen that’s big enough to watch video comfortably.

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