Archos 105 Flash-Based MP3 Player
At a Glance
Compact video-enabled player is a jack of all trades, but master of none.
What's not to like about a lightweight (1.8 ounces), extremely compact (1.8 by 3.3 by 0.3 inch), multifeatured $80, 2GB MP3 player that lets you play video and display photos on its color OLED screen? Unfortunately, in the case of the flash-based Archos 105, the answer is "a little too much." Its kludgy software, mediocre audio quality, and inability to play more than one video format dims the appeal of its stellar price.
The 105 plays music ripped in MP3, WAV, WMA, and WMA Lossless formats. But you'll have to convert any digital content in AAC, AIFF, Apple Lossless, Audible, or FLAC format to something else because the 105 never heard of them.
The device's video restrictions are even worse: The only videos you can are WMV-format files. The resolution of the little 1.8-inch screen (160 by 128 pixels) is adequate for viewing photos and (WMV) video clips. But many other multimedia players
Archos calls the player's menu interface "intuitive," but I beg to differ. For instance, moving backwards sometimes involves pressing a dedicated back arrow button; at other times, you need to press a different button to do the same thing. That's confusing. In addition, all of the buttons on my test player seemed a bit resistant or sticky to the touch.
The 105 doesn't produce fantastic sound, either. When I cranked the player's audio up to level 80 (it maxes out at 99), it sounded good enough to use at the gym; but at lower volumes (under 50), the sound had a bit of a hum that a true audiophile would find disturbing. The 105 scored poorly in PC World's signal-to-noise ratio tests (where a higher number means a cleaner signal), managing a 59--11 points below its closest competitor, the iRiver E100, and 25 points below the SanDisk Sansa View.
The 105 does many things, but none of them really well. I'd recommend this player only for someone who doesn't want to spend a lot of money for a device to multitask with music, videos, and photos. The Archos 105 would be a good first player for a careless teenager, for instance, since you wouldn't have a heart attack if it went missing. But a picky adult should look elsewhere or accept its limitations as the price for its price.
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