French firm Archos has been in the media player game right from the word go. Ever since the second half of the nineties it has championed not only portable digital music, but also digital video in a way that no other company has. And its most recent Generation 5 media players have set the standard yet again, with the 605 WiFi adding a touch screen, EPG and media streaming capabilities to the mix.
Which is why it's more than a little surprising to find, alongside the all-singing, all-dancing high capacity widescreen Wi-Fi-equipped players, the firm has added a couple of mini, flash-based players to its line-up. It's like Rolls-Royce suddenly deciding that it just has to produce a supermini.
The smallest of these is the diminutive 105 and, once I got over the weirdness of it all and actually looked at the product, I was pleasantly surprised. It doesn't look much in the screenshots and marketing images - it looks plain and boxy, and that odd X-shaped button in the middle doesn't help matters - but in the flesh the 105 is actually a very nicely designed player. It's constructed from soft-touch plastics which make it pleasant to hold and it's remarkably thin and light too. At a mere 7mm thick, it certainly isn't going to make a big bulge in your trouser pocket.
Other points in the 105's favour are a bright 1.8in OLED screen and a user interface inherited from its bigger brothers and sisters. This means an attractive icon-driven interface, excellent on-device playlist creation and useful stuff such as the ability to switch between USB mass storage and MTP mode. Even the rather plasticky buttons in the middle of the player work better than first appearances suggest and make getting around the player surprisingly easy.