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Archos 105 2GB Media Player - Archos 105
The controls are all clickable with a thumb for easy, one-handed operation and the unfussy approach means you'll be skipping around folders, artist, albums and queuing up tracks in no time flat. It can't quite match the elegance and simplicity of the iPod click wheel control, but it's still pretty good.
But there's a whole lot more to the flash MP3 player market than just looks these days. If your player can't do everything under the sun except roast the chicken on a Sunday afternoon, then your goose is cooked...er...so to speak. And the 105, it has to be said, is a little underdone when it comes to pure feature count.
Let's start with the capacity. Now I know that Archos isn't used to producing flash based players, but 2GB is right at the bottom end of what's acceptable for a video-capable player. There's no chance of expanding this either. In terms of file format support it's restricted too, with support for just MP3, WMA and WAV files for music - no OGG, no AAC, no FLAC - and it couldn't play everything I threw at it either.
Video support isn't brilliant with just WMV files supported, though this is less of an issue - you'll have to re-encode video most of the time for the 160 x 128 resolution screen anyway. Finally, there's no FM tuner and no microphone or line-in ability either.
All this would be forgiven if performance was good. But the 105 is clearly beaten by most of the competition on this front too. There's nothing horrendously wrong with it: there's plenty of detail on offer and enough balanced bass to satisfy most people - it's just that there's nothing particularly special about it either.
I kicked off the listening tests with Ayrshire rockers Biffy Clyro and noticed that everything just sounded a bit flat, with little drive and a disappointing maximum volume level. Moving onto Chicane's bass-laden Behind the Sun proved the point: there's plenty of tight bass control here and a well-balanced sound, but no real punch.