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Archos 5 60GB - Archos 5 60GB

By Stuart Andrews
Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score

8/10

User Score

Review Price free/subscription

The Archos 5 doesn't falter in the area where many previous Archos PMPs have fallen: sound quality. Even through the supplied earbuds the sound is vibrant and well balanced, with a nice line in instrumental detail and some power in the bass and mid range. Plug in some replacement earphones, like the Denon set I use for reference, and the sound rounds out nicely.

The mix of drums, strummed guitar and peculiar elfin vocals from Sigur Ros' Gobbledigook has sounded better, as has the strident bass in the second song from the same album (you'll forgive me for not even trying to type it) but only on players from Sony, iRiver and Cowon. Classical music and jazz are handled with finesse, and the choppy beats of Radiohead's 15 Step had plenty of impact. If this were your main portable audio player you wouldn't have anything much to complain about in terms of the output.

That said, you might have a little moan about other things. Given the high specification and big screen of the Archos 5 a little bulk and weight are acceptable, and 250g is the price you have to pay. However, battery life isn't hugely impressive. Archos quotes 22 hours of music playback and 7 hours of video playback, and I'd put this a little on the optimistic side. My sample unit runs down after about 6 hours of mixed use, though that has included regular WiFi connections, which always drains cells. Personally, I don't think a daily recharge is a big issue for a device of this type, but if you're out on the road a lot without a charger (and note that one is not provided in the box) then you might want to consider something else.

All in all, the Archos 5 is very nearly a great product; a potential iPod Touch killer, if you will. You lose the wonders of multi-touch and the App store, trading off portability for a bigger picture, but you also get a higher capacity (between 60GB and 250GB depending on the model). Unfortunately, it's all the little niggles that have run through this review that - taken together - give me pause before boosting the scores and slapping on awards.

The touchscreen GUI isn't perfect, the need to pay for add-ons is irritating and what you gain from the big screen for browsing and email in, you lose in ease of use. What's more, the software seems a bit less reliable than I'd ideally like. I've had several freezes while working on this review, including one that could only be cured by a proper reset, not to mention intermittent problems with WiFi and USB connections. The most recent firmware fix didn't sort these teething troubles out entirely, but I have hopes that future releases will.

Come on Archos, you've got a great piece of hardware here. Just iron out the bugs, polish the interface and stop charging for those vital plug-ins, and you might just have a winner on your hands.

Verdict

A beautiful piece of hardware let down by a range of minor issues. If Archos can sort these out then it will have a great big-screen alternative to the iPod touch.

Scores In Detail

Value
8/10
Sound Quality
8/10

Our Score

8/10

User Score

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Video Review

Juxtah

October 26, 2008, 11:59 am

Looks fantastic shame about the screen though, since as far as I'm aware the Archos and iPod Touch use two different forms of touch technology. Archos uses resistive and Apple capacitive as far as I'm aware which may limit Archos's options for later implementing thing like better sensitivity or multi touch.

Charbax

October 26, 2008, 6:28 pm

I can understand talking about capacitative screens for finger-conduction of the touch effect which does not require pushing. But are you saying that every single device ever released before the iphone had a crappy touch-screen? That would be basically your argument.





As far as I know there are no capacitative screens with that resolution and at that size. So what do you want? A crappy resolution small screen like on the iphone, or do you want a twice times bigger, three times higher resolution, brighter and more awesomely looking screen like on this Archos 5 generation device.





Also multitouch, think about multitouch for a second. It's 99% gimmick. Using two fingers on a screen is never confortable, it¨'s not user friendly at all. It might impress people the first time, for like 5 seconds, cause they never before saw a screen that you can use two fingers on at the same time. But it's gimmick, it is basically like 3D screens, it looks cool for 5 seconds, but quickly gets boring, and turns out to be less usable then simply for example clicking with one finger on a picture and sliding a slider to zoom in like on the Archos, or simply double clicking on a webpage like on the Archos for where you might like to zoom.





Also, you always have to consider Archos double screen size (still very pocketable) and 3x resolution compared to iphone, also 2-5x faster webpage loading, means that the browsing experience on the Archos is superior on many points. Only thing Archos should improve or change is the scrolling with momentum in the browser, so you can scroll further down faster on the page. But is likely that Archos can update that in a software update, since Archos already has momentum scrolling on long lists of files.





Another thing people ofte complain about Archos, is that they provide so many codecs. Which really I don't understand. Why don't you complain instead to Apple that the iphone does not have any of DivX, WMV, H264-DVD resolution, Mpeg2, VOB, Ogg, Flac, AC3, XviD, VP6, Flash video up to 800x576, HD resolution support for DivX Mpeg4 and WMV and potentially (if they get to licence it) Real Video. In the works also MKV. Stop complaining. It makes no sense. Archos provides full codec support for $30 extra complete codec pack.





DivX, WMV, Flash 9, Mp3, WAV, WMA, Ogg, Flac being included for free. Which are the codecs 90% of people mostly use. In fact 90% of web video bandwidth used worldwide is for DivX and Flash videos. Only hardcore video enthusiasts need the other codecs such as AC3 or H264. The codecs that Archos provides as payable plugins are codecs that Apple does not provide (at least not same H264 performance).





Other products which might have some of these codecs included cost more money cause you have to pay for codecs, there are such things as laws and licences. So price in the end is the same, so why complain you can get a cheaper basic unit and pick and choose options later.





It's like Microsoft, Windows Vista basic does not have built-in Mpeg2 VOB DVD playback licences included, only the more expensive Windows Vista Premium does.

Ed

October 27, 2008, 1:28 pm

Although I agree on many individual points there are two things to consider:





1. Multitouch is admittedly a little bit of a gimmick. However, the implication was more that the touchscreen interface overall just isn't quite as slick and on this point there can be no argument - you admit as much yourself.





2. As Stu said, the reason it didn't get an award was not because any one of its problems were so bad but that combined they left you feeling just a little bit underwhelmed.

lifethroughalens

October 27, 2008, 4:13 pm

one could say that it only leaves you feeling 'underwhelmed' if your expectations are too high to begin with, especially when you are judging it negatively on the lack of bundled codecs, which as explained by charbax, isn't really a negative for most users. All this for 㿞 less than the 32GB iPod Touch. Hmmm, it's no contest really...so I just bought one :)





ps having the comments at the bottom is of the review is good, could you also increase the size of the text box a little too?

lifethroughalens

October 27, 2008, 4:20 pm

Also all other websites are quoting 12Hrs Music & 4 Hours Video on the battery life front, not 22hrs and 7hrs quoted here. Have I got the wrong end of the stick?

SBa06

October 27, 2008, 5:45 pm

@lifethroughalens "it's no contest really...so I just bought one"


Whats your view then, worth it as I'm thinking of getting one myself. No way I'd get an apple, iTunes sucks a55.

Michael Shopping

October 27, 2008, 6:09 pm

FLAC?? No mention of it on the website. Why a 250G hard drive & no support for FLAC?


The only other company that is this irritating with add-ons &/or features that should be standard equipment/kit is Dell. Proprietary ports -- for such incomprehensible pettiness (and NEGATIVE marketing), they should re-institute the guillotine (Archos is a French company). 'Nuff said.

lifethroughalens

October 27, 2008, 10:25 pm

@SB I'll tell you what - when it arrives, hopefully this week, but maybe next week, i'll do a mini reiview on the forums section.


@ Michael Shopping: it's only got a 60GB drive not a 250. But i'm sure you could have it apart to fit an aftermarket drive. I agree that at first site, the 'lack' of full codecs does seem a tad tight, however i'd rather they kept the price of the hardware down as much as possible to give people the option of adding them. 㿀 extra for the full codec pack seems reasonable to me? Besides I'm sure the codecs could be 'aquired' somewhere else? :o)

Michael Shopping

October 30, 2008, 3:06 am

FYI. As mentioned in the review & also on Archos's website, the Archos 5 can be purchased with either a 60/120/250Gb hard drive. Although it may be comparing apples to oranges, as Apple has reduced the hard drive for the iPod Classic from 160Gb to 120Gb, the much larger capacity of the Archos 5 may be a decisive factor for customers with large music collections. From my perusal of the Internet (both electronic choices, reviews & blogs), it appears that overall you Brits are more savvy & quality-oriented with your music than those of us in the States. Of course, that is only an "impression." My understanding is that FLAC is an "open" codec, so why should its inclusion drive up the price? As for the hardware, LifeThroughALens has a valid point, but being someone who always wants all of the bells & whistles, I'll still be miffed at such marketing practices. Now, if only there was a U.S. Trusted Reviews site......Great job all!

Michael Shopping

October 30, 2008, 3:15 am

UPDATE to POST -- Although I've specifically looked for FLAC at the Archos 5 website several times before the review & once after it, it was only today that I saw the FLAC listed along with Ogg Vorbis. Hurrah!!

ContingencyPlan

October 31, 2008, 5:58 pm

Is it possible to plug in a mobile internet dongle, such as the recently released one from Virgin Media (http://www.trustedreviews.com/... to the Archos 5, essentially making it as internet-friendly as the 5G? If so, would you need to buy an adaptor of some sort in order to fit the USB dongle to the Archos 5's proprietary ports? Thanks for your help!

ContingencyPlan

November 4, 2008, 4:32 pm

Just got mine yesterday - great piece of kit, apart from the fact that it crashes every 10 minutes! You'll need to keep a pin with you at all times until they update the firmware (I'm using the latest version and still am experiencing these issues).

Paul Townsend

November 8, 2008, 6:30 pm

I would realy like to buy the archos 5 120, but this business about the unit crashing is concerning, do you lose all your date by re-setting, and what is the latest with regard to firmware which seems to be the problem - are firmware updates automatic ? any help from you archos experts out there would be appriciated.

Ed

November 20, 2008, 5:44 pm

@Paul





You don't lose any data, it's just like resetting you PC. It is a bit of a pain but it tends not to happen during normal tasks like listening to music or watching videos. It's more often when trying to load a complicated website or if it tries to play a video it can't cope with.





From my time with one, I would not consider the crashing to be a significant worry. Maybe over time it would become more annoying but hopefully updates will ease the issues.

Dancube

April 21, 2009, 2:02 am

Archos is the best device I´ve seen. Much better then IPOD. But if you have problems, you will regret having bought!!!! Customer support is awful, i had a fault and after just couple of months I have to return it the repair center. After 8 weeks they still have to start repairing. Contacted per email they replied (when they answered...) that they were waiting spare parts. 2 months? maybe it is produced on the moon, to have such waiting time.


if you dont trust me check out at


http://www.repair.archos.com


insert this code


EAD-01-09020432275


you will see that they received it 18/2 and there is no progress. Not even fault identified

Val Isi

April 6, 2010, 3:22 pm

Agree with Dancube. Archos 5 is a good product as long as it does not develop problems. Mine had a problem with the headphone port two months after purchase. Archos have had the unit for 4 weeks and said that it would take another 8 weeks to complete repairs. They offered no explanation or apologies.





The company, Avides (Germany) that I bought the unit from has not been of much help either. From what I have read in forums repairs of this type should not take more than a couple of hours. Just be aware that should you need it Archos post sales service is very poor and unreliable.

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