French firm Archos is well known for its all-singing, all-dancing media players, and its latest range of Personal Media Players (PMPs) includes some truly stunning products. The fabulous 605 WiFi, for instance, has a high resolution 800 x 480 resolution, touch-sensitive screen, and squeezes 802.11g wireless in as well. It's so fully featured that you can use it as a home media hub, streamer and Digital Video Recorder (DVR) if you add the multimedia docking cradle to your setup.
So it seemed a natural progression when the company announced it was branching out, and adding a static set-top box-style network media streamer and recorder to its range. The TV+, as it's known, does everything the 605 can do, but doesn't have the constraint of portability and so is able to offer far more storage (250GB of it to be precise) to store all your video, music and photos on.
Sounds great, doesn't it? Well it did until I hooked the TV+ up and began to play around with it. The thing is, what looks like a remarkable feat for a portable player simply doesn't translate to a device designed to sit permanently beneath your telly. And that's precisely what the TV+ is: a non-portable version of the 605 Wi-Fi, with the same user interface, menu system and an almost identical range of capabilities.
It's a sleek-looking device to be sure, and at roughly a third the size of a standard Sky box should slot comfortably into even the most crowded of AV racks. At the rear is a decent selection of inputs and outputs too: as well as component input and output, you get HDMI output, S-Video and composite video, plus coaxial S/PDIF for audio and an ethernet port. An impressive line-up.
But it's not the physical hardware I have a problem with. My first issue is that that the touch screen interface ported directly from the Gen 5 PMPs simply doesn't translate well to a remote controlled environment. I'm prepared to put up with foibles such as a lack of dedicated play and stop controls on the remote if it means the same device will fit into a pocket. With the TV+ there's no such payback.