The Archos 35 Vision is a return home for its manufacturer. After producing a barrel-load of Android devices, like the 70 and 101 tablets, Archos is back in its traditional territory with a straightforward video and media player. Are Archos's golden days gone though, now that big-screen smartphones are available for peanuts and the iPod Touch is so firmly established?
In today's convergence-obsessed tech world, the Archos 35 is an aberration. It’s a touchscreen device but doesn't run apps, make phone calls or play games. Instead, it sets its sights on a more focused goal - to play media, and to do so well.
With a 3.5in screen, the Archos 35 is on the cusp of what we'd deem an acceptable size for watching video on. Its display has similar dimensions to the iPhone 3GS and third-gen iPod Touch screens, but uses a slightly wider-screened resolution, of 480x272 rather than 480x320. It's worth noting that this resolution is significantly lower than the current-gen 3.5in iOS devices and the 480x800 pixels we'd expect from another new smartphones of this size. If you're used to this level of screen quality, the Archos 35 will seem blocky.
There is a significant upside to this dinky design though. It'll happily slip into pockets without creating an unsightly bulge, making it convenient to use as your primary MP3 player. We couldn’t say the same about Archos's older, larger designs like the Archos 5.
As it is controlled primarily using the resistive touchscreen, the body of the media player can afford to be fairly minimalist. There are no buttons on its front, but the side sockets cover all the basics and more. There's a 3.5mm headphone jack, volume controls,a mini USB for charging and transferring data, a microSD card slot and the all-important mini HDMI, which lets you pipe your videos over to an HDTV. No HDMI cable is included in the box though.
The Archos 35 is slim and light, at 9mm thick and 102g, but falls short of challenging the iPod Touch on the tech catwalk. The back is genuine brushed metal and the plastic screen surround slumps over the top of this panel like an unfortunate muffin top - a seamless, smooth edge would have made this one of the best-looking media players around. It's still a looker, but has that utilitarian design vibe that's part of most of Archos's products.
With 8GB of internal storage, the Archos 35 can house around 10 films or 80 albums, but this is easily extended with a microSD card. A 16GB card can be found for under £15 nowadays, giving this device plenty of budget storage potential.