The Archos 5 Internet Tablet comes in many flavours, with both solid state and hard disk storage options. The version I have here is equipped with 32GB of solid state memory, while the microSD card slot allows for storage expansion. Here the Archos beats the iPod touch, in that the storage can be easily and cheaply augmented, while the only way to get an iPod with more storage is to buy a new one.
Of course if you want more built-in storage, you can get a 64GB solid state version to match the top capacity iPod touch. There’s also an 8GB solid state version, but that seems slightly underspecified for a device like this. If you really want to carry a huge library of music and video with you, you’ll probably want to opt for one of the hard disk based versions. The hard disk devices are slightly larger and heavier, but having up to 500GB of storage in PMP is pretty compelling. There’s no microSD card slot in the hard disk versions, but you’d be unlikely to need one.
While I’m on the subject of storage, another major advantage that the Archos has over the iPod touch is drag and drop. Even the most enthusiastic Apple users surely must lament having to use iTunes for absolutely everything. It’s that constant syncing with your registered iTunes computer every time you want to add or remove something from your iPod that drives you mad, making you wish that you could simply just drag and drop files from any computer onto your device. Luckily for Archos users, that’s exactly what you can do.
Battery life depends on what you’re doing with the device. Archos quotes 22 hours of music playback, which is pretty impressive at face value, but let’s not forget this is a large device, so has a large battery. I can’t see myself using the Archos 5 Internet Tablet as my primary music device simply by virtue of its size, but as a mobile video player it excels, so video playback battery life is far more important. Archos quotes seven hours video playback, but in use I found that around five and a half hours was more realistic.
It’s worth remembering with video playback battery life will also depend on what codec you’ve used. If you’re watching a 720p h.264 video, it’s going to be pushing the processor far harder than if you were watching a bog standard MPEG2 DVD rip. In fact you can tell just how much harder the Archos is working when watching an MKV HD file by how hot it gets in the hand – it’s not going to burn you or anything, but it will definitely keep your paws warm on a cold day.
With a price of £275 for this 32GB version, the Archos 5 Internet Tablet is more expensive than the iPod touch that Archos sees as its main competitor. I’m not sure that I agree though. I see the Archos 5 as a very different device to the iPod touch. I see this as primarily a video device, where as the iPod touch, despite its video capabilities, is still, in my mind, primarily an audio device.
I carry my iPhone with me everywhere since it’s my phone and my primary music player. My Archos 5 Internet Tablet comes with me when I know I’ll be sitting on a train or a plane and will have the time to watch some video. And there lies the differentiation – the Archos is a bit too big to sit comfortably in your pocket, but if it were any smaller, it wouldn’t be the excellent portable video player that it is.