Otherwise, my biggest complaints about the GUI are that, first, the ‘now playing’ screen doesn’t include album art or even artist or album information, just the track name, an animated EQ, a track progress bar and the bit-rate and, second, the player doesn’t provide a unified list covering tracks on the internal memory and tracks on the MicroSD card. You have to flick from internal memory to the SD card and then browse through. Playlist support is also poor; or rather entirely absent. It’s one thing not to let you create them on the fly, but to ignore them altogether is a bit of a sin, even on a player this cheap.
The 1.8in CSTN screen, meanwhile, is better than you might expect, if only because your expectations at this price point will probably be fairly low. The 160 x 128 resolution is lower than you’d get from, say, Sony’s E-Series Walkman, so even at this size there’s a degree of pixilation, but in terms of brightness and contrast it’s at least as good if not better than the screen you’d find on the average budget mobile phone. Viewing photos or video it’s clear that the colour depth is limited and there’s no real detail to speak of, but I’ve seen an awful lot worse.
In terms of functions and features, the Archos 2 isn’t as stripped back as I expected it to be. The FM Radio can be set to auto-scan for available stations, and you can save favourites for future use. There’s a photo viewer with a basic slideshow feature and a decent voice recorder too, plus a text viewer hidden away in the Data section of the Files menu.
While the Archos doesn’t have the games, calculator, flash player and clock applets that are appearing in some mid-range PMPs, I don’t really lament their absence. Most of the time you just want something that will play music and movies, and in both cases the Archos 2 does the job.
Well, sort of. The Archos 2 will play video files, but only if they’re in an AVI container, and only then if you use the (rather nasty) app provided to convert them to the players preferred format and resolution. Playback itself is slightly jerky, and the whole experience less than comfortable on the 1.8in screen, so I can’t say I’d recommend the Archos 2 if you wanted to watch anything beyond the odd clip.
For music, luckily, the Archos 2 fares better. The sound isn’t particularly warm, punchy or exciting, but it is clean, not overly bright and with a solid bottom end. Almost needless to say, the supplied earphones are bordering on awful, making the output sound tinny and insubstantial with a weak, muffled bass and a messy mid-range. Plug in some decent ‘phones, however, and things improve dramatically.