The other functions beyond movie and music playback remain a mixed bunch. Email support is excellent and easy to set up, and that lovely screen makes the Archos 7 a great photo viewer. On the downside, the games I sampled were laughably poor, the selection of movies and music available on Archos’ download service, Media Club, leaves much to be desired, and the ‘Widget’ applets aren’t too exciting either. Web TV is a nice idea, but in practice I couldn’t find much in the Archos listings worth watching beyond a few streamed BBC News programmes. To balance that, I should point out that the Archos 7 makes a good wireless media streamer, though with Wi-Fi limited to 801.11g, you need a decent signal to make the effort worthwhile.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Archos 7 provides a strong foundation if you want to explore Archos’ range of add-on modules, all of which plug into the two expansion ports on the base. The most desirable is the DVR station which allows you to connect it up to an existing set-top-box to record video and your TV (through HDMI, Component or S-Video) for output. Here again, however, the need for optional software plug-ins to playback HD video or use the built-in program, is an irritation. The fact that Archos also sells an add-on radio module only rubs in the fact that the 7 doesn’t include FM reception as standard, while also making you wonder why the module isn’t DAB.
All of this comment seems a little negative, and I wouldn’t want you to come away thinking that my feelings about the Archos 7 reflect this. The Archos 7 might not be a great Web tablet, and I still find something penny-pinching about Archos’ approach, but this is still far and away the best portable video player I’ve come across, and one I’d happily purchase just for the pleasure of being able to take one box wherever I wanted to enjoy my flicks. Whether the bed, the bathroom or the shed, the Archos 7 turns your hidey-hole into your own personal cinema, and I can’t recommend it highly enough just for that. If the touchscreen interface and some minor irritations didn’t hold it back from greatness in other areas, I’d be rushing out to buy one myself. As it is, I’m just about holding back…. for now.
The best portable movie player around, albeit one that’s too big to be carried anywhere and everywhere on a regular basis. Unfortunately, the touchscreen interface and additional features don’t quite measure up.
Score in detail
Sound Quality 8