Archos 70d - Screen, Interface and Video

Score

Sections

  • Page 1Archos 70d
  • Page 2 Screen, Interface and Video

Screen
The Archos 70d uses an LCD screen. This doesn’t provide

the optimum reading experience – a backlight can cause eyestrain – but

Archos has made a few tweaks to improve things.

It uses a matt

finish, reducing the effect of sunlight by minimising screen reflection.

However, it’s still not a patch on an E Ink display to use outside on a

sunny day. The screen backlight ends up fighting with ambient light

sources, making the screen appear dim – paper-like displays use natural

light to their advantage, making ebooks look all the more vibrant.

The

screen finish also has the unpleasant effect of making images appear

mottled. When reading, this manifests as a hazy sheen across the white

part of a page. This and the low 480 x 800 pixel resolution makes ebooks

look quite ugly compared with E Ink readers, tablets with higher

quality displays such as the iPads.

Archos 70d 7
Whites are a little rainbow-like on the 70d
 

Fairly

low-quality screens like this are also more likely to cause eyestrain

and headaches following prolonged sessions, although we’ll admit we

didn’t suffer from such effects. The Archos 70d’s hardware buttons make

reading comfortable on your digits, but this ereader is not so easy on

the eyes.

Video playback
The LCD screen does come in

handy when you want a break from reading, though. Unlike E Ink readers

you can properly watch video. Format support is great, with popular

formats like MKV, DivX and Xvid able to play without any fiddling. The

underpowered processor struggled with HD-quality video, but breezed

through standard definition vids just fine.

Archos 70d 4

Video

playback is – of course – somewhat affected by the mediocre screen

quality. There’s significant loss of brightness as soon as you start

tilting the screen back and the mottling effect is clearly visible in

areas of block colour. However, it fares better than many a budget

tablet, which often suffer from much worse contrast shift – which robs

images of any shadow detail. Odd as it may sound for an ereader, the

Archos 70d’s video abilities are the best reason to buy it.

Interface
The

Archos 70d runs a custom user interface. Unlike some LCD-screen

readers, it’s not based on Android. This means you won’t be able to play

Angry Birds on it, but ensures it runs reasonably well – for a

bargain basement device. Aside from a few freezes that demanded a reset,

there is only a slight lag between menus and a loading pause when

opening a book or PDF.

A homescreen shows you the book you’re

currently reading and a half-dozen titles from your library, and other

options drop down as an animated overlay upon pressing the Menu button.

Archos 70d 5

The

software is not feature-rich in ereader terms, but offers auto rotate,

bookmarks and control over the brightness of the backlight. You can

change the colour of fonts and the background too, but this only serves

to highlight how odd it is that the Archos 70d doesn’t give you control

over font size or style – you’re stuck with the default. There’s also no

Wi-Fi, ruling-out buying books directly from the device.

In

return for these basic omissions, the Archos 70d offers good format

support, including DRM EPUB and PDF files. However, not having full

control over font size and style will be a deal-breaker for many.

The

Archos 70d is cheap and can – in some senses at least – do more than

the more popular dedicated ereaders out there. However, it doesn’t do

any one thing well. Its screen sours the reading experience and limits

its desirability as a portable video buddy. When top-tier E Ink ereaders

are out there for just £10 or so more, we can’t recommend giving the

Archos a go.

Verdict
Cheaper than a Kindle and with far better movie-playing chops than any E-Ink screen ereader, the Archos 70d may sound like a good buy for under £60. However, the low-quality screen stops it from being a viable alternative to the better-known readers when it comes to its core task: reading. We’d suggest saving up a few pennies and getting a proper E-Ink ebook reader.

Score in detail

  • Performance 5
  • Design 6
  • Screen Quality 5
  • Features 6
  • Battery Life 6
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