Perhaps more useful is the ability to transfer already-recorded programmes or movies from an external Digital Video Recorder (DVR) box to free up space. You can simply set it to record for however long the desired programme runs for and then leave it to record. The TV+’s ability to act as a simple Network Attached Storage (NAS) box is a nice extra here, allowing files to be transferred to and from the device without recourse to the awkward on-board user interface, but again there’s an aggravation: you have to manually switch the box into file server mode to access the files on it, and then switch it back to streamer mode to watch or record.
Archos is pushing the ability to synchronise the box with your Archos PMP (such as the 605 WiFi) using the device’s USB socket. But this is an unnecessary duplication of effort and money: why do this, when you can simply cut out the middle man and use a Gen 5 Archos player and cradle to transfer recordings directly?
You can also use the TV+ to download content from Archos’ own content portal. There’s a selection of partner websites to choose from, but there’s not yet a great deal in the way of recent movies or premium TV series to rent or stream. A search for Stardust and then Transformers returned no results on CinemaNow – Archos’ English language film partner. It’s also a pain to set up. You first have to register the device with Archos’ own content portal using your PC’s internet connection, then you have to sign up to each service individually – hardly a streamlined process.
Finally, you can use the TV+ to browse the web from the comfort of your sofa. Frustratingly, though, this is yet another feature of dubious value: for starters you have to pay an extra £20 for yet another plug-in, and even then it’s not the slickest experience in the world. The low resolution makes web pages feel cramped, and though entering addresses is made simple with the mini-QWERTY keyboard on the remote, clicking links with the mouse cursor is a slow and laborious process.
The TV+ has a lot of potential and is certainly stacked with features. But it has too many shortcomings to be worth spending £250 on. It’s not a particularly good media streamer. It’s not an elegant alternative to Sky Plus or a decent twin-tuner DVR. Its on-demand content is as-yet limited, and its user interface – borrowed from the Archos PMPs – is clunky and unintuitive to use with a remote control.
What makes this all the more galling, however, is that to get full functionality out of the TV+ you have to buy, download and manually install a handful of extra plug-ins. And that, unfortunately, is the final nail in this product’s coffin.
Score in detail