- Page 1 Archos 70d
- Page 2 Screen, Interface and Video
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.
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.
Whites are a little rainbow-like on the 70d
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Screen Quality 5
Battery Life 6