By February 9, 2010

Archos 5 Internet Media Tablet Review

Archos5-angled-right It feels a bit odd reviewing the Archos 5 as it’s not a phone! Anyway I thought I would give it a go as I tend to travel overseas for work a few times a year and thought this maybe the perfect travel companion (apart from my girlfriend of course)!

The Archos 5 Internet Media Tablet is available running Linux or Android. We have the Linux version which I am happy with as a friend has the Android version and he is always having issues.

 

What’s in the box?

  • The Archos 5 Device
  • Proprietary sync and charge USB Cable
  • Stand/dock adapter
  • Headphones
  • Cleaning Cloth

 

With the Apple iPad announced recently could the Archos 5 be a cheaper alternative? Read on for the full review…

 

The ten second review:

  • Device: Archos 5 Internet Media Tablet
  • Summary: A 4.3 inch media tablet with a massive built in memory.
  • Best of: Storage, Kick Stand.
  • Worst of: Add-on extras cost money, Screen quality is not the best.
  • Buy it now from: Archos
  • Price: £275.85

 

Archos 5 Internet Media Tablet specification:

  • Display characteristics:
    High resolution screen, 800×480 pixels, 4.8” TFT LCD, 16 million colours
  • User interface:
    Touch screen, ON/OFF, vol+ and vol- buttons, retractable virtual keyboard
  • Processor(s):
    Central Unit:
    - Main processor: ARM CortexTM-A8, 32 bit, In-order, dual-issue, superscalar core @ 600 MHz
    - Additional processor: 32 bit DSP @ 430 MHz
  • RAM memory:
    128 MB* (Low-Power Double Data Rate SDRAM)
  • Mass storage memory:
    Hard drive, capacity according to the product version
    - 60 GB* (stores up to 80 Movies, 600,000 photos or 30,000 songs1)
    - 120 GB* (stores up to 160 Movies, 1.2 million photos or 60,000 songs1)
    - 160 GB* (stores up to 210 Movies, 1.6 million photos or 80,000 songs1)
    - 250 GB* (stores up to 300 Movies, 2.5 million photos or 145,000 songs1)
  • Operating system:
    Linux
  • Program language
    C – requires special developer-edition firmware15
  • Connectivity:
    On board Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g), USB 2.0 host with optional accessories
  • PC accessories:
    Possible attachment of numerous standard USB PC accessories**** (keyboard, mouse, memory key, memory cards reader, camera and other future computer accessories)
  • Video playback**:
    MPEG-42 (ASP@L5 AVI, up to DVD resolution)
    WMV (MP@ML, up to DVD resolution) included WMV protected files
    M-JPEG (in QVGA resolution)
    With optional software plug-in:
    HD support: MPEG-4 (ASP 720p) & WMV HD (MP 720p)
    MPEG-2 MP@ML up to 10 Mbps (up to DVD resolution) and AC3 stereo sound (5.1)
    H.264 up to DVD resolution with AAC
  • Audio playback**:
    Stereo MP3 decoding @ 30-320 Kbits/s CBR & VBR, WMA, Protected WMA, WMA pro 5.1, WAV (PCM/ADPCM).
    AC3 stereo audio and 5.1 sound files (via SPDIF output of DVR Station)
    Flac and OGG Vorbis audio files
    With optional software plug-in:
    AAC3 and AAC+ stereo audio files
  • Photo viewer***:
    JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF
  • PDF viewer:
    Reads PDF documents (may not implement all PDF features)
  • Video recording6:
    Via the optional DVR Station or DVR Snap-on. Records NTSC/PAL/SECAM in MPEG-4 AVI format with stereo sound, VGA resolution (640 x 480) @ 30 or 25 f/s
  • Audio recording:
    Via the optional DVR Station or DVR Snap-on: Stereo line-in, WAV (IMA ADPCM or PCM) format
    Voice recording via the optional FM remote and its built-in microphone in WAV format (IMA ADPCM)
  • Email client
    Compatible with Email accounts supporting POP3 and IMAP services Import/export of vCard contacts
  • Interfaces:
    USB 2.0 High-Speed Device (compatible USB 1.1 at a lower speed): Mass Storage Class (MSC) and Media Transport Protocol (MTP)
    USB 2.0 Host: Mass Storage Class (MSC) and Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP) with optional Mini Dock, Battery Dock and DVR station
  • Connections:
    WiFi (802.11 b/g) connection. Free Web Browser (Opera® Web browser with Adobe Flash® 9 video support) upon registration
    3.5 mm mini jack for headphones
    Accessory connectors to connect to the DVR Station and other ARCHOS accessories
  • Miscellaneous
    Built-in speaker
    Built-in leg stand
  • Battery life:
    Music playback time: up to 22 hours4
    Video playback time: up to 7 hours4
  • Power source:
    Internal: Lithium Polymer battery
    Device charges via computer USB port
    External: Power adapter/charger (via optional accessories)
  • Scalability:
    Device automatically downloads latest firmware updates when the WiFi connection is activated
    Updates can also be downloaded at
    www.archos.com
  • Dimensions & weight:
    Approx 127,5 x 78,3 x 12,9 mm (for 60GB* model) – 250gr
    Approx 127 x 78,8 x 19,4 mm (for 120/250GB* models) – 300gr
  • In a possible use mode, in connection with an external computer through the USB B connector available on some optional accessories:
  • Minimum system requirements:
    Microsoft® Windows® Vista, XP, ME, 2000 or higher
    MAC OS X and Linux (with Mass Storage Device Support)
    USB 2.0 interface
  • Package includes:
    ARCHOS 5, headphones, ARCHOS USB cable, DVR Station adapter, screen cleaning cloth, Quick Start Guide (QSG), legal and safety notice.

 

Check out Matt’s Archos 5 unboxing Video for a brief look at the device

 

General:

The left side of the device contains only the power switch and LED.

Archos 5 left side

Archos 5 Left Side

 

On the right is the volume control and 3.5mm headset jack. Also present is the speaker grill.

Archos 5 right side

Archos 5 Right Side

 

On the bottom of the device is the charging/docking ports.

Archos 5 bottom view

Archos 5 Bottom

 

The back of the unit has no ports or buttons but you will find the kick stand.

Archos 5 back view

Archos 5 Back

 

          

Review:

Not having owned one of these media tablets before I pretty intrigued at whether it would be worth investing in one in the future. When I fly into Europe, which I do a few times a year, I always watch a movie on either a phone or on an iPod Touch. Can the Archos 5 tempt me with its internet as well as media features?

Opening the Archos 5 box for the first time I pleased with its initial look. Sitting comfortably in its box it looked very much like my Tom Tom. Once removed from the box I could not believe how heavy it was. This 120GB model weighs in at a whopping 300 grams. Having not thought about its weight in advance I was a little bewildered as i cant imagine walking around with that in my pocket. Maybe I should have thought about it. Its never going to be featherweight and be able to store 160 movies on it! It certainly feels well made and robust.

With its big 4.3 inch screen the Archos 5 feels ok in the hand but you wouldn’t want to hold it for too long for fear of your hand going numb from its weight!

The grey shiny metal around the screen gives the device a quality look and the plastic that is used on the back and sides if soft and almost velvet like.

On the rear of the device is the kick stand. Thank god for it! This will be perfect for placing on the seat tray on a plane or train. The stand feels pretty sturdy and I would imagine it will stand the test of time.

Archos 5 on its kickstand

Archos 5 Kick Stand

 

After being turned on, the Archos 5 was nice and easy to get to grips with. The home screen layout is simple and far from confusing. This home screen is made up from six main categories and each of these has sub categories. Also present is the time, battery life and volume.

Archos1

Archos 5 Home Screen

 

The category that will more than likely be used most on the Archos 5 is the "Play" one. This is where you can play video, music, photos, games etc.

Taking a look at "video" first, you are initially given a list of all the videos present. On the left of the screen beside the movie title is a thumbnail image of the movie. Give this a touch and the thumbnail comes to life and plays. Another touch and the actual video starts. Nice.

Watching video on the Archos 5 is pretty sweet. Its not the best quality picture but as its on a 4.3 inch screen and you can fit over 100 movies on it I can live with the quality. Don’t get me wrong, its not bad, just not the best.

Listening to music on the Archos 5 is very straight forward. Click the artist you want and off you go. The music certainly does not sound as good on here as on some phones or MP3 players so bare this in mind if this is important to you. I was a little disappointed that it only has a speaker on one side. Stereo would have been nice!

“There’s a massive selection of music styles and it’s dead easy to find something decent to listen to…”

Internet radio is something I have never really got into. Not because of the internet, but just because the only time I do listen to the radio is in the car. As the Archos 5 is so easy to set up the WiFi (in fact maybe the easiest device so far) getting on the internet takes seconds. There’s a massive selection of music styles and it’s dead easy to find something decent to listen to. I was quite impressed.

Looking at photos on the device was both good and bad. The photos themselves look pretty amazing. The colours are bright and vibrant. Moving from photo to photo is done with a screen swipe. This just didn’t feel very fluent. It worked, but wasn’t the same as on most touch screen phones or an iPod. A nice feature that the Archos 5 has that would look good on maybe a work desk is the slideshow. Kickstand up, slideshow on, and off you go.

There are a few games pre-installed on the Archos 5. They are not very good though! I do believe you can download more but I couldn’t work out how to do it. Gaming on the 4.3 inch screen could have been good but it just doesn’t look nearly as good as on the iPod Touch.

“Browsing itself is pretty sweet…”

Being an internet media tablet means you can obviously surf the web. The browser on the Archos 5 is powered by Opera which was a nice surprise. The on screen keyboard is as you would imagine, big, and typing is fairly painless. The only feature missing, well I couldn’t find it, was haptic feedback. That would have improved things slightly. Browsing itself is pretty sweet. The screen does not scroll as nicely as some phones and the loading speed is not the best but its more than adequate.

 

You can watch internet TV on the device although the picture can be a little grainy at times. The Archos 5 comes with some TV stations pre loaded. The only one I thought was any good was Sky News but once again the picture quality was not great.

You can pick up freeview on the Archos 5 and also record straight from your TV but to do these require purchasing some add-ons:

TV Snap On

Archos Freeview Receiver

 

TV Dock

Archos TV Docking Station

 

The above docking station (about £60.00)  enables you to browse the internet using your TV, or to stream music, photos or videos from your home network to your TV. It also provides faster charging than the supplied USB cable.

 

The battery on the Archos 5 is adequate. Archos say you should be able to get 7 hours of video playback from a single charge. I got a couple of hours less than this but the battery on this review device may not be up to its optimal performance yet. Even so, not bad at all.

I mentioned at the start that my friends Android version had caused him a load of grief. You will be pleased to hear I had none with this version at all!

So how will this compare with the forthcoming iPad from Apple? Well to be honest they are totally different. Both have pros and cons. If you want a device for mainly media then the Archos would be better in terms of storage, recording from TV and saving your wrists! (Can you imagine having to hold the iPad in front of you for two hours to watch a film! The Archos kickstand wins!

But, if you mainly browse the web and play games then I think the iPad will be the one to go for. It will be a bit more expensive and UK prices are yet to be confirmed.

Archos5-angled-left

 

Conclusion:

Overall the Archos 5 is a decent device. I think that if you were going to buy one you would really want to go all out and buy the add-ons allowing for TV recording. If you want it just to watch the occasional video, like me, on a plane or train then its probably not worth getting. I would be just as happy watching a movie on my iPod or 3.8 inch phone to be honest.

Although it can store a massive amount of data I personally could not justify spending £300+ on something that is heavy and not all that pocketable. But like all gadgets this comes down to personal choice and if you fancy getting one then go for it as its money well spent. Its just not my cup of tea.

 

Posted by: James

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

Five year veteran of the site. BlackBerry specialist, but experienced in most operating systems. Enjoys flower arranging and cross stitch.
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