By December 21, 2009

24 Hours with the Archos 5 Internet Tablet

archosa5android1From my darling Leana I was given the Archos 5 Internet Tablet with Android. This in the latest device from the French portable media masters Archos. I do not feel it right to review a device I own so I thought I was draw up some passing thoughts on this 160gb flavoured bad boy.

h723Yonks ago I purchased an iRiver PMP 140, a classic piece of portable entertainment wizardry. Bragging a 40gb hard disk it was the end of boredom for me. Mobile phones didn’t have the power or media capabilities to allow for extended viewing and this ticked all the boxes. It did however seem to suffer from lip sync issues and I feel out of love with it quite rapidly.

ARCHOS_604-dvrstation2 Next up I got, and for the longest time, used the Archos 604. There is little I can fault this device with. I bought early meaning I missed out on the wi-fi version and despite buying the TV recording dock I never managed to get it to work properly and it turned into an expensive cradle. However, it wasn’t as plastic as the iRiver and I rarely experienced and lip sync issues. However, having to pay a hefty price for codec did feel like a bit of a swizz. On the basis of the quality build and performance of this device I went for the latest offering from Archos.

Archos-5-angle_s The Archos 5 is a confusing device to buy. There are two vastly different sorts an Internet Media Tablet (Pictured) and an Internet Tablet with Android. Then each of these come in several different configurations. The Media Tablet runs with either a 60gb HDD or 250gb HDD. The Tablet with Android can pack either a flash drive or a spinning Hard disk drive. The flash drive come in 8,32 or 64gb with SD card slot and the HDD looks to be 160, 320 or 500gb. Not all models of the Tablet with Android have hit the market I was only able to choose between the 160gb HDD or the 32gb flash. I’m greedy and need tonnes of storage so I picked the 160gb HDD.


ARCHOS-5_8-32 A media centric device running Android 1.5 is an exciting premise. A gamble but even if it all went tits up then it would still be a large Android device with applications galore (once the Android marketplace hits “galore” levels.)

So how is it going? It’s taking some getting to used to and I can’t say it’s been a complete pleasure. Opening the box, powering it up and playing one of the pre installed videos resulted in a hard crash. I was hardly amused. However, this did lead to the easiest firmware upgrade I’ve experienced. I’ve never been lucky enough to receive an Android phone in need of an update so this was my first go and it was super smooth.

Once updated the media playback became much more stable and I started populating the device with apps from the pre-installed Archos Appslib. During this time I noticed the device, again, becoming unstable. The Archos Media Player, the crucial media playback facility stopped working and not amount of resets would get it up an running again. Obviously an app from the Appslib had interfered with an important element of the Media Player and killed it.

I don’t know much about the device so I figured I’d just hit up the format button and start from scratch again. Since then it’s been smooth sailing. Perhaps like Windows Mobile it’s encouragable when flashing a new ROM to hard reset once done for the new firmware to settle in. this might cause a bit of a headache on the next firmware upgrade when the device is brimming with 160gb of fun that’ll have to be backed up.

When running Wi-Fi the device seems to last about two hours. Of course the battery will be improving over the next fortnight, I hope. Without, the device will hopefully go for about four hours minimum, I’m speculating. Quite short and without the option of the interchangeable battery I’m a little disappointed. There is of course an add-on battery pack that plugs into the bottom for a little extra time. For long flights this would be an essential purchase.

The device is pretty big with the 160gb stuck to it’s back. Much large than it’s Flash based counterparts. However, I like a bit of heft in my device and compared to the 30gb 604 I had previously which I always felt was a little on the small side this thing feels just right, for me. Most will probably think it a brick and dismiss it.
The 160gb drive also heats up quite a bit, the kick stand feels loose, the metallic plastic can look quite tarnished by finger prints after a long session and the overall finish just doesn’t quite live up to the 604.

It all seems quite negative so far, but I’m not put off by these smaller factors, aside from the firmware horrors that I may come across in the future. At the moment, the going is good. Playback is gorgeous on the 5 inch screen, a 720p movie just flows on the crystal clear screen. The device seems to take the user skipping around on the time line in it’s stride which is a pleasant surprise, and something I imagine many netbooks and laptops would break out in a sweat doing.

I’m using ACast for my podcast needs, however despite the Archos having the necessary codec’s to playback some vidcasts, ACast fails to play them back. Mildly annoying.

I’ll be back in sometime over Xmas to let you know just how things are panning out. I’m rather enthusiastic about a little hack to incorporate the Google experience once Archos sorts out the ADB ftp and the prospect of a rumoured Android 2.0 upgrade.

Posted in: Phones

About the Author:

Seasoned tech blogger. Host of the Tech Addicts podcast.
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