The big daddy of Archos's media player range has finally lumbered into view. Will you forsake your iPod Touch for its heavyweight charms?
There's no getting around it: the top hitter in Archos' range is big. And it was always going to be – until Philips releases the roll-up screen it's been banging on about for years, the laws of physics dictate that said portable must be at least seven inches across the diagonal.
Add in a brushed silver body about the size of a DVD case and the impressive hardware it conceals, and you've got a machine that weighs in at nearly 700g – the equivalent of five iPod Touches. Let's see if it's worth packing that much tech in your man-bag.
Built like a brick
As befits a £300 piece of kit, the 705 feels solid and durable. There's a pop-out stand at the rear for hands-free viewing – and you'll need it, because it's simply too heavy to hold for long.
Archos' claims of five hours from a fully-charged battery are about right but anxious long-haulers can invest in a spare cell – the battery is easily detachable.
In fact, everything about the design gives away the 705's function: this is not a machine for the standing-room only commuter but a replacement for your personal DVD player.
The 7in touchscreen is bright and sharp with an adequate 640x480-pixel resolution. It delivers impressive picture quality too – we noticed some image break-up, but for the screen size it looks excellent.
Front-mounted stereo hexagonal speaker grills promise much, but the weedy sonic delivery doesn't live up to expectations for the unit's size. Stick to headphones, folks: there's a 3.5mm jack if you want to use your own.
The menus are simple and accessed better with the stylus than your fingers – this is no rival to Apple's elegant touchscreen system. In fact, best use the bundled remote.
There's a choice of 80GB and 160GB hard disks; the latter costs around £100 more and will hold up to 200 movies.
Wireless and computer-less
Now to fill up those big old disks. The 705 connects over Wi-Fi to your computer and will either stream or download music and video over a home network. It will also connect to Archos' own online portal for various exclusive multimedia goodies. Download the Flash-tastic web browser plug-in and you've got a full-fat internet tablet.
Best of all, though, is the 705's compatibility with the Archos DVR Station: dock it and you can record straight from your TV – no computer required, no file conversion necessary, just timer recordings all ready for you to watch whenever you want.
Sounds perfect? There is one drawback. Fair enough, you'll need to shell out an extra £70 for the DVR Station, but software plug-ins such as the browser and a vidcast viewer cost an additional £20-£30.
But as long as money's no object, this is one classy player.
Archos 705 Wi-Fi 80GB review
It won't fit in your pocket, but the seven inches of big-screen action is worth packing a carthorse for