The Archos 405 is a fine idea: essentially a smaller, non-Wi-Fi enabled Archos 605, this is a flash portable armed with a healthy-size 3.5in screen complete with 480 x 272 resolution. It also offers the ability to record video material – via Archos’s £70 DVR Station – direct from the TV.
Unfortunately, for Archos and for the 405, Apple’s iTunes now offers downloadable TV shows and the iPod Touch matches the Archos’s 3.5in screen, adding superior 480 x 320 resolution, plus up to 16GB of built-in memory.
Sure, the new iPod costs more than the 405, but allow for the cost of a chunk of SD-Card memory to load into the 2GB Archos’s expansion slot, bear in mind the Archos’s lack of Wi-Fi, and the Touch looks a dead cert. But it’s not.
Is a touch too much?
Not everyone wants a touch screen, some don’t even want an Apple, and lots want more shows than just those available on iTunes. So, for more than a few buyers, the 405 may be the answer.
Unfortunately, the 405’s slightly unconvincing video replay lets it down a touch (pun intended). Blacks are good and dark, but edges can lack sharpness and off-axis performance – especially on the vertical – trails its big bro’, the Archos 605. We’d also like to see the 605’s nifty rear-stand incorporated into this unit.
Paradoxically for a machine clearly geared towards video, the 405 does better with music than it does with movies. Tunes sounds fast, punchy and refreshingly bass heavy. To hear it at its best, though, you should upgrade the bundled buds, and crank up the Bass Boost Level in the settings.
Overall the UI impresses, though the machine’s apparent insistence on killing the ‘now playing’ tune when you check your library is a pain in the derriere. Also, the ear-bud cover ripped during its first fitting – not a critical failure, but we all know the annoyance of newly ripped tights. Don’t we? Oh.
In many ways this solid-feeling – some mischievous rivals may say ‘big boned’– Archos is a five star bit of kit. However, the shadows cast its slightly imprecise video replay and the looming iPod Touch means four out of five for the 405.