Fifth generation products don’t always live up to their forebears – think Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach, Oasis’s Heathen Chemistry, and any member of any royal family – but this 30GB portable media player from Archos’s generation numéro cinq does a top job.
For starters, it’s a lovely slab of tech. There’s something undeniably appealing about the 605 Wi-Fi’s brushed-metal finish – we couldn’t resist giving the chassis frequent pawings – and it feels thoroughly solid sitting in your mitt.
Add the fact that this 30GB machine costs a chunk less than a 16GB iPod Touch, yet increases the screen size from 3.5 inches to 4.3 inches, and you understand the Archos’s potential with those who like to watch as well as listen. The 605 also beats the Touch’s video replay battery life stats by half-an-hour – or in other words, one episode of The Simpsons.
Here Comes Extra Time
So the 605 Wi-Fi looks competitive, but before you buy, get your melon round Archos’s pricing policy: you must view its initial prices for the most basic spec only.
If you want to watch movies, listen to music, view photos and use the Wi-Fi to stream content round your house, the basic kit is fine. If you want to surf the web, add £20 for the optional plug-in, and if you want to directly record content from your TV (a big time-saver if you ask us), allow £70 for the Archos DVR Station.
This pricing strategy may mean buyers aren’t forced to pay for features they don’t want, but we reckon if ‘Wi-Fi’ appears in a product’s name, most folks will expect web wandering to come as standard.
View from the top
Where we won’t quibble with Archos is on performance: its big-screen images look gorgeous, and best-quality video files look colourful, smooth and contain ladles of detail.
Music replay also excels, offering a smooth sound with big bass (you really should upgrade the buds, though), though the 605’s tune tastiness doesn’t quite match that from the musically peerless iPod.
Further widening our goofy gadget grin is the 605’s simple UI: sensibly laid-out menus, clear and responsive buttons, and a built-in stand to assist hands-free watching – it’s all there.
Well it’s almost all there, we’re baffled this touch-screen machine doesn’t include space to store its stylus – maybe we’ll see that in the sixth generation model, but for now the Archos 605 still deserves maximum marks.