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Gadget Hall of Fame: Archos Jukebox Multimedia

Back in 2002, Archos brought portable video to the gadget world. On a 1.5in screen, no less

These days, if you want to watch a movie on the move it’s easy – you simply reach for your smartphone or tablet. But cast your mind back to the early years of the 21st century and your mobile movie options were slim – and not in the physical sense of the term.

I mean, remember portable DVD players? Dreadful. But in 2002 French firm Archos sparked a digital video revolution with the Jukebox Multimedia, a pocketable device with the skills to deliver episodes of Police, Camera, Action or funny Ebaumsworld clips directly into your eyeballs wherever you might be.

Once more, it’s time to open up the Gadget Hall of Fame and praise a past master.

The Archos Jukebox Multimedia story

The Archos Jukebox Multimedia story

For all its world-beating brilliance, the iPod wasn’t always been surfing the crest of pocket-sized innovation. A full three years before Apple announced a movie-playing iteration of its ubiquitous portable music player, Archos had the Jukebox Multimedia.

It was a tank-like 20GB MP3 player with a less-than-whopping 1.5in colour screen, but one very special skill: video playback. The gadget history books consider it to be the first true portable media player.

It started a revolution. Rival companies took their time to
 catch up, but soon a PMP without movie skills felt like a sausage sarnie without a generous dollop of brown sauce – laughably incomplete.

The Jukebox Multimedia’s other strengths lay in its extra functions and add-ons. A camera attachment gave it the power to grab 1.3MP stills and a video add-on meant you could record directly from the television and DVDs.

So let’s say you’d like to buy yourself a thick slice of portable video history. A quick look online reveals that eBay isn’t exactly swimming in second-hand, retro Archoses (or should that be Archi?), but when one does surface, the asking price doesn’t tend to break the bank.

Our battle-scarred unit is still intact, albeit with one major casualty – the screen. The battery is another issue: even in its prime the Jukebox lacked stamina, so don’t be surprised if you find your new purchase needing regular jolts of electricity.

Buy an Archos Jukebox Multimedia on eBay.

Archos media milestones

Archos PMA400 (2005)

There was almost nothing the PMA400 couldn’t do: video, music, wireless web browsing, games and PDA applications. Deserved much greater success.

Archos Gmini 402 Camcorder (2005)

Long before the Flip and Vado empowered the YouTube generation, Archos was ahead of the game – too far, in fact.

Archos 5G (2008)

With the 5G, Archos added a SIM card for the first time. Phone calling wasn’t on the menu, but truly mobile, high-speed internet browsing was.

Archos 5 Internet Tablet (2009)

The first Archos to run on Android, which vastly improved the user experience, it also offered great picture quality via a 4.8in (non-HD) screen.

Also in 2002…


28 Days Later

With sinister vistas of a deserted London and an entire population turned into blood-hungry animals by a virus called Rage, 28 Days Later did for British horror what Beethoven did for big dog sales.

The Libertines: Up the Bracket

Before Pete Doherty squirted half of Afghanistan into his pasty limbs he was capable of penning a whistleable tune. With bandmate Carl Barat he recorded this gritty account of East London life.

Microsoft Xbox

In 2002, Microsoft swapped blue screens of death for fragging, Master Chief and the world’s finest online gaming/international insult swapping service, Xbox Live.