Just as the Weather Girls predicted, it's been raining portable media players here at Stuff. The Android-powered Archos 5 has just arrived to pick a fight with our 64GB iPod Touch, and a supporting cast including the Creative Zen X-Fi2, Philips GoGear Muse and Sony X Series are all vying for a lead role in our pockets.
These media luvvies come in all shapes and sizes – the big daddy at the top is the Archos 5 (32GB), which weighs in at a pocket-stretching 182g (the hard-drive version is a beefy 286g). On the bottom left is the new 64GB iPod Touch, and on the right is the Creative Zen X-Fi2, which is friendlier to wallets and trousers, but lacks features like GPS and web browsing.
The Archos 5 piqued our interest because of the little green robot on the box – yep, it's the first Android PMP.
In true Archos style, it also packs in virtually every feature under the sun – video playback for nearly every format (except DivX), GPS, FM radio, microSD slot and Wireless N. The only things it seems to lack are a camera and a bottle opener.
The Archos 5 comes in two flavours – a flash version (with 8GB, 16GB or 32GB) storage, and a 500GB hard-drive model. This is the one to go for if you fancy taking advantage of its ability to output 720p video.
The 4.8in screen has an impressive 800x480 pixel resolution, and it's superb for watching videos (see below). But it's resistive rather than capacitive, meaning it's less responsive to finger swipes than the iPod Touch and lacks multi-touch for web browsing.
Strangely, there isn't an icon for Android Marketplace on the Archos 5 – instead, you get a link to Archos' AppsLib store (see below), which seems to be a little sparse by comparison (at the time of writing). Apps like Twidroid, eBuddy and Thinksfree (for reading Microsoft Office files) are preloaded, but we're just confirming with Archos whether Market will be supported in future.
The Archos 5's sat-nav chops are handled by NDrive – its menus are fast and responsive, though we struggled to get a location fix in our brief play. It seemed to think our offices were underwater in the Thames – a great idea, though we're pleased to say global warming hasn't got that bad yet.
Like most of Archos' recent media players, there are plenty of options for paid-for extras – the best being the DVR station for recording TV directly onto the player and streaming to your TV. Scroll down for more pics.
Creative Zen X-Fi2
If you'd prefer not to drown in features or gadget-induced debt, then the Zen X-Fi2 looks a promising alternative to the Archos 5. It's available in 8GB (£100), 16GB (£130) and 32GB (£170) flavours, and you can boost the storage thanks to the built-in SD card slot:
The Zen X-Fi2 has a comparatively small 3in touchscreen, though the 400x240 resolution serves up perfectly watchable video for the size:
Build quality certainly feels cheaper than the Archos 5 or iPod Touch, and the feature set is more limited – it does music (with X-Fi equaliser tweaking), video, photos, FM radio and voice recording, but stops short of web browsing, GPS or downloadable apps.
It does, though, weigh a feather-light 75g, and certainly wins out in the pocketability stakes, as you can see below. We'll bring you full reviews of both very soon – but in the meantime check out our portable video Top 10.