(NaturalNews) Watching video on a portable video player is a great way to make the time fly by while engaged in cardiovascular exercise. So I recently decided to try out the new Archos 705 WiFi digital video recorder and player to see how well it work as a portable video device to use in the gym while exercising. This article contains my review.
Archos calls their 705 WiFi device a "generation 5" device and claims to have conquered "at least five major technological breakthroughs." After using the device extensively for two weeks, I can bluntly say that one of those breakthroughs apparently didn't cover the basics of any portable media device: Reliable operation and quality video recording.
I found the Archos 705 to be extremely buggy. Nearly everything I tried to do with the unit sooner or later resulted in a crash. Plugging it into the DVR adapter to record a video? It crashes. Trying to play back a video? Crashes. Trying to copy files to it from your computer via USB? Big time crash. The Archos 705 unit seemed to just crash randomly and unexpectedly at various times. (I installed the latest firmware update right out of the box, by the way. So this wasn't a firmware issue.)
But the random crashing of the Archos 705 was the least of its problems. It turns out that its video recording algorithm is fatally flawed: It introduces a video hesitation or "hiccup" every 15 frames or so. It sort of looks like a keyframing error in the video encoder. The result is that watching any video
recorded on the device is extremely annoying and fatiguing on the eyes.
The video encoding itself is also problematic. While you can set a video recording auto-stop timing function for, say, two hours, the Archos
unit sometimes just stops recording before the two hour time limit for no reason at all, forcing you to start over or just flat out miss whatever you were trying to record. Its built-in FAT32 file system also limits video files to 2GB, meaning it has to split larger videos into multiple files. This also means that if you're trying to use the Archos 705 as a portable video player, you can't copy any file to it that's larger than 2GB!
That's absurd. A full-length movie is going to be far larger than 2GB unless it has a lousy bit rate. Limiting file sizes to 2GB seems like a serious oversight. Why not adopt a better file system that would support larger files? FAT32 was invented in the 1990's. Maybe Archos should join the 21st century in its file system.
Not everything about the Archis 705 is broken or stupid, however. The WiFi
function actually works well. The screen resolution is outstanding, and the brightness is truly impressive. The battery is easy to reach, too -- a fact that comes in handy when you're trying to remove the battery to force a hard reboot.
But overall, the Archos 705 is a disastrous device that, in my opinion, doesn't do anything well that it claims to do. For around $500, it should at least record videos without keyframing artifacts, not to mention that it shouldn't crash more often than my Windows PC. This device makes Windows Vista look stable by comparison!
My recommendation? Skip the Archos 705 product. If you're looking for something to take with you to the gym and watch while you work out, your best bet right now is probably a portable DVD player (which also happens to be a whole lot cheaper than the Archos device).
While the Archos 705 makes a great effort to be a truly outstanding digital video recorder
and playback device, it falls flat on both counts. I give it one star, and that's for the great screen resolution and brightness. It's something you'll really come to appreciate as you're repeatedly watching the reboot sequence.