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Detailed Review of the Archos AV420 PVR

michael posted about 10 years ago | from the things-ebert-carries dept.

Portables 157

ilovealpacas writes "The Globe and Mail has posted a step by step look at the Archos AV420. For about $1000 Canadian (I think that's $800 US), you get an 80GB portable video player and recorder that also plays MP3's and has a CF slot for pictures. Hmmm.....laptop?"

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but... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10442996)

Yes, but does it run linux?

No, but the AV500 will. . . (4, Informative)

Cyberllama (113628) | about 10 years ago | (#10443329)

It will run Qtopia to be exact. . . They say it will be out before christmas and will have all PDA functions in addition to a hard drive and audio/video functions. It should be a nifty gadget if it doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

we need the 22surboard--the linux handheld (1)

RangerWest (711789) | about 10 years ago | (#10443330)

From &

Surf's up and the LAMP developer community is ready to rock out--they just need a surfboard to surf Moore's Law, Metcalfe's Law, and Constitutional Law on home. As soon as somebody manufactures handhelds and media-servers that can readily run common Linux and LAMP (Linux/Apache/MYSQL/PHP) applications like postnuke and phpnuke, the floodgates of innovation will open. The technology is there. Move over iPodTM, TiVoTM, iPaqTM, and MicrosoftTM. Open-source CMS and DRM will power tomorrow's content marketplaces, handhelds, computers, and media-servers, as artist-hackers create the open-source hardware, software, and standards for all-in-one media devices, record labels, media marketplaces, and modeling agencies. In fact, if your company is building a 22surfboard or some other open-source-based device, send it along and perhaps we can hack a free marketing campaign for it. Any company who's building open-source devices is doing us all a big favor, so we'd be glad to help out!

The technology for ventures centered upon open-source CMS & DRM is all there as outlined at for rights definitions; http and REST web services for content transfer, rights negotiation, and syndication; SSL, PGP, Media-S, and OPENIPMP for encryption and security; bit torrent for accelerated downloads, and LAMP applications such as postnuke, phpnuke, xoops, oscommerce, and netjuke for media browsing, buying, serving, and viewing. Surf's up, but there's nothing to surf it with.

A 22surfboard will be an all-in-one handheld device that holds books, movies, and more. It will readily run standard Linux distros, including RedHat, Suse, and Gentoo. Designed with the Linux-Apache-MYSQL-PHP (LAMP) developer community in mind, it will inherit the vast power of the sourceforge LAMP community who are hungry for a true Linux handheld/media-device to hack.

At 22surfer we think it'd rock for hardware and software businesses, lawyers, MBAs, to think like artist-hackers. We need designers to design the 22surfboard. We need lawyers to pen the open-source patents and claims. We need MBAs to come up with cool marketing campaigns. And the hacker-community will make it the most powerful device on the market. Become a 22surfer! There's room for artist-hackers, lawyers, MBAs, programming gods, UI designers, drummers, and more! Heck, we could even use some architects to design the 22surfshacks.

The 22surfboard vs. The Prior Art: The Problems with Proprietary CMS & DRM Illustrated: The iPod(TM) & TiVo(TM) & HP & Zaurus & How to Do It Better--Manufacture Handhelds for the LAMP Developer Community.

To date there exists no personal media player nor home media server that runs on truly open standards. As soon as an open device comes to market, its adoption by the hacker community will be rapid, giving it vast power and functionality. As Moore's law marches on, personal and home media players, computers and cell phones, are destined tobecome one and the same. A hardware company manufacturing an open-source device such as the 22surfboard stands to beat Microsoft and Apple in both price and functionality. The off-the-shelf components will be inexpensive, and the vast power of the Sourceforge hackers will give the device unparalleled functionality, without costing the device manufacturer.

The prior-art shows countless examples of devices which were never truly open and thus ultimately failed to gain the essential widespead use throughout the hacker community. All too often we have seen companies brand themselves "open source" for some hype on slashdot, only to require NDAs and travel on down the proprietary route. Very few, if any, of these companies have succeeded.

HP & ZAURUS(TM): "Last month, I touched a little bit on HP's screwed up Linux PDA initiative, but perhaps I was a bit too harsh. Sure, they have a research arm that's completely underutilized and they have absolutely no clue as how to turn those efforts into a product, but HP is in no way unique in their absence from the PDA and Linux device cluetrain. For the most part, the entire industry needs a swift kick in the head to see how to build and market a successful Linux handheld and to learn how to properly support open source PDA developers. I learned how the hard way, and here's my painful perspective on the whole shebang....A Painful Lesson...From December of 2002 through February 2003, I was Software Developer Liaison for Sharp's Electronics' Zaurus, probably the first handheld Linux device to enjoy any commercial success at all (although its success has been extremely limited, and at the end of the day, only the hardcore Linux faithful have remained loyal to the product.)...To make matters worse, the internal workings of the Zaurus hardware was never completely exposed to the public. Only a handful of qualified developers, all under non-disclosure, were allowed copies of the service manual, which specified the actual JTAG pinouts. Even with this guarded information, the custom chips in the device were never completely documented and it made it nearly impossible for the community to develop open source versions of its own ROMs and drivers. " --Jason Perlow, How Not to Build a Linux PDA, Linux Magazine The 22surfboard will be completely documented in an open-source fashion. Non-disclosure agreements will not be required.

"Archos AV400(TM): What's your portable entertainment dream? Ours is a small, light unit with a long battery life that can play any media format out there, where it's audio, video, or plain-old photos....There's a lot of power packed into the Archos's surprisingly thin case. On the audio side, it handles MP3 and WMA files....for video, it plays MPEG-4 files encoded with the DivX or XviD codecs. These files allow for decent video with high compression... the problem is getting video in these formats....And as far as your DVD go, conversion means using some pretty awful software, and it might be illegal as well. Once you've got the files, moving them to the Archos is a breeze, since it mounts as a USB hard drive in Windows or Macintosh operating systems. The video-in and video-out cables are accessible only through the cradle, so to watch video on the road, you have to bring the cradle (and its enormous tangle of cables)."--MobilePC, October 2004. The advantage of the 22surfboard will be that it docks with open-source operating systems such as Linux, allowing it to leverage the vast power of Sourceforge projects. Copying DVDs will be handled by open-source DRM, allowing a single owner to watch the DVD on multiple devices while still compensating the creators. And too, equipped with wireless capabilities, the 22surfboard will be able to alleviate the cables.

"For all the talk of portable video-playing gadgets, there's sure been an absense of gear to back it up...The DMTECH DM-AV10 plays MP3sand JPEGs, plus videos recorded off your telly, and most computer formats--after being converted using five crappy pieces of software. All in all we like this player, it's just a shame you get so little storage for your money." --T3, The World's Best Gadget Magazine, Sept. 2004

"The OQO Should Run Linux Posted on 2004-09-15T00:35:11:00-07 This little OQO machine is certainly pretty cool. The biggest problem though is that it doesn't run Linux. This leaves you with a device heavier than your PDA and all the insecurity and bloat of Windows and with a price tag of only sub $2000. People don't care what OS their PDA/Handtop runs. It can run an alternative OS and for the most part consumers don't care. WinCE hasn't exactly been a stellar market success. While Microsoft does have significant market share PalmOS, Symbian, and Linux are doing just fine. Also most of the WinCE devices never have the fit and finish of their Palm and Symbian counterparts. I don't know where OQO thinks they are going to fit in. If they were to abandon their Windows XP OS and run Linux by default I'd say they were onto something. Just throw OpenZaurus on there and your done!" --Posted at

"Sharp Zaurus SL-C860: There needs to be more Linux on the machine. There's a huge market in the world for geeks who want SSH, GCC, and Emacs on their PDAs, and a really cut-down release of these extra features should take up no more than 10MB of system memory. At the very least, these could be provided on a CD so that they can be installed if users want to sacrifice the space. It needsWifi built in." The Sharp Zaurus SL-C680:, September 2004: The 22surfboard will be designed with Linux in mind, allowing any common Linux distribution to run on it. Connect any CD ROM drive to the USB port, and install Linux from any common distribution.

The iPod(TM) "Apple doesn't provide a lot of technical information about the iPod, so the iPod on Linux project (started by Bernard Leach et al.) required lots of work to figure out what was happening inside and how to gain control. . . Caution: Installing Linux changes your iPod's firmware. . . which voids the warranty." --Hacking Ipod & Itunes, Knaster, Exteme Tech. The 22surfboard will run Linux--it will be easy to see what's happening inside.

"TiVo(TM) The series 2 TiVo, the most commonly sold TiVo today, unfortunately is not as open. To lock down the platform, TiVo, Inc. has started to add some 'secrets' under the hood. While TiVo is not against people hacking their platform, they do have a media service to run, and they don't want people to freely play around with some of the stuff they intend to make money on down the road."--Raffi Krikorian, TiVo hacks. The 22surfboard wants people to freely play with the internal workings--22surf believes that the more that hackers know, the more valuable the device and platform will become, as the standards are shared openly and freely.

"IS THE PDA DEAD? PDA sales are plummeting. Major players are leaving the American market, and as cell phones gain new skills, there's less ineterest in pint-sized computers. Unlike the smart phone market, where all-in-one devices rule, handheld makers are adapting to our collective digital organizer fatigue by specializing in certain areas, such as navigation or entertainment... SONY STEPS ASIDE: The most recent blow to the PDA sector was Sony's decision to stop selling its Cle handhelds in the U.S. market." --October 2004 LAPTOP--Mobile Solutions for Business and Life

The Septmber 13th issue of BusinessWeek reported in "MICROSOFT, THE ENTERTAINER?: Gates & Co. take aim at Apple's iPod--but their first attempts could fall short."

"The gadgets aren't likely to kickstart a revolution anytime soon. Their biggest drawback is simply that they're inconvenient. Users can copy video only from a PC, not directly from a television or DVD player." --Business Week, September 13th, 2004 All 22surfboard devices will be compatible over standard protocols such as http, and SSL.

"IDC analyst Roger Kay estimates that fewer than 1% of the world's computers have the TV tuner cards that are required to copy TV programming." --Business Week, September 13th, 2004 All 22surfboard devices will come to have tuner cards, surfing along Moore's Law.

"But even with the TV tuner cards, the only way to watch the latest episode of, say, The Daily Show with John Stewart on a Portable Media Center is to connect a cable jack to a PC, copy the show to a computer, and then download it to a portable device."

"Although there are no restrictions on copying television shows now, broadcasters could impose them in the future. To avoid all the bother, customers will need to pay companies that have partenered with Microsoft to provide content from theNet." --Business Week, September 13th, 2004 The 22surfboard will use an Open Source DRM solution such as OPENIPMP that will allow creators to define rights and networks and indy artists to get paid.

"That presents another problem: Microsoft has lined up only two video content providers so far--Major League Baseball and CinemaNow Inc. and the movie site have less than 2,000,000 members combined." --Business Week, September 13th, 2004 The 22surfboard and 22surf philosophy will open the floodgates to all networks and indy artists alike. It will allow them to define their rights, distribute their content as they deem fair.

"The Studios remain wary of Microsoft, given its bruising monopolistic practices of the past. Hollywood execs, originally concerned that they would have to pay for every movie or show digitized using Microsoft's software, were relieved at the company's willingness to provide it for free under a 10-year agreement. But the historical distrust lingers. "Sounds great, but studios are waiting for what happens in the 11th year, when Microsoft says it has Windows 15 and it's gonna cost you a bundle," says Richard Doherty, research director at Envisioneering Group. --Business Week, September 13th, 2004 The 22surfboard and 22surf philosophy will not create a monopoly in DRM, allowing first movers, early adopters, and trusted corporations to compete, prosper, and provide the best service to the end consumer.

"RealNetworks filed suit, charging Microsoft's practice of giving away free software was part of a pattern of anti-competitive behavior." --Business Week, September 13th, 2004

"Copying hassles aside, the products are hefty and pricey, at $500 each. Adding video capabilities adds bulk and reduces battery life to at most seven hours while watching videos, vs. as many as 20 hours." --Business Week--September 13th, 2004 Surfing along with Moore's Law and Metcalfe's Law, using standard open hardware and open-source software, the 22surfboard's price will fall faster than any of the proprietary competitions'.

"What has been missing from indie music, until now, is a service completely devoted to the discovery of new or established independent artists," Mr. Packman (COO of said. "Many indy labels and artists feel strongly that while the Web, in general, has provided many advantages in communication, marketing, promotion, and even sales, it has not leveled the playing field." --A music Site for Artists Less Known, EMusic Will Feature Independent Labels, The New York Times. The 22surfboard will level the playing field with a device that allows indy artists and musicians to sell their content side-by-side with big media. The Open Source CMS and DRM will offer a turn-key solution to indy labels and big media alike.

Linus Torvalds on DRM. "Ok, there's no way to do this gracefully, so I won't even try. I'm going to just hunker down for some really impressive extended flaming, and my asbestos underwear is firmly in place, and extremely uncomfortable. I want to make it clear that DRM is perfectly ok with Linux!"

From &

I mean the 22surfboard--the linux handheld (1)

RangerWest (711789) | about 10 years ago | (#10443362)

It's the 22surfboard! Sorry abou that! I need to proof read subjectlines more often. Best, Ranger

FP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10442997)

FP Bitch

Convergence (1)

erixtark (413840) | about 10 years ago | (#10443008)

Yepp, everything will become a PC.

Laptop? (5, Insightful)

BeerCat (685972) | about 10 years ago | (#10443014)

Aren't laptops cheaper than that, though?
I mean, even an iBook works out less.

Re:Laptop? (2, Insightful)

pronobozo (794672) | about 10 years ago | (#10443075)

yeah but you don't get a cheap laptop with an 80 gig drive. It's for people that don't want a laptop. That don't want to spend hours installing software to get it running. To have a bunch of crap they don't want. Ease of use.

Re:Laptop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10443599)

you don't get a cheap laptop with an 80 gig drive

But a cheap laptop and 144.50 [] will.

Re:Laptop? (1)

waynelorentz (662271) | about 10 years ago | (#10443806)

yeah but you don't get a cheap laptop with an 80 gig drive. It's for people that don't want a laptop. That don't want to spend hours installing software to get it running. To have a bunch of crap they don't want. Ease of use.

I agree with BeerCat. It still sounds like an iBook, especially given your description.

Re:Laptop? (1)

james72 (684835) | about 10 years ago | (#10443671)

Read the article! It's damn inconvienent to wait 2 minutes for a laptop to boot, plus laptops are much bigger than this unit.

It's your choice - if you think you need a cheap laptop more than this device then get one. But I already have a $3000 laptop, and can easily see where a pocket sized, instant-on alternative would be better.


Re:Laptop? (1)

Speare (84249) | about 10 years ago | (#10443694)

A laptop cannot fit into my camera bag when I go on vacations. Most laptops can't plug into the big-screen TV for all the relatives to get a sneak-peak at the photos I've taken during the week. I've been lusting after an Archos previously, but the requirement of a dongle for CompactFlash reading was a limiting factor.

Re:Laptop? (1)

arodland (127775) | about 10 years ago | (#10443750)

Certainly these days most laptops do plug into the TV.

Re:Laptop? (1)

baudilus (665036) | about 10 years ago | (#10443771)

Yes, and their batteries die after about 2-3 hours (unless you get a battery upgrade). This device has an estimated 12 hours of battery life.

Re:Laptop? (1)

dspyder (563303) | about 10 years ago | (#10444085)

I want to know where you're getting $800 iBooks with a warranty, cuz AppleStore says they start at $1099. I didn't think the education discount was that good.

Oh, you mean you're including the other functionality of the laptop in your cost calculation.... got it.... ok, so then I gotta ask you where are you getting those iBooks that fit in your pocket?

I thought so...


PC? (3, Insightful)

erotic_pie (796522) | about 10 years ago | (#10443030)

when will they stop making all this specialized crap and just make better software and hardware based on laptops or PDA's to do the same thing why reverse engineer things

Re:PC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10443292)

when will they stop making all this specialized crap and just make better software and hardware based on laptops or PDA's to do the same thing why reverse engineer things

Not only did you omit all punctuation and capitalization, but you incorrectly used 'reverse engineer'. Well done.

Re:PC? (1)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | about 10 years ago | (#10443348)

I'm still trying to reverse engineer your sentence. Ever heard of question marks?

Overkill? (4, Insightful)

Benw5483 (731259) | about 10 years ago | (#10443036)

This definitely brings up the question of what overkill is. I think I may enjoy something like this, but at the same time, how much would I really use it for anything other than audio and maybe a little video.

For me it would probably end up as little more than an 80 GB mp3 player with a lot of extra hard drive storage space.

Does anybody out there think this would be better than a laptop? The only place I can see using this for movies or pictures would be on vacation or business trips where a laptop would be more practical.

Re:Overkill? (1)

Anubis333 (103791) | about 10 years ago | (#10443582)

Everyone has different needs, I am buying the Gmini400 which is smaller and cheaper, but plays video, for my brother who lives in Japan and has a 2 hour commute daily to/from school. This would be great for that. The Gmini 400 even plays simple pixelart games.

Re:Overkill? (1)

cwills (200262) | about 10 years ago | (#10444212)

I have the AV320 (earlier generation). It has a 20gig harddrive, does the video playback/record and mp3/wav playback/record. It has an external card reader. In addition you can get a camera attachement for it.

So.. basically it's the same type of unit as this new one, just not as much memory, different control layout and mine doesn't have batteries that I can replace (well, not without breaking the warranty seal).

Now why did I buy the AV320?

Well I don't have a laptop...

I had just gotten a digital camera and was going on a trip. I was originally looking at just a digital wallet so that I could store extra photos. I was having difficulty in locating one. I did come across the Archos AV320 (it had just came out). When I looked at what it could do I saw that not only could I use it as a digital wallet, but I could also replace my portable Sony Minidisk recorder (the trip I was going on was to a folk music festival). I liked the fact that I could record more then 75 minutes at a time. Last time I had attended I came back with a huge stack of minidisks.

Now why not just get a laptop. -- Well.. when you are carrying a large musical instrument, folding chair, etc, and are going to be setting up in the middle of a jam tent where space is tight, a laptop really is out of the question. With the AV320 I can just set the thing under my chair, hit record and be done with it. It has about a 10 hour battery life.

When I get back, I just hook the AV320 up to a USB port and it shows up under linux as just a disk drive. I can copy to/from the AV320 to linux, edit the recordings etc.

And it's great for going on long road trips. I just load a bunch of MP3's onto the thing, hook up a little FM transmitter and just play through the car radio. I haven't been on a airplane flight since I've gotten it, but the thing would be great having along for the flight. Just hook up the DVR attachment record what I want beforehand and I can have my inflight movie(s).

Read the durn book instead (3, Funny)

lottameez (816335) | about 10 years ago | (#10443042)

[curmudgeonly sneer] You bums need to read books instead of wasting yer money on these fancy schmantzy doo-dads. What? Too afraid to talk to the guy sitting next to you on the airplane?

Why, when I was a youngster...cough cough KACCCCCHHH...phtt.

Re:Read the durn book instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10443579)

...when I was a youngster...

You mean, like, 5 years ago, when you were 10?

That was so last century!

Re:Read the durn book instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10443669)

OMFG I .... ccan't ssstop laaaughing. &'-P

Re:Read the durn book instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10443756)

Congratulations on more or less reproducing the coughing-up and spitting noises in print correctly. I haven't laughed that hard in a while. :-P

How's the construction? (3, Insightful)

signe (64498) | about 10 years ago | (#10443048)

Personally, I will never buy another piece of equipment made by Archos. I had to take apart one of their Jukebox Recorders to try and get it to function at all. I discovered that the 4 circuit boards inside (which pretty much make up the entirety of the interior, and what the outer casing attaches to) are all held together with solder joints. As in they have attached the circuit boards to each other using solder. In addition, the battery contacts are on circuit boards at either end of the main boards. So when you put the batteries in, the pressure of the springs puts stress on the solder joints that hold the thing together.

Needless to say, I was not able to revive this piece of crap.


Re:How's the construction? (5, Informative)

DarkBlackFox (643814) | about 10 years ago | (#10443314)

Why is it that comments negatively portraying a company are always modded up around here? There's two sides to every coin.

I've had an Archos Jukebox Recorder 10 for well over 5 years now, and haven't had any problems with it. I still get +/- 5 hours of continuous play out of the original NiMH rechargable batteries that came with the unit. I've taken it apart a few times (mostly to use it as an external USB enclosure to try salvaging files from a dead laptop drives), and never had any problems with shoddy solder joints or breaking anything putting the batteries back in. It's been a very solid unit, and survived many falls and trips around town in my backpack, all with the original IBM travelstar hard drive.

I'm tired of seeing all the "my thing broke so this company sucks" comments here, and felt like chipping in my positive experience with this particular product.

Re:How's the construction? (1)

linzeal (197905) | about 10 years ago | (#10443418)

I've had the 20 GB model [] for about 3 months now and it makes me feel a lot more safe than when I used my laptop in public to watch movies. I can't really comment on the constuction except to say that it has survived 100's of rural bus rides so far this semester.

Re:How's the construction? (2, Insightful)

signe (64498) | about 10 years ago | (#10443435)

Because the interior construction of the thing isn't a matter of a subjective experience. Using solder joints to secure one circuit board to another is bad construction.

I'm glad your jukebox works. Given what I know of the interior of these things, I would consider you lucky.


Re:How's the construction? (3, Interesting)

rdewalt (13105) | about 10 years ago | (#10443842)

Same here. I've got the same model (AJR-10) that I aquired from a friend when the drive died.

Tore it apart, bought an off-the-shelf 40gb drive, did the magic hand wave incantation (i.e. formatted it FAT-32) dumped my MP3's to it, replaced the 1500mAh's with COTS 2300mAh's, and re-assembled. Cable went the way of all those Special Cables, so I grafted two USB-A Male ends together and made my own. Installed the RockBox rom, and BOOM replaced the standard archos rom with one that has the functionality I needed.

For $125 in parts cost, and an hour's work. I got a 40gb mp3 player that does about 12 hours on a single charge. I pop the plastic battery plates, and I can swap in any regular AA size batteries. Doesn't hook to the USB port on my big FreeBSD machine. No big deal. five minutes with the screwdriver, and the drive is free again, I stick it right on the IDE chain. Who the hell would xfer gigs of data over USB, when you've got IDE.

I've got four people who want me to make them one, all I need is the parts. Okay, so the construction is not Most Ideal. But I can fix a solder weild if it goes bad. Hell, Archos haven't gone forth and shut down the "How to mod your Archos" people, nor the 'open source rom' people. Isn't that something that slashdotters like?

Re:How's the construction? (2, Insightful)

torpor (458) | about 10 years ago | (#10443863)

Why is it that comments negatively portraying a company are always modded up around here? There's two sides to every coin.

Look, comments being modded 'up' or 'down' are not a valid indication of their 'worth' to the subject matter. Stop thinking so linearly! Break the dialectic noose!

Slashdot comments work to 'categorize', not 'valuate' a posts' validity to the thread. "Negative" feedback on a company/product is typically not moderated because of its negativity, but because it is feedback.. just as many "glowing reports" will filter through the Mod system to "Interesting" or "Informative" as "negative slants" ..

In short, its feedback, stupid!!

Re:How's the construction? (0, Offtopic)

DrEldarion (114072) | about 10 years ago | (#10443927)

I agree. The Archos Jukebox has always been solid for me as well. The fact that you could replace the batteries with higher-capacity ones was great, and the rubber corners made it survive quite a few falls (although they ARE really ugly).

Had it a while, and only replaced it today because I found a killer deal on a Dell DJ - I wanted something a bit more elegant.

Re:How's the construction? (3, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 10 years ago | (#10444164)

I still get +/- 5 hours of continuous play out of the original NiMH rechargable batteries that came with the unit.

Wow. It must really suck when you get -5 hours out of them, huh?

Re:How's the construction? (1)

jest3r (458429) | about 10 years ago | (#10443384)

The problem with Archos is their advertised battery life is usually double real world results. Furthermore their technical support is slow and impersonal ..

On the plus they do seem to be improving the look and feel of their portable players.

Re:How's the construction? (1)

Maltheus (248271) | about 10 years ago | (#10443640)

I'll second that. They're pieces of junk with no quality control. I have an AV140 (it was bout $400 at the time) and the battery barely gets me to work in the morning. Sometimes it'll last less than 30 minutes, sometimes I can get a hour. As I understand it, it's kind of a crap shoot as to whether your unit will be like this or not. It also gets into a funky state where it'll play two songs at the same time. Sometimes it crashes for no reason and sometimes it becomes totally unresponsive (even the off button won't work) until the batteries run down. I hardly ever use it anymore because it's such a pain. It's the worst piece of electronics I've ever purchased.

Re:How's the construction? (1)

Anubis333 (103791) | about 10 years ago | (#10443677)

Archos has changed their products a _LOT_ since you purchased yours. I have had almost every generation player they have released up to the Gmini 120 and they make very solid stuff -they all still work!

My old Jukebox recorder (like yours) was dropped (by a friend using it) into the ocean (read: completely submerged). We fished it out, and on a whim dried it out thoroughly at a low heat, and it WORKED AGAIN!

Not to mention Archos value, and support for advanced users. Such a community has grown up around the old Jukebox recorders that there is a website available to fix nearly any issue. Especially bad cracked solder joints.

The Jukeboxes (20GB) were available on and other places for 90 dollars for a time. And yes they were cheaply made, but hats off to Archos for bring HD players to the masses, and now Portable Media Players..

No DVD! (3, Interesting)

darth_MALL (657218) | about 10 years ago | (#10443054)

It couldn't have been that much of a stretch to add a DVD player could it? I'm sure all the other features are great, but when I think of mobile entertainment, DVD is 1st on the list. Ahh well I can't afford it anyway, so it's back to work.

Re:No DVD! (3, Informative)

samhart (89298) | about 10 years ago | (#10443086)

Actually, these things are smaller than a DVD ;-)

Besides, this is more in the uber-iPod arena than the portable DVD arena. I have a AV320 myself and I take it to the gym for MP3 listenning. I wouldnt want a full DVD player there ;-)

Re:No DVD! (1)

Tenebrious1 (530949) | about 10 years ago | (#10443433)

It couldn't have been that much of a stretch to add a DVD player could it?

Uh, yeah, it would have been a stretch... at least 2 inches since the device is only 3" x 5" to start with. Then you'd have to double the thickness to accomdate the drive, and there goes one of the greatest features, the pocketability.

AV320 (5, Informative)

samhart (89298) | about 10 years ago | (#10443060)

I have an AV320 that I got from some consulting I did a while back (because he couldn't pay me in cash, har har har) and I absolutely love mine.

It's powered by embedded Linux (which I love) and it works like a dream. There have been many an airplane ride that was made easier because of my AV320 ;-)

My biggest problem with mine (could not apply to this version) was that the screen wasn't well protected. A simple $8 camera carrying case and a pack of Palm screen protectors and this problem was solved.

Re:AV320 (1)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | about 10 years ago | (#10443382)

Got any support for your claim that the Archos AV320 (and presumably other models in the Archos product line) are powered by embedded Linux? I have a Gmini 400 and there's nary a copy of the GPL to be found...

Re:AV320 (1)

IANAAC (692242) | about 10 years ago | (#10444144)

Uh... Google helps. The very first link shown is from a PC Magazine review stating it uses Linux.

Less anger, less laziness.

Hmmm.... (3, Informative)

exhilaration (587191) | about 10 years ago | (#10443065)

If one can get a 2.4 Ghz laptop for $889 [] , then is this thing overpriced?

8+ lbs vs 10oz - you decide (3, Insightful)

Em Ellel (523581) | about 10 years ago | (#10443170)

If you have to carry a notebook anyway with sufficient battery life, by all means - take that instead, but given a choice, i'd rather carry a 10oz device that works vs a 8 lbs device that runs microsoft.


Re:8+ lbs vs 10oz - you decide (1)

boredMDer (640516) | about 10 years ago | (#10443472)

' i'd rather carry a 10oz device that works vs a 8 lbs device that runs microsoft. '

And who says that it has to 'run microsoft'?

One can just as easily install another operating system on that as any other laptop, you're not locked in to Microsoft...

Re:8+ lbs vs 10oz - you decide (1)

Em Ellel (523581) | about 10 years ago | (#10443988)

And who says that it has to 'run microsoft'?

One can just as easily install another operating system on that as any other laptop, you're not locked in to Microsoft...

Although I would disagree with you on your choice of word "easily" - it is not the point. I did not say it HAS to run Microsoft, I said it DOES. Take a poll of a random 100 people you run into with laptops in an airport, and I would be surprised if you find more than one running Linux. But that again is not the point.

The point is that Linux will not make it any lighter, at least not in physical sense, and will add as much (if not more) complexity (relative term here) than Windows to get it to work. All this vs. a 10 Oz device that just works when you turn it on.


Re:8+ lbs vs 10oz - you decide (1)

Wakko Warner (324) | about 10 years ago | (#10443629)

And I would rather have something that takes up the same amount of space (or only slightly more) and can do a little more than merely play MP3s and video. I can't understand who would spend close to a grand for something that only really does a couple mundane tasks.

- A.P.

Re:8+ lbs vs 10oz - you decide (0, Troll)

DrEldarion (114072) | about 10 years ago | (#10444009)

Slightly more space? Did you even LOOK to see how big the Archos is? You can shove it in your pants pocket.

That's like saying, "Who would want to buy an iPod when you could get an old pentium 133 laptop for the same price and use it to do more than play MP3s!"

Re:8+ lbs vs 10oz - you decide (0, Redundant)

Em Ellel (523581) | about 10 years ago | (#10444117)

Yeah, I want to see someone going jogging while playing MP3's on their laptop. (Sales pitch - It is a music player AND a piece of excercise equipment!!!)

On the flip side, the device is about the size of a PocketPC - wouldn't it be nice to have a PocketPC (running MS, or Linux, or PalmOS, or anything programmable and extendable) in the same form factor with a Hard Drive. When will those come out??? Now THAT would be something!


The remote sucks..... (1)

ARRRLovin (807926) | about 10 years ago | (#10443066)

... and you can't timeshift live TV. Hardly a PVR. This thing needs some serious refinement for it to be the primary device in my home theater (or "theatre" in Cannuckistan ;-) ).

Re:The remote sucks..... (1)

Em Ellel (523581) | about 10 years ago | (#10443196)

I think it is not meant to replace a real PVR. More of a personal PORTABLE accessary. They really should make it able to INTERFACE with a PVR like replay or tivo, rather than BE a PVR.


Re:The remote sucks..... (1)

Schreckgestalt (692027) | about 10 years ago | (#10443412) be the primary device in my home theater (or "theatre" in Cannuckistan ;-) ).

Where is Cannuckistan and what the hell is that "theatre" you speak of?

Re:The remote sucks..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10443906)

Cannuckistan is in the Great White North eh!

The theatre is the place where we go to drink beer out of paper cups in the dark.

Embedded linux boots in seconds on new laptops (1)

aardwolf204 (630780) | about 10 years ago | (#10443072)

FTFA: And unlike most laptops, it boots up in a few seconds making it easy to use at any time.

But didnt I just read a story on Slashdot a while back about a laptop with an embedded linux distro which would boot the laptop in seconds for multimedia use? Imagine one of these in the 12" slim form factor with a tablet display and you've got an only slightly larger PVR which doubles as a laptop and looks oh so nifty you just know they'll all be using them in the 24th century.

neat ... but not too practical in my book (1)

Khaotix (229171) | about 10 years ago | (#10443074)

Re:neat ... but not too practical in my book (1)

GuyFawkes (729054) | about 10 years ago | (#10443971)

Three THOUSAND fucking dollars!!!!!!!!!!!

what does it do that the second user and dirt cheap dell c840 I'm typing this on (and just about to watch man on fire on) doesn't do??/

What? (2, Insightful)

FiReaNGeL (312636) | about 10 years ago | (#10443082)

I don't get the point of these portable DVD players... most of the time, they're the price (or cost more!) than a laptop that you could use to do MORE than listen to video... Anyway, I don't even see a purpose for them. To listen to videos... in your car? Maybe? Someone care to explain?

Re:What? (2, Funny)

El_Smack (267329) | about 10 years ago | (#10443262)

You don't use them to listen to videos, you use them to see music.

Re:What? (1)

scleary1 (778657) | about 10 years ago | (#10443383)

If all you are interested in is watching DVD(s) then this is probably not the device for you. I own a portable DVD player (a couple of years now). The battery lasts for about 2 ½ movies...vs ½ a movie on my laptop. Boot time on my portable is close to instant. Plus connecting to TV's on the road is sweet. Airports, waiting at the dentist...these tasks go by faster with a good flick.

What what, WHAT??? (1)

daddymac (244954) | about 10 years ago | (#10443600)

Maybe you don't get the point of this Portable DVD player because it's not a DVD player. It's a portable "media" player. There is no DVD drive. Or CDrom drive. Or floppy drive. It's the size of a deck of cards. Think "iPod that can also play video, if you want it for that."

You're probably thinking about one of these [] . They cost 200 dollars. You think you can get a halfway decent laptop for 200 bucks? Please tell me where.

Re:What what, WHAT??? (1)

FiReaNGeL (312636) | about 10 years ago | (#10443844)

Tell me when you'll consider a 5 inches screen worthwile to watch, because at 200$, I'm not!

Just some information about the model numbers... (5, Informative)

Swift Kick (240510) | about 10 years ago | (#10443091)

The article description might be a little deceptive.
The Archos AV420 is only 20GB and it retails for about $470 on
The AV480 is 80GB and is about $715 also from
Check out more information on the devices on Archo's own page located here [] .

A word please (5, Funny)

revery (456516) | about 10 years ago | (#10443096)


Maybe you're not familiar with how this works. You submit the story, we make the jokes.

You owe someone a +5 Funny.


it's all part of the new Slashdot Comment subsidy program.

Re:A word please (1)

NanoGator (522640) | about 10 years ago | (#10443190)

"Maybe you're not familiar with how this works. You submit the story, we make the jokes."

hehe. The stupid thing is that this is a niche product, and actually its size makes it more useful for this particular purpose than a laptop.

If I were still at my previous company where I had to travel frequently, I'd probably invest in one of these. Laptops on a plane, no matter how small, are not fun.

Re:A word please (2, Funny)

Minwee (522556) | about 10 years ago | (#10443242)

Maybe you're not familiar with how this works. You submit the story, we make the jokes.

Yeah, kids these days. What's next, a story about Soviet Russia which ends with the words "First post!"?

Re:A word please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10443608)

No, but I noticed that no one asked if this thing plays oggs yet. Allow me.

Does this thing play oggs?

Why??? (4, Interesting)

Skraut (545247) | about 10 years ago | (#10443143)

I guess if you have nothing else to do with your money, this may be something interesting, but it just doesn't seem to fit.

I have an iRiver IHP-120 which I love, and have with me virtually everywhere, and beat the hell out of just by daily use. The cost of this Archos would make me leave it inside rather that drop it in my pocket and hop on the tractor (yes there are some of us rural type geeks :) I'd be too afraid to crack the screen, or otherwise break it.

So you're left with a movie player. An $800 portable movie player. WHY? As others have said you can grab a decent laptop for less than that, or even a $200, 3 year old laptop off of ebay will do everything device does. Sure it's not as cute or pretty, but seriously...

Can you imagine... (-1, Redundant)

csoto (220540) | about 10 years ago | (#10443147)

A beowolf cluster of these?!

Re:Can you imagine... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10443298)

A beowolf cluster of these?!

That would be like Elvis, watching a lot of televisions.

Re:Can you imagine... (0, Offtopic)

Royoken (815636) | about 10 years ago | (#10443717)

Warning: your comment falls into the following category

[X]Beowulf cluster nonsence

please punish your self with 4 tech help sessions with inept wintel using soccer moms and a thrashing by the guy

I don't get it... (1)

Infinityis (807294) | about 10 years ago | (#10443165)

So far as I can tell, this device is like a miniature TiVo with a screen + iPod + portable hard drive.

I mean, yeah, the features are nice and all, but who needs a portable device to record TV programs? It would seem more useful if perhaps it also played DVDs or something like that.

Maybe it's just me, but it feels like a lot of these devices are simply trying to repackage existing technology just because it can be done, not because it makes sense. I can think of plenty of things I'd rather do with my $1000...

money (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10443194)

Shouldn't that be like 10,000 CDN$ = $20 US!!!

Re:money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10443966)

Actually, funny boy, the US dollar is falling and the Canadian dollar is getting stronger everyday. 4 more years of Bush and I'll be able to buy a state or two with lunch money. Keep it up!

At least they made Sync'ing easy (4, Insightful)

aardwolf204 (630780) | about 10 years ago | (#10443200)

Lastly, the folks at Archos saw it fit to just let the AV420 be recognized as a hard drive. As in all other functions, files can be moved, renamed or deleted right on the device. Just plug it in via USB 2.0 and just drag and drop any files to your heart's content. If you prefer to synchronize your tunes, you can always use the included Musicmatch software.

This is where they got it right, whether a PVR is in the stars for you or not everyone should adopt this practice (that means you apple!). There is nothing more upsetting than getting a device that only wants to talk to its software for importing files. My old iPaq PocketPC would annoy the hell out of me because I couldn't just plug it in to any USB port on any computer and get files to/from it. At least the iPod lets you get at the "other" files stored on the HDD without iTunes or other synch software.

Or am I just crazy? Should we all just install Music Match and Real One so we can get files off our USB flashpenthumb drives with stickers on them?

Re:At least they made Sync'ing easy (1)

Anubis333 (103791) | about 10 years ago | (#10443770)

I have a Gmini 120 and I purchased a 40gb CREATIVE Jukebox for my brother, and within hours we took it back. It REQUIRED a driver install, and an 11MB 'Jukebox Explorer' add on to move files to it, and it could not store files larger than 500mb without errors. Also, it only read ID3 tage and maintained a database you would sort through. So if your albums didnt have ID3 tags you were screwed, on top of that you couldn't have dupee database entries, so any albums with general ID3 tags wouldn't transfer to it.. BLAH!

The Archos players are auto recognized as ext USB drives. they work with ID3 or /artist/album/track heirarchies.. I love them.

Re:At least they made Sync'ing easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10443960)

The Archos players are auto recognized as ext USB drives. they work with ID3 or /artist/album/track heirarchies.. I love them.

I just wish there were a firmware update to make the iPod work in the same manner. ID3 tags are great and all, just not for organizing files.

asd (1)

manitee (2974) | about 10 years ago | (#10443207)

I had one of the 20 gb Jukeboxes and it was very reliable. An associate has one of their video players and enjoys it.

OT: Aargh! Spreading stupidity on the web (1)

Majik Sznak (230190) | about 10 years ago | (#10443243)

"does not allow for it to stand up on it's own"

Now, major publications are letting mistakes like this slide into their text. I mourn.

Bob's Quick Guide to Its and It's, You Idiots []

What it's for / geek factor (1, Insightful)

SilentChris (452960) | about 10 years ago | (#10443276)

I bought a gMini400 from Archos to primarily watch movies/shows on long commutes. I'm on a train/bus/plane. I'm not the one driving. Why not enjoy myself?

As for the pure "geek" factor: you can get a 20 GB iPod for $300. For $60 more (if you shop around) you can get the same hard drive space with the ability to play DivX movies, read from compact flash and get roughly the same battery life (the gMini is rated for 10 hours playing MP3s). Why *wouldn't* a geek get one over an iPod? The only reason I can see for iPod left is UI (I transferred all my iTunes music to MP3).

Re:What it's for / geek factor (1)

Kiryat Malachi (177258) | about 10 years ago | (#10443644)

UI and size, iPod wins.

iTunes *is* nice software for doing library management, at least for me. A combination of iTunes (to do management/transfer to the iPod), CDEX to do tagging on extraction, and Tag 'n' Rename to do retagging of poorly tagged files is what I use.

But basically, UI and size.

Re:What it's for / geek factor (1)

Hitmen (780437) | about 10 years ago | (#10443751)

Actually, the gmini400 he's talking about is 4.17" x 2.37" x 0.69", comming in at 5.6 ounces. The ipod is 4.1" by 2.4" by 0.57", also 5.6 ounces. So... just UI?

Re:What it's for / geek factor (1)

SilentChris (452960) | about 10 years ago | (#10443816)

The gMini400 is identical size. I'm actually using an iPod case for it.

As for software, again: UI. That's about the only thing Apple has left. (Personally, I write my own software. iTunes inability to store ratings within ID3 tags drove me nuts).

if you wait a bit longer, your laptop will be a tv (1)

museumpeace (735109) | about 10 years ago | (#10443285)

Today's Daily Wireless [] has piece about a chip that can be added to a lop top to give it decent video [I am assuming playback not capture] capability.

Re:if you wait a bit longer, your laptop will be a (1)

museumpeace (735109) | about 10 years ago | (#10443605)

I checked the actually looks like ViXs is selling a full-up MPEG core. I hope some enterprising manufacturer that is talking up convergence [are you listening GateWay?] puts this thing in a laptop with a good built in camera. I could have my video's edited by the time I got back to the office. The capabilities include:
  1. High quality dual encoding at low bit rates
  2. High-speed transrating and transcoding
  3. 3D comb filtering and analog noise filtering
  4. Mini-PCI or PCI interface
  5. Multistream MPEG reprocessing, format conversion and bit rate reduction at 8x-to-24x real time
  6. Support for multiple analog and digital (including HDTV) video streams
  7. Programmable Audio encoding into MP3, MPEG2 L2, AC3, AAC formats

Warning!` (1)

orthogonal (588627) | about 10 years ago | (#10443310)

I had -- yes had -- an Archos FM Recorder.

A decent use of off the shelf components, but the actual unit quality was abysmal -- I and many others found that the unit broke down quickly with merely normal use.

And the software -- the device's OS sucked. For the recorder, a much better alternative existed in the Rockbox replacement software, but not only did Archos never support this volunteer effort that probably saved their product line, their new revenue model includes selling "keys" to activate various closed-source extentions of their software. In other words, proprietary lock-in where you get to pay again and again, to use features that should have been included when you bought the device. And so no open source replacemnt.

So my advice is to stay away from this, and get yourself a mini-laptop.

While there's damned little software for them, I'd recommend Sharp's products: my Zaurus I've dropped on bare wooden floors dozens of times, and the worst that's happened is the keyboard shield came off -- and it took me two minutes to hook that back on. When I've dropped it, the running software kept running without a hitch -- even when I was using xmms to play mp3s.

Would you show Apple such disrespect? (3, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | about 10 years ago | (#10443313)

This is not a laptop any more than an iPod is a PDA.

It's all about the UI. You turn it on and it plays movies. You don't log in or wait for stuff to boot, etc.

Also, most laptops don't have 80 gig drives, and are quite frankly not designed to watch movies or listen to music. The speakers and displays suck for such tasks. I have a little portable DVD player, and it's 7 inch screen is easier to see from a distance or angle than my laptop's.

Re:Would you show Apple such disrespect? (1)

delta_avi_delta (813412) | about 10 years ago | (#10443429)

Seriously, it's a portable media player - who is going to use the speakers? This is for plugging in and spacing out of the daily commute. Oh, and it'll make you pray that the leery, deep breathing guy doesn't stand beside you on the over-crowded bus/train/metro and pretend to look at it whilst engage you in frottage []

Digital Cameras (1)

Mike Rubits (818811) | about 10 years ago | (#10443392)

Something like this will probably really appeal to the high-end digital photographers, with the CF slot in it. Shame there's only a 320x240 screen though, PDAs are slowly making their way out of that resolution (although I do understand that pushing any more pixels than that will require substantial processor power)

Can any photography buffs out there see themselves using something like this? A step up from the storage bricks I could imagine.

Gmini 400 out and about... (1, Offtopic)

Anubis333 (103791) | about 10 years ago | (#10443533)

Their Gmini 400 [] is only 30 dollars more than a 20gb iPod, and has a lot of the same functions listed int he article (no PVR, smaller screen, 20GB). I have been an Archos customer for a long time, the Gmini 120 is one of the best devices I have ever owned! And I am actually buying a Gmini 400 today for my brother.

Anyone who is considering a high 200's priced MP3 player (iRiver, iPod, etc..) should take a look at the Gmini 400. And on the cheap, the Gmini 120 (~$150) is a great product!

420 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10443660)

well no one else said it but

canadians + 420 = nice and baked

haha well i saw the synnergy of multiple paradigms.

Walkman 2004 (1)

fireteller2 (712795) | about 10 years ago | (#10443709)

I thought this was an over the top toy at first, but it's turned out to be invaluable. It's about the size of the original Sony cassette Walkman. I.e. smaller then a CD. It's thick and a little heavy, and doesn't come with a belt carrier or other protection. I can lay hours of tivo recording (from my 300 hours modified tivo) and whenever I'm board or waiting in line or traveling, I can just watch a show. Or if I prefer listen to anyone of the songs from my entire album collection. And it's fantastic for capturing video stuff to transfer to the computer, or from the computer to video cassette, or to watch on a T.V.

Also, you got a copy of the Sopranos last night and your friend missed it. No problem just bring it on the archos, you can view it on a normal tv, on the archos, or transfer the file to his computer for him to watch it later.

After the archos itself turned out to be so helpful I decided to get the camera attachment, and I'm very happy with that as well. You can record ~hundred hours on the 80gb drive at slightly better then DV quality (for the file, the single ship CCD is a little week in low light). And it doubles as a 3.3 mega pixel still camera with an amazing amount of storage space. Also the camera comes with a carrying case which is more or less necessary because the lack of protection of the viewing surface.

The three cons for me are price, battery life (given it can't be replaced in transit), and lack of protection. Also the time it takes for the camera to take a still picture is a little sluggish, but manageable.


We need mod points yesterday ! (1)

elpapacito (119485) | about 10 years ago | (#10443718)

-1 : STUF-NOW detected

Seems Technical Frontpage Userpost (but is ) Noncomparative Obvious "Wow"vertisement

Cool. (1)

Wakko Warner (324) | about 10 years ago | (#10443748)

I can watch Half-Baked on my 420.

One fine use for this is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10443792)

Actually one niche it fills pretty nicely is for those of us who like to hack and tinker with video crap.

With this tiny thing, you can record video/audio from any video source in a portable and tetherless fashion. Got a camera in your kite, rocket, helmet, robot, or whatever? Instead of recording to a luggable VCR, or a luggable PC/laptop, or a camcorder with video input - this small thing records it digitally direct.

It's awfully convenient and not to be sniffed at for those of us familiar with the limitations and hassles of tinkering with this sort of thing.

I have one and LOVE IT (2, Interesting)

curran (228669) | about 10 years ago | (#10443793)

I travel alot and just bought the av480 for $650 at - I now have my entire MP3 collection (30 Gig) All my photos (20 Gig) with 3 gig left over for recording TV and copying pron. Add the FM receiver and you can now "Tivo" FM radio (30 second buffer) as well as record what you're listening too.

They seem to update the OS on a regular basis, my only compliant at this point is that the Direct TV receiver model D-10 is not in the av480 list but I spoke to Archos yesterday.

To set up the Tivo-like features - I have to go to Yahoo TV and save my weekly schedule to my harddrive - transfer it to the archos whre it is auto recognized! Not too bad.

So far - GREAT unit.

Plusses and minuses (4, Informative)

jangobongo (812593) | about 10 years ago | (#10443840)


- Use it to time-shift your TV shows
- Can edit out commercials
- Can alter the screen ratio to normal, full, 4:3, or 16:9 (letterboxing)
- Boots up in seconds (as opposed to laptops)
- Shows recorded on the unit can be played on your PC (or is that a minus?)
- Can import TV listings from Yahoo! for programming
- Create playlists on the fly with s split screen and allows you to sort music files by artist, album, title, genre, year or playlist
- Built in microphone for live recording in addition to in-line recording


- For the best video playback at 2,500 Kbps (near television quality), using about 2GB per hour of recording; so 20GB model holds about 10 hours (80 GB model holds about 40 hours)
- Device will record files up to 2GB in size before closing that file and starting another
- By default, external speakers stay on, even when you plug in the headphones (potentially embarassing and annoying)
- Freezes on last image when fast-forwarding or rewinding so that you can't observe your progress
- Can't program for repeat events (such as weekly episodes), each episode has to be programmed seperately
- Gapless playback of songs is not supported
- Navigation buttons are not backlit, making use in very low-light situations difficult
- Records in WAV format only

mod dOmwn (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10444042)

practical purposes prima d0nnas, and

RCA RD2780; Same featuers, half the price (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10444107)

I picked up an RCA RD2780 a while back for $400 USD, and lately have seen them retail for $350. IT does all the same functions; plays movies, MP3 player, CF slot, picture viewer, and act as a portable 20G HD. Even more stunning is that there are hacking forums that show the simplicity of upgrading it to 80G! Once the warranty runs out, that will be my next to-do on the unit.

As for video, the RD2780 suffers through the ".asf" format. However, I have found out recently that it is capable of playing mpeg files, although the episodes I've tried suffer from sync problems between the audio and video. If you use the built-in encoder with the video, there are two annoying features: Macrovision protection, and the inability to display dark scenes correctly. The Macrovision protection is a wash, as the encoding downsamples the video to be compact on the hard-drive (a 2hr movie compresses to about 1G), so I can't really see the point of file-trading. There is a way around the Macrovision, easily found on handheld forums. The compression of dark scenes is the worst, as it includes the black bars for 16:9 formats. Dark areas become blotchy black squares, so Alien vs. Predator fans might want to find another way to encode their movies. RCA allows the firmware on the unit to be easily upgraded, so I'm confident the firmware will unlock the full potential of the hardware eventually.

This leads into a minor gripe with the unit. On first pass, many of the features appear as "not available yet", such as slideshow on the photo-viewer and equalizer for the MP3 player. One has to downlaod the firmware upgrade to enable these features. Once that's done, it really lives up to the hype.

As for music, I've had no issues with playback of MP3s. The screen cuts backlit power during MP3 play, to conserve battery life (I get 8hrs of MP3 play easily). Since the unit acts as a HD, drag and drop of your favourite MP3s is simple to do. The RD2780 also comes with MusicMatch Jukebox, which not only encodes the MP3s, but also includes the album cover in the encoding, so the cover is displayed in the LCD. I haven't bothered much with playlists, but the ability to create and play lists of MP3s exists, too.

The slideshow is simple to use, and RCA released a thumbnail viewer for pics, for those like me who are too lazy to rename the titles. You can also set a soundtrack to the viewer, for those who want to use it as a new-age method to show vacation photos on the cruise ship (a pox to thee!).

As for interfacing with the PC, the computer sees it as a standard 20G HD connected to the USB port. Transfers are fast, and the navigation is simple, with directories set up for Video, Audio, Pictures, and Files (for transfer of your important data). One caveat- don't put a period in your filenames. The firmware sees the string after the period as a file extension, and doesn't display the file if it doesn't match the folder's media format. I lost access to several "Firefly" episodes when I used a "Disc.Title.asf" naming scheme (the files are still there, but I have to connect to a PC to rename them).

As for a comparison, the Archos AV-series do have more add-on options, such as a camera (that allows still and video capture) and a few more high-end goodies. As for a basic media player, then I believe the RCA unit is the best value. If Archos drops their price to compete, then I might have picked up one of their units. As it stands, I've survived many long flights with the RD2780 in my hands, with the warm glow of my favourite Sci-fi shows keeping me company.

Here's where they will succeed or fail: (2, Insightful)

dspyder (563303) | about 10 years ago | (#10444178)

Loading the content!

I have the older Archos JBMM20, and it's a wonderful machine despite its quirks and lousy firmware and small screen. However, the biggest pain in the ass is converting my downloaded video clips into the resolution and codec that it needs to play. It's a slow and tedious process.

Now, my brother has a DirecTivo set to dump to his NetApp drive array. My UltimateTV can't do that, and even if it could... I'd have to convert those videos to put them on my Archos anyway.

Same goes for DVDs. To rip a DVD I legally own, to use on my own portable hardware, I have to pay for some [possibly illegal] software and deal with the frustrations of getting those to work right.

What is needed is a play-any-content, tightly integrated to video-on-demand services and all of the other video-related hardware in my house. Of course, Disney (Michael Eisner is the devil) is fundamentally opposed to that view of the world. While you're at it, why not allow me to stream the videos on my device (no hard drive) from my central server over Wifi or ?


S/N Ratio (1)

idfubar (668691) | about 10 years ago | (#10444211)

What's the signal-to-noise issue with this player? THD?
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