With the portable media player (PMP) segment currently dominated by the likes of Sony and Apple, Archos has unleashed its flagship touch screen media player, the Archos 3 Vision, a 3-inch PMP built to challenge the popular iPod Touch.
The good thing about the Archos 3 is that it is extremely light and small as it is roughly the size of a regular name card. While its design is not exactly revolutionary, it comes across as simple yet sophisticated.
Featuring an overall black finish accompanied by a thin all-round silver metallic lining and a scratch-resistant back cover, the player not only looks good, but feels sturdy and built to last. As it is angular with slightly rounded edges, it fits nicely and comfortably into our palms. Needless to say, it slides into our jeans' pocket with room to spare for a thin mobile phone.
Of course, no product is perfect and the Archos 3 had some niggling issues that we were none too pleased about. While the player has a decent storage capacity of 8GB, it lacks an external SD slot like its predecessor, the Archos 2. Nowadays, 8GB might suffice for music alone, but users who are heavy on videos might find the amount of storage inadequate.
Don't expect any fancy UI here as well - what you see is what you get. The general browser and interface design is nothing short of hideous by today's standards and throws you back to the era of 16-bit graphics. Exaggeration aside, while some might find Archos' minimalist design charming, there is no denying that there are other PMPs out there with flashier and more attractive interfaces.
Though the Archos 3 is relatively easy to get used to in terms of navigation and browsing, the sensitivity of the touch screen or rather, the lack of, can be annoying. At times, the screen did not respond well and required multiple frustrating taps before it recognized our efforts. Scrolling is done using the on-screen thumb-wheel, which, let's just say, isn't the most convenient method especially since it acts up from time to time.
Another bugbear is that there is no physical volume control button, but only through tapping the screen. This started getting on our nerves after a while, given the constant back-and-forth.
Overall, the Archos 3 performed reasonably well in terms of audio and video capabilities. The sound quality was above average, while videos appeared sharp and crisp on the screen.
With its competitive price point, Archos 3 Vision is an ideal selection for an individual who is looking for an economical and no-frills touch screen media player. At S$199, it is more than S$100 less than its immediate competitor, the 8GB iPod Touch. If you are willing to trade in Wi-Fi capabilities, a whole slew of gaming options, a more user-friendly and attractive interface for a lower sticker price and an integrated radio tuner, the Archos 3 Vision is your savior.