Thanks to the speed at which technology advances, consumers have plenty of options when it comes to choosing a portable media player (PMP). For most, affordable PMPs with a small screen and basic music, photo and video support will do just fine. However, for those with a bigger budget and a stronger desire to be entertained to shave off long commuting time, something with a bit more punch such as the new Archos 605 Wi-Fi might be the one for you.
As a consumer lifestyle device that packs many functions, usability needs to be top notch and for that, the Archos 605's provides two navigation methods. On the right is a column of buttons programmed for basic controls such as OK, Cancel, Up, Down, Left, Right, Menu & Sub-Menu, and Volume. The second method, probably the most preferred, is the touchscreen interface, which is simple in design and easy to navigate - thanks to large graphical icons. Sensitivity from the 4.3-inch screen is good too, neither too sensitive nor does it require hard pressing for inputs to be registered.
When it comes to the subject of multimedia support, the variety of formats supported by the Archos 605 is nothing short of astounding. Starting with video playback, compatibility includes MPEG4, DivX, Xvid and WMV. As the screen has a resolution of 800 by 480 pixels and displays up to 16 million colors, users will be in for a visual treat when it comes to enjoying anime and TV series. The high resolution returned good sharpness while colors were well contrasted even under direct sunlight. When docked to a Gen 5 DVR station, this handy unit can even be used as a digital video recorder (DVR) to record your favorite TV shows for viewing the next day - think football matches for all you football fans out there.
Music playback has an equally wide range of options, covering MP3, WMA and WAV. As usual, audio quality was impressive, even with the bundled earphones.
Unfortunately, the onboard speaker was not as enjoyable, delivering cracked audio when volume was pushed beyond the half way mark. That said, the Archos 605 is best enjoyed with earphones.
Having an excellent screen allows the Archo 605 to shine when it comes to photo viewing and reading e-books via the built-in PDF reader. The clarity and color saturation make the Archos 605 a very enjoyable PMP to wield, but that's not all. By adding a separate camera accessory, the Helmet Camcorder Gen5, the Archos 605 can be transformed into a digital camera. The onboard storage can even be used as a photo depository.
Returning a little over four hours of constant video playback, the Archos 605 is only an average performer when it comes to battery staminary. However, in view of the 4.3-inch screen and the portability it provides, the battery performance is actually quite fair.
Two methods of high speed USB 2.0 file transfer are supported through Archos' propriety USB cable: a direct connection with the Archos as an external hard disk drive (HDD) and through file transfer via Windows Media Player. In terms of practicality, transferring files as a HDD is the option we would choose as file transfers via Windows Media Player was not a smooth process for us due to a couple of software compatibility issues.
Of course, the party piece of the Archos 605 is its integrated Wi-Fi connectivity. With it, the unit can be connected to the Archos store online where optional plugins for both video and audio formats such as H.264, AC3 and AAC+ can be purchased and installed easily. Widgets and even the venerable Opera Web browser for wireless Internet can be purchased too.
All things considered, the Archos 605 is a very attractive PMP. The one reservation would probably be its SGD$695 (~USD$455) price tag, which might be more than what most are willing to fork out for a PMP. But hey, if all the above appeal to you, you'll have all the reason you need to shell out what could be a one-time investment that will keep you entertained for a long while.