So long story short, I found myself with a new toy about a month ago, the Archos AV700. I had owned the Archos AV140 for about 3 years before someone decided I should no longer possess it. The AV140 was a piece of compact little electronic goodness in itself. It rode roughly 500 miles in various race/rally cars recording video from lipstick cameras and it did a great job. I could get flawless video for lengths as long as 2 hours, most of the time.
January 28, 2006 - Review: Archos AV700
If I had a real choice I would have chosen the AV500 for its smaller footprint, I'm far from complaining though. The AV700 features a massive 7" screen for portable viewing of photos and videos. Archos has generally been #1 in my book for supporting Open Source like DivX and XviD formats both encoding and decoding. Their new hardware supports playing Windows Media which is a nice added feature, although at this point there are a few bugs to be worked out with viewing some WMV files. So beyond recording and playback of audio and video, what else does this guy do? Its simply the most versitle multimedia tool on the market in my book; that goes for the AV500 as well.
The AV700 does have a few added features which makes it a power player over-all. It comes with a dongle so you can hook up your digital camera and download photos directly to it for viewing and/or storage. Seeing as how you can get it with a 100GB hard drive there is plenty of space for anything you need. If you don't mind having a larger unit (excuse the phun) you'll also find the battery life it quite a bit more than the AV500. I comfortably watched Doom and listened to music for 2 hours and only used 2/3's of its battery. As a friend purchased an AV500 he has complained about its short battery life after a full night charge, although that was soon corrected with $30 for the car charger.
Like I had mentioned before its biggest downside is its size, it just comes off as a bit fragile. I am a bit scared about putting it in a car while racing, especially Rally. However with a nice hardcase to contain it and other recording hardware I think it will be fine. There may be more to report once race season starts.
So what is this thing missing? Not much honestly, the only serious hardware addition in their next edition I would like to see is BlueTooth. Granted it wouldn't be ideal for transferring large files, as USB 2.0 seems to be the only choice for that. However, BT could benefit the Arhcos for possibly streaming movies and music from a desktop directly to your TV in another room. On the software side, I have seen my AV700 crash a few times since I've owned it. Stability I think has been an issue for Archos, though it rarely distracts from how capable their products are. A significant improvement would be more common audio codec support. I have transferred more than a few XviD files only to find that the audio can't be played. If you do find yourself purchasing one, make sure the audio encoded with MP3 before you go transferring an XviD video.
Over-all Archos keeps creating great products that, if your willing to drop the cash, you can rock a piece of multimedia hardware that kicks the iPod to the ground!
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