Technology for Christmas

Archos 605You’ll be pleased to know that the Archos 605 versus Apple iPod touch argument was resolved during the festive season. The wife very generously procured an Archos 605 plus DVR Station for me, while I furnished her with a tasty new iPod touch. This had the knock-on effect of a new-ish iPod for me, as she graciously passed on her iPod Video to me (to replace my faithful old 4th generation iPod). Lauren also got a new iPod (a blue nano), and this was welcomed by my older sibling Steve who is an Apple shareholder.

So, having played with the Archos 605 for a couple of days, was it the right decision? It’s a resounding ‘yes’. Now, the first thing you might say is “why have you got two devices Daz, an iPod and an Archos, when one iPod touch could have done the job?”. That was covered in an earlier blog post, but as a quick summary…

  • The iPod touch’s top-of-the-range 16gb capacity isn’t enough for me (I have 9gb’s worth of music before I even start thinking about movies)
  • I wouldn’t consider moving the music off the iTunes / iPod combination
  • The Archos has a much better screen (larger and better resolution)

The first issue I came across with the Archos was getting DVD content onto the device, and after some experimentation and exchanges of opinion with Choddo, I went for DVD Ripper from Xilisoft (I already have another Xilisoft utility for getting movies onto iPods, but it wouldn’t work for the Archos – typical). Here lies one of the downsides of the Archos, that once you’ve bought the device you haven’t finished spending – I could actually have used iPod-ready movies but then I would have to have bought a plug-in to play them, so you have to spend either way.

Next, which format to rip to? Windows Media Video worked fine, but for some reason was very slow to rip… The Simpsons Movie would have taken (I estimated) about 10 hours. But I then discovered that the XviD AVI format worked on the device and was a lot quicker to rip.

The Archos 605 is WiFi-enabled so you can use it to browse the web… if you buy the Opera browser plugin (another £20). The case that comes in the box is rubbish (a flimsy pouch that offers about as much protection as a bus shelter in the event of a comet hitting the Earth) so chalk up another £20 for a decent case. So, there’s £60 gone on top of the cost of the device.

However, despite coughing up a few extra quid the overall experience is worth it. While the iPod touch wins for slimness and it’s user interface, the display on the Archos is beyond comparison (and you can also navigate using buttons if you want to avoid swiping your mucky digits all over the touch screen). The Opera browser is excellent (Opera are doing a good job, along with the browser on the Wii and OperaMini on the BlackBerry), there’s seven free ‘widgets’ available, the photos are crystal-clear, and the promise of being able to record from the Sky Plus box sounds great (despite my low expectation of anything to do with Sky).

Given the trouble promised at the UK airports in January (just in time for my trip to Lotusphere) I think the Archos 605 is going to be a godsend… perhaps I just need the battery extension pack.

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