Archos Jukebox Recorder 20 review: Archos Jukebox Recorder 20

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Connects via USB 1.1 or 2.0; 20GB of storage; records to MP3 in analog or digital; built-in microphone; simple file transfers; intuitive operation.

The Bad Larger and heavier than the iPod; doesn't record to WAV files.

The Bottom Line If you need lots of music at your fingertips and hate bloated interfaces, the Recorder 20 is the device for you.

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Last year, Archos's original Jukebox Recorder impressed us with its ability to encode MP3s to a hard drive. But after Apple's iPod and Creative's upped the ante with high-speed FireWire connections, Archos had to respond, and it has done so with the Recorder Jukebox 20. While the 20's feature set and design are identical to its predecessor's, it does offer a larger 20GB hard drive and a lightning-fast USB 2.0 connection at a very fair price. Last year, Archos's original Jukebox Recorder impressed us with its ability to encode MP3s to a hard drive. But after Apple's iPod and Creative's upped the ante with high-speed FireWire connections, Archos had to respond, and it has done so with the Recorder Jukebox 20. While the 20's feature set and design are identical to its predecessor's, it does offer a larger 20GB hard drive and a lightning-fast USB 2.0 connection at a very fair price.

A real workhorse
At 4.5 by 3.2 by 1.3 inches, the rectangular Recorder 20 is currently smaller than every except the iPod. However, its 12.3-ounce weight keeps it from being pocket-friendly. Four oversized rubberized corners offer some degree of protection, but don't let that fool you into thinking that this is a rugged unit.

As far as controls go, the player's 10 buttons are arranged for very intuitive operation, which almost makes up for the fact that the in-line remote consists of only a volume wheel. The large, backlit display uses a fairly small font, but a no-nonsense layout and a simple navigation system make operation logical and free of hassle.

Connect the player via USB 1.1 or 2.0 after installing the drivers, and the Recorder 20 shows up on your PC as an external hard drive. This means that you can simply drag and drop your MP3s, music folders, and any data files onto the unit without learning how to use proprietary software. Archos claims transfer speeds of up to 1.5MB per second for USB 1.1 and 60MB per second with USB 2.0, but that's optimistic. Our test machine transferred files at 1.06MB per second over USB 1.1 and 8.43MB per second when using USB 2.0. Still, the latter number--a brisk two songs per second--compares favorably to that of other hard drive-based MP3 players with fast connections that we've tested.

Versatile, yet intuitive
In the menu, you can select MP3 Record, Sound, Play Mode, Playlist, Language (English, French, German), and Hard Disk Diagnose. Behind these choices lie myriad playback and recording options that let you fine-tune EQ using graphical sliders, choose recording quality, and create playlists on the fly, among other things.

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Where to Buy

Archos Jukebox Recorder 20

Part Number: 500277

MSRP: $319.95

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Built-in Display LCD
  • Run Time (Up To) 10 hour(s)
  • Capacity 20 GB
  • Color metallic silver
  • Weight 12.3 oz
  • Supported Digital Audio Standards MP3
  • Installed Size No built-in memory
  • Sound Output Mode stereo
  • Type digital player