The Archos 605 WiFi is the flagship model of the fifth generation of portable media players from French manufacturer Archos. Available in 30GB and 160GB hard disk and 4GB flash versions, the 605 runs on a modified version of Linux and supports an optional Opera Web browser for full Web access. Archos' latest PMP can even support 5.1 surround sound if you buy an additional dock.
Prices start at £150. We got our hands on the 30GB model, which is available now for £200.
Unlike Optimus Prime in the funked-up new Transformers movie, the 605 doesn't look particularly different to its predecessor, the 604. Its buttons still reside on the right-hand side of its display, but this time they're more plastic in their appearance. A handy kick-stand flips from the back panel allowing you to prop the player up at an angle for hands-free viewing.
Build quality is excellent -- it's a solid device and feels resilient to the knocks and bumps of frequent use on the move. The touch-sensitive 109mm (4.3-inch) screen is large and unusually resistant to grubby finger marks that plague so many similar devices. A pair of styluses come as standard anyway -- though there's no slot to hold one in the player.
One hand is all you'll need to hold this media-hoarding contraption, and although it can get hot with extended use, it's pretty lightweight and comfy to carry in a trouser pocket.
When you're looking at the Archos 605 WiFi's main menu, several of the menu options don't work unless you purchase extras. Recording TV requires a docking station and you need to buy the Web browser and several codecs separately.
The 605 mounts into Windows as an external drive over USB, allowing drag-and-drop management of files. Media player functions are painless, and the transitions and slide shows through image libraries were impressive. The 605 handles folder-based sorting, really high-resolution JPEGs, BMPs and PNGs, and an Adobe PDF reader handles your documents.
WMV and MPEG-4 (Xvid included, though not DivX) are supported up to DVD resolution (although the screen is 800x480 pixels), along with MP3, protected and unprotected WMA and WAV audio files. AAC, MPEG-2, H.264 and AC-3 formats will only play after you pay for extra plugins, each of which cost €20 (about £13.50).
An optional docking station lets you display video content on your TV as well as allowing you to use the 605 as a DVR TV recorder. We didn't have a dock to test as we wrote this review, but expect an update after it's reached us from France. The Web browser also needs to be purchased separately, but more on that shortly.