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First Look: Archos 5 Internet Tablet (Android)

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First Look: Archos 5 Internet Tablet (Android)

3:56 /

With capabilities such as Android apps, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, Flash, and tons of media support, the Archos 5 is one of the most feature-packed portable media players on the planet

>> Hey I'm Donald Bell, Senior Editor for digital audio and MP3 and this is a First Look at the new Android-based Archos 5 Internet Media tablet. This is a touch screen device with a very pretty 4.8 inch screen that has an 800 by 480 resolution. You can pick this up in 8 gigabyte, 16 gigabyte, and 32 gigabyte capacities starting at $249 as well as some thicker hard drive base models that max out at 500 gigs for $439. The reason you want all that storage is because this is a media junky's dream come true. Right out of the box the Archos 5 works with tons of video formats including H.264, WMV, DivX, MKV, Xvid and others. Most of those are going to go up to 720P HD resolution. You'll also get great audio support including MP3, AAC, WMA, Wave, Flac and Ogg which you can sort by ID3 tags or a folder view. On the main menu you can see all the media playback features here across the bottom including music, videos, photos and flash games as well as a link to the Archos Media club where you can download more music and videos or even rent movies. Now a lot of these features are carryovers from previous Archos models which isn't to say they aren't great, in fact they're very well done; but what's new here is Archos grafted Google's Android app architecture over these core media features. Unlike previous merchants of the Archos 5, the browser and e-mail client are Android now and are a synch to set up. The browser does support some flash however, so sites like You Tube will load up just fine and when you click on the video, a separate flash video player will pop up and play the content. The flash support isn't flawless though. It's most egregious in being the inability to stream CNET TV videos. But of course the most interesting part of the whole Android thing is the ability to load third party apps. Right out of the box you get some useful apps such as the Twitter client, a Craigslist app, and an app called Think Free that allows you to view Microsoft Office and PDF docs. Beyond the main menu apps is also a drawer off to the side where you can store and organize all the apps your heart desires. Currently though apps need to get a little makeover from Archos in order to work on the high resolution screen and look decent should you ever want to hook this up to your TV using one of the Archos AV accessories. Bottom line there's an Apps store on the device but you don't have unfetted [assumed spelling] access to the whole Android App catalog at least not yet. All right so other cool stuff going on here you've got Bluetooth 2.0 with HEDP, EDR and ARCP. So your Bluetooth headsets and your speakers are golden. If you want to go primitive though, there's also an FM transmitter in here for streaming music over your radio. The Wi-Fi works over B, G and N standards and can cooperate with hot spot, Gateways and log-in pages pretty easily. There's also an FM radio, built-in speaker, a microphone and a folding kickstand. And did I mention GPS? Yep built-in GPS and pretty good GPS too. Okay so you get the idea, Archos made this killer Internet-connected media player that does a ton of stuff so what's the downside? Well compared to something like the iPod touch, the touch screen performance on the Archos is noticeably sluggish which is forgivable for a portable media player, but pretty important for something that builds itself as an Internet tablet. It's also considerably more techy than the iPod which is going to feel liberating for some people but leave others feeling a little overwhelmed. Overall though, a great product from Archos that will make tech savvy, media hoarders of the world very happy. Battery life is rated at 22 hours for audio and 7 hours of video with Wi-Fi turned off so not a bad choice for frequent flyers or family road trips either. For cnet.com I'm Donald Bell.

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