The Archos 105 ($89) is a slim, affordable, 2GB MP3 player from a company known for its high-performance portable video players. Archos definitely stepped out of its PVP comfort zone to create the 105, and unfortunately, it shows. Despite its low price tag and modern design, the Archos 105 offers few features, a restrictive capacity, and lackluster video performance.
With its anodized aluminum face and Nano-thin body, the Archos 105 looks like a streamlined metal candy bar. The Archos 105 measures a tall, yet thin, 1.8 inches, by 3.3 inches, by 0.3 inch. Yet, in spite of its delicate size, the Archos 105's mostly metal construction lends it a ruggedness not typically found on budget MP3 players.
The navigation pad on the Archos 105 may look unusual at first glance, but it's essentially a standard four-way direction pad with a center select button. What makes the fish-shaped navigation pad look so unusual is the superficially connected power and cancel buttons that jut off to the left of the main navigation controls. While the design of the front panel controls is novel, we prefer to have the hold and cancel controls off to the side, where they're less likely to be accidentally activated.
From a design perspective, it would seem that the major achievement of the Archos 105 is the inclusion of an antireflective 1.8-inch OLED color screen on an MP3 player that sells for $89. After viewing the Archos 105's surprisingly mediocre 160x128 screen resolution, however, it becomes apparent that screen size isn't everything. Admittedly, we're probably giving Archos a harder time than most because of its track record making excellent portable video products such as the Archos 605 WiFi.
The Archos 105 includes a music player, video player, and photo viewer. Noticeably absent from the Archos 105's features are an FM radio, voice recorder, or line recorder. To be fair, Apple's wildly successful iPod product line also omits the same features. But Apple is the exception to the rule in the MP3 player marketplace, and it's rare to see an iPod competitor with so few features to offer.