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Archos 105 review: Archos 105

Archos 105

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Donald Bell
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Donald Bell

Senior Editor / How To

Donald Bell has spent more than five years as a CNET senior editor, reviewing everything from MP3 players to the first three generations of the Apple iPad. He currently devotes his time to producing How To content for CNET, as well as weekly episodes of CNET's Top 5 video series.

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4 min read

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6.0

Archos 105

The Good

The Archos 105 MP3 player is one of the least expensive video-worthy MP3 players on the market.

The Bad

The Archos 105 only comes in a 2GB capacity and lacks competitive features such as an FM tuner, voice recorder, or line recorder. Despite its relatively large screen, the video resolution is disappointing.

The Bottom Line

There are better MP3 players than the Archos 105 available at this price, but few with so large a screen.

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.

Design
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.


The Archos 105 and second-generation iPod Nano share the same metal-coated, super-skinny aesthetic.

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.

Features
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.

With its 1.8-inch screen and Archos brand name, you would expect the Archos 105's video-playback feature to be exceptional. You'd be wrong. The Archos 105 video player supports an uninspiring 160x128 resolution (half that of the iPod Nano), capable of playing only WMV video files encoded with a 15-frame-per-second rate. Despite our disappointment, one of the Archos 105's saving graces is its ability to intelligently resume video playback where you left off, a feature seldom found in budget video players.

The Archos 105's music player is surprisingly its best feature. Transferring music to the Archos 105 using Windows Media Player is a snap, but users who prefer to drag and drop files directly can switch the 105 into a Mac/PC compatible USB storage mode. The Archos 105 supports MP3, WMA, protected-WMA, and WAV audio formats, which can be sorted by ID3 tag attributes (album, genre, year, etc.) or as a series of personally organized files and folders. During music playback, the Archos 105 displays album art thumbnails alongside track details and the title of the upcoming song. By pressing the menu button during music playback, the Archos 105 allows you to set your EQ preset (including a custom five-band EQ), add bookmarks to long audio files, retrieve detailed file information (bit rate, file type, etc.), and even create custom playlists.

Performance
For the money, the Archos 105 does a respectable job at both audio and video playback--but it's nothing to shout about. With full-featured devices like the 2GB Creative Zen V Plus around the same price, the Archos 105 really needed to dazzle us with its video quality.

While listening to Radiohead's Kid A, we were impressed by the overall sound quality of the Archos 105, especially with a little custom EQ thrown in. Low-end frequencies were heard clearly with plenty of depth, and the middle- and higher-frequency sounds of vocals and percussion were free of the wishy-washy compression artifacts we've heard in low-grade audio players.

Archos rates the battery life of the 105 at 18 hours of audio-only playback. We'll update this review with battery results from our CNET Labs as soon as testing is complete.

Final thoughts
If we're being frank, the Archos 105 is essentially the poor man's iPod Nano--it's half the price, half the capacity, and half the video quality. There's no shame in being thrifty, but you get what you pay for.

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6.0

Archos 105

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 6Performance 5
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