Archos 604 review: Archos 604

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MSRP: $280.99

The Good The Archos 604 WiFi gives you access to the Web and e-mail; touch-screen experience is good; vibrant widescreen display; can record audio and video with the optional kit; has a removable battery, a built-in speaker, and a built-in kickstand; sophisticated interface; can view photos and listen to music simultaneously; compatible with subscription services; it's durable and compact for its screen size; excellent photo viewer; can be used as a wireless file server.

The Bad The Archos 604 WiFi is limited to 30GB; must purchase separate kit to record audio/video; must purchase separate kit to get a power adapter; must purchase plug-ins for certain types of video files; weak bundled accessories; proprietary USB cable; not easy to operate blindly; processor is sluggish; nowhere to store stylus without case; cannot listen to music and surf Web simultaneously; battery takes a major hit when using Wi-Fi.

The Bottom Line The do-everything Archos 604 WiFi is completely stacked with awesome video playback, Web surfing, and other useful features, but the sluggish processor keeps the experience from being totally satisfying.

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8.0 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • Performance 6

Of the numerous models in the new Archos 04 series, the 30GB 604 WiFi is definitely the most advanced. Basically, the 604 WiFi ($449.99) is the 604 (

I received the 604 WiFi and have been impressed with the touch screen aspect of the device, realizing that the sophisticated icon-heavy GUI was designed for touch screen use. The standard button interface is good, but not out-of-the-box intuitive and the touch screen does wonders for navigation.

I found that Web browsing worked well, though users should be aware that in general, sluggish load times make for click-and-wait surfing. I like this gadget a lot--on paper. It has a removable battery, a kickstand, the same gorgeous 4.3-inch wide-screen display, and overall excellent playback of a variety of media files types. But the performance hit on the processor--whether opening files or even navigating between menus--turns this able gadget into one that could run faster.

Here's my review of the 604 WiFi, which is almost physically identical to the 604. The focus will be on the new stuff and how it works. For more information on the 604's basic features and capabilities, check out the

A touchy-feely 604 on steroids
Barring the words "WiFi" on the front and the contoured little bump on the unit's upper right spine, the 604 WiFi from the outside is the 604's identical twin. Technically, though, the 604 WiFi is a hair wider (thanks to the "bump" that houses the Wi-Fi antenna), taller, and thicker, and it weighs about an ounce more (5.2x3.1x0.7 inches and 10.23 ounces).

The screen isn't as shiny as the 604's due to its thin touch-screen layer, which adds a measure of protection and antiglare, but also negatively affects sharpness and colors (blacks aren't as black). Regardless, the large widescreen is still a winner for viewing movies and photos, though imaging nerds will probably knock the screen.

The 604 WiFi is bundled with the usual sparse set of accessories: a proprietary USB cable, earbuds, and the docking saddle. In addition, it ships with a hard case (to protect that investment!) and two styli. There are numerous accessories that will expand the 604 WiFi's capabilities including the at-home DVR Station dock, the travel kit (with the smaller dock that enables A/V recording), and basics such as an AC adaptor kit.

The bundled styli are nice to use, especially when you're stationary. In most cases, you won't even need to hit a button to operate the 604 WiFi. Problem is there is nowhere to stash it unless you have the case. While we recommend using the case for this luxury gadget, I'll admit I wouldn't use it as often as I should. If you're bound to lose your styli, it's nice to know that the touch-screen works okay using your fingers. Minor interface updates such as scroll wheels that enlarge as you touch them help those using their fingers to navigate.

Overall, the body is just too big (and heavy) to go running with (for example), but it is pocket-friendly--just not with the case. The 604 WiFi is an awesome digital audio player/recorder, but I'd definitely use a smaller DAP for my mobile music needs. Also, I'd like to see an Archos 604 WiFi with a bigger drive. 30GB is puny these days for hard-core users.

Wi-Fi opens up some big doors
The 604 WiFi arrived with the latest firmware (1.5.53). It goes without saying that the 604 WiFi can do nearly everything a portable media maven would want, and it does most things well. Take video playback--the excellent screen, compatibility with most common formats (including MPEG-4, protected WMV, DivX, and H.264, and MPEG-2 with optional and downloadable codecs) and precise playback control. Add a digital camera or the cool helmet cam from Archos (plus the required DVR Travel pack), and you've got a hard-drive-based camcorder.

It's a nice MP3 player, too, with MP3, protected WMA, WAV compatibility, plus AAC and AC3 as optional codecs. It also supports album art, podcasts, gapless playback, useful playlist creation, and management. We'd love to see OGG, Audible, and decent equalizers, but the audio experience here is top rate. The voice recorder is fantastic, and with add-ons you can record line-in video and audio (as well as schedule TV recordings) into the 604 WiFi with ease and generally excellent quality.

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