T'was back in rainy October that we reviewed the Archos 5 -- a stylish portable video player with one of the best screens we've ever seen on a device of its type. Now, we've got an even more monolithic version in the house, with a who's-yer-daddy 7-inch screen.
Essentially it's the same device: massive hard-drive capacities, Wi-Fi, Opera Web browser, support for high-quality video formats, streaming Adobe Flash content and DVR functionality when used with an optional dock.
But there's no point beating around any proverbials: the Archos 7 is massive, heavy and could easily be used to beat an elephant to death. Hell, you could probably kill its calves in the same swing.
Out of the box you get up to 320GB of storage, a 178mm (7-inch) TFT LCD display at 800x480-pixel resolution (sadly that's no better than the 5-inch model), support for WMV and standard MPEG-4 video, MP3, WMA, FLAC, OGG and WAV audio, email and Web browsing, YouTube support and a bunch of other features such as PDF document viewing.
It's the same old Archos story, though -- if you really want to get the most out of the system, you're going to need to pay extra for plugins to enable HD playback, H.264 video, AAC audio, MPEG-2 and VOB playback, DVR functionality, video recording and even just audio recording. Individual codec plugins cost €15 (£14), and hardware accessories cost upwards of around £40.
We've only been using the player for a day or so, but so far we feel the same as we did about the Archos 5 -- brilliant touchscreen display, beautiful video quality, much improved interface, gorgeous design, above-average Web browsing, but every optional codec should be bundled out of the box. None of this AAC-will-be-a-tenner-kthxbai nonsense.
Anywhom, we shall continue to finger the French fancy for a while longer, and you can expect a full review in the next week or so with enough details to choke a dormouse. For now, browse the photos in the gallery above. The Archos 7 is on sale now, at £350 for the 160GB version and £430 for the 320GB, with extra codec plugins costing just under £15 each.
It doesn't take the eyes of an Olympic marksman to notice the Archos 7 is significantly larger than Apple's iPhone 3G.
The all-metal chassis is rather glossy, and it feels like the business.
A speaker sits on either side of the Archos 7's screen.
A useful kickstand sits around the back for hands-free movie enjoyment.
Maybe we didn't highlight how glossy and reflective this chassis is. It's very, very glossy. And if your fingers aren't as clean as a whistle, you'll grease the sucker in minutes.
Ports! For optional docking station contraptions! Hurrah!
The main interface of the Archos 7.
Viewing the video directory. Believe it or not, it is actually better than the Archos 605 Wi-Fi.
The Opera Web browser is pretty decent, but it's no iPod touch -- by a long shot.
The on-screen keyboard will be useful, unless you only want to look at Google's homepage.