dscf6904 thumb Archos 5 Internet Media Tablet and DVR Station

I love gadgets, especially multi-function ones that allow you to take movies and music with you. Portable Media Players as they are called, most people have one for of them or another, be it their phone, an iPod or maybe a Zune, or some other brand of media player. One thing about these things though is that the screen is small, and really watching a movie is something that I wouldn’t do all of the time on one.

Archos has been around for a while, and really they’ve come along way with the quality and functionality of their products, they’ve recently introduced the Archos 5 Internet Media Tablet which features a nice large 4.8″ LCD screen that runs at a resolution of 800×480 pixels to produce a very nice big picture. That’s not the only feature of the Archos 5 though, it can do pretty much anything a laptop can, internet, email, movies, music, and even games. Archos sent me the Archos 5 Tablet for review along with a must-have accessory called the DVR Station which allows you to not only record TV like a DVR, but it allows you to hook up the Archos 5 to your TV for a really big screen view.

So we’ll start this review off with a big unboxing videos of both products, first is the Internet Media tablet and then you’ll see the DVR Station Unboxed, watch and continue on for the rest of the review which is basically a video as well…

Specifications:

Archos 5 Internet Media Tablet

ARCHOS, award-winning for its constant technology innovation and leadership in portable media players now introduces a new concept: the Internet Media Tablet.
The ARCHOS 5 is the flagship of the new range, bringing the customer a new way to enjoy Internet, Media and TV…in a handheld device.

Basic Specs:

Display characteristics: High resolution screen, 800×480 pixels, 4.8” TFT LCD, 16 million colors
User interaction: Direct by touch screen, ON/OFF, vol+ and vol- buttons

Processor(s):
- Main processor: ARM CortexTM-A8, 32 bit, In-order, dual-issue, superscalar core @ 600 MHz
- Additional processor: 32 bit DSP @ 430 MHz

RAM memory: 128 MB* (Low-Power Double Data Rate SDRAM)
Mass storage memory: Hard drive, capacity according to the product version
- 60 GB* (stores up to 80 Movies, 600,000 photos or 30,000 songs1)
Operating system: Linux

Archos DVR Station

Turn your ARCHOS tablet into a Digital Video Recorder.

The DVR Station is the perfect bridge between your TV and your ARCHOS 5: record your TV programs and turn your TV into a real multimedia platform connected to the Web.
Just insert your ARCHOS into the DVR Station and enjoy all the functions of your ARCHOS tablet on your home TV.

With the Electronic TV Program Guide1, scheduling and recording from your satellite receiver, cable box, Digital TV adapter has never been so easy. You can also surf the Web or stream web video to your TV while comfortably laid back on your couch using the included remote control as a keyboard and mouse pointer.

You can also play back on TV in DVD quality through the composite, S-video, RGB or YPbPr video outputs. And with HDMI output, on compatible TV sets, you can watch films or any content in HD quality. The DVR Station includes a remote control with a built-in keyboard and a mouse pointer that will let you experience Internet on your TV just like on your PC. You can navigate through the web directly, write and send emails without booting up your computer. Or pick your evening’s movie on the Media Club. From your couch, on your TV.

My first impression of the Archos 5 was that it was really cool, and I was right with that impression, using it is a lot of fun. I was also pleasantly surprised that the unit boots up rather fast, I was expecting it to take a bit longer since this is basically a mini computer after all.

It’s a touch screen which does take a bit to get used to, but after using it for a few days you’ll get accustomed to it and be using and navigating the interfaces quickly and easily. It would be nice though to have a stylus included with the Archos 5 as typing can be a bit annoying, I always seen to hit the key next to the one I want, if a stylus was used accuracy would be greatly improved. The touch screen though does have good sensitivity, and the on-screen keyboard works well for most things, just don’t expect any speed typing.

I’ve got a rather long video for you showing the Archos 5 in action, of course I didn’t cover everything, but I tried to hit the high points or features that most people will be using most often.

My main complaint is the Opera browser is a bit buggy in that there are times when it just freezes up and you’ve got to cycle the power on the Archos unit, yes Opera is nice, but it’s still in beta so why adopt a beta product to use with something like this? After all the name of this product is the ‘internet media tablet’ so one would think that surfing the internet would be it’s strong point, but having a browser lock up on you just takes quite a bit of the fun out of the whole experience.

For the DVR station, well it does add quite a bit of value to the Archos 5, in that everything you can do on the tablet you can do on the big screen of your TV. This is nice for movies, music, internet and even the games, but I found the remote isn’t quite as sensitive as it could be for these things, especially the mouse or cursor controller pad, it just seems to lag a bit and it’s not very cooperative. I’ve used other types of remotes for HTPCs that include pads like these and they’ve worked well, but this one just doesn’t seem to work as well. Since it’s only a 60gig hard drive in the version I received that limits to what you can really do as to storing music, movies and using it as an DVR, if you plan on using the DVR function a lot I would suggest getting the larger capacity hard drive version. One nice function of the DVR is that it charges the Achos 5 while in the dock.

A suggestion to Archos would be to include a carrying case, and screen protectors with the Media Tablet as it does seem a bit fragile, especially such a large touch screen, I personally would be afraid to break it, or scratch the screen if it was in a bag or pocket. I’ve got a touch screen based cellphone and really a screen protector is a must have accessory to go with it.

Battery life is very good, I’ve used it for a few hours exploring things and just playing around, and there’s still a charge on it. I didn’t constantly listen to music of watch movies, but I’m sure as with anything like this the battery life is shortened by doing things like that.

Images

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Conclusion:

I really like the Archos 5 and DVR Station combination, the Archos 5 itself is really actually quite fun to play with, and the quality of the picture is very good considering the small screen. If you’re going to get the Archos 5 then the DVR Station is a must have accessory to go with it, it’s well worth the extra cost for functionality it brings with it.

Surfing the web is a bit of a hassle at times using the buggy Opera browser, but it works well, when it’s not locked up that is… The other bugs are supposedly going to be worked out with future firmware revisions.

Pros:

-Looks great

-Works surprisingly well

-Really is fun to use

-Easy to use overall

-Excellent picture quality for movies

-DVR Station adds  functionality and value

Cons:

-Some bugs still

-Picks up dust and fingerprints easily

-Parts still in beta, inaccessible

-Remote for DVR not sensitive enough for some things

-Appears fragile, could easily be broken if not careful

Grades:

Overall: score 8 10 thumb3 Archos 5 Internet Media Tablet and DVR Station

Design: score 8 10 thumb4 Archos 5 Internet Media Tablet and DVR Station

Performance: score 8 10 thumb5 Archos 5 Internet Media Tablet and DVR Station