- Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 7.9 x 2 cm ; 286 g
- Shipping Weight: 612 g
- Item model number: 501333
- ASIN: B002NEGTOC
- Date first available at Amazon.ca: Dec 1 2009
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #200,804 in Electronics (See Top 100 in Electronics)
Archos 5 500GB Internet Tablet With Android (Black)
We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock.
- 500GB capacity for up to 148,000 songs
- 10 hours of audio or 4 hours of video on a single charge
- 4.8-inch TFT LCD touchscreen display with 800 x 480 pixel resolution and 16 million colors
- Supports MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC, AAC+, FLAC, and OGG Vorbis audio formats
- Supports MPEG-4, MPEG-4 HD (up to 720p), H.264 HD (up to 720p), WMV, and M-JPEG video formats; JPG, BMP, PNG, and GIF image files
Brand ARCHOS Series 5 Part Number 501333 Type MP3 / MP4 Player Height 3.08" Width 5.02" Depth 0.51" Weight 8.82 oz. Storage Memory Type HDD Memory Capacity 500GB Screen Display Size 4.8" Display Type TFT Display Resolution 480 x 800 Display Colors 16 M Support Formats Audio Formats MP3/WMA/WAV/OGG/FLAC Video Formats MPEG4/WMV/MJPEG Images Formats BMP/JPEG/PNG/GIF Other Formats PDF Controls Touch Screen Yes Control Type Touch Dedicated Volume Buttons Yes Recording Audio Recording Voice, FM, Line-in Video Recording Via the optional DVR Station or DVR Snap-on. Records NTSC/PAL/SECAM in MPEG-4 AVI format with stereo sound, VGA resolution (640 x 480) @ 30 or 25 f/s Data Transfer Connection Type USB 2.0 Wireless 802.11b/g Connections Headphones Jack 3.5 mm Stereo Jack Other Connections Accessory connectors Battery Battery Type Built-in Rechargeable lithium polymer Battery Battery Life(Audio Playback) Up to 22 hours Battery Life(Video Playback) Up to 7 hours Audio Properties Speaker Built-in Microphone Built-in Extra Features Headphones Included Yes Additional Features 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) Operating system: Linux Email client: Compatible with Email accounts supporting POP3 and IMAP services Import/export of vCard contacts Built-in leg stand
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Given that my iPod Touch upgrade this year was less than astounding, I pretty much figured that this upgrade for Archos would be similarly understated. Mainly I just wanted the extra hard drive so I could backup all my laptops onto my music player. I was wrong! The new Android version seems to have a whole new feel both in form factor and the new software. I had heard that Archos was having problems with the software, but they seem to have ironed most of them out as of 1.1 firmware release. I did update my firmware immediately, and the process was quite smooth.
I'm going to rate this player on my absolute scale. I will also be making notes on the value of the upgrade from my old Archos 5. Note: I mostly use this as a media center to play music and video; secondarily as a backup drive.
Let's get to it then, these are the things I love about my new Android:
1) 500GB -- totally awesome amount of disk, I can now put just about every digital file I own on the Archos.
2) Android interface -- the overall feel of the software interface has definitively improved with the integration of Android. Effects are crisper, the esthetics are cleaner, things seem to happen faster. I especially like how easy it is to access the most recently played song or video from the main screen, pops up with a little thumbnail that you tap on and voila, resumes right where you left off!
3) Apps -- with Android we now have access to some serious app selection. Of course, nobody compares to the Apple App Store, but this comes the closest.
4) Weight -- this actually feels lighter to me than my 250GB.
5) Dock/DVR -- this popped right into my old 5 DVR and started playing right away. I still think this is the best DVR/Player combination available of all the MP3 players.
6) Video/Hi Def -- of the players I have owned, this has the best, biggest, and highest resolution screen.
7) Portrait/Landscape -- Archos has borrowed the iPhone trick of rotating the display according to orientation. I guess they have an accelerometer in there now, I dunno. Still, its fun to see this feature on an Archos. Its a lot easier to navigate playlists in portrait mode.
8) Easy and regular firmware updates -- with a WiFi connection, the firmware updates are easily performed on the unit itself. That's the easiest system I've seen of all my players. One thing I've learned about Archos over the years, they will put out a steady stream of firmware updates.
9) WMV/MTP mode-- very smooth interface to Windows for either Media Monkey or Windows Media Player.
10) Dedicated volume button -- power and volume buttons have been conveniently located onto the top edge. This is actually much easier to use when it is docked on the DVR (which is where mine spends most of its life!).
11) Sound quality is quite good, sounds great through my Klipsch speakers and seems to have more oomph than my other players.
12) WiFi/Browser -- has a good browser and WiFi connection has worked well for me. I think the keyboard is better than the Touch's, although Safari is probably the slightly superior browser. The bigger screen also helps for browsing. Overall I'm inclined to give the Archos the top ranking for browsers.
13) I just discovered Twidroid, one of many apps pre-loaded, allows me to check my Twitter in a really nice format -- love it!
14) Portability -- well there's only so much portability that can be expected with a screen and hard drive this large. This new design is smoother and rounder so its a little more comfortable in a pocket. It is very easy to carry around as a handheld device, fits nicely in my hand as I stroll about the house trying out all of the Android Apps! In any case, this is not as portable as a Touch but I think its pretty good for a small computer -- which is basically what this is.
15) No extra plug ins needed (so far!). Always in the past I've laid out another $40 for additional Archos plugins to play iPod format music and other video formats. So far I haven't had to do that -- thank you Archos :)
16) Archos will stand behind their product. I've had to send in a couple of Archos units over the years and they have always been happy to either repair or replace the unit without quibbling about it, as long as its under warranty. Note: it did take two weeks to get my unit back!
17) Multi threading: now I show my engineer/geek side. This baby can do a bunch of different stuff at the same time, unlike the iPhone/Touch which can really only do one thing at a time. The Android can be doing other stuff while you are listening music. I love the little bar on the top that you can pull down and switch to any other task that is running.
18) Built-in kickstand, very nice feature.
19) Stylus friendly touch screen -- sometimes you just get tired of trying to type a touchscreen keyboard with fat fingers! In general, this is one of my favorite touch screens. Most of the other touch screens, including iPod/iPhone, are capacitance which means stylus won't work
20) Micro USB cable plug-in: finally a standardized USB plug and you can have it resting on its kickstand while plugged in :)
Given that the Archos tops the class in several categories, and continues to be the best 500GB 5 inch screen player available I give it about a 4.7 stars out of 5 (round to 5). There are a few things I'm less than thrilled about:
1) Update: I believe you can now format your drive in a Windows friendly format on 1.7.96 version of firmware. External hard drive EXT3 -- as I understand it, Archos changed to the EXT3 hard drive format for reasons of speed and reliability. The result for me is that I can no longer simply select hard drive MSC mode, plug the Archos into a Windows machine and expect to access the drive. You have to install an Ext3 driver such as EXT2 IFS on your Windows PC. Once I did that I was able to access the hard drive and backup files to my hearts content.
2) The playlist interface didn't get much of an upgrade and its still kind of clunky. I want to simply tap my playlist and it starts playing. Often times I have to do a couple of extra taps to get the thing playing.
3) We lost the dedicated play button and removable battery a while back -- but I still miss them both! None of my favorite touch screen players has either of these features. I'm also missing the brown metallic color and the rubbery backside.
4) Finding a case for this baby is no easy trick. You're not going to find one at the local Best Buy I'm afraid. In the past I've resorted to ordering my Archos cases from European companies like I-nique and Noreve. This is generally true of any player that is not an iPod or a Zune.
5) As always with Archos, you must remember that you are dealing with a French based company. This means that they don't always provide the best support/service/upgrades to us Americans.
6) Lets face it, Archos is always playing catch up. Some of the new features aren't fully functional yet. I do have faith that Archos will fix all the little glitches with things like GPS over the course of the next 6 months. The Apps available are currently a bit limited. I expect this will improve over the coming months.
7) Keep in mind that this is not a unit for the faint of heart. This is more for the hobbyist who wants a cutting edge experience that may take some messing around to get it just the way you want it. If you want something easy that requires minimum effort then iPods are going to be more your cup of tea.
For me this is still the best player of its class -- that class being large hard drive, big screen PMP players with other fun features. Android makes for some fun possibilities, and overall I'm impressed with this as an upgrade. Once again, if you don't mind a smaller screen and you love apps I suggest you get an iPod Touch. If what you care about most is sound quality you may want to get a Walkman X. For me those are your top 3 touch screen players, it just depends on what you care about the most.
Note: 10-23-2009; I upgraded to firmware version 1.2.03 which fixes some App, Browser, and YouTube issues. Apps do seem happier now, upgrade process was very smooth. Still happily listening to tunes for about 8 hours a day with no problems :)
Update 11-7-2009: I've been running version 1.2.15 with a host of bug fixes and the unit does seem more stable in general now. Wifi is working better and USB connection seems more reliable.
Update 11-23-2009: Upgrade to firmware v 1.3.07 -- a long list of bug fixes including a few improvements that I had hoped for to control the scanning of multimedia files/ ArcLibrary. Got an AppsLib update which seems to work more reliably. There seem to be a lot more apps available now (300 ish) in AppsLib. Just keeps getting better and better! Still is playing music day in and day out with no problems and I'm backing up 2 laptops worth of files onto my 5 IT.
Update 12-18-2009: I've been on firmware 1.4.16 for over a week now. Lots of little fixes, seems even more stable now.
Update 2-11-2010: Firmware 1.7.33 (Android Donut) upgrade. The upgrade was a bit of work, I ended up reformatting the drive and starting anew. However, power saving seems to work a lot better and I haven't seen it reset itself for quite a while now. This seems to be the most solid release yet!
Update 4-8-2010: Firmware 1.7.96: just keeps getting better! Several annoying bugs fixed, Deep Sleep and Windows hard drive modes have been added as helpful new features among other things. This seems even more stable than previous versions. This is still my main car and home music player of choice.
Update 8-1-2010: Firmware 2.0.28: This version is stable. I had a little trouble with my player and had to send it in for a new one. Tech support was quite responsive and helpful, turn around time was pretty good and the new player works great. New features make for much better gaming from what I hear (I don't do gaming on it myself). Having given up the player for a while, I've come to the conclusion that the Archos actually has the best sound of all my players!
Update 9-24-10: Firmware 2.0.38: More improvement for games and 3D. Still my favorite player for my desktop and my car. New Android v2.2 versions are coming soon, I can hardly wait!
Update 3-11-2011: No firmware updates -- I think we've hit the end of the road for this product! Unfortunate since I was hoping for some FroYo. This also appears to be the end of the line for high capacity product development at Archos, there was no new version of this product released in 2010 that I know of. Overall the unit has held up well to 1 and a half years of daily use. The screen has developed a bit of a light fog effect; since I use the unit for music this isn't a big deal for me. I've taken to putting FLAC files on the A5 and it handles them pretty well, it does act a little funny with some files though -- as a result I can't strongly recommend this unit for FLAC-heads!
This is likely to be my final update -- looks like I will be keeping my 500GB A5 Android until it drops dead, quite possibly my last hard drive MP3 player and I dare say this product signals the end of an era for the world of portable media players.
Update 6-22-11: Firmware 2.0.45 -- I spoke too soon! This release fixes an assortment of bugs and has been quite stable for me (I've had it for about a month now). I always do appreciate a stable bugfix update. In the meantime, I have successfully been able to get both Android marketplace and Amazon Appstore working and I've downloaded apps from both sources successfully. Of course Android 1.6 is getting pretty dated at this point, wouldn't it be nice to have Android 3 on this baby?!
Set-up: I spent hours getting the thing set up. It crashed a lot. Right in the video tutorials at Archos.com (the video tutorials are awsome by the way) they show you how to use a paperclip to push the reset button. Yes. You will need a paperclip. I imagine someone will stop reading right there and go back to looking at Ipods. I don't blame you. But, remember what I said. In the end, after the setup, the Archos is really good.
Portability: This is the 500 gigabyte model. So, yes it will fit in your pocket as advertised. But, it needs to be a big pocket. I bought the leather case for it. Honestly, strapping it to my belt reminded me of the Nerds movie. I don't know anyone who would carry it like that. Realistically, it's not something you are going to strap to your arm and go for a jog with. If that is what you're looking for, go buy a cheap mp3 player. On the other hand, with 500 gigabytes, I have all of my music on it. That's about 50 cd's worth of music. That only takes up about 5 gigabytes. You get the idea.
Hidden Costs: 1) I spent several hours trying to figure out why the FM Transmitter wouldn't work. I then found out that the device has to be plugged in to the car charger for it to work. That would have been nice to know. I hadn't purchased the car charger. I opted for a cheaper generic window holster. So, I have to spend more if I want the FM transmitter to work. 2) The GPS only has a 7-day free trial. You have to spend about $40.00 to get the full version. 3) I'm sure there is some fine print somewhere that says what video formats will work. What I remember most is the review which says you can throw just about any format at the device and it will take it. Well, that may be true. But in order to get some of the formats to work, you have to spend another $40.00 for a software bundle.
DVR Station: I was really excited about the DVR station. I still am. But, I haven't been able to get the video right yet. I'm hoping I can still figure out what the problem is. And, the program guide isn't available outside of the UK. That's right. The program guide that is advertised is not available in the U.S. That would have been nice to know ahead of time. So, it's like the old VCR days. You have to look at your local TV listings and then manually set up the channel and time. That's just one thing. You have to leave the device on stand-by or on the home screen when the time for the recording is about to begin. If you are on any other screen, it won't record. That's not a big deal I guess. But, I spent a lot of time and frustration figuring that one out.
Summary: I picked the Archos over the Ipod because it had so many features in one device. I could buy one device instead of a DVR, a GPS, and an mp3 player. Well, you have to pay extra for the GPS. And, I still haven't been able to get the DVR to work right. Why am I hanging on to it? It's the 500 gigabytes of storage. None of the Ipod's currently on the market come even close.
If you have a lot of video and music that you want to take with you everywhere you go, the Archos is for you. If you're looking for an mp3 player that has aps, get the Ipod.
Pros - beautiful build quality, beautiful screen, nice size that's bigger than a smartphone but small enough to fit in a large pocket, Access to the entire Android Marketplace after enabling Google apps, Google apps support and Google Sync on the Archos after enabling them. SD card slot for easy storage upgrades
Cons - Touch screen works but isn't as responsive as it should be, device can lag at times (but this isn't all that unusual with Android devices in general) Some apps didn't work as advertised. icons don't always use space in the best way resulting in large gaps between icons
For anyone that wants to truly see what the Archos 5 Android can do, they should install the Google apps after updating to the latest firmware. I understand this should not be necessary for a device such as this but under the circumstances, it's highly recommended, only take a few minutes and is easy to do. The Android Marketplace alone gives the device so much extra firepower and flexibility that it cannot and should not be ignored. GPS default app isn't working right? Use Google Navigation. Can't get Pandora to run in the browser? Use the free Android Pandora app. Hate the default Archos 5 browser? Get Opera, Xscope or Dolphin browser in the Marketplace. It's that simple.
I will keep this as brief as possible. Archos did screw up big time by releasing a device that has potential but shipped flawed, buggy and gimp. I wouldn't be surprised if lawsuits are being prepared for false advertising considering some of the default apps don't work. But despite this, I still liked the device because as I mentioned above, after installing the Google apps and marketplace, I was able to fully customize the Archos 5 Android to run like I needed it to run with the exception of the touchscreen. I didn't use Archos's software to playback video. I used Astro, Xscope or the Android Gallery. I didn't use the default music player either. I used the default 1.6 Android player and "3". I even switch the home launcher with DXtop and custom skins and icons. I tried to get the Archos to run similar to my Nexus One as best I could and the results were impressive. Also considering added storage through SD card is a welcome addition as well as the bluetooth tethering support. Speaking of which, I used the Bluetooth File Transfer app from the marketplace to transfer files from my Nexus One to the Archos 5 Android and it worked without any problems. That's my constant theme for this review. If you are familiar with the Android Marketplace, you can find apps that function better than many of the default apps that ship with the Archos, It made my life less stressful for sure. Video playback is great, music playback is great even though the speaker is good but not the best I've heard on a portable device. I had no stalls, freezes or crashes in the 3 days that I've ran the Archos and I ran it pretty hard.
The problems I did have all revolved around the touchscreen. Archos really should have known better and simply put a capacitive screen on the device. What's the point in having a touchscreen if it isn't going to be as responsive as it should be? Really. This was almost a deal breaker for me until I came to grips with it. It's still not as good as my Nexus One, not by a long shot but it's doable for the tablet. If lack of screen responsiveness can be addressed through software, then Archos should make that priority one. The stability issues are being dealt with as I just used the device with the latest firmware and it was very stable. But Archos should keep at it to ensure that the Archos 5 Android becomes a monster that will almost never fail.
Summary, if you're an experienced user of Android and can deal with a resistive touchscreen then I'd say the Archos 5 may be for you. Android Marketplace will provide so many apps that will add so much functionality to the Archos, that is almost worth the price of admission alone. Audio and Video playback are great with Android apps, there are a number of good browsers to use for the web allowing you to download Youtube videos...almost any video you find actually and run it direct from the unit. I had no problems with Wifi as I'm running a Linksys WRT54G router. My only other gripe is that my PS3 will not recognize the Archos as a mass storage device.
If you want overall ease of use without the hassles of constant firmware updates, if you want a more responsive touch screen and a "it just works, out of the box" experience, then buy Apple and never look back.
I'll update this review as I spend more time adding apps and files to the device to see if it holds up over longer periods of intense use.
UPDATE: 4-10-10 I've spent the last few days really putting this device through it's paces and I've learned quite a bit. First and foremost, after calibrating the touchscreen, I can say that it's definitely functional with finger use. No stlyus needed. But it's not as good as a capacitive screen and rightfully so considering the Archos 5 Android has a resistive screen. With that in mind, I can navigate the Archos fine with my fingers and type fairly well on the virtual keyboard. Calibrating the screen is key and it very easy to do considering you're prompted to calibrate the device on the first power on. Not sure why my friend didn't do this with his Archos 5 Android. The unit has been very stable as well and only crashed on me once when I had two browsers open, one having multiple tabs and trying to run video at the same time while running two other apps in the background. (I'd like to see a 1GHz Archos 5 Android with 512mbs of DDR3 instead of the 128mbs that's used now.)
I've thrown quite a few video formats at it, Xvid, Divx, Mp3 and Mp4 videos etc and they've all worked with the exception of two that needed a codec that Archos offers for a price. That sucked and I passed on it. The only other format that I have to try is .FLV which I fully expect to not work but I'll be happy to be proven wrong. Transferring files from my PS3, Nexus One and PC to the Archos was very easy once I put a 16GB microSD card in the unit. The PS3 and PC wouldn't play nice with the Archos until then.
The unit is very stable after installing the Android 1.6 update. But I decided to not put the Google Marketplace on my unit as the Archos Marketplace has quite a few apps in it and I realized without a constant internet connection, Google sync wouldn't be worth the install. Any apps I needed I just bluetooth pushed them from my Nexus One to the Archos using the free Bluetooth Transfer app in both marketplaces.
Also, I was wrong about the video playback being better in Android apps as opposed to Archos's own apps. I've found that once you use a Android Launcher (Home Alternative app, DXtop, Open Home, Panda Home etc) on the Archos, you lose the Archos icons for music, video, photo playback that's part of the Archo's software that runs within Android. You need those apps and can have them on your desktop as widgets if you get them from the Archos marketplace under Multimedia. They're free too. What this does is allows you to run Android apps as much as you want but also have the more robust Archos video app and the far superior codec support as customizable widgets without missing a beat.
I did have problems with the playlist creation with the Archos music player. Although I like the layout of it once songs start to play. But at this time, it's just easier for me to make playlists using the default Android app.
The photo gallery is a matter of preference. Archo's Gallery is superb and images look fantastic on the screen along with a larger sized thumbnails for easy viewing. The Android Gallery is good and images quality still looks great but the thumbnail view isn't as big and doesn't look as slick especially after seeing the excellent Android 2.1 gallery.
I believe that the Archos 5 Android tablet is a great device with some negatives that can be fixed with software updates and/or revisions. I didn't buy the larger 500GB, 320GB or other sizes because I wanted the slimmer form factor of the 8GB version. It offers a lot of flexibility and power for such a small device and isn't sold at a premium. Having the ability to run Android .apk files regardless of the lack of Google Marketplace support means users can still get access to the huge catalog of Android apps available and run them on their devices. If potential buyers are already running Android smartphones then they're ahead of the curve. It could benefit from more RAM in future versions as the device lag at times but the lag was no where near as bad as some people have made it out to be. It's not G1 or Mytouch 3G bad where the device locks up for minutes at a time. If Google wouldn't make this a "Google Experience" device then they must have something truly special in the pipeline but as it stands, even at a much cheaper price for the 8GB version, Archos 5 Android does quite a few things that a Ipad can not.
This will be my final update for the Archos5 Android as I've put it through it's paces pretty good since I've started using it.
I found out that the device will play flash movie files (.flv files) native without having to encode the video for playback in a different format. A Archos rep recommended saving videos to the archos one by one as opposed to bulk saving because bulk saves can damage the files en route. I bulk transferred a number of .flv files and all were corrupted but I can confirm that doing as the archos rep suggested works. I decided to put the Google Experience apps on my Archos because, quite simply, the process is so ridiculously easy and fast there was no reason not to. This device has great potential but there are still some things that could have been better.
Battery life. The Archos 5 Android's battery drains incredibly fast while playing media. I'm not sure which battery is used but a higher capacity battery than the one present would have been a godsend. I can use the resistive screen for a good experience but a capacitive screen would have made navigating the Archos 5 Android a great experience. The device needs more RAM. Period. Overall stability. I'm a geek at heart and tooling around with the Archos is great fun for me. I've loved it because I know how to get around or solve some of the problems other users are having. But the average consumer isn't going to be as patient or even as tech savvy enough to do the same. The initial bugs with the Archos simply should not be. Yes, firmware updates have solved stability issues and bugs in some key areas but the reality is, when you're asked to pay hundreds of dollars for a device, it should just work. Period. With that being said, I stand by my 4* review. The Archos 5 Android shows what a internet tablet should be (when the full range of Google services added) even if it's currently geared towards the power user (Android/Linux power user really) as opposed to Joe Everyday. -1* for the need to update as soon as you take it out of the box.
I purchased this product and have had to send it in for repair. There was nothing physically wrong with it other than they do not work. Everyone who has one of these devices is having the exact same problem I have. The device will lock up at least once every hour forcing you to reboot it. The bluetooh and wireless radios do not work all of the time and will disconnect whenever and cause the device to freeze more often. If I use the bluetooth with headphones and watch videos the audio is out of sync every time. The device locks on media files claiming they are corrupt and force a reboot but the file will play after the reboot never showing a problem. When the wireless or bluetooth has problems my media files play really fast forcing a reboot. The internet is fast and sleek but will freeze the device after a while or possibly this is because of wireless issues. The video playback is beautiful and the audio is good but does not play long enough to enjoy. I cn not believe this device is still up for sale because they have not fied it yet. Some people are will to stick with this in hopes of a working upgrade but this broken device should have never been made available for sale. Archos should be giving coupons or discounts to the customers they have sold this device too and who knows how long we will have to suffer with this device befor they can actually make it work.
UPDATE: I got an RMA on this device because Archos said it was bad. I got a new one and have the same problems as before. It is more stable now and does not crash as much but the features promised still do not work.
1. The video looks great no matter what type of video I play on it but almost every type of video file plays with the audio out of sync.
2. The bluetooth tethering does not work with my HTC WinMo phone or any Windows phone for that matter. It only works with a handful of phones.
3. Flash games and the purchased TV Playin games are very slow. Flash games will even stall the screen and lock the device.
4. The wireless if very poor. It will connect to some router but fail on others. It never connects to "N" routers at the correct speed.
5. Photo viewing is poor because there are no thumbnails and it's slow finding photos.
While this device has gotten a little better do not believe all the hype. If you want a device to tinker with then you may like this thing but if you want what is promised by Archos then this device is a ripoff. Check out the Archos fourms around the internet and you will see all the issues people are having with it.
EDIT 5/9/11 - The Archos is DEAD. Seems the hard drive took a dump. According to Android OS, "Internal Storage Damaged." Can't get out of Recovery Mode because it refuses to complete reformat and update firmware commands. Completely useless and worthless now. Archos has a bad reputation when it comes to their customer service, so I'm just going to move on. It sure was nice while it lasted...
I'm so glad I pulled the trigger on this. I was very hesitant to drop $400 (I got the 500GB model) on something that has received so many negative reviews, but this is definitely the best purchase I've made in a long time!
I use it everywhere and all the time. I use it in the car even though I have a 6-disc CD changer with MP3 capability. I use it at home even though I have a brand new laptop in front of me. I use it instead of using my 32" TV with a WDTV and 1.5TB hard drive of movies and TV shows. I use it while sitting on the toilet. I use it when I should be sleeping at 2am. Its just so darn versatile and fun to use, I can't put it down!
I read a review somewhere, that the Archos 5 Internet tablet with Android wasn't for somebody who expects electronic devices to work perfectly every time and all the time. That it was for somebody who likes to tinker, somebody patient enough to put up with some of its issues. I think those are wise words, and thankfully I fit into the latter category. Although, I must admit, there aren't any "issues" that I have to put up with. The screen hasn't locked up on me but once when I was trying to play music in the background of surfing a pretty graphic intensive website. Even though I had to restart the device, I was back up and surfing that same website within two minutes. I mean c'mon, Windows OS has an awesome and extensive reputation, and even the newest versions on the newest computers will hang at times. They're electronic devices for crying out loud, they're not going to be perfect...EVER!
I did A LOT of research before I made my purchase, so I was aware of the recent firmware updates available and past bugs and glitches that are taken care of, and those that are still an issue to some. I was prepared for the worst, but ended up getting a GREAT experience so far. I received mine on 7/16/2010, and came out of the box with firmware version 1.7.99. I opted NOT to upgrade to the newest firmware available until I got a chance to test its current reliability and performance. So far I see no reason to upgrade, because as far as I understand, most of the new updates are for OpenGL programming for newer 3D games that are becoming more and more available and playable on the Archos, and apparently they conflict with current programming and 2D games. A selling point for me though, was the availability of (2D) NES and Sega Genesis emulators, I don't care much for playing the fancy new 3D iPhone based games. The Archos Development Team is awesome though, because they're releasing two versions of firmware updates currently, one for the people interested in the 3D game capability of their Archos, and one intended for those that want to keep the games, settings, and programs that are adversely affected by the OpenGL stuff. But like I said, my Archos is perfect as is in my eyes, so I'm not going to bother updating until I see a reason to.
The HDD 500GB model is smaller than I was expecting. Real-world, its smaller than the specs "on paper" had me to believe. Which is a good thing, because it fits in my pocket and light enough to comfortably do so. Everybody I show my Archos to, cannot believe it holds 500 gigs of movies, music, and photos and still have the ability to do what it does. Sure there are portable hard drives out right now that are as small as the Archos, that hold just as much and more...but can they PLAY the movies, music, and photos that they hold, with their OWN OS, with a FIVE INCH screen to boot!? Kudos to Archos!
Sure there are a few drawbacks, individual to each user. Such as in my case, concerning the aforementioned game platform emulators...the Archos doesn't support multi-touch...which in this case means you cannot use two buttons on the onscreen controller at the same time (ie jumping in a direction). I found that you adapt though, and most games are still playable.
Also, I think the fact this is marketed as an HD player, but you have to purchase the ability to do so apart from the actual price of the device...is crap. FACT: The average 700mb AVI-format movie plays and sounds PERFECT on the Archos 5, straight out of the box. They look impressive on the screen. FACT: I'll probably purchase the "Cinema Package" add-on at some point in the future. Its a one-time cost of $40 to ensure your device will play virtually ANYTHING you throw at it. Sometimes you don't have a choice either, and the 4gb+ sized HD file is the only version available for some hard to find movies. And honestly, thats the only thing it won't play so far, are the HUGE MKV or VOB movie files. To be clear: ALL WMVs, AVIs, MPEGs, smaller MKVs, and MP4s (all of which make up for, I'd say, 95% of my collection) play just fine.
The included earphones were crap BTW. The right side didn't even work, LOL. I literally just threw them out. We all know you can get a set of decent earphones for under 10 bucks virtually anywhere nowadays anyways, so no biggie.
The Internet on the Archos 5 is FAST! You won't be disappointed. I have a brand new Windows 7 laptop, and I'd honestly say the Archos loads most web pages a little faster than the laptop. Multiple broadband speed tests confirm its wifi speed is 6200kbps+ in my case. THAT'S IMPRESSIVE! The wifi was simple to setup on the Archos, and has never dropped the connection unexpectedly. I've tried the Opera, Dolphin, and Skyfire browsers, and I still prefer the stock Android browser. I downloaded an app that syncs my Firefox bookmarks from my PC, so I feel right at home using the Internet on the Archos.
Speaking of Apps, I highly suggest downloading the Google Android Market "hack." Google it if you're unfamiliar. Its so much better than the Archos supplied Appslib program. In fact, Appslib hasn't even worked at all in my case. It won't even open, yet every now and then says there's an update for it, but fails to load correctly. I suspect this is because I haven't updated my device to the most current firmware? Either way, I don't need it. the Google Android Market has anything you'd ever want, and every App I've downloaded so far has worked on my Archos as if they were designed for it (most apps designed for phones with smaller screens and inputs, ie physical buttons). Most apps are free too, and the ones that have a price are a whopping two bucks on average. I didn't think I'd even be interested in apps at all until I saw what was available. There's some handy and neat stuff out there...and for FREE!
I didn't buy my Archos for its GPS capability, so I wouldn't have any problem purchasing the license to use the GPS function. However, I've found the Google Maps and Navigation apps are awesome (and free)! Only drawback is the Google apps require wifi access, which realistically isn't possible while driving anywhere and everywhere. If you ask me, GPS is only for old people and women anyways, LOL, no offense.
I purchased the Archos brand Car Mount w/FM transmitter and charger, and its a must have for the Archos 5. The FM transmitter option on the device is awesome! In my case, with my car's stereo and speakers and my music library, the sound is EXCELLENT! Much better than I was expecting!
I would also suggest purchasing the battery dock with your Archos as well. So many cool features in such a small package (just like the Archos 5 itself)! Charging takes only two hours with the battery dock, versus all night connected to USB. When the battery dock itself is fully charged, it instantly adds about 30% charge to the Archos device. Thereby increasing your play time by that much. You can also connect your Archos to virtually any TV with this dock as well with the S-Video and Composite connections. When connected to a TV, the Archos goes black and you use the screen as a mouse pad and your finger moves the pointer around on the screen of the TV, which I think is a cool feature. On top of all that, you also get a mini USB port to connect the unit to a PC, AND a standard sized USB input on the dock itself to directly connect a camera, Flash Drive, external hard drive...you name it.
That reminds me, you cannot just connect the Archos to your PC and drag and drop your files. This is understandable because you're dealing with a Windows device and a Linux device. I have no idea in the world how Linux works, but the Internet is a wonderful thing! Google "Ext2 IFS for Windows," click the first result, and download the driver that allows Windows to read and write to the Linux Ext2 and Ext3 drive formats. Its straightforward and does just what it promises. If you're running Windows 7 though, you have to run the Ext2 IFS installer/program in Vista compatibility mode. Literally the whole process will take you a couple minutes, and BINGO! You can drag and drop, copy, create folders, rename files, anything and everything you would need to do. Archos doesn't really explain that this is necessary, as they recommend using your Windows Media Player (WMP) to "sync" your library to the Archos. Personally I rarely use the WMP and don't keep my media files in its library, so using it to "sync" is foreign to me, and honestly, sounds like a PITA with the possibility of all sorts of issues.
All in all, I couldn't be happier with the Archos 5IT Android! I NEEDED an MP3 player, and WANTED a portable wifi device...and I can't believe i was even considering an iPod Touch, because with the Archos 5, I got what I needed and wanted, and so much more. For 64GB and a 3.5" screen, Apple wants $350! Ludicrous! Its thin and the battery lasts a little longer, big whoop. Apple is such a gimmick and I truly don't understand why so many people fall for it and pay outrageous prices for devices that don't offer much compared to what else is out there! For only $50 more and only a quarter of an inch thicker than the iPod Touch I just described, you get a much bigger screen with GORGEOUS ouput, a whopping 400GB PLUS more space, the ability to play ANY video or music file you throw at it (as opposed to using proprietary file formats and programs to even load your device!), an FM radio and transmitter, GPS...you name it, and the Archos beats the Apple in every category (except for probably the battery).
Most people have never heard about Archos as a company, and that's a darn shame because they offer some AWESOME products. Just for fun, compare the "Archos 9" to the Apple iPad. Blows it out of the water. Just as the Archos 5IT Android does the iPod Touch! HIGHLY RECOMMEND!