The Archos 604 has been one of our favorite digital media players since its introduction late last year. Our opinion of the new Archos 605 WiFi—which adds a high-resolution touch screen and wireless networking capabilities—isn’t as lofty.
Although the 605 offers a screen with the same dimensions as the 604 (4.3 inches, 16:9 aspect ratio), we fully expected its enhanced resolution (800x480 pixels compared to 480x272) to knock our socks off. After repeated viewings of slightly washed out digital photos and videos, our metatarsals remain firmly ensconced in argyle.
The touch screen works great—it’s a much easier means of navigating the player’s menus than the column of buttons on the right side of the device—so we can overlook the need to use a stylus. But if the touch screen is to blame for the screen’s vaguely hazy look, the trade-off isn’t worth it.
The same goes for the 605’s wireless-networking capabilities, which we assume are responsible for causing the new player to burn through a battery charge even faster than its off-line predecessor. We got less than four hours of play time while watching videos and making moderate use of the wireless network feature (despite the fact that the player drops its connection after just a few minutes of inactivity in order to go into battery-conservation mode).
Actually, the wireless feature isn’t terribly useful unless you also purchase a special version of Opera, which adds a full 10 percent to the purchase price. Right. When’s the last time you contemplated buying a web browser? That and the connectivity issue aside, Opera proved to be a solid fit for the Archos player. We had a good experience visiting many of our favorite sites without having to rely on web pages that were optimized for use with portable devices.
We’re also not impressed with the 605’s stingy storage capacity (30GB, just like the 604) and Archos’s insistence on using a proprietary USB cable (they tell us this is a necessary evil, but that doesn’t make it any less of a pain in the caboose).
Touch-screen works great; better screen res than old version.
Lousy battery life; 10% surcharge for Opera; hazy-looking screen.