Archos 5 Internet Tablet with Android Review Part 2

archos 5 imt main Archos 5 Internet Tablet with Android Review Part 2

This is part 2 of the Archos 5 Internet Tablet review. It had to be split due to being too long for the CMS, so make sure to read part 1 first.

Transferring files

The Archos 5 IT supports both MTP and MSC/UMS as well as a debug mode and an USBnet mode that lets you connect the Archos to the Internet via a USB cable to a computer with an Internet connection. Android is based on Linux, and the file system on the device isn’t accepted by Windows (at least it wasn’t for me) when connecting in MSC mode, so it will prompt you to format if you select that option. As of FW 1.7.71 you can do this from the device itself, and that will leave you with FAT32 as the file system. This does however mean you can’t transfer files larger than 4GB, which might be an issue if you have HD movie rips. MTP works fine though without any reformatting, although it gets a bit tedious to click “transfer anyways” 374643 times when WMP thinks that the video file can’t be played on the device. MTP is generally good at letting you know when a file isn’t supported, but that whole functionality becomes a mess with a player that supports this many formats. MTP mode of course also allows you to manage the media on the device with software if you so please, but no software is required. There are also other methods of transferring media; apps that will let you transfer via Bluetooth and FTP are sure to exist, though I haven’t tried any myself. You can also put files on the microSD card (if you have the flash version of the device) and then use file manager to copy files onto the device. This will take a long time though, but if you happened to be somewhere without a microUSB cable or network access it’s an option. Lastly, you can transfer files over the network by browsing to shared folders in the file browser and copying files to the device. This is generally slow, but hey, it’s wireless!

Bugs

I thought I’d save this part of the review until last, otherwise I’m guessing a fair amount of people would simply stop reading and writing the device off as a joke very early on. I’m a fairly techy guy, with a fair amount of present and past gadgets under my belt, and I’m not overstating in any way whatsoever when I say that in the few months I’ve had the Archos 5 IT, it’s been more buggy, crashy and generally unstable than every single device I’ve ever had in my life combined. Probably squared, as well. While some bugs have been fixed in later firmware versions, it’s still so buggy that I’ve had to attach a small metal pin to the device permanently so I can reach the reset hole when out and about. Here’s a short recollection of some of the bugs I’ve had recently, since 1.7.33. Note that the device was cleaned completely several times to get a 100% clean install of the new firmware, and these bugs aren’t limited to my device only- in fact the general rule with the Archos 5 IT is that if your device isn’t broken, it might be defective.

To start off my rant about the stability of this device, let me tell you what happened this morning while I was writing part of this review. I pressed the “on”-button, the backlight came on….and nothing more. A quick poke into the reset hole later and it was booting. When it booted up, it of course couldn’t connect to my WiFi network- apparently it’s extremely picky about what router you have, and tend to be very temperamental with routers that work 100% on any other device. A reboot later, I went to check something in the video playback section to write it into the review. Something had apparently gone wrong with the media library update, as it couldn’t find any videos. I’d seen that bug before, so I knew to access the files from the general file browser instead of the Archos Media Center. At that time, it simply crashed, and I had to reboot a second time. After that it worked fine.

Another real life story was last week, in the cafeteria at my university college after a lecture. I plugged in my IEMs and went to watch an episode of 24. No sound was coming out, and as I looked up people were looking my way. Turns out the Archos hadn’t gotten the fact that headphones were inserted, and was playing the audio through the speakers. Not the first time it had happened, so I rebooted, still the same. I rebooted again, then reset the device, and it finally got that I had inserted headphones. Given the reboot time of the device, this whole ordeal took about 5+ minutes, which is rather frustrating when it happens a lot.

There are other stories I could share as well, but the general point is that the Archos 5 IT is extremely unstable anywhere in the OS; from settings to third party applications. It will crash, freeze, reboot, turn itself off, refuse to find WiFi networks, disconnect from WiFi networks and so on, way more than it should. Ironically (considering how CPU intensive 720p video is), playing video is the part of the OS which is most stable, as it tends to work fine as long as you get to actually starting playback in the first place. Bugs and instability tend to be boot specific as far as I’ve experienced, meaning that when you start it up it will either be a catastrophe or work perfectly. “When it rains, it pours” is an expression that comes to mind with this device. The seeming lack of a pattern to all the behaviour has also left the user community a bit split, as some people have devices that don’t behave at all while others have minimal amount of bugs. There also isn’t anything physically wrong with any of the devices (the issues are too wide spread for that); it’s simply that the software is so buggy it’s impossible to know what will happen or when. Android isn’t the most stable OS to begin with, and when you throw in a small (hardware) company with an equally small software department that has all the responsibility of making it work, things get bad. Another reason for the issues the device is having is also the basic way Android works; Google was so set on making Apple look bad for not allowing multitasking that the OS happily multitasks everything it can get its hands on just for the sake of it. With only 256MB of RAM, part of which is dedicated to running the basic OS processes, there simply isn’t enough memory to allow desktop widgets, unused applications and everything else to do whatever they want. As much as I myself love multitasking, I’d rather have a device that was more picky about what was running and in turn would run better.

The instability of the whole device is by far the biggest downside of the Archos 5 IT, and ultimately what will keep most people away. Archos is doing a great job of trying to patch holes as they’re made aware of them, but that only leaves you with a device that will get better, not one that is good now. Some people don’t mind tinkering with a device to make it work; it’s half the fun for some people myself too (at times). Though when it comes to just watching a video, I really don’t want to go 3 rounds in the ring with a device to make it even start up and get a video playing, and you really have to do that with this thing sometimes. If it hadn’t been such a unique device it probably wouldn’t have lasted a week on the market, but since there are so few mainstream alternatives you have to weigh the features against the work you have to put into it. You might be lucky and get a device that works perfectly, but chances are you won’t. Exchanging it is also difficult, as it’s not technically broken.

WiFi, Bluetooth, FM receiver/transmitter and GPS

The Archos Is packed with tech and these four in particular will catch people’s eye on the spec sheets, so I thought I’d give them a quick rundown. The GPS requires paid software, and is useless without it. The FM transmitter requires a car dock, and is also useless without that. WiFi is obviously used for a lot of features on the device, from web browser to downloading apps and information, and having WiFi access is critical if you want to use the Archos 5 IT to its full
potential. However, as stated above, the WiFi feature is still unstable with some (many) routers and is often a pain in the sitting device. As for Bluetooth, you have more or less full Bluetooth abilities including A2DP and AVRCP, tethering to a cell phone for Internet (this feature is, not surprisingly, unstable), Bluetooth mouse and keyboard support (yes you can actually control the whole thing with an on-screen mouse controlled cursor) and additional features through apps.

Battery life

Being a media tablet, you can’t expect the same battery life from the Archos as from something like the Samsung P3, as everything it does take more power. CPU, screen etc uses a certain amount of juice no matter what you’re doing, so a bigger battery will still give less battery life. The key number here is 7 hours; you get about 7 hours of actual use. If you play music with everything else off (including the screen), Archos claims it can reach 22 hours, which I doubt, but it will still be considerably more than 7 hours. For video watching, surfing etc it depends on screen brightness, WiFi, Bluetooth etc and also the strain on the CPU. HD video takes more power than SD video, and so on. 7 hours is therefore the max you will normally get from enjoying the device, but if you want decent backlight and tinker a bit you can shave a few hours off that. There is an external battery dock available that will add a few more hours, and you can of course use external battery packs. Something like the Callpod FuelTank would be an excellent accessory for the Archos if you plan on going on long trips, long flights and so on.

Conclusion

The Archos 5 Internet Tablet with Android is a very touchy subject for some people as it’s part awesome, part scrap. On one hand, you have excellent hardware (with the exception of the resistive touch screen, which should have been capacitive) and awesome support for video and a giant market of apps to put on it, but on the other hand you have a device that’s so unstable I legiimately wish it had a big giant red reset button on the back instead of a tiny reset hole. Any normal consumer would likely throw this device into the closest wall within 10 minutes of getting it, but then again the readers of Abi>> are a bit more advanced than that. The Archos is a great device for video, and I love watching a few episodes of this and that on the go, but I myself wouldn’t pay money for a device this buggy. The cheapest version is $250 for 8GB (expandable with memory cards) which makes it a deal like no other on paper, but you need to have serious patience if you’re going to buy this now as it can only be described as an alpha release at this point. I really hope Archos will get a grip on the problems with this device and give us something that’s as good in real life as it is on paper, because I can’t recommend anyone buy it at this point. Not unless you have a thing for fixing stuff that shouldn’t need fixing.

Pros

  • Very nice screen for video playback
  • Plays more or less all common video formats
  • Android OS means there’s a lot of applications available for it
  • Added media functionality via content provider applications like eReader, Spotify
  • Decent price for the lowest capacity model considering the functionality
  • Packed with technology like a fast CPU and GPS, Bluetooth and WiFi

Cons

  • Very slow at doing anything, doesn’t utilize the CPU properly
  • Not enough RAM to properly multitask many applications
  • Most likely the buggiest, most unstable device ever released to consumers
  • Outdated touch screen technology that makes any screen interaction or keyboard use a pain
  • The menus are full of trials software, bloatware and “ads” for you to buy additional plugins,, accessories etc

Purchase

The different capacities can be found in various places. RadioShack is the only one selling the 8GB version in the US as far as I have seen, where it can be had for $250. A great deal considering you can expand memory with microSDHC cards. The 16GB is $300 and can be found at BestBuy. All the capacities above that are available from Amazon and other places as they aren’t as uncommon. There’s a $120 difference between the 8GB and 32GB flash versions, which means the 8GB version is a great choice if you just want the features of the device and don’t need all that capacity.

53 Comments

xkcd42 on February 26, 2010 1:56 PM

This sounds like a decent product.I have never had Archos before, but now I want to own this product!

ralphstar on February 26, 2010 2:07 PM

Excellent review and your right about the love hate, I nearly smashed it in frustation several times, but it is improving,heres a weird tip to stop the backlight only coming on, when you switch on keep the button on for long time, it then boots properly (nearly) every time instad of hanging on backlight on startupgood luck with yours folks…

Thocan on February 26, 2010 3:50 PM

Honnestly I really don’t understand your test !Since SEPTEMBRE 2009, I have never reseted my Archos 5IT ! Never. Force turn off, yes, many times but a reset ? Never.Are you sure to have installed a recent firmware ?

Rippington on February 26, 2010 5:12 PM

This seems to be an ongoing problem with Archos. They have great products on paper but their execution is always flawed. They have yet to put out a device I would spend my money on but are usually close. This is the closest yet but there are way too many problems that could and should be easily sorted out in the next revision. Even then they need to stop trying to nickel and dime their customers with plugins and apps that should be free. They have such great potential but fall on their face every time. Archos is the only real player in this market right now but I think they will have to improve or die when hp and dell come out with their mini tablets. Great comprehensive review by the way.

joe on February 26, 2010 6:43 PM

Thocan, the author isn’t an idiot, and you obviously didn’t read the article.And for my addition to this article, I believe the file system in use is ext2 or ext3. There is a program available for windows (win7 if ran in compat mode) that will let you read its file system. Forgot the name.

DaHarder on February 26, 2010 9:33 PM

I’ve had my Archos 5 Android for a while now, and though it was initially the single most bug-ridden device I’ve ever owned, Archos has been quick with the updates, and it’s now a fairly enjoyable experience.I can’t completely agree with the lambasting of its resistive touch screen, given that it’s easily one of the better ‘resistive’ screens I’ve used. I’m also not too fascinated with multi-touch, so its absence here doesn’t really limit the device for me.Now Bring on the Dell Mini5!

Shane on February 27, 2010 2:29 AM

This player sounds ok, Android is nice. I do have an Android phone though. But the price they want for these things in Australia sucks the big one. Almost $500 for the 16GB version. I can get the Teclast M50HD 16GB for video watching and that is only $130 AUD shipped and it is a pretty decent product. Wish ABI would do some reviews of the Chinese Yum Cha players because some are pretty good.

Thocan on February 27, 2010 9:03 AM

Joe, I red this test quickly but I saw the bugs part. And that’s why I don’t understand.Particulary, this sentence is a joke : “While some bugs have been fixed in later firmware versions, it’s still so buggy that I’ve had to attach a small metal pin to the device permanently so I can reach the reset hole when out and about.”You may write a very interesting and long test but this kind of sentence destroys all your credibility…

Andreas Ødegård on February 27, 2010 10:46 AM

@Thocan: That sentence is not only not a joke, but also one of the most serious sentences in the whole review. It wasn’t meant as an overtstement or a joke, in fact the metal piece is the leg from a resistor i cut off which I keeo in between the fliout stand when it’s shut so not to lose it. The device is so buggy you need to have access to reset it anywhere. That aside, I know that a 11000 word review is a lot to read, but if you’re going to comment I encourage you to read the review first. The review says: “The seeming lack of a pattern to all the behaviour has also left the user community a bit split, as some people have devices that don’t behave at all while others have minimal amount of bugs.” and “It’s recommended by Archos that you reset the device after upgrading to make it more stable, but frankly I’d personally recommend you wipe it at least 2-3 times using the restore feature every time you update the firmware”. In other words, yes I have updated to the latest firmware the proper way and I am very well aware of people having different experiences, but that doesn’t change anything. A device like this should work by default and be bugged as a fluke, not the other way around

Charbax2 on February 27, 2010 11:01 AM

No need to reset it, ever, basically. You hold power button in for 5 seconds and that force turns it off. Absolutely no need to use the reset pin. Nope, not at all. The reset pin is only there in case something goes very wrong during a firmware update. DO NOT use the reset pin hole for basic reboots! Not, not, not.Also, the force shut down only is needed IF you have TOO MANY Android apps running at the same time. It does have 256mb RAM, but consider the Archos Multimedia software does take a very large amount of RAM and always runs in the background. Use Task managers and Task killers to figure out which apps use a lot and which use less. Some Android apps like Fring and old versions of Doggcatcher for example kind of are memory leaking apps that somehow use more and more RAM memory so those badly written Android apps should be avoided, or at least make sure you kill the task once you want to stop using them so they don’t stay in RAM. Also the Marketplace hack is NOT OFFICIAL, and so far it does also take up a fair amount of RAM to run. Very simple.These kinds of memory management things and the Google marketplace integration will use less RAM once Archos gets it added officially with Android 2.1 firmware update soon.

Charbax2 on February 27, 2010 11:24 AM

You forgot to say that the Archos 5 IT screen is 2x larger than the iPod Touch, that a 4.8″ capacitative DOES NOT exist on the market. That 4.8″ capacitative when it comes on the market will cost 3x more expensive than the same sized resistive screen and that the screen is the single most expensive component on the device.Do you want 4.8″ and 800×480 in a $249 (Radio Shack) device, resistive is the only way to go. The Dell Mini 5 might not come to the market for another 6 months and might be sold only with $2000 subscription plans or more than $500 unlocked. And accurate 4.8″ 800×480 capacitative is NOT guaranteed even 6 months from now.And that using nails does not require hard touch at all and is very accurate in fact some people think using nails on resistive is more accurate than a flat finger on capacitative.Also, you forgot to say that the larger the capacitative screen, the less accurate it actually becomes and the more expensive it gets.And text input is much faster on Archos for people that are used to it as the keyboard in horizhotal mode is more than 2x larger than on the iPod touch. Especially Archos supports Bluetooth keyboards which can be 10x faster than on the iPod Touch, there are pocketable foldable bluetooth keyboards available for cheap on the market.

Andreas Ødegård on February 27, 2010 11:48 AM

@Charbax2: I didn’t forget anything. There are already heaps of large capacitiv e screens on the market; the iPad and the JooJoo being the best examples. It would drive up the price, yes, but with $50 between the 8 and 16GB versions and even 70 from 16 to 32 archos has apparently priced the device a lot higher (for the high capacity flash models) than the extra cost of memory would suggest. You would lose the 8GB model, but I think they could have managed to keep the 300 price tag for 16GB since they can do 250 for 8GB for the one that made it to market. Cost reduction is a nice thing, but not when it cripples a device this much. As for hard reset, I don’t know what kind of bugs you’ve had on it but I’ve had plenty of times where the soft reset hasn’t worked.

joe on February 27, 2010 2:51 PM

“Joe, I red this test quickly but I saw the bugs part. And that’s why I don’t understand.Particulary, this sentence is a joke : “While some bugs have been fixed in later firmware versions, it’s still so buggy that I’ve had to attach a small metal pin to the device permanently so I can reach the reset hole when out and about.”You may write a very interesting and long test but this kind of sentence destroys all your credibility..”Why would that destroy his cred when he is saying that he has to reboot his device so often he made it easy on himself?And you didn’t read the part about bugs right because the author clearly stated how half are frustrated with the device and the other half is perfectly fine.But having 50% of people complain isn’t a good device, and the reviews on Amazon and elsewhere echo the findings made here.

mike on February 27, 2010 3:41 PM

I had the Archos with android for one day before I sent it back. I did not like the android part, apps would be running that I had touched trying to navigate the software and I would have to trun it off to get them to stop, plus all those sliding screens were a mess. I still thought I’d give Archos another shot so I bought the later 5 version. I really liked it, it lasted two weeks before the dreaded start-up loop glitch, so I had to send it in for repair. Just getting an RMA, well that is a whole other story. No more Archos for me.

GGfrench on February 27, 2010 4:55 PM

I would suggest readers not to rely on this too-negative, full of exagerations (and maybe pro-Apple) review to decide if they should purchase the product or not.I have the 5IT-tablet 32Gb since beginning of December ’09, and although I’ve been through a few seldom problems with it, now it works really well and the stability of the firmware is constantly improving.GPS Ndrive app. is great (I wanted to buy a GPS device, no need anymore. And the 5IT is so much more than just a GPS device…), wireless file transfers works wonderfully with the FTP server SwiFTP, games such as frozen bubble are excellent,WIFI works quite fine (especially since I’ve properly configured and turned my internet box as a router…).So far I also never had to reset the product, just to restart it a few times using the on/off button.After all, Android is a recent OS, also constantly improving. What should I say about the stability of Microsoft Windows ?I like the 5IT. It’s a good product, even though it doesn’t include a compass and a camera.

Kcop on February 27, 2010 6:31 PM

This review exactly represents my experiences with latest Archos devices. Great hardware specs but lausy execution on software side.But the most depressing Part for me became the Community.People like fellow Charbax (who’s interested in Archos devices sure knows him) were getting on my nerves pretty fast. He’s overstating the abilities of ANY Archos device for years now, being a real fanboy and not offering ANY objective view on their products. When having problems with your device, dealing with this kind of people really drives you mad. This and the flawed Software led me to put my Archos devices (Archos 5, 5 IT) on eBay. I still hope to see the day when Archos products will hold their promises, but to be honest I highly doubt that it’ll ever happen.And please, all you Archos fanboys, restrain yourself from answering to this post… I just got enough of your brabble for a while.

Charbax on February 28, 2010 3:34 AM

You obviously don’t know the difference between being on the market and NOT being on the market.”There are already heaps of large capacitiv e screens on the market; the iPad and the JooJoo being the best examples.”JooJoo and iPad are NOT on the market.And you go ahead, point to one single 4.8″ 800×480 capacitive screen in a commercial product on the market.Archos screen is 2.5x the resolution and 2x the size of the iPod Touch screen. All that for in a device just about the same price as the iPod Touch, and that is not even touching the fact that Archos is so much of a better product than Apple on every other spec, on every other feature, for absolutely everything.Would you pay $200 extra to get a capacitive screen on this device? If you would, then step forward and say that you would want so. Archos could make a special $450 capacitive version of the 8GB device, just for the dozen people like you who value that screen technology at that price.

Andreas Ødegård on February 28, 2010 6:03 AM

@Charbax: The Droid/Milestone has a 3.7″ 854×480 display, the Google Nexus One has a 3.7″ 800×480 display. Sure they aren’t 4.8″, but that’s because 4.8″ is a rather unused screen size as it’s too big for a phone yet too small for a real tablet. The devices that do have that screen size, mostly UMPCs before everyone went slate crazy at CES, have OSes that more or less requires the use of a stylus. Android however is made for capacitive screens, not resistive ones. As for cost, the part cost of the 10″ multitouch display in the iPad is estimated to be $80, so if you eliminate the $250 model, subtract the cost of the current display and factor in the cost of a much smaller (than 10″) lower resolution screen (even with less economies of scale) I really don’t see why $300 for a capacitive device is ridiculous compared to the price of the 8GB current model. And yes I know the Archos was released half a year ago and that has to factor in, but capacitive screens aren’t exactly new. None of it really matters though as the reasoning behind why a device doesn’t have a feature only exaplains why it doesn’t, it doesn’t change the fact that it lacks that feature. If your house burns down due to a short circuit, you know why it happened but your house is still gone. In other words, people might understand why it doesn’t have it, but that doesn’t mean they will still buy it when it’s such a major drawback of the device no matter. Frankly they shouldn’t have ever released the device when they did considering how unstable it was (and still is), and half a year of delaying it until it was actually ready for consumers would have lowered the cost of the screen as well. Then again, with statements such as “Archos is so much of a better product than Apple on every other spec, on every other feature, for absolutely everything” and the fact you’re the owner of an Archos fan site I don’t expect you to have the ability to view anything Archos objectively, so I think I’ll second Kcop’s statements about unwanted fanboyism.

ashiiya on February 28, 2010 1:12 PM

Wow, it all sounds really good, but touch responsiveness is the big killer for me. If only it had a capacitive touchscreen…

Peter Teuben on February 28, 2010 3:52 PM

Well written review. I’ve had mine for few weeks now. The biggest annoyance, apart from the almost daily reset, is that I keep getting previously started apps re-appear. I guess I need to read some manual or install some app to prevent this, but this is soooo counter-intuitive. That avalance of apps appears to be my most common cause to reset the archos. I;m hopeful the firmware upgrades will deliver. Can’t wait for 2.x though.

joe on February 28, 2010 3:58 PM

charbax, feature checklists mean jack squat if you cannot even use the device.

kshelton on February 28, 2010 5:24 PM

Look how cute this is! The Archos fans got their whittle feelings hurt. Charbax your the one with the Archos fanboy webpage. Why don’t you demand that Archos come out with a product that actually has a finished feel to it for once.

joe on February 28, 2010 9:44 PM

And just so you know charbax, my archos gmini 120 was in my opinion, the best ever device for recording music. No other device featured copy and paste btw flash, setting line levels during recording, a remote, mp3 or wav recording, and easy radio recording. I wish they made a replacement for it.

sirj77 on March 1, 2010 12:26 PM

I have a friend that got the Google phone running Android, and he loves it. Being linux, it’s hard to believe it would be that buggy… unless Archos was in too much of a hurry and botched implementation. I’m sure a lot of us have seen software that really should have waited a bit longer before being released.I read somewhere else that there is not a standard set for Android, no real upgrade plan/path, it’s just there. Even some developers are probably not sure what to make of it. If a dev has to meet a dead-line on something they don’t entirely know, or understand the future of, the consumer gets to test it for them. Given enough time & information to work with, linux has the potential to do just about anything.

muradgth on March 1, 2010 3:28 PM

I don’t know why I am posting this really, since this debate is starting to get old and tiresome. I see two ends of a spectrum: the reviewer, who has had a horrible horrible experience, and people who have commented here who think the Archos 5 is the best thing in the world. I think most people will fall in between. Personally, I am a happy user of the 500gb model. I probably have to restart 2-3 times a month (by holding down the power button, never through the reset hole). The device is not without its bugs, but no other device will let me store 300gb of media files and play them whenever I want on a 5″ screen. Does that make the bugs excusable? No. Does the Archos 5 suit my needs? Very much so. Which imho makes this a niche product…that niche being media hoarders like myself who don’t mind a little buginess in order to fulfill their needs. As far as the flash models are concerned, I think there are better options out there.

Andreas Ødegård on March 2, 2010 7:23 AM

I’ve deleted a comment written in French and just want to inform people that any comment written in any language other than English will be deleted. This is an English website, where English is the only language used. As I myself is not from an English speaking country I think it’s safe to say that this place would be total chaos if we were all to use our native language regardless of what it was. That leaves out anyone who can’t read or write English, sure, but it’s the only way to go.

Jake Ames on March 4, 2010 2:28 AM

Thank you very very much Mr. Odegard for the intensive and well considered review. I am an old time digital audio player user (I go back to the original Eiger F20 and Creative JB1/JB3 days). My music collection is pushing 320GB – about 44000 tracks, all very well tagged, all pristine. Obviously one does not need to have 44k tracks with one self all the time but if so that would be a pretty amazing thing. For that reason I have been following the 5IT 500GB unit for some time. This kind of information is invaluable for me in considering a new high end music player.Issues of UI bugginess are one thing, but the slowness of library navigation and if it has it, how its search function works, are critical for a player with that much music on it.All this notwithstanding, the music quality must be very high for me to add this. I have been using a Xin made headphone amp matched to my trusty ER-4P’s for years and that combination is magical as a headphone experience. It however MUST have a very good if not fully audiophile source. Most worrisome hearing that Archos users do not seem to mind mediocre sound quality …Thanks again for your review, I can’t see buying this piece of gear with all going against it.

crazyriver on March 5, 2010 5:00 PM

Charbax Archos is pure garbage. Every product they have ever made is pure garbage!!! You are the ultimate Archos fanboy. I can just picture you with your Archos headphone on, riding the bus, proudly listening to nothing because the “Archos” in your pocket is not working. HAHAHAHA!

arcane17 on March 7, 2010 9:06 AM

I share mr “muradgth” opinion and experience on the archos it 500 go I’m using since six months.I have myself loaded around 30,000 mp3, 2,000 pictures, hundred ebooks and few videos (dvd does not need conversion, which is great) and this player is working fine.Firmware is getting better at each release adding not only correction, but also following android updates and adding more and more functionalities. The fact that this system is using android is a great asset, since it gives the ability to the product to constantly evolve, adapt, get new applications, etc.Of course, since some people use it like a computer, with 1000 applications, the product can bug, like any computer, in fact.But if used with reasonable management on the installation of application, there are no significant problem and a very powerful capabilities, especially on the multimedia side, which I’m using extensively.For a “pocket multimedia computer” with 500go, price is really fine.

Disappointed on March 7, 2010 7:02 PM

I completely adhere to your review, as I have bought this device around mid-january and have had bugs ever since I received it, exactly the same as the ones you describe. I should have know it was bugged when the first thing it ever managed on first boot, just before I flashed it with the latest (at the time) 1.7.33 firmware, was that it froze, needing to hold the power button for ten seconds…Now, even with the latest firmware (1.7.77) I still have trouble getting it to work correctly but yeah, when it does work it is a really good device !Also, it looks like the Android part of the OS is OK and Android apps (those that don’t mind having a part of the sceen eaten by a huge bar, that is) whereas anything involving the Media Center is like a lottery.That is hard.Well, now It’s even harder because apart from the software instability, there is this “fanboys” problem. The “community” from which you can usually seek help, advices, insight, news and updates, here has a very strong reality distortion field around it.Ask something and you’ll be told that you should search for it much better instead of making them lose their time. Pinpoint something not working as expected and you’re an idiot for not seeing that it is working as intended (yes, it’s intended to [not] work exactly that way, stupid !). Talk about something too technical and they’ll change the subject (my postcount is much higher than yours so shut up already !). Be factual, show anything negative about the device and you’re a liar. Prove someone wrong and you’re a troll.Lovely.This is exactly my experience with the device and anything that revolves around it. I really do hope that anyone saying that Archos is working hard on the 2.1 port but I realize that it could as well be wishful thinking from people so hardly hit by the reality (their choice of PMP wasn’t a good one) that they convinced themselves that everything is just perfect…

Baylink on March 9, 2010 1:53 PM

Well, I’ve read the entire review, and all the comments — I’ve been tracking this unit since one of my cow-orkers got one for a bday present last month — and the most telling sentence I’ve heard was “for some people they never break, and for others, they never work right”.To me, that says “build quality and lemon problems”.I may gamble anyway; the form factor is really nice; the screen on my n800 is getting a touch small for reading books.And I’m a fairly tolerant guy. :-)

Pretoriate on March 11, 2010 10:08 AM

I can’t say I completely agree with all the negative parts of the review but I may be an exception. My first 5 IT went back 2 days after I got it for a 94% battery charge. A month later the new one arrives and I haven’t had it do anything screwy at all. Sometimes the OS is a little slow on the draw, especially when disconnecting from USB and trying to go into the media center. I had to manually enter “system settings” and format the device for windows fat as it didn’t detect this itself when I connected to my pc. I did recommend that Archos add this selection to the start wizard. If you’ve got a buggy unit, hold both +,- volume buttons and turn on the unit and try to do your firmware update from the recovery console. That’s how I recovered my unit when the firmware didn’t work through the normal process and I though I’d bricked it.

nippes on March 12, 2010 12:05 PM

I have a question:What is the range of bluetooth?(Distance im meter.)Any experience?

Steve on March 12, 2010 3:59 PM

While I don’t own a 5IT, I do have the last gen A5, and IMO a lot of your problems with the screen come from trying to use it like a capacitive screen. I have found the screen of my 5 works far better if you use a fingernail instead of the broad part of a finger. I am a guy and keep my fingernails short, and I have no problem with this. I also have no problem with the overlay sliding around on either the screen of the 5 or the other touchscreens I own (a HTC Diamond and a 7″ 800×480 in my car). I find the keyboard of the 5 to be perfectly usable with thumbs, so unless the 5IT is noticeably worse in this regard I think it might just be partially that you want to hate on all resistive screens.That said, I am amazed they released a device which seems to be even less stable than the 5. As you said, they need to contract with somebody for the software development/testing side.

Andreas Ødegård on March 12, 2010 8:13 PM

@Steve: You can’t compare it to the non-Android Archos 5. That thing is a more or less only a media player, without a real OS (with the exception of that developer thing they just released, maybe). The Android version however isn’t, it has a fully capable (in theory) OS. On top of that, Android is made for capacitive screens. Applications for it are made for capacitive screens, and theres a lot more screen interaxtion needed to use all features. Just like capacitive screens dont work well on windows mobile pre-7 or Symbian S60 5th edition, resistive screens dont work well on Android. It’s not a matter of hating certain techologies, outdated or not, it’s about Archos ignoring what the OS is designed for.

raj on March 15, 2010 4:12 PM

So after using Archos 5 IT (16gb) for almost a month, going thru all of posts, videos, forums etc.. I do believe this device has a great great potential. Archos had the vision to come up with this more than a year ago, while the common consumer’s awareness just bumped recently coz of iPad.But…its Archos’s QA teams job to go thru comprehensive testing long before deploying it in the market. They did do some quick updates, but the first impressions are usually final impressions. And that exactly where they killed it: In delivering that “WOW” factor (and where apple excels)The hardware is close to perfect, but the buggy OS crippled its purpose. Like everyone, I look forward for 2.1 update and it should be a milestone for the device.

happy a5a owner on March 17, 2010 7:28 AM

im from norway too and i see you are active on many forums about gadgets.i read your review after i ordered the archos and began to worry.i have now used the a5a for a week and all that you have experienced with your unit i have not!Clearely you must have a faulty device.Mine is fast, navigation gui, web, movies,pitures, is blazing fast. Tethering,wifi,bt stable as hell.i would have rma my device if i were you.

Andreas Ødegård on March 17, 2010 9:15 AM

@happy a5a owner: If you read the entire review you saw that I already covered the major difference in how the device acts between users. My device isn’t broken, because that would mean an epic percentage of all Archos 5 A devices were broken in the exact same way. Part of the reason behind the difference is what apps you have installed, and also what router you have. As I’ve already said, the A5A is very picky about what router you use, and this external effect will greatly impact how the A5A works. I’m guessing that on top of the general software incompetence Archos has displayed with all their devices, part of the reason why they still haven’t been able to fix a lot of bugs is that they aren’t predictable in any particular way. You can google and find tons of instances of the same exact bugs as I have for other people, but making them show up on command is close to impossible. That’s why some work while others dont. If you read other reviews form actual reviewers instead of just random users you’ll see that the bugginess is described in detail in every one. This might be because testing every aspect of the device puts it more to the test than someone why just randomly uses the part of it they need, and so is the reason that reviewers’ units seem more buggy than casual users. Bottom line, just because you have never crashed a car, doesn’t mean cars can’t crash- especially if you only use the car once a week.

Sallie on March 22, 2010 5:00 PM

I think I have to get one of these. Buggy software is an opportunity to learn, lol I love my D2, but it’s been 2 years and I really want a new toy. The resistive thing is a actually a positive for me since I’m used to the D2 screen and the IPod Touch one drives me crazy when my sister tries to make me use and appreciate her toy. I just like using my nails on the screen rather than my fingertips.

Peter on March 23, 2010 9:55 AM

@Andreas, let us know how the latest (23/3/10) firmware upgrade goes.

tom oster on March 24, 2010 12:43 PM

comprehensive review, but with the whole “resistive is terrible” video, he was clearly more used to the ipod. when i use ipod ones it takes me a while and lots of mistakes typing as well… from my experience of using archos’, if you haven’t used a capacitive screen before, the archos resistive is fairly good. if you compare it directly to something with capacitive, then of course it will seem less accurate. also, what do you mean its a problem that the movies/music/photos are in the one place on the desktop? isn’t an ipod the exact same? and also, can’t really talk about the performance of loading photos/upnp video thumbnails since you were loading from and sd card. I imagine the archos would be MUCH quicker loading them from harddrive, as my 605 is quite proficient at the task.

Andreas Ødegård on March 24, 2010 1:09 PM

@tom oster: I’m more used to the iPod indeed, but that doesn’t change the fact that resistive is a piss poor solution on a device that runs an OS designed for capactitive screens, nor does it change the fact that capacitive in itself works that much better. Just because you’re more used to driving a car than riding a horse doesn’t mean the car isn’t still the best way of getting around. I also have a Viliv S5 which has the same sized screen as the A5A, also resistive touch, and that thing is a hudnred times more responsive than that crap screen Archos digged up from a bargain bin and stuffed into the A5A. As for as touchscreens go, it should be capacitive. As far as resisive screens go, it’s a very bad one.The ipod doesnt use the same sort of desktop system as Android, but even if it did it isn’t the same. You can move the various icons around to wherever you want on the ipod, and they aren’t stuck together with the other media icons as one big pilo of icons. They are on the A5A: you cant choose where to put it, or which parts of it to even include. Furthermore, while loading photos from the internal memory is indeed faster, that isn’t the point. The point is they didn’t include any sort of quick load file to allow it to cache photos only once instead of every time, and neither SD speeds nor networks speeds are so slow that it couldn’t have loaded them faster. Considering there’s a USB port dock available and the UPNP networking capabilities it has, watching photos via those methods are as likely or more likely than from the internal memory.

Andreas Ødegård on March 24, 2010 1:11 PM

As for the new FW, it seems to make everything run smoother BUT it also added sync issues to my videos. Haven’t looked into the issue as frankly I’m so tired of this messed up device the only reason I still have it is that it’s so bad I can’t even sell it for half the retail price. I’m playing with a Viliv S5 now which from the looks of it is the real device to look at in this category.

Tom Oster on March 24, 2010 1:20 PM

but i mean aren’t the music/video links only at the bottom of the ipod screen too? along with phone ,etc. ? i thought that was what you were annoyed of in the video. this site gave the 3vision a bad review for its screen as well (if i’m not mistaken with another site) and my brother bought one and the screen is very responsive, easy to press.

reaper_unique on April 5, 2010 3:16 PM

So, we are april, how is the archos 5 IT with the latest firmware update?Because I’m really concidering it but the freezes, bugs, … are really holding me back which is sad because this is THE device I’ve been looking for.

Andreas Ødegård on April 5, 2010 7:32 PM

@reaper_unique:The last FW I tried before selling the device was 1.7.95, and while it was better than the older one it’s still nothing to write home about. Basically Archos is the anti-Apple: great hardware, ridiculousely bad software. Unfortunately the software aspect is the most important one, so they’re losing the battle each time they come up with some new device.

reaper_unique on April 6, 2010 6:43 AM

hmm, too bad, guess I’ll be waiting for the archos 43 vision or search for another similar device *off lurking the forum*.great review btw ;)

anonymous on April 12, 2010 10:06 AM

Well. At least multitouch is coming to the new Archos devices: http://tinyurl.com/ybj8pql

anti-matter on May 30, 2010 6:30 PM

… and thank you sir, for a review, which somewhat mirrors one’s experience with an ex-A5 500GB Android and may that poor soul be finally at rest – gadget or not gadget.

seb on June 2, 2010 11:07 AM

Maybe they should team up with Apple then, eh?Crappy hardware + even crappier software… just think of the possibilities…:-)

Marm on February 16, 2011 12:14 PM

I am a big fan of Archos and have owned several of some models. One small point that I can not stress higher is that Archos seems to have had quality control issues going back to their earlier models. If you get a “GOOD” one, you are lucky but if you get a “BAD” one, you can be in for constant grief. The author does not appear to have had a long time relationship with Archos or he would recongnize the buggy behaviour as being the norm for this company’s products. I love Archos because they historically have made the best video players on the market. However, all their models that I have had are buggy and if you get a bad one they can terrible. Hints: Make sure you have the latest firmware, learn to tinker with your device to make it run best and return it immediately or dump it in on eBay if you get a bad one. Another unit may work fine. While Andorid OS assures gives us lots of applications, don’t be surprised if Archos simply abbandons firmware support far too early. Archos does this far too early in some cases IMO and for example left the 605 WiFi Media Player owners with firmware that only supports Flash 9 since May 2008.

Tuna on March 28, 2011 7:32 PM

So, how (un)stable are these things now? I’ve been using a ye olde 40GB Nomad Jukebox 3 for the past 5 years, and while I really like it, it’s been falling apart from pure age and use for the last months. I’ve been checking reviews and showcase models in stores for a week now, and it seems to be just awesome; if it works. The device has been out for a couple of years now, Archos have been busy updating firmware, but nearly every review was made over a year ago and many discussions about have been dead for months.

I would really like to hear about how stable it is, and whether or not it plays gapless. I have quite a few songs that blend in with eachother, and nearly every player seems to be unable to play them without a small gap between them.

Patrick on June 25, 2011 8:20 AM

Great review!

I got the archos 5 myself , my dad just randomly bought it for $150

i updated to the last firmware and it seems that i don’t have problems at all , market etc all worked instantly after installing them and online there are many sites that offer paid & free apps

the only sad thing is my battery that dies like every day

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