Archos 1 Vision Review

archos1vision Archos 1 Vision Review

Archos has been steadily expanding their range of players from not only offering big media players but also cheaper music oriented devices lately. One of the new models is one of the cheapest players on the market, but with a lot more to show for than the screenless alternatives in the same price range. Read on to see if it’s any good.

  • Quick Look
  • Dimensions: 75.5 x 39 x 9 mm
  • Weight: 28g
  • Color: Black
  • Capacity: 4GB
  • MSRP: £35 (sold for £21 at launch)
  • Screen: 1.5″ 128×128 pixel LCD screen
  • Batter Life: 21 hours music
  • Audio File Support: MP3, WMA, WAV, FLAC, APE
  • Features: Photo viewer, video playback, voice recorder
  • Transfer Protocol: MSC
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in the box

The player comes with earbuds, min USB cable, video conversion software and various papers. The earbuds are actually quite interesting as they have a small lanyward loop attached to them that can be “unlocked” and removed. that way you can hook the player onto the headphone cord and detach it when needed.

Design

The Archos 1 Vision is a rather small player and doesn’t weight a lot. That is due to it being plastic, plastic and more plastic and it almost feels unnaturally light, with the effect of it feeling like it’s not very solid or well built. It does also quirk a bit when you press the buttons, which is pretty typical of a player this shape and price.

Volume-wise it’s about the same as the Sansa Clip+, being taller and slightly wider but not as thick. In my opinion this is a better design for distributing that volume to minimize the thickness, but that’s a subjective matter. The front of the player is made of glossy black plastic with the back being of matte, rubber-textured plastic that has a nice feel to it. The same kind of back can be found on players like the Sansa Fuze as well. The front holds the 1.5”, 128×128 color LCD screen which surprisingly seems to be a separate piece from the rest of the face plate and noticeably “clipped” into the rest of the front, giving it the look of something that came out of a Kinder Egg (Europeans will know what that is) and was assembled as a kit. The screen is also undersized compared to the free space on the front, as the buttons don’t take up that much and between those and the screen you’re left with an awkward space in between that only has the Archos logo on it. If you’re used to this player design used on players with highscreens such as the Sony players, Sansa View, Cowon I9 or any candy bar cellphone, this player will look like it’s wearing a turtleneck that covers part of the screen. Players with a resolution this low is becoming few and far apart, but considering the price I wouldn’t have expected anything bigger- but it still looks weird when it’s not.

The buttons on the player are also somewhat peculiar, in many ways. First off, there’s a 6 way d-pad on the front that has buttons on each of the 4 corners of an outside pad and two buttons in the middle, instead of the more traditional 4+1 with buttons left/right and up/down. The result is that you control the player using the next/prev buttons, which are actually the upper and lower left buttons on the d-pad. Personally I’m used to scrolling lists with either up/down or left/right buttons, so I frequently find myself using the wrong buttons on the d-pad or simply pressing where there aren’t any buttons at all. As for the two middle buttons, one is the on/off button while the other is the play/pause button. The on/off button also acts as the back button, and Archos chose a backwards play symbol to indicate back instead of the (by now) standard half-circle arrow you see on most players. Again not a big deal, just a peculiar choice as it leaves you a bit confused about the function of that button when you first see it.

Aside from a very small mic hole on the right side of the player, everything else is placed on the bottom. That includes a lanyard loop, 3.5mm headphone port, mini USB connector and – of all things – an on/off switch. A switch, not a button, as it already has an on/off button on the front. Basically this is a physical switch that switches the power of the player on or off. Switching it off will shut off the player immediately without a shutoff screen, and I guess it’s their version of a reset button or something. There isn’t a “hold” switch on the player, so it’s an extremely weird choice to put a physical power switch on the player instead, and I can’t figure out why they would do such a thing. It frankly makes me wonder if the player is a OEM product from China rebranded as an Archos player, as such cheap players you can get over there are the only ones I’ve seen with such a switch. The player needs a hold switch, which it doesn’t have, but it certainly doesn’t need a power switch…

Menus and interface

The main menu consists of icons where only one icon is visible at a time. You have Music, Video, Photo, Record, Files and Settings, which makes it seem a bit like a Philips player by moving the file/folder general file browser out into the main menu as a separate. This means you can use the file browser to browse any kind of file not just music, and you can actually delete files as well. The main menu also lacks a shortcut back to the last used feature or “now playing” screen, but you can get back to the music playback from the music section.

In the music section you have the option to browse by title, artist and album as well as “favorites”. No genre, year or any other more advanced tags to browse by in other words, and also no playlists. The favorites feature is basically just a proprietary (as in it doesn’t use the rating feature in ID3) way of telling the player you like a song and it will then be added to the list of favorites. You can only add songs from the music browser and not from the music playback screen itself, probably due to the lack of an options button. You also have the option to browse by files in the music browser, which applies a music only filter to the main menu file browser. In other words, you browse music by filename not title. You can also access recordings from the music section. Going into any of the browsing options will list all files with a small musical note icon in front of them, which is rather pointless considering the small amount of screen real estate. I’d rather be able to see a few more characters of the artist/title/album instead
of that icon. Scrolling to lists is decently fast although certainly could be faster, but the bigger issue is the screen update each time you hit the bottom of the visible portion of the list. If you scroll down any list with more than 6 songs the screen won’t show them all, and when you reach the bottom of the screen and continue to scroll the whole screen will blink as if it was an e-ink display needing half a second to refresh, which it isn’t and doesn’t. The result is pretty annoying as scrolling through a long list of songs will leave make the screen constantly blink for each song you scroll by and I actually wouldn’t be surprised if someone with the right medical conditions could get a seizure from looking at it.

I already mentioned that I had a suspicion about this player being a rebranded Chinese OEM player after seeing the physical on/off power switch, and another aspect of the player that reinforced that suspicion was the music playback screen. From my experience, cheap Chinese players have a pretty specific way of doing the playback screens, using a visualizer instead of album art and using fonts and icons that look cheap and unpolished. That is the exact same way the Archos 1 Vision playback screen is made, and it generally looks like it’s designed using MS paint from Windows 3.0 where you didn’t have enough bit depth to create nuances of colors and so had to do every other pixel in different colors instead. It looks a bit rough and “Chinese”, but it does the job at any rate. It shows you a progress bar with current position and total duration, equalizer setting, bitrate and file number and play mode indicators. The lack of an options buttons means you have to click the “back” button a bazillion times to get into the main menu, then scroll to settings and music settings to change play mode and equalizer. The settings also include a sleep timer that lets you automatically shut off the player after an interval between 10-120 minutes.

As for browsing videos it will simply list all files available with the file name extension, and the same goes for photos. This is pretty standard as more or less only iPods can sort videos properly. I certainly wouldn’t expect or even want anything else from a player this cheap, but as a side note I think it’s time manufacturers started thinking of videos as being able to handle tags as well.

Features

Video

Viewing videos on 128×128 pixels is not something I recommend anyone do, as I’ve made very clear in other reviews like that of the Philips Vibe. Archos seems to agree with me, because even though the Archos 1 Vision actually supports video playback, Archos hasn’t listed it in the specs on their site. It lists music and photo as features and then lists the formats it supports under specs, but video is only mentioned in passing and not actually listed as a feature. It is however listed on the box, and even comes with a miniature CD (the kind that destroys slot-in drives) with video conversion software. In other words you can get videos to play on this thing, and the included test video (Big Buck Bunny) even plays back ok-ish, but I find the whole notion of watching videos on such a player ridiculous. MP3 players with decent video players are getting rather cheap, so there’s no reason to use a player like this for video. It’s nothing negative towards Archos, it’s just a matter of the player being too small and cheap to ever be a video player, and that’s fine.

Photos

The same resolution and physical screen size facts that makes video playback less than useful also diminishes the usefulness of the photo viewer. I’ve said in reviews of similar players that the one use I can see for a photo viewer on a player like this is to put pictures of kids and grandkids on them if the player is given as a gift to the older generation, sort of like one of those keychain photo frames. Still not a very useful feature though, but it’s there. Again one of those features that I don’t expect to be better and it might as well not have been there, and that’s fine.

Voice recorder

I feel like I’m starting to repeat myself quite a bit, but the voice recorder is also one of those features that always get stuffed into players for no real reason. Considering the quality (or lack there of) of a voice recorder built into an MP3 player I doubt many people would be sorry to see it go, so it simply joins in the ranks of features on this player that are there, but not really all that useful.

Sound quality

While I’m still not sure if this is an actual Archos product or a rebranded OEM player, that doesn’t necessarily need to mean anything for the sound quality as even cheap Chinese players sometimes have decent sound quality. That’s the case with the Archos 1 Vision as well, regardless of the original product developer. I was especially surprised that it was able to drive my 80 ohm Beyerdynamic DT770 to well above normal volume, something that weaker (non-Cowon, basically) players often have trouble doing. It did show some tendency to be sibilant on high vocals as well as a slightly reduced soundstage compared to players like the Sansa Clip+, but overall it did very well. It also didn’t hiss, something that is sometimes an issue with overly cheap players. The player actually supports FLAC as well, though I seriously doubt anyone who uses FLAC would even consider this player simply because it’s a budget player in every aspect and a player more suited for casual users more than anything else. I’d frankly be surprised if any Archos 1 Vision other than mine will ever be connected to headphones that cost more than $15.

Conclusion

The Archos 1 Vision has a bad build quality, awkward design, peculiar button placements, an undeniably unnecessary power switch, somewhat peculiar menus and an extra features set that might as well not have been there. However, it’s also perhaps the cheapest brand name player with a screen on the market, even beating the 2GB Sansa Clip+. I paid £21 (about $31) for this at launch, and while MSRP is £35 it seems that’s not what it actually costs anywhere. The way I see it, the Archos 1 Vision is 4GB of memory with a color LCD screen, headphone port and 21 hours of battery life that gives you an awesome value for the money if all you want to do is listen to music as cheap as possible. I’ve given the death penalty to players with similar flaws before, mainly the Philips Aria and Philips Vibe, but that’s because those players did very little while still not really being cheap, and had competition from quality players from Sony and Sansa in the same price range. The 1 Vision is too cheap to really have competition from anyone price-wise, so that alone gives it a right to live. You won’t get the best player out there, but you’re also going to pay a lot less than you otherwise would for this feature set. All of that makes it a perfect player for the mainstream, overly casual user but I doubt it will interest people who care enough about MP3 players to visit this site- maybe except for use as gifts.

40 Comments

Jack4L on March 15, 2010 1:44 PM

One thing that needs to be mentioned about this player is the Shuffle mode. As far as shuffle modes go, this player does it badly. It doesn’t remember what track was played last, so if you skip into the next track and try to go back it just jumps to a random track, so its as if you only had a FF button to use in shuffle mode.I actually got this because I thought there was no way shuffle could be done any worse then all my other players do it, but hey wadayaknow…

Charbax on March 15, 2010 2:47 PM

What do you mean by “(sold for £21 at launch)”? It is 27€ on http://www.preissuchmaschine.de/in-Portable-Audioplayer/Multimediaplayer-bis-10GB/Archos-1-Vision-4GB.htmlLikely to be sold below $30 in the USA.By definition, the cheapest such Mp3/Mp4 player on the market in terms of features/capacity/price.

Andreas Ødegård on March 15, 2010 3:57 PM

I mean exactly what it says: when it launched I bought it for £21 from the link provided, which has free worldwide shipping as well. My review already states that it’s the cheapest, and £21 is also LESS than 27€- not that it would matter as no-one cares what price it is in Germany on an INTERNATIONAL website. Please go troll somewhere else

tinfoil on March 15, 2010 7:01 PM

Archos seems to be doing a lot of rebranding this year as a way to pick up some extra money and recognition. Pretty good business model really, just as long as they keep some semblance of quality and put the money towards all their lovely bleeding edge income eating stuff.

ultrauber on March 15, 2010 10:20 PM

The SE is $20. Oh, and in the specs you said that it has a touchscreen. I don’t think that’s correct :) What’s with all the crappy player reviews now? I mean, I guess it’s good to know, but I ‘m a bit curious about other new players.

rudy on March 15, 2010 11:58 PM

@Andreas Ødegårdlove the reviews keep them coming, btw any chance of a review of the cowon v5?

Andreas Ødegård on March 16, 2010 8:15 AM

@ultrauber: Yeah I copy/pasted the HTML for that quickspecs chart from the Archos 5 review and forgot to remove that one line. Other players are coming.@ruby: Probably, though I don’t know when.

rubin pham on March 16, 2010 4:39 PM

it looks “chinese”.well that is enough for me to rush out and order one immediately.

Kcop on March 16, 2010 6:17 PM

Please Andreas… please just make Charbax shut up. I’m sick of reading his comments to each and every review you’re doing with Archos products.Your review is flawless, as good as we always expect reviews on ABI so please everybody just don’t give a damn about this oh so biased fellow Charbax, because somethin has to be seriously wrong with his powers of comprehension.

Andreas Ødegård on March 16, 2010 8:43 PM

@Kcop: He no longer has the ability to comment on this site. This is not the first time someone has asked to have him removed, which is the first time has ever happened- including with spambots. I don’t particularly like censorship, but I also don’t want this site to turn into Engadget/Gixmodo where comments got so obnoxious that people stopped visiting the site.

Jaigoda on March 17, 2010 2:21 PM

This looks like a nice player for those who just want something as cheap as possible. It looks pretty quirky with the control scheme, but I’m sure you would get used to it after a few days. Most people buying a player this cheap probably wouldn’t care much about the UI anyway, as long as they can figure out how to play their songs.Great review Andreas, keep it up.

Jack4L on March 17, 2010 2:30 PM

Even bad players definitely need to be reviewed. I found no mention of this player on the net before I got it, wasn’t expecting much from it but still its always nice to read some review done by a site that can actually rank it up against what else you can find.

ashiiya on March 18, 2010 11:01 AM

Haha it certainly isn’t stunning or top quality, but good for people who just wanna listen to music. The buttons ARE kind of awkward, though. I guess you can get used to everything over time. At least the back isn’t glossy plastic as well. But hey, can’t beat that when it’s around $30.

Popcorn on March 23, 2010 9:04 PM

I was surprised to see such a low cost/quality player from Archos. I would hope to see something more along the lines of the Samsung P3, or the Cowon S9.Nice thorough review. Thanks.

ProE on March 28, 2010 9:30 PM

Hello! You could just send this mp3 player to the closest hospital somebody could use it!!!

Rommel B. Villarino on March 29, 2010 11:33 AM

I would like to win this Archos so that my I could give to my Daughter my Sansa Fuze. At first she would like the Ipod Nano but Im not into Ipod that why I bought Sansa Fuze and Sansa Clip+.

Terry Evans on March 29, 2010 4:20 PM

I would love to win this MP3 player for my daughter. She has never had one, but all her friends do. She is in college and can’t afford anything but bread, water and parking tickets. She’s kind of ugly so she doesn’t get the free things that many of the pretty girls get. Her name is Jenan but we’ve always called her Nano so she’s had to live with the whole Ipod stigma her whole life. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!!

Stacy Curtis on March 30, 2010 12:10 AM

These giveaways are just another good reason to visit this site. It would be nice to win.

Vinodh on April 11, 2010 3:31 PM

Thanks for the extensive review! It’s clear that you’re not really thrilled by this player, but hey, for just 21 pounds it still sounds like a pretty decent player.Maybe as a backup to take to the gym or on vacation? That way you don’t have to worry about your good/expensive player getting stolen/damaged.

Sethernage on April 16, 2010 2:17 PM

It’s not documented, but the 1 Vision also plays mp2 files beautifully, which makes it very handy for users of the old Psion Wavefinder or any of the DAB radios which can save the DAB stream to an SD card in native mp2 format,(e.g. Pure Bug, BugToo, Evoke 3, etc).

Harpo on April 20, 2010 5:54 AM

No one mentions what it sounds like?Whats the quality – after all, that is what it’s about

vēer on April 21, 2010 11:40 AM

I contacted seller of this player twice, the one that is mentioned in review, got no asnwer, wtf?! Anyway, anyone knows where to buy one with shipping worldwide?

Jes on April 23, 2010 10:02 AM

As I`m writing, I just received the Archos 1 vision. I bought it from Mymemory.com for 20.99 GBP. A BARGAIN! I also bought the Koss porta pro earphone as well for 15 GBP. Just charged it, and downloaded my favorite mp3`s. (I`m just interested in listening to music) What a sound! and what a thrill! I`m spechless!And another fasinating thing with this, is when changing tracks, it fades out the song you are listening to, before it changes to the next track.My best recomandations!

thrust26 on May 15, 2010 3:23 PM

Despite your pretty harsh review I bought the Archos 1 Vision because IMO it really is a bargain. And I must say I like it. Yes, there are some flaws, which I hope can be fixed by a firmware update. But for daily use it is just perfect. The battery seems to last forever, the sound is good and the user interface is ok.Sure there are better players on the market, but for ~25€ you won’t get anything better.

paulr on May 20, 2010 4:26 PM

This player supports flac but not ogg? That sounds very strange, but archos.com says the same thing. I wonder if anyone can confirm it by testing.

ron on May 29, 2010 3:12 AM

build quality poor.player packed up after 6 weeks.drive still works though.archos warranty useless because of endless conditions, and retailer packed up.Archos couldn’t care less.Avoid like the plague – chinese unbranded lasts longer and sounds the same.Archos = rubbish

Nutter on November 20, 2010 7:54 PM

Yes, I can confirm that the player does not support OGG.
It’s a nice player to slip into your pocket when going jogging or when travelling rough. In short: whenever equipment may get damaged or lost and when build quality, ruggedness and hassle free operation is not an issue (because the player offers none of these).
It’s a reasonable replacement player that does its job and will not be sorely missed if lost/damaged/worn out – something that I’m very susceptible to. I’m down from one Sansa Clip/Clip+ per month to one Archos Vision 1. Call me clumsy, but it’s never my fault.

Luap42 on January 24, 2011 3:25 PM

Regarding the firmware and playable formats on the Arhcos 1 Vision. All problems could be solved if only the free Rockbox firmware were to support it.

Morven10 on March 21, 2011 9:14 PM

I bought this player for an elderly mother who is blind so she could listen to 24 hours of light music. The Shuffle option is hopeless it replays the first mp3 every 3rd, 4th, 7th time at random. She is fed up hearing the same song over and over, Nothing cures this problem. If you want a shuffle option dont buy this player !

Jpeg_junkie on March 29, 2011 10:27 AM

Er, sorry – just got mine from Tesco for £12. THAT’s a bargain. With decent phones it sounds good too, but can anyone tel me how to DELETE music? Despite connecting (to iMac) deleting Music folder, recreating Music folder, uploading half a dozen songs, and Updating Library (from the Archos menu) the hundreds of previously uploaded songs still appear in the lists and play when selected.

Hank Clare on April 21, 2011 3:28 PM

Does anyone know how to get help for my Archos 1Vision, I coonect it to my computer but it is not recognosed. I am 73 and not a whizz kid

Hank

funnis on April 23, 2011 2:08 PM

I’ve got one too… Nice player.. but i dnt get proper video converter as it does not supports all AVI video.. any suggestions??

John on May 16, 2011 12:11 PM

I’m very pleased with my Archos 1 Vision, but it has three irritating faults.

1) I have named all of my mp3 files so that they appear in the right order alphabetically, and copied the filenames to the “title” tag. However, they appear (and play) in some random order on the Archos.

2) If I select “albums”, some albums just do not appear. I have double-checked that they are there, and that the “album” tags have been set correctly on all of the tracks. This seems to happen if there are two albums with vaguely similar names.

3) Sometimes it will start playing a few seconds into a track instead of at the beginning.

Can anyone help?

Jason on July 8, 2011 11:25 PM

Bought one of these a couple months back for £15 to replace my R0 Sammy (lost walking home from work). I expected nothing much but have to say after a little use and better quality earphones it pleasantly shocked me with the sound quality. Its cheap, plasticy but does what its designed for and will last until I get me a Cowon or Sammy again. I like it simple as that.

chris on August 12, 2011 4:25 PM

first i had the 4gb, and just like morven10, shuffle crap, played same song over and over, took it back to store, got the 8gb version. shuffle is better but every day, starting afresh it plays the same songs as the day before. now after 4 weeks, some songs i have not heard yet while others have played over and over. i put this down to crap software. my answer is to not play shuffle, and every few days mix up the tracks on my pc, and reinstall!!!

Carl Hungus on September 26, 2011 9:08 PM

Simple hack for the shuffle problem:
My device also has the problem that it plays very often the same song in shuffle mode. It is song No. 1 in the Music->Title list (and in the file structure). So I made an MP3 with silence and duration 1 second. I call it 000-silence.mp3 (something which is on top after it is sorted). I put it in the same folder as the song which was always played before. Then I sort the filesystem with fatsort. Now, the file is still played very often, but it is just 1-3 seconds then.
Cu

Janet on October 11, 2011 9:20 AM

I can only select and play one track at time . What have I donr wrong. Have not got a clue about this sort of thing. Janet

Luis John on November 10, 2011 2:59 AM

Good day i am here to inform you that my MP3 Archos 1 Vision. does not reading in the system . when i put playing it says no file what can i do?

Sam on November 20, 2011 8:57 PM

Just a note – I have used several mp3 players with recorders, and have found them very useful. They’re unbeatable for recording lectures (i.e., in University), and I’ve even used some to record simple music (guitar & vocals) that came out not half-bad (I’ve used my old Iriver ifp-series more than my sansa clip for this).

It may be that most people do not care about this feature, but many of my friends prefer mp3 players that record as well – it’s a useful feature, and there’s at least a sizable minority that does appreciate it.

Micheal on December 10, 2011 4:57 PM

Hi I have the above MP3 player and I would like to have one film in the video to play if I get stuck in an Airport as it is small but i have lost the cd with the software to convert video’s I have another software but i dont know the format all I know is the pixel 128x 128 can anyone tell me where i can download the software or what format thanks

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