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Archos 5 (250GB)

>> Thursday, January 8, 2009

Archos is promoting the Archos 5 as a Wi-Fi Internet tablet, but its chromed plastic enclosure and 5 inch touch screen look more like a luxury GPS unit. In fact, for an extra $129 you actually can use the Archos 5 as a relatively sophisticated in car GPS system. Unlike its predecessor, the 605 WiFi, the Archos 5 is controlled almost entirely by its touch screen, with the exception of a power button and volume rocker on the top edge of the device.

A 3.5mm headphone output is located midway up on the left edge, making the gadget more awkward to hold than the 605 WiFi. Thankfully, a built in kickstand folds out from the back of the Archos 5 for hands free viewing. The Archos 5 measures 5 inches wide, 3 inches tall, and 0.5 inch thick (or 0.75 inch thick for the 120GB and 250GB versions), making it not much bigger than the 605 WiFi.

Despite its similar size, Archos was able to squeeze an extra half inch of screen onto the Archos 5 by removing the redundant physical controls found on the company's previous players and placing the integrated speaker on the right edge of the device instead of the front. Another surprising design change from Archos is the use of a glossy coated screen instead of the matte, antiglare screens that have been a hallmark of its previous products.

Combined with the Archos 5's glossy, reflective enclosure, Archos has created an ideal breeding ground for fingerprints and smudges. Another small, but significant design feature that distinguishes the Archos 5 from previous Archos PVPs is the use of new proprietary dock connection. We've given Archos some flack before on its use of a nonstandard connector for its USB cable, but the upshot of the unique dock connection has been its compatibility with Archos accessories such as battery packs, FM tuners, video cameras, and AV docks.

The introduction of a new dock connection on the Archos 5 has severed its compatibility with existing Archos accessories, with the exception of the in car GPS cradle. Archos is busy making new accessories for the Archos 5 (including the new Archos 5 DVR Station) however, early adopters have only a few options currently and users looking to upgrade from older models may feel some resentment over replacing their existing accessories.

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