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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2011
Edit 2: If you can live without built-in USB connector, I suggest you to look somewhere else to find a better one. FM transmitter is just too weak to be useful. When volume is jacked up using MP3Gain, a lot of distortion is audible. Yes, this player doesn't sound as good as other leading players. Stupidity in UI is everywhere. For example when you plug it into a USB port to charge, you must turn the player on BEFORE plugging it. If turned off or turned on after plugging it, it doesn't charge at all. I don't think Archos will release a new firmware. This is just a cheap Chinese mp3 player found anywhere, but with Archos branding.

Addendum: Volume change is truly horrible with this player (read below to figure out why). I strongly recommend normalizing volumes of mp3 tracks using MP3Gain so that you don't need to do so frequently. Google it. I'm sure it will be one of your handy mp3 tools.

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Horrible UI screwed up a nice, well built player. Here are some undocumented details.

First, this player has key-lock feature which is activated when no button is pressed for about 15 seconds. When active, the backlight turns off, and any button press will be ignored. Weirdly, it ignores only ONE button. Therefore, the feature is of no use when the player is in a pocket where buttons will be pressed multiple times. Now the stupid feature backfires because you just have no idea if the key-lock thing is active or not without checking if the backlight is on or counting 15 after the last button press. For example, to fast forward you need to long-press + button, but if key-locked, you have to press a button once before that. If not, the long-press will be simply ignored, and you'll wonder why this player does not fast forward. It will annoy you at every single turn when changing volume, moving to next track, ...

Second, there are shuffle/random play modes. When playing music, long-press (press & hold) the M (menu) button. Then you can access the play-specific setting menu. There you can change play mode including folder random (excluding files in sub-folders) and all random, EQ (no custom setting), and play speed (good for those listening and studying English). This play-specific menu is separate from the system menu that you can access by short pressing the M button. Note that play settings for recordings are separately saved.

Third, whenever you change some settings (either system or play settings), you have to turn off the player by long-pressing the big center button to save the changes. If turned off using the on/off switch, the player will lose all changes in the settings. Interestingly, once saved, the changes in the settings are preserved, and you can turn off the player using on/off switch without affecting them. Along with the settings FM radio frequency and FM transmitter frequency are also saved. However, FM radio frequency selection mode (either scan or preset which are switchable by pressing the center button when listening to FM radio) and FM transmitter status (which you can turn on or off by long-pressing V/T button when playing) are not saved.

Fourth, the record button works as A-B repeat key when playing. Do not long-press the record button because it will activate record mode.

Now, about the H/W.

1. The built-in USB connector is SUPER DEAD convenient.
2. MicroSDHC slot lets you load a lot of music (but cannot be used at the same time with the internal memory: have to choose one).
3. The build quality is very nice (the painting feels like Thinkpad exterior), and it has very good grip in your hands.
4. FM transmitter will be useful on a long trip in your friends' car. The signal is very weak, so leave your earphone plugged in as an antenna.
5. Recording is marginally acceptable.

If Archos's ever going to release a new firmware,

1. Please remove the key-lock thing.
2. Let it just instantly resume playing if turned off while playing.
3. Merge internal and external memory into one.
4. Give us custom EQ.
5. Please support displaying unicode characters in Title/Artist display.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2010
I have spent a fortune on finding an ideal MP3 Player, while some met my requirements, almost all failed at two basic things...
Have to carry cables for transfer songs or charging : This is a very basic flaw in a lot of MP3 Players, you need to carry a cable for charging / loading songs / podcasts... and that is very inconvenient when you need it because you end up searching, untangling in vain most of the times.

Ability to browse the songs as I loaded them, and not in some preset sorting like by album / by genre etc. I have gone through a pain staking process of organizing my music into different categories (Gym, Podcasts for learning etc) and getting to my choice of song / item becomes too difficult. Archos had this feature all along.

While this player scores big on these two items. it has a lot of features already advertised which are very useful as well.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2010
This is a great device with great features. Basically; it is more than you can expect for the price and the size. The only problem that I have is that the LCD screen broke after two days and now has a line of dead pixels and is almost impossible to read.

The costumer service is excellent. They offered to repair or replace my product, but since I live in Costa Rica, it's not worth to send it back to repair because of the shipping costs. I guess if I lived in USA it would be a different story.

Pros:
FM transmitter and recorder, voice recorder, the ability to browse folders, size and weight, no cables needed, and of course; the Built-In Micro SD Card Reader.
Excellent customer service.

Cons:
MINE didn't last a week. Everything works, except that I can't read the screen. As I said before; Archos offered repair or replace the defective item; however, I am not planning to send it back because I live in Costa Rica.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2010
I've owned three SanDisk Sansa products in the past, but all have failed for one reason or another after about 2 years of service. Oh well.

I decided to buy the Archos Key immediately when I saw that it does not require a cord, and includes both radio and voice recorder functions, just like Sansas. I really appreciate both features -- I probably listen to the local radio stations even more than I ever use my .mp3 playlists. Also I'm the kind of geek who records himself reading poetry, talking to my boyfriend while I sip wine, and conversations in long car rides, storing it away in case I ever want to try my hand at transcribing natural language.

So the Archos is a great product for all those reasons. Here are the cons:

The input system can be aggravating; the manual is perfunctory. You can input FM channel presets on the device by holding down the "M" key, but I had to email customer support (twice) to be told that -- I couldn't figure it out on my own. You turn it off and on by either a switch or holding the main button down a while (but the latter won't work if the switch is turned to the "off" position), you raise and lower the volume by first pressing the "V" key and then using the left and right keys, which usually switch the .mp3s. You'll learn, but it's aggravating, I find.

There's no "hold" key (at least that I can find) that prevents the buttons from being pushed if while the thing is in your pocket. Again, not a game killer, but aggravating.

I'd still buy it again at just over $30. I just wish it was a little more perfect.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2010
ok, I picked this up for $35 at a local store and i really like it.

pros:
built in fm transmitter with selectable frequency
built in usb no cables to carry and recharges in any usb without drivers, noce all in one package
great sound
very light and compact for a rechargeable transmitting mp3 player

cons:
have to memorize a few button combinations to get certain menus, can be confusing but once you got it down its easy
no hold button but it does have a 10 second timeout when it locks the buttons and ignores the first button pushed.
linear track selection, so organizing folders doesnt really help

overall a great deal on a 4gb player, i like the fact i can turn it on in the car, turn on the fm transmitter and hit play, no wires to plug in.

dont let the pics fool you its not really all that wide.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2010
This is a great Mp3 player for it's size, and the price. If you are not digital savvy, You will need to read the instructions that come with it, to avoid frustrations. I do wish it could support more file formats, (i.e., open formats, and Mac formats) but overall I rate it at 5 stars because of the quality of workmanship, ease of use, and all features, except for the voice recording, which I would rate at 3 stars. Reason being, it is not very clear, but then again when your buying this, your not expecting studio quality recordings. I haven't found any of the other problems that other reviewers left. Quite to the contrary actually.
I would recommend this to anybody who wants a simple Mp3 player similar to but much better then the Ipod shuffle. I bought a 16GB card to put in mine, and it does recognize SDHC mini. Great device. Would buy it again!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2010
Great little mp3 player. You must have the headphones plugged into the player to get best quality reception using the FM transmitter. The wire from the headphones works as an antenna. I haven't tried to shuffle yet. I did use a 4GB card in the player. The card was easy to load when I plugged the player using the USB into the computer. I suppose using the USB I can load any kind of file for use later on the computer. Just another portable digital file carrier.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2010
The Archos 4 GB Mp3 player,recorder, FM radio, computer flash drive & note-taker is like AmEx, I wouldn't dream of leaving home wthout it! The versatility is mind-blowing. You can record your favorite FM station and play it back. Transfering files between computers is a breeze with the builtin USB plug. Now, I regularfly transfer files between my notebook PC and my desktop. And all this benefit is packed into a package a little larger than a regular pak of Juicy Fruit gum. 4 GB is plenty of room for all the music you want. It can even be used as a supplemental drive for your mini computer! Outstanding buy for the price. Highly recommend buying it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2011
I've had my key for about 6 months now and it no longer works. I will describe how unpleasant it was to use until the point at which it became unusable.

- It takes around 10 seconds to start and almost 25 seconds to start playing music from the time you turn it on.
- You can only see two albums/folders at a time when browsing your music.
- The music playing mode is completely separate from the browsing mode, so when you exit playing mode to browse some more, you must start from the beginning of your folder list.
- The volume controls use the same buttons as the next-song/previous-song buttons. If you don't press a button to change the volume soon enough after entering volume mode, volume mode will deactivate and you will instead change songs.
- The Key body is sloped underneath the next-song button. If you try to advance songs while the device is sitting on a table, the Key will flip over
- When you turn off the device, the most it remembers is which folder you were in. The current song and current position in the song are forgotten. It will not continue playing automatically when turned on.
- You have to turn the Key on when you charge it. If you don't turn the Key off when you turn off your computer/USB charger, the Key will discharge.
- The Key looks like a thumb drive, but the body is big enough that if other USB devices are plugged in to your computer, the Key will probably not fit. I generally had to unplug things so that I could plug in the Key.
- The finish on the outside is cheap and is already wearing off (I carry it around in my pocket). The paint is missing from all of the corners and the label on one of the buttons is almost gone.
- Although it doesn't claim to, the Key does not work on Linux. I couldn't get it to mount and I couldn't kill the hanging mount process. I tried with a couple versions of Arch Linux, about 4 months apart.

Now my computer will not recognize the Key (I tried it in Linux, Windows, several Macs, and a friend's car). I think the USB plug on my Key became disconnected internally; the retractable USB plug seems a little flimsy. There are no easily accessible screws, so I might have to cut it in half if I want to try to fix it.

On the plus side, the music quality is good and the battery life is longer than my previous MP3 player.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2010
I bought this device specifically to use in my car for road trips. My CD player stopped working and this was an inexpensive option instead of replacing the CD player. There is a little bit of static when using the FM transmitter, but not to the point where you cant enjoy the music. The fact that you don't need cords made it very convenient. Adding songs to it and using the expansion drive was a snap. The buttons on my device aren't as touchy as I expected and usually have to "double click" but that's not really a bad thing. It is simple and easy to use and worth the price. You get what you pay for!
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