Most helpful critical review
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Stupid S/W + Nice H/W
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.
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.