Customer Review

488 of 518 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1st Impressions: big and beautiful!, October 17, 2009
I just got my new Android 5 500GB direct from Archos yesterday and its quite a beauty. I'm upgrading from my old Archos 5 250GB, so that will be my primary point of comparison. I also have the following to compare to: iPod Touch 64GB, Archos 605, Walkman X, Samsung P2, and a host of other MP3 players large and small.

Given that my iPod Touch upgrade this year was less than astounding, I pretty much figured that this upgrade for Archos would be similarly understated. Mainly I just wanted the extra hard drive so I could backup all my laptops onto my music player. I was wrong! The new Android version seems to have a whole new feel both in form factor and the new software. I had heard that Archos was having problems with the software, but they seem to have ironed most of them out as of 1.1 firmware release. I did update my firmware immediately, and the process was quite smooth.

I'm going to rate this player on my absolute scale. I will also be making notes on the value of the upgrade from my old Archos 5. Note: I mostly use this as a media center to play music and video; secondarily as a backup drive.

Let's get to it then, these are the things I love about my new Android:

1) 500GB -- totally awesome amount of disk, I can now put just about every digital file I own on the Archos.
2) Android interface -- the overall feel of the software interface has definitively improved with the integration of Android. Effects are crisper, the esthetics are cleaner, things seem to happen faster. I especially like how easy it is to access the most recently played song or video from the main screen, pops up with a little thumbnail that you tap on and voila, resumes right where you left off!
3) Apps -- with Android we now have access to some serious app selection. Of course, nobody compares to the Apple App Store, but this comes the closest.
4) Weight -- this actually feels lighter to me than my 250GB.
5) Dock/DVR -- this popped right into my old 5 DVR and started playing right away. I still think this is the best DVR/Player combination available of all the MP3 players.
6) Video/Hi Def -- of the players I have owned, this has the best, biggest, and highest resolution screen.
7) Portrait/Landscape -- Archos has borrowed the iPhone trick of rotating the display according to orientation. I guess they have an accelerometer in there now, I dunno. Still, its fun to see this feature on an Archos. Its a lot easier to navigate playlists in portrait mode.
8) Easy and regular firmware updates -- with a WiFi connection, the firmware updates are easily performed on the unit itself. That's the easiest system I've seen of all my players. One thing I've learned about Archos over the years, they will put out a steady stream of firmware updates.
9) WMV/MTP mode-- very smooth interface to Windows for either Media Monkey or Windows Media Player.
10) Dedicated volume button -- power and volume buttons have been conveniently located onto the top edge. This is actually much easier to use when it is docked on the DVR (which is where mine spends most of its life!).
11) Sound quality is quite good, sounds great through my Klipsch speakers and seems to have more oomph than my other players.
12) WiFi/Browser -- has a good browser and WiFi connection has worked well for me. I think the keyboard is better than the Touch's, although Safari is probably the slightly superior browser. The bigger screen also helps for browsing. Overall I'm inclined to give the Archos the top ranking for browsers.
13) I just discovered Twidroid, one of many apps pre-loaded, allows me to check my Twitter in a really nice format -- love it!
14) Portability -- well there's only so much portability that can be expected with a screen and hard drive this large. This new design is smoother and rounder so its a little more comfortable in a pocket. It is very easy to carry around as a handheld device, fits nicely in my hand as I stroll about the house trying out all of the Android Apps! In any case, this is not as portable as a Touch but I think its pretty good for a small computer -- which is basically what this is.
15) No extra plug ins needed (so far!). Always in the past I've laid out another $40 for additional Archos plugins to play iPod format music and other video formats. So far I haven't had to do that -- thank you Archos :)
16) Archos will stand behind their product. I've had to send in a couple of Archos units over the years and they have always been happy to either repair or replace the unit without quibbling about it, as long as its under warranty. Note: it did take two weeks to get my unit back!
17) Multi threading: now I show my engineer/geek side. This baby can do a bunch of different stuff at the same time, unlike the iPhone/Touch which can really only do one thing at a time. The Android can be doing other stuff while you are listening music. I love the little bar on the top that you can pull down and switch to any other task that is running.
18) Built-in kickstand, very nice feature.
19) Stylus friendly touch screen -- sometimes you just get tired of trying to type a touchscreen keyboard with fat fingers! In general, this is one of my favorite touch screens. Most of the other touch screens, including iPod/iPhone, are capacitance which means stylus won't work
20) Micro USB cable plug-in: finally a standardized USB plug and you can have it resting on its kickstand while plugged in :)

Given that the Archos tops the class in several categories, and continues to be the best 500GB 5 inch screen player available I give it about a 4.7 stars out of 5 (round to 5). There are a few things I'm less than thrilled about:

1) Update: I believe you can now format your drive in a Windows friendly format on 1.7.96 version of firmware. External hard drive EXT3 -- as I understand it, Archos changed to the EXT3 hard drive format for reasons of speed and reliability. The result for me is that I can no longer simply select hard drive MSC mode, plug the Archos into a Windows machine and expect to access the drive. You have to install an Ext3 driver such as EXT2 IFS on your Windows PC. Once I did that I was able to access the hard drive and backup files to my hearts content.
2) The playlist interface didn't get much of an upgrade and its still kind of clunky. I want to simply tap my playlist and it starts playing. Often times I have to do a couple of extra taps to get the thing playing.
3) We lost the dedicated play button and removable battery a while back -- but I still miss them both! None of my favorite touch screen players has either of these features. I'm also missing the brown metallic color and the rubbery backside.
4) Finding a case for this baby is no easy trick. You're not going to find one at the local Best Buy I'm afraid. In the past I've resorted to ordering my Archos cases from European companies like I-nique and Noreve. This is generally true of any player that is not an iPod or a Zune.
5) As always with Archos, you must remember that you are dealing with a French based company. This means that they don't always provide the best support/service/upgrades to us Americans.
6) Lets face it, Archos is always playing catch up. Some of the new features aren't fully functional yet. I do have faith that Archos will fix all the little glitches with things like GPS over the course of the next 6 months. The Apps available are currently a bit limited. I expect this will improve over the coming months.
7) Keep in mind that this is not a unit for the faint of heart. This is more for the hobbyist who wants a cutting edge experience that may take some messing around to get it just the way you want it. If you want something easy that requires minimum effort then iPods are going to be more your cup of tea.

For me this is still the best player of its class -- that class being large hard drive, big screen PMP players with other fun features. Android makes for some fun possibilities, and overall I'm impressed with this as an upgrade. Once again, if you don't mind a smaller screen and you love apps I suggest you get an iPod Touch. If what you care about most is sound quality you may want to get a Walkman X. For me those are your top 3 touch screen players, it just depends on what you care about the most.

Note: 10-23-2009; I upgraded to firmware version 1.2.03 which fixes some App, Browser, and YouTube issues. Apps do seem happier now, upgrade process was very smooth. Still happily listening to tunes for about 8 hours a day with no problems :)

Update 11-7-2009: I've been running version 1.2.15 with a host of bug fixes and the unit does seem more stable in general now. Wifi is working better and USB connection seems more reliable.

Update 11-23-2009: Upgrade to firmware v 1.3.07 -- a long list of bug fixes including a few improvements that I had hoped for to control the scanning of multimedia files/ ArcLibrary. Got an AppsLib update which seems to work more reliably. There seem to be a lot more apps available now (300 ish) in AppsLib. Just keeps getting better and better! Still is playing music day in and day out with no problems and I'm backing up 2 laptops worth of files onto my 5 IT.

Update 12-18-2009: I've been on firmware 1.4.16 for over a week now. Lots of little fixes, seems even more stable now.

Update 2-11-2010: Firmware 1.7.33 (Android Donut) upgrade. The upgrade was a bit of work, I ended up reformatting the drive and starting anew. However, power saving seems to work a lot better and I haven't seen it reset itself for quite a while now. This seems to be the most solid release yet!

Update 4-8-2010: Firmware 1.7.96: just keeps getting better! Several annoying bugs fixed, Deep Sleep and Windows hard drive modes have been added as helpful new features among other things. This seems even more stable than previous versions. This is still my main car and home music player of choice.

Update 8-1-2010: Firmware 2.0.28: This version is stable. I had a little trouble with my player and had to send it in for a new one. Tech support was quite responsive and helpful, turn around time was pretty good and the new player works great. New features make for much better gaming from what I hear (I don't do gaming on it myself). Having given up the player for a while, I've come to the conclusion that the Archos actually has the best sound of all my players!

Update 9-24-10: Firmware 2.0.38: More improvement for games and 3D. Still my favorite player for my desktop and my car. New Android v2.2 versions are coming soon, I can hardly wait!

Update 3-11-2011: No firmware updates -- I think we've hit the end of the road for this product! Unfortunate since I was hoping for some FroYo. This also appears to be the end of the line for high capacity product development at Archos, there was no new version of this product released in 2010 that I know of. Overall the unit has held up well to 1 and a half years of daily use. The screen has developed a bit of a light fog effect; since I use the unit for music this isn't a big deal for me. I've taken to putting FLAC files on the A5 and it handles them pretty well, it does act a little funny with some files though -- as a result I can't strongly recommend this unit for FLAC-heads!

This is likely to be my final update -- looks like I will be keeping my 500GB A5 Android until it drops dead, quite possibly my last hard drive MP3 player and I dare say this product signals the end of an era for the world of portable media players.

Update 6-22-11: Firmware 2.0.45 -- I spoke too soon! This release fixes an assortment of bugs and has been quite stable for me (I've had it for about a month now). I always do appreciate a stable bugfix update. In the meantime, I have successfully been able to get both Android marketplace and Amazon Appstore working and I've downloaded apps from both sources successfully. Of course Android 1.6 is getting pretty dated at this point, wouldn't it be nice to have Android 3 on this baby?!
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Tracked by 17 customers

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Showing 31-40 of 92 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2010 7:51:25 AM PST
Alan says:
Hi Sasa, That is odd! I'm afraid I don't run this on the battery very much -- but 4 hours does sound about right to me. Sorry I'm not much help on this topic -- again might be helpful, there are some pretty lively discussions about battery life on there.

Posted on Jan 21, 2010 3:41:16 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 21, 2010 3:45:50 PM PST
Moviefan says:
I think you work for Archos. My experiences with the Archos 5 (250GB) and now the (500GB) Archos 5 Android are far from yours. These are terrible products and their customer service/tech support is worse. This new one is heavy, very thick and has several problems, many software and some hardware. One cannot rewind and maintain sound on replay. One cannot often stop a movie then resume form that spot. WiFi signals are dropped. (This was checked with a wifi laptop nearby. No signal dropped on the laptop, just the Archos.) The issues are hard to count. Even the little leg won't stay put and dangles. Archos will replace this one (as they did the 250GB) but they have none in stock. Run from Archos until they get their collective French butts together, get rid of their third party tech support and satisfy their customers.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2010 5:21:20 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 21, 2010 5:28:24 PM PST
Alan says:
Moviefan -- you are certainly entitled to your opinion. I do not work for Archos but if they want to send me money I would happily take it. I'm not sure what you're comparing to, this is the lightest Archos I've had. Compared to an iPod they are big and heavy as I believe I noted. As I said I use it mainly for music, I can't say much about wifi or movies -- however I've never had any problems with either. I've had no problem with the leg, it continues to work very well for me (what did you do to break it I wonder?). I agree its not a perfect product (does such a thing exist, I don't think so!), I guess you are one of the unlucky ones. Good luck finding something that you like better!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2010 6:06:33 PM PST
Moviefan says:
If this is the lightest player of this type you've owner, stop into Best Buy and compare. It's actually quite heavy and thick due to the type of hard drive it uses. On the music side it does play well but it's overkill simply for that type of use. If all you want is music I'd suggest an ipod nano, two of which I own with zero problems. The Archos is promarily a video media player and that is where the trouble seems to lie. Well, that and tech support. I do hope you never need to find out.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2010 7:13:09 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 21, 2010 7:16:45 PM PST
Alan says:
Again, what are you comparing to? It makes no sense to compare a 500GB player with a 5" screen to a 32GB iPod Touch or Zune HD and complain that its too big and heavy -- not to mention that the A5 screen is significantly larger than either of those. I didn't see anything else at Best Buy that could be considered comparable, maybe yours has something different. Tech support isn't great, but its not any worse than Apple's -- and I've had to use both to get players replaced for various reasons. I do agree that the most likely use of this unit is as a video player -- although Archos is mainly marketing it as an internet tablet. Although the small amount of video I have watched on the A5 worked well, and it did a good job of remembering where I left off. I admit I have not used it heavily for that purpose. I can certainly sympathize with your frustration, its never fun to have to get a unit replaced and it takes a long time. Still, I wonder what unit you think is so much better than the Archos? I'm always open to trying something new... if you haven't noticed, I've owned a plethora of different players.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 23, 2010 7:11:18 PM PST
Hey Alan, don't worry about the Mac fan-boys trolling. I checked his other posts and comments and they are mostly negative. I'm not surprised that he has mostly negative comments to say.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 24, 2010 6:56:02 AM PST
Moviefan says:
So, you, Sir Expert Bob, are saying my "negative comments" do not reflect real life experiences? Kinda shows your true colors for they are true experiences. Archos has terrible tech support as confirmed by an authorized dealer. I've now waited a week since my 250 replacment arrived for Archos Tech support to "authorize" me to dowload the plug-ins. Until then it's a paperweight. Glad you like yours, I'd recommend people stay away. Far away, until Archos gets it's act together.

If/when I do recommend people get an Archos I'd recommend the 32GB model rather than the 500GB model unless they absolutely must have a larger hard drive. For those who like to travel, enough movies can be loaded onto the 32gb, and maybe an extra 16GB card, for most trips. It's a lot lighter and thinner.

As far as you labeling me a mac fan that reflects your ignorance, I'm not. The only mac products I own are two 16GB Ipods because they are a much better product for those who want a music player. I never use them for video. Something breaks while it's under warranty and you can walk into any Apple store and exchange it. I've owned Zune and didn't like it.

So, Sir Bob (Side Show fits you well), kindly keep the personal attacks to yourself.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2010 3:43:38 PM PST
Alan says:
Hi Bob, thanks for the support dude. I know, some people just come at life with a half empty perspective. A little debate is a healthy thing I figure ;)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2010 3:46:58 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 25, 2010 3:49:50 PM PST
Alan says:
Hey moviefan, I think it took about two weeks for Archos to replace a unit for me if I remember right (about the same as Apple as I remember). Since Dell stopped having good tech support a while back, I've found that nobody is any better on turn around if you can even get the company to replace the unit at all. For instance, iRiver makes Archos look really good: I couldn't even get their tech support to respond to me and forget about replacing a faulty unit. You want to have a really bad tech support experience I suggest you go buy an iRiver and you'll have lots of good things to say about Archos after that!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 27, 2010 5:01:12 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 27, 2010 5:04:20 PM PST
Moviefan says:
My latest experiences: Unable to contact Archos Tech support. Call the 877 number, get the message "your call is important to us...", eventually I am told, by machine, I can leave a callback number and someone will call back within the hour. Oops, next message states "Archos callback mailbox is full". Fyi, this has been the same at the Archos tech support line for months. 877-300-8879. Try it yourself.

This week yet another issue with the 500GB Archos. Video files will not play to completion. First I lose sound. I find I can rewind the resume play and sound returns. For about a minute. After cycling this two or three times the video locks. My only option is to force a shut down. Yes I am on the latest update. Hmmm, I guess I should love the fact I have two Archos units plus accessories and plug-ins costing over $1000 and not complain, according to you people.

Ahh shucks, I guess I should just go out and buy a few more Archos products, when they quit and no support is available I should buy more. Glass half full philosophy, right sport??

As far as Iriver, they have had a poor service reputation for a long time. Not sure why anyone buys from them. Archos seems to get glowing reviews from a few people. Not sure why, unless they have a vested interest.

P.S. Kenneth Cole Reaction neoprene cases fit the Archos 5 Internet player well. They are on Fleabay for about $10.

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