It's a creekmore world

Travel Gear Review: Archos 7 portable media player

I wouldn’t start a long trip without the Archos 7.   The Archos 7 is a PVP – personal video player,  designed to display TV and movies on the road.   It’s made extended travel a breeze for the kids.  They handled long car rides in Morocco with ease watching High School Musical 3 over and over and over.  And I love it too.  I actually look forward to my frequent cross-country flights because I can catch-up on great movies.

I’ve had it for about 6 months and it’s been used for hundreds of hours.  Like everything I ‘review’, I actually use it a lot.  Why is is great?  It simply does what a video player should:  provide a beautiful video image and run with a very long battery life.

Archos 7 with an iPhone

The screen is large and clear – about 7 inches diagonal.  iPhones suffer from being too small to watch comfortably for hours.  Laptops screens are usually too large for the video quality and it makes video look grainy.

More importantly, both phones and laptops run out of batteries very quickly.  I can watch 6 or 7 hours of video on the Archos 7 and twice that with the duplicate battery.   And it stores, potentially, over a hundred normal length movies and still have space left for your music collection.  Content can come from a DVR ‘docking’ station where you record whatever is showing on your TV.   I think you can do rentals from Amazon, although I’m not sure.   We have a big DVD collection so that’s what we use.

The internet wi-fi features were rarely useful to me, but it can double as a portable web browser with built-in support for hotmail, gmail and yahoo email.  It will store documents and pictures.  I did use it as a backup for photos on our Middle East month-long trip.

It’s heavy at 1.5 lbs so you won’t be carrying it in a pocket.  And it’s not cheap at around $400.  I wish it would play videos over 2GB, but it’s not a serious problem because it’s easy to get a 2 hour high-quality movie under that size.  It did take several tries and some research to figure out how to get movies into the right format on the device.  It’s not as easy as buying a video from itunes and having it automatically download.

The Archos 7 is an opinion-polarizing device for consumers.  Half the Amazon reviews are 5-star and half are 1-star.  It apparently doesn’t do nearly the number of things the manufacturer says it should do.  So do your research first if you need something specific.  I use it as a video player only, and for that it’s fantastic.  But frustrated users, promised more than they were delivered, abound.

The only add-ons I recommend are a leather case, a spare battery, and a y-splitter so both kids can watch/listen.