The Archos AV 700 Mobile Digital Video Recorder can be used to listen to music, watch videos, view photos and, best of all, record directly from DVDs, CDs and live TV. However all this functionality comes at a price, as the bulky AV 700 is not designed to fit into pockets, nor can it be carried around easily.
- 100GB hard drive; 7' LCD screen; direct recording from TV, DVD or CD; direct transfer of photos; plug and play
- Bulky, poor user controls, lack of double headphone jack, no wireless connectivity
The AV 700 is a true multimedia convergence device, but the sheer size of the unit makes it unsuitable for buyers who place a premium on portability.
Price$ 1,295.00 (AUD)
Just about everything to do with the AV 700 is huge--the device is 10.7 x 20.9 x 1.9cm, weighs 590g, has a 100GB hard drive, chunky remote control and an awesome 7" widescreen LCD. When we first saw the size of the 7" LCD screen and its black anti-reflective coating, we couldn't wait to test out the video performance. It promised so much, but we weren't exactly blown away by the image quality of the 480 x 234 pixel screen. It was good, but not outstanding.
Sound quality was better, using the two speakers positioned on either side of the unit (but don't bother with the included headphones). A second headphone jack, standard on many portable DVD players, was conspicuously absent.
The AV 700 can record hours of video directly from TV, meaning you can record your favorite shows and watch them when out and about. The package includes a small TV docking pod that connects to your TV, VCR, DVD or set top box with component or S-Video cables. The connection with the TV is two-way, meaning that files currently stored on the AV 700 can be played back through your TV. Setting this up was a breeze and would take even amateurs only a few minutes. With the AV 700 you can crop recorded video content to easily remove unwanted sections of recordings (such as ads).
We recorded from both TV and DVD and found the recording quality was good, but not quite up to DVD standard. The Archos allows customisation of the video format (4:3 or 16:9), the bit rate and the audio sampling rate to improve the quality of video recordings. The AV 700 records video in MPEG-4 format, and for playback also supports the newer WMV9 (Windows Media Video 9) format and AVI files encoded in XviD, DivX (except 3.11 and 6.0) and MPEG-4. As well as recording video content, the AV 700 allows users to record music (in WAV format) from other music sources.
The control set of the AV 700 is sorely lacking. Navigating though the menus requires use of the four-way keypad on the left-hand side of the screen, and the Select button on the right, which is also the power-on button. Controlling the settings requires using other buttons on the bottom right of the unit, and turning the device off involves using a different control to the power-on button. All very confusing.
The AV 700 has a tiny kickstand at the rear, which is useful for standing up the device on a table and watching from a distance. However, if you want to browse the content, you'll have to use both hands and hold it, as the angle of the kickstand is not conducive to doing this.
The AV 700's GUI is simple to use and files are displayed in a folder-style view, similar to that in Windows Explorer. While the unit lagged slightly at some points, and we could hear the hard drive whirring, accessing video and photo content was extremely fast. You can quickly choose the video or photo you want from a thumbnail preview of the videos/photos on the right-hand side of the screen.
Another very useful feature is the ability to connect digital cameras directly to the AV 700 and transfer photos using USB cables. This means that digital photos can be easily transferred to and viewed on the AV 700 if you are on the road.
Transferring data from a PC through the USB 2.0 connection was fast, and the test PC recognised the AV 700 immediately as plug and play unit. FireWire, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are not supported by the AV 700. Additionally, while there is a Games folder on the AV 700, it doesn't come with any games in it; they have to be downloaded (at a price) from the Archos Web site.
The AV 700 has a battery life of 30 hours for music and four hours for the video. Power-saving profiles are available from the settings menu, but a spare battery is recommended if you plan to watch lots of movies.
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