With this model, Archos abandons navigation buttons in favor of a complete touchscreen experience. Although users can navigate menus with a finger, we found that using one of the two included styli elicited greater response and accuracy. We would have preferred, however, that the 704 Wi-Fi retained the standard button controls found on the other Generation 4 products, as the touchscreen was finicky at times.
The 704 Wi-Fi supports a wide range of video files (MPEG-4, WMV, protected WMV, with H.264, MPEG-2, and VOB available as optional plug-ins). Those of you who frequent online movie stores will be pleased to learn that the 704 Wi-Fi can play back flicks from Amazon Unbox, AOL, CinemaNow, and Wal-Mart. Unfortunately for Apple devotees, iTunes' Fairplay-protected files are incompatible. You can expect four hours of video playback from the 704 Wi-Fi, which is good enough to watch one or two complete movies. A built-in kickstand offers hands-free viewing.
Surfing the Web with the included Opera browser was a pleasurable experience visually. Because of the large screen, page formatting nearly matched that of the same site viewed on a PC. The bright, clear screen also makes Web pages legible from almost any angle, and the tabs let you view multiple pages within one window, à la Firefox and IE 7.
On the other hand, like the Archos 604 Wi-Fi, this player suffers from sluggish performance. There was a one- to two-second delay between an input and an action. In addition, flash-based sites such as YouTube are off-limits. If you're looking to do simple browsing or check your Web mail, however, the 704 Wi-Fi's online capabilities should suit you well.
The biggest nitpick that we've had with other recent Archos PMPs has been the lack of built-in video recording. That trend continues here, as the optional DVR station costs an additional $99. That balloons the cost of the 704 Wi-Fi to $648, which is just shy of the price of a budget laptop.
If you're on the hunt for a device that will handle almost all of your multimedia needs, check out the Archos 704 Wi-Fi. It's too big for a pocket, but it's perfect for a long flight or car ride. If you're looking for portability, get the 604 Wi-Fi, but if you can handle the size and price, the 704 won't disappoint.
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