4.0 star rating

Archos 704 Wi-fi Review

$549.00
Pros: Stunning screen; Supports multiple video formats and content providers; Excellent webpage formatting; Built-in kickstand
Cons: Finicky touch controls; Sluggish processor; No flash support; DVR station not included
The Verdict: With a gorgeous display and a built-in Web browser, the Archos 704 Wi-Fi is the best big-screen PMP yet.

REVIEW

SPECIFICATIONS

Archos has once again demonstrated why it is the reigning king of portable video players. The latest addition is the 704 Wi-Fi, which may be the ultimate PMP for multimedia mavens, even though it comes at a rather hefty price. It boasts a huge seven-inch screen, sports an optional DVR dock for recording TV shows, and surfs the Web wirelessly at a decent clip.
 
The 1.4-pound device features a brushed-aluminum finish that's characteristic of other Archos Generation 4 portables (though the 704 is boxier). You'll also find twin USB ports and a button on the right side of the body that ejects the removable battery. Its massive widescreen display means the 704 will not be mistaken for the much more pocket-friendly 5G iPod, but this unit is first and foremost a movie player. The expansive real estate combines with the highest resolution we've seen from a PMP (800 x 480 pixels) to deliver a superior experience on the go.
 
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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Tags: Archos 704 Wi-Fi, Archos, PMPs, MP3 Players, portable media player, portable media players

Technical Specifications
Archos 704 Wi-fi
www.archos.com


Display7 inches (800 x 480 pixels, more than 16 million colors)
PC InterfaceUSB
Audio FormatsAAC; AC3; MP3; WAV; WMA; WMA Protected
Video FormatsH.264; MPEG-2; MPEG-4; VOB; WMV; WMV Protected
Photo FormatsBMP; JPEG
Battery Typerechargable
Battery Life3:54 (tested)
Wi-FiYes
BluetoothNo
IRNo
FM RadioNo
FM RecordingNo
Voice RecordingNo
Memory TypeFlash
Memory Capacity80GB
Size5.2 x 3 x 0.6 inches
Weight1.4 pounds
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