Archos Goes 3G with Archos 5 and Archos 7 Internet Media Tablets

Archos, one of the premier brands in the portable media player space, is attempting to move beyond the A/V devices that we're accustomed to seeing from the company by delving into a new genre all together: the internet media tablet. The Archos 5 series packs a 4.8-inch ( 800 x 480-pixel resolution) touchscreen display that's designed to be far more responsive than the typical Archos PMP thanks to the inclusion of a Texas Instruments ARM Cortex processor. Archos states that the new engine delivers PC-like speeds, and in an early hands on with the unti a few weeks back, it certainly felt snappier than the very cool, but somewhat sluggish Archos 605 Wi-Fi. Increased speeds also apply to the Web surfing experience as the internet media tablet includes a built-in antenna and SIM card slot (available in the Archos 5G), but this functionality won't be available until early 2009.  Until then, the built-in 802.11b/g Wi-Fi radio will let you POP3 and IMAP e-mail accounts, and view YouTube clips using the included Opera broswer (with Flash 9 support). Of course it supports many multimedia codecs including MPEG-4, WMV (protected and unprotected), MP3, WAV, WMA (protected and unprotected), JPG, BMP, GIF, and PNG. As with previous Archos units, users can purchase plug-ins that add extra compatibility with high-resolution video (720p MPEG-4 and WMV video), H.264, AAC, AAC+, and 5.1 sound. The Archos 5 is available in 60GB ($350), 120GB ($400), and 250GB ($450) capacities for storing all of that multimedia. Archos 7 keeps the the same multimedia functionality and screen resolution, but bumps the display size up to 7 inches. In addition, you can't simply pop a SIM card into this puppy-you need to purchase a 3G plug-in, add a mobile broadband dongle (or aircard) from a carrier that plugs into the Archos Mini Dock. It's available in two capacities: 160GB ($450) and 320GB ($550). Both Archos 5 and Archos 7 players enable entertainment-seekers fire up the WebTV and Radio Player (free with registration) that lets users listen to over 10,000 online radio stations, over 600 TV channels (live and selected content), and over 100,000 podcasts. The TVportation plug-in ($49.95) transforms the players into streaming media servers. We're expecting a unit in coming days, so expect a hands-on and full review shortly.