Archos AV4100 Pocket Video Recorder

The Arcos AV4100 certainly offers plenty to any perspective owner and is seen as the king of the portable media world, but can the device live up to the hype? We loaded up a player with recordings to find out.

With a large 3.8in colour 262k 320x240 pixels LCD that dominates the 12.5 cm x 7.8 cm x 2.6 cm device viewing movies or Jpeg images is clear and easy, the same unfortunately can't be said for the navigation, which will take some time getting used to. While the main screen shouts “touch screen” on first inspection, it sadly isn't one. This leaves you to control the device with a D-pad and further additional buttons on the right-hand side. Whilst the D-pad works without any complications, the additional buttons, that allow to you control further menu functions on screen, will confuse merely because we've never seen a device work in this way before.

Inside and the menu system is fairly easy to navigate once you've worked out
the button issue above. The strength of this unit is the extremely large
hard drive that will allow you store images, music and of course television
or movie footage to watch on the go. With 100GB at your disposal there is
plenty of space to fill and Archos believe you should be able to amass
around 400 hours of footage, more than enough to keep you quiet
on the commute. In keeping with this, Archos also promises 12 hours for
music or 4 hours for video on built-in LCD more than enough to even watch
the Sunday omnibus of Hollyoaks or any other show that's on half an hour every weekday.

Transferring movies to the player is relatively easy, thanks to an uber
docking station that comes with the unit. Docking the AV400 into this cradle
gives you the option of connecting the unit to your television without
involving your computer. Connections in the box include analog
audio/video In & Out to RCA jacks, S-video In, and IR receiver for remote
and IR emitter for tuner control, SCART In & Out for European version.

The IR emitter lets you use the included remote in the box and is ideal for
the lazy.

Once connected, it's merely a case of selecting the right station, be it
terrestrial or satellite and then pressing the record button just as you
would a VCR with a VHS. Files are recorded in MPEG-4 SP with MP3 or ADPCM
stereo sound. There are two main recording levels, one for playback on the
3.8in screen and the other for playback on a television. While playback for
the screen was very good, we weren't as impressed with the playback on the
television and it felt like watching a pirated DVD rather than a higher quality DVD strength (MPEG 2-based) television recording.

Like the P-2000 from Epson, the AV400 also has the ability to view JPEG
images on the fly and the addition of a Compact Flash slot, should please
photographers wanting to check their images on the go.

The AV4100 does come with an on-board speaker, although as expected results
are very tinny. Fellow commuters will therefore be pleased to hear that the
unit does come with a earphone jack so you can keep the noise to yourself.

Verdict

With a drag and drop function via USB2.0, the Archos AV400 shouldn't give
you any problems transferring music or video on to the player for both PC
and Mac users. Combine that with the fact that you don't actually need to
involve a PC to get recording and watching and this player should appeal to
just about everyone.

Grumbles about the navigation system aside this really is the big daddy of
the PMC world, breaking away from the realms of Microsoft's Portable Media
Center edition and the other Linux based systems has paid off for Archos in
spades.

What's the catch? You're going to have to pay for all this kit somehow and with a £550 price tag its not going to appeal to everyone.

This product was kindly loaned to us by The Bt shop