Archos 3cam vision review

Full review:Dinky 8GB mp4 player packs in video and photo capture

Image 1 of 3 Archos 3cam vision with headphones
Archos 3cam vision with headphones
Image 2 of 3 Archos 3cam vision front
Archos 3cam vision front
Image 3 of 3 Archos 3cam vision side
Archos 3cam vision side

Archos takes another run at the iPod nano, by adding in video and stills capture

Archos’ portable multimedia players have tickled our fancy down the years, with excellent devices like the Archos 505 providing a great-sounding alternative to the Apple iPod Nano and Sony Walkman A845's of the world. Quite a few of those players have, however, been unkind to the pocket in more ways than one, proving bulky and expensive, so last year’s nano-sized and priced Archos 3 Vision player was a welcome bonus addition to the range.

The full touchscreen MP4 player has undergone a 2010 overhaul, and like the latest iPod nanos, now boasts a video and stills camera to go along with the excellent sound quality, great video playback and 8GB storage.

The Archos UI boasts a homescreen that divides the gadget up into five pieces of functionality; Music, Photo, Video, Camera and FM transmitter so lets explore this quintet. Can it prove to be a true alternative to the all conquering nano?

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
More on Archos

Android powered Archos 4 Internet tablet review

Archos 5 60GB review

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

The first thing you notice about the Archos 3cam Vision is the weight. It’s spectacularly dinky at just 64g, but almost double the weight of the 34.5g iPod nano.

The grey edges are joined by a mirrored facia, showcasing a 400x240 3-inch resistive touchscreen, and the only front-facing control is the touch-sensitive back button beneath the screen.

The only external features are the 3.5mm jack, lock switch and miniUSB charging cable. As a whole, the device doesn’t throw out the most luxurious vibe, and it’s not particular sturdy compared to come of the past Archos bricks, but we’re happy to sacrifice both of those for improved price and portability.

The FM radio transmitter also comes in handy as does the voice recorder.

Archos 3cam Vision: Music player

It’s listed as an MP4 player, but fret not, it can handle MP3, FLAC and WMA. If you get your music from iTunes this isn’t for you, as AAC files are strictly off the menu. It’s easy to chuck your compatible files onto the device by dragging and dropping them from your computer, and once they’re there the fun begins.

It’s as good a sounding player as the iPod nano, with a warm, clear sound, loaded with bass. It’s also packed with a decent equaliser to tailor your tunes. You’ll need a decent set of buds to get the best out of this player though, as the pre-packaged ones ain’t all that.

The interface is nice enough, allowing you to easy switch between artists, playlists and all music. Songs are represented with cover art, which is also presented on the play screen. The UI is hardly iPod touch esque though as the screen resolution can’t compete and neither can the touchscreen. Scrolling through the page can be problematic as we often accidentally selected an item, but if you hold and move up and down rather than flicking, it’s not too bad. Overall, the touchscreen isn’t great. It’s very squidgy and it’s tricky to be accurate at times.

There’s no additional storage, but 8GB holds 4,000 songs, making it perfect for holidays or business trips.

Archos 3cam Vision: Video playback

Despite poor resolution on some of the controls within the music player and the photo album, videos come through extremely clearly on the 3-inch screen with surprisingly crisp picture quality. The screen can be a little sensitive to fingerprints, but it deals well enough with sunlight to be an effective video player on the move.

Again the Archos has a great range of video playback, accepting the all-important AVI, along with WMVs, FLV-files you’ve downloaded and MPEGs. It’s a real bonus to not have to worry about converting everything to MPEG4 as one has to with Apple’s range.

The new VGA video camera, helps redefine the gadget as more than just a media player, capturing video at VGA 640x480, but the quality is nowhere near as good as that on the iPod Nano. Footage is extremely grainy, and the lens seems to drain life from the scene.

There are a few options, such as white-balance, light and contrast, but the presence of video perhaps even cheapens the gadget. It’s less than the sum of its parts because of Archos’ attempt to turn this into a convergence gadget.

Archos 3cam Vision: Camera

It’s a similar story with the stills camera, it’s just no-where near good enough to be a contender, and the lens’ positioning at the foot of the device makes avoiding invading the shot with your fingers a very tricky business indeed.

It is easy to drag and drop photos onto the device, but scanning through them isn’t an enjoyable experience as the UI is a little sticky.

The Archos 3cam Vision’s camera is at a reasonable price point. Whether you’ll really use the camera on this device is another question. Perhaps this gadget just tries to do too much. But aside from the questionable lens, less fluent UI and unreliable resistive touchscreen this is a great sounding PMP with enough video smarts to keep you entertained and satisfied.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Specifications
Screen: 3inches 400x240 pixels
Audio format support: MP3, WMA (non protected), WAV, OGG, FLAC, APE
Video playback: MPEG, WMV (non protected), FLV, AVI, RMVB
Storage: 8GB flash drive
Compatibilty: Windows, Mac, Linux
Battery: 14 hours music playback
Dimensions: 97 mm x 52 mm x 9 mm
Weight: 64g
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------