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Saturday, 7 December, 2002, 07:50 GMT
Digital player offers hours of fun
Archos Multimedia Jukebox
The Jukebox is on the heavy side
With digital music players likely to be on the Christmas list of many, BBC News Online's Alfred Hermida reviews the Archos Multimedia Jukebox, which offers more than just music.
You can now pack your entire music collection in a gadget about the size of a personal stereo, thanks to the development of digital music players with a big hard disk drive.

Players like Apple's iPod and SonicBlue's RioRiot can pack hundreds of hours of music on the go.

The Archos Multimedia Jukebox similarly comes with a large hard drive, but it seeks to stand out from the crowd by offering more than just a music player.

What sets it apart is the combination of a colour LCD screen to watch video on the front which means that you are not limited to music.

Heavy gadget

Archos have tried to pack as much as possible into this gadget. Not only can you carry around music, you can also store data, photos and video.

The Jukebox can hold up to 200,000 digital pictures or 40 hours of video on its 20 gigabyte hard drive.

Jukebox Multimedia 20 specs
20GB hard drive
Holds up to 5,000 MP3 songs, 200,000 photos or 40 hours of video
Colour display 237x234 pixels
Seven hours of battery life (for music)
Expansion port for card reader or camera
The result is quite a chunky gadget, compared to the sleek lines of the iPod or the RioRiot. And at 290g, it is on the heavy side.

But it is easy to use, with buttons similar to a portable CD player. The screen is handy for finding your way through folders packed with tunes, downloaded onto the player through a USB cable.

You can also buy a faster USB 2.0 connection cable. The player works with Firewire as well, but this option is not yet available in the UK.

Transferring movies onto the player is slightly more complicated than with MP3 music files.

The film has to be in the right format, either MPEG4 or DivX, which is one of the most popular formats used for video on the web.

Entertainment to go

Carrying a movie on the go certainly appeals but watching a film on the tiny screen soon feels less of a pleasure and becomes more of a pain.

The screen is only 237 by 234 pixels and is just too small for watching anything longer than a couple of minutes. And there is always the problem of scratching the display window.

Fortunately, you can plug it into a television for a larger view when you get back home.

A whole range of attachments are available for the player that let you download pictures from the card in your digital camera onto the hard drive.

You can even buy a camera to clip on and take snaps or record short movies straight onto the Jukebox, though the resolution is only 630 by 480 pixels.

The Archos Jukebox is a versatile gadget and it packs much in a small package. It illustrates how products like these not only getting smaller but also trying to offer an all-in-one shiny digital box.

At a cost of around 340 in the UK, it is a pricey accessory. But it does provide a way to carry all your videos, photos and music with you everywhere you go.

See also:

19 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
24 Oct 01 | Entertainment
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