Archos have produced the first portable TV that comes with the ability to record programmes. It’s got an integrated freeview tuner, and connects to two antennas which is supposed to produce a clearer and more consistent picture.
It’s got 40GB of memory, which will store up to 35 hours of television. It’s also the ability to store and play photos and music files. For £480, it’s yours.
The AV700 TV’s main reason for existence is the ability to watch digital television on the move. To support this, there’s a 7" screen that dominates the handset. This is an ample size for watching TV comfortably, particularly since there’s a fold out support stand which means you don’t have to keep it clutched in your hands. Finding the channels is also a simple matter of connecting the antennas to the unit and scanning for channels – with the right orientation of the aerials you can pick up a full complement of fifty plus digital channels.
I was treated to "I’m a self-confessed Queen of Tarts" Trisha episode in a matter of seconds, and once you’re there, it’s just one button to activate the record function. Because it’s a digital recording, it’s stored in an intelligent fashion, with the name of the programme as the file name. The digital tuner also means that you get the familiar ‘now and next’ displayed at the bottom of the screen, although no further than this, which Sky users might miss. Further to this, the AV700TV can be used as a freeview tuner and plugged into a TV, for those who don’t want to fork out twice.
The user interface itself is also incredibly easy. On launching, you get a choice of ten applications which are clearly laid out (thanks to the size of the screen). It’s then just a matter of scrolling with the joystick and selecting with the button on the other side of the screen. Once you’ve got used to the layout, you’ll glide through everything in seconds. And best of all, everything is stored exactly where you think it will be – something that is rare to find.
The music application is simple to use, with the ability to shuffle and repeat songs easily accessible. There is also the choice of creating a playlist whilst you’re in the music file, although it seems impossible to save this playlist ready for the next time you turn it on.
Overall the AV700TV works well, but there are some niggly little things that need improving. For instance, there is a gaming application but it doesn’t come with any supplied. They are available from the Archos website, for upwards of 15 euros but you would have thought they’d have chucked one on as standard.
You also can’t set a timer for the freeview recording. Obviously this is done to conserve battery life, but I can see limited use for the recording function when you’re sitting in front of it anyway – perhaps in case you’re so addicted to Lost you want to make sure you don’t miss any hidden symbolism?
The player comes with a nice black wallet for carting about, but strangely, the antennas and wires are packaged in a separate wallet – if you do want to travel with this, you’ll have to carry a rather large bag to accommodate both.
In our opinion
I really really like the AV700TV. It’s managed to create an intuitive interface where it could have been a horrible mess, whilst not weighing it down with too many buttons, allowing room for a decent size screen. There are certain things that niggle (the manual being on the hard drive is a brilliant idea, unless you load it as a PDF which isn’t supported on the player) but overall, none actually prevent a sterling performance. I’m also sceptical of the actual application of recording programmes to the hard drive without having a timer function. Still, overall, it’s a keeper.