Archos AV700: DTV Media Center in Your Pocket

Archos took portable media devices to another level this week by announcing the DVB-T version of their AV700 for the European market. It is the first portable media device with dual digital tuners and with recording capabilities even while the user is in motion. This is made possible through “diversity reception” technology which is like data correction on-the-fly using dual antennas/tuners. If the receiver does not catch the transmission the first time, it has a second antenna as a backup to retrieve the missing information. Simply stated — quality video on the move.

Additionally, the AV700 features a 7″ color wide screen, hard drive capacities of 40GB and 100GB, a “Pod” which allows users to connect the AV700 to a TV and watch any media on the big screen and, last but not least, an integrated remote control to control other components in your home theater system. Supported video formats include MPEG-4 SP, AVI, and WMV9 which covers the majority of file types available for download.

Aside from watching and recording live digital broadcasts and stored videos, the AV700 also allows playback of audio files including stereo MP3s that are encoded at 30-320Kb/sec (VBR & CBR), WMA (including protected WMA files), and WAV (PCM & ADPCM) format. The built-in image viewer also allows JPEG and BMP files to be seen on screen.

Battery life looks exceptional at 30 hours for audio playback and 4 hours for video on the built-in LCD. The battery is rechargeable and all accessories including the TV Pod which allows connectivity to TV’s and other video equipment, a remote control, and audio video cables are included with the retail package.

Recently, Microsoft Corporation introduced their “Origami” project which they call an ultra mobile PC (UMPC). Project Origami also carries a 7″ screen and looks very similar to the AV700, however, Origami will run a variant of Windows XP TabletPC Edition. Neither Microsoft nor its partners have released any details of a TV tuner so that is one feature AV700 has the upper hand on at the moment.

The AV700 DVB-T version is supposed to retail at €700, or about $850 USD, at the time of the May 2006 launch. UMPCs are said to come out on the market with a pricetag between  $599-$999, based on the hardware configuration and capabilities, but it is still not clear on the specifics on what the various vendors may have to offer.

It’s too bad the AV700 will probably be not available in the US, at least initially. With broadcast channels switching over to digital and many in high definition already, this equipment would be great for those commutes to the city.

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