ARCHOS AV420 Pocket Digital Video Recorder
Posted Sep 29, 2004

The AV420 reminds me of the old Saturday Night Live faux-commercial for Shimmer: "It's a floor wax!" "No, it's a dessert topping." "You're both wrong! It's a floor wax and a dessert topping." The AV420 does so much that it's hard to figure out exactly what it is.

Nothing wrong with that, especially when it does so many things so well. When combined with the bundled TV Cradle docking station, the unit records directly from a TV, VCR, or cable/satellite tuner, and even synchronizes with Yahoo TV Guide Internet schedule so you can schedule recording sessions weeks ahead of time. With it's 20GB HDD and 3.5" LCD screen, you can not only record programming while you're away, you can also take those shows on the road with you. Also available in 80GB and 100GB models, the Archos records in AVI format; it's also compatible with DivX, so studio pros can encode to that format and take demo reels to clients without lugging along a laptop.

The thought of watching video on a screen that small might tempt you to toss the AV420 in the "cool but impractical" file. Not so fast. The display offers clear and crisp images, in both video and still photo modes, and the CompactFlash reader makes it easy to upload both JPEGs and BMP photo files. (With an optional $40 adapter, the AV420 connects to most other portable memory flavors, too.) Of course, you also can play files back on your TV or computer monitor.

If the video and photo functions aren't enough, then how about the built-in ARClibrary-driven MP3 player? Or the fact that it can function as an additional external hard drive if you're in a bind for storage space? If you're still hung up on what to call this thing, I think the "Swiss Army Knife of Digital Media" fits just fine.

System requirements: PC—Pentium 3 800MHz or higher; Windows 98SE/Me/2000/XP, 64MB RAM (128MB recommended), USB port; Mac—OS 9.2 or X (10.2.4), USB Manager version 1.2 or higher, USB port.

www.archos.com