Denver — Archos, the portable media player (PMP) supplier, is using the term Internet media tablet (IMT) to describe its latest generation of touchscreen-equipped, Wi-Fi-enabled handheld devices.
Compared to the company’s previous-generation PMPs, the new devices add Texas Instruments’ ARM Cortex A8 processor to provide PC processing speed, a more PC-like Web-browsing experience, access to email accounts and other enhancements, said senior VP/GM Ron Ferguson.
The Wi-Fi-equipped Archos 7 with 7-inch widescreen connects to cellphones or cellular modems to browse the Web and get email.
Two of the IMTs, the Archos 5 with 5-inch screen, and the Archos 7 with 7-inch widescreen, are also equipped to make a cable connection to cellphones or cellular modems to browse the Web and get email. A third model, the Archos 5G, incorporates W-CDMA HSDPA (high-speed downlink packet access) cellular technology for wireless Web browsing and email. All are available with multiple HDD capacities.
Archos 5 is due in September in 60GB, 120GB and 250GB capacities at a suggested $350, $400 and $450, respectively. TheArchos 7 is due in October in 160GB and 320GB capacities at $450 and $550, respectively. In the United States, the Archos 5G with 30GB capacity will be available late this year in limited numbers, and not locked to a particular carrier’s network, at $549, said senior VP/GM Ron Ferguson. The company, however, will consider sales through U.S. carriers, he added.
Like the current Wi-Fi-equipped 605 and 705 series PMPs, the new models play stored audio and video, use Wi-Fi to stream thousands of Internet radio and Web TV stations directly from the Web, browse the Web, feature screens large enough to display Web pages without left-right panning, operate as a home DVR to enable on-the-go viewing of recorded TV shows, and double as a personal navigation device (PND) when plugged into an optional GPS-equipped car cradle,
Also like before, they use Wi-Fi to download music directly from select free sites, download video from select authorized video-download sites, and stream video and pictures from a networked PC to a connected TV.
With the new processor, the devices add an enhanced touchscreen that enables finger-flick control of menus, Internet applications that run four times faster than on Archos’s PMPs, and accelerated over-air music and video download times. Also new: a more consumer-friendly back button, an always-on home button, and a resume button to resume playing a song or video where you left off. In addition the devices now let users listen to their music library while browsing the Web, whereas other Archos devices only allow such music listening while viewing photos.
With the new email capability, the devices can receive email from on-line POP3/IMAP4 email accounts and from Microsoft Exchange enterprise servers, Ferguson said. The IMTs also let users view pictures, PDFs, and videos sent as attachments. Attached Microsoft documents, such as PowerPoint slides and Word documents, can be saved on the devices for later side-loading to a PC.
With the new models, maximum storage capacities also jump to 250GB on the 5 compared to 320GB on the 7 and 250 GB on the 5 from other model’s maximum 160GB.
A new docking station, which turns the IMTs into a DVR, add some improvements over the DVR docking stations for Archos PMPs. The improvements include HDMI output and component-video inputs. Output resolution from the IMTs is 480i, but an optional plug-in allows for 720p/24 fps output for recorded HD content.
Archos sells its products through about 11,000 retail outlets, including Circuit City, RadioShack, In-Motion, Wal-Mart.com, Best Buy.com and Amazon.