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Archos Expanding A/V Portable Selection

6/02/2003 08:26:00 AM Eastern

Irvine, Calif. - Archos is rolling out an expanded selection of portable hard-disc-drive (HDD) audio/video players and plans a downsized HDD music portable that will use a 1.8-inch HDD instead of a 2.5-inch drive.

In April, the French-owned maker of mobile computer peripherals said it became the first company to ship HDD-based portable AV player/recorders that record video directly from a TV, VCR, or DVD player for display on each device's color LCD screen or on a connected TV screen.

At around the same time, Panasonic shipped a flash-memory-based model. Late this summer, Thomson plans to ship an HDD version.

Like the Thomson and Panasonic models, Archos's AV models aren't based on Microsoft's Media2Go design, a PC-centered AV-portable platform that stores and plays music and video, including TV video, transferred from a PC, marketing director Gina Eldridge said. Archos's devices, she noted, are equipped to rip music directly from a CD player and record video directly from a TV, DVD, or VCR. The devices, however, also store audio, video, and still images transferred from a PC.

Last year, Archos launched an HDD AV portable, the Jukebox Multimedia 20, that displayed video and still images transferred from a PC or captured on by a digital-still camera/videocamera attachment, said marketing director Gina Eldridge.

In April, Archos began shipping an attachment for the Multimedia 20 to record video directly from a TV, DVD player, or VCR. Also in April, the company began offering two new HDD portable AV player/recorders, the 20GB AV120 and 40GB AV240, with a video recording module.

The AV120 is available on Archos's web site and through distributor Ingram Micro and through Circuit City, Fry's, Mobile Planet, and others at $399 MAP, with optional $99-MAP digital-still/video camera attachment and optional $59 video-recording module. The 120AV records up to 40 hours of MPEG-4 video.

The AV140 at $459 MAP records up to 80 hours of MPEG-4 video and is available through the Archos web site. Both 100-series versions feature 1.3-inch color LCD.

Two other models with the video recording feature are also due. The 20GB AV320 and 40GB AV340 boost screen size to 3.8 inches, add TFT LCD technology, and feature $199-MAP 3.3-megapixel still-camera/videocamera attachment with flash. The 120/140's camera attachment delivers 1.3-megapixel still images and lacks flash.

The AV320 was expected to be in stores during the first week of June through Ingram, Amazon.com, Mobile Planet, and other major retailers. The AV340 will be available on the company's web site two weeks later, but other retail channels are also planned.

The AV320 is bundled with the video-recording module at $569 MAP. The AV340 with module is $629.

By the end of July, Archos will ship a music HDD portable that, like Apple's new iPods, will use 1.8-inch HDD instead of a 2.5-inch drives, Eldridge said. They'll feature MP3 encoder/decoder and other non-video digital functions, she said.

The 120, 140, 320 and 340 feature built-in MP3 encoding and WMA player. When connected to a TV screen, they will display video recorded from a TV or home DVD player in 320x240-pixel VHS quality, Eldridge said. A DVD ripped on a PC and played back on a TV screen will appear in near-DVD 640x360-pixel resolution at 25fps.

The internal rechargeable battery in the both new series deliver up to six hours of video playback time with full LCD backlight intensity, or 10 hours of recorded music.

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