Archos Jukebox Multimedia 20

The $US390 Multimedia 20 measures 114x79x30mm and weighs a little over 280g. Its 20GB hard drive is big enough to store multiple movies or about 330 hours of MP3s encoded at 128Kbps. A USB 1.1 port makes the device truly plug and play — no special PC drivers required.

The full-colour 237x234pixel LCD measures about 26x32mm (HxW). Watching video — encoded in either AVI or DivX standard — requires eagle eyes, as does viewing JPEG photos. (You can also display the video on a television using an included cable.) MP3 playback sounded good.

The unit’s interface isn’t particularly intuitive: it’s a far cry from the slick Apple iPod, arguably its competition in terms of MP3 storage and playback. The device includes adapters for uploading the contents of CompactFlash or SmartMedia cards.

Unfortunately, both of my test units exhibited a pixel flutter that made text shimmer. The unit’s rubber corner bumpers give it a rugged appearance but actually offer little true protection from damage. Archos gets credit for offering a unique, first-of-its-kind device, and gadget gurus may overlook its flaws to be the first on the block to own one. The unit’s design problems, however, make it difficult to recommend to everyone else.

Archos Jukebox Multimedia 20
Price: $US390
URL: www.archos.com

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