I just got my a new, shiny Archos, 4th Generation, Personal Video Player. This sleek unit, not only has the usual video, audio and pictures support but it also boasts many other features, such as:

– Built in wi-fi (802.11g)
– Opera Browser
– 16 million color 4.3" screen, it is almost 4 times the screen estate of a Ipod Video.
– The usual MP4 recording features (so you can record your favorite tv shows directly), including a timer, so you can schedule the recording.
– Support for protected Windows Media files (audio and video)
– Touch screen

Measuring mere 10 ounces, it is a lightweight device. It may be twice the weight of Ipod Video, but still fits nicely to my jacket’s pocket.

All the functionality of the touch screen is also available via hardware buttons and the unit is a breeze to use. It is very responsive. The only gripe you might have is the boot time, which is around 15-20 seconds.

The 30 Gb drive supplies plenty of space. The unit supports MPEG-42 (ASP@L5 AVI, up to DVD resolution) and WMV (MP@ML, up to DVD resolution) out of the box and you can purchase following for 19.95 USD each:

– H.264 up to DVD resolution and AAC sound
– MPEG-2 MP@ML up to 10 Mbps (up to DVD resolution) and AC3 stereo sound.

Both are great addons, first enables Ipod Video users use their existing video archive plus support for mp4 podcasts, second allows you to watch dvd vob file rips directly, without any conversion.

When you hook up the device via USB, it slowly charges it, you can buy a travel adapter for faster charging. Mine came as a bundle with the ARCHOS Docking Adapter Kit and it is nice to have two separate connections, I keep the dock on my desk and keep the regular USB dongle in my briefcase.

Possibly to keep the costs down, the recording features is not included in the USD 449 package. You’ll need to buy the DVR dock or DVR travel adapter ($99 and $69 USD respectively). Keep in mind you can buy the unit cheaper on other places. In Canada Futureshop, Shoppers Drug Mart sells them. I got my unit from http://hotmp3gear.com, Scott is a great guy to deal with and he provides local pickups.

Overall I am impressed with the unit. I love the fact that Archos products gets updated frequently and more features are added as well.

Time to go and watch some more tv shows