It appears that Archos has got this portable media player gig down pat, as the 30GB 604, unveiled as an affordable replacement for the well-received AV500, has done quite a commendable job building itself a bit of buzz. Rather than altering too much of a good thing, Archos decided to just tweak the 604, adding several meaningful extras while removing a few advanced features in order to get that price tag down to near-bargain basement levels. The folks over at CNET were able to get some face time with the new PMP, and in similar fashion to its predecessor, received an excellent rating. Although the 604 isn't the most pocket-friendly unit reviewers had seen, they felt that increasing the screen size from 4.0 to 4.3-inches (and improving its durability / performance) was well worth it. The brushed metal look must have really struck a chord as well, as this sexy sidekick was touted as being "pretty hot" in regards to its design. One feature that definitely made the review crew sweat was the nifty kickstand, something sorely absent on the AV500 (and its "main competitor," the Cowon A2). The controls and well-developed GUI left a very positive impression, and its ability to play back all types of media ranging from AVI, MPEG-4, PlaysForSure WMA and WMV, MP3, and WAV garnered even more praise. But, as expected, not everything was entirely peachy, as those looking to record video / audio right out of the box won't find the tools they need. Archos apparently made a purposeful omission and left the DVR gear as an optional accessory, just in case some folks didn't want to pony up the extra $100 for the at-home convenience. It was noted that the unit performed well when paired up with the Archos DVR Station, and the staff was more than satisfied with the 14+ hours of audio / 4 hours of video use reportedly on tap via the removable battery. If you haven't caught the drift at this point, here's the skinny: the Archos 604 is a worthy update to the respectable AV500, and if you're looking to snap up a PMP (and maybe add recording capabilities down the road), it's not a bad way at all to spend $350.

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Archos 604 30GB portable media player reviewed