Ok, now we can cut to the chase and tell you that the units are definitely smaller (and feel it). The buttons on both units are more intuitively laid out (finally volume has its own rocker), with an interesting wavy surface (peep the pics to see what we mean); it's far clickier and an all around more enjoyable experience fooling around with these things. The menus are also a bit more refined and a step up from the 4 series. Some of it was disabled, though, like the widgets area on the 605 WiFi (it uses Opera widgets, as Opera is its browser), as well as many of the content streaming / acquisition channels. However, almost everything interesting in this device costs money:
- The browser on the 605 WiFi is $30 (includes Adobe Flash plugin)
- Opera widgets cost $20 to enable
- The Real video plugin costs $20
- The internet radio plugin costs $20
- The HD (720p) video output plugin costs $20
- The H.264 plugin costs $20, as does "cinema" video, which supports VOB + 5.1-surround
So yeah, Archos totally loves to nickel and dime their customers. Still, browsing the web worked fairly well, although the unit were fooling around with had a pretty early firmware, we understand. The interesting thing is the unit's ability to play back FLV files (raw flash video), so when you visit a site like YouTube you're prompted to play the video embedded in the page, or expand to full-screen. (Playing embedded video was unbearably bad, like 0.5fps, but we'll give it the benefit of the doubt since it's pre-release hardware.) The 200ppi 800 x 480 display on the 605 was out of control, totally capable of showing off a relatively proper browsing experience. Assuming they can get some kinks worked out, the 605 WiFi could become the mid-size screen media device to beat.
P.S. -Ignore the errors on the 405 -- it's labeled as the 305 (it's not, it's the 405), and it's got some crazy drive error going on. Spot 'em, this is early hardware.