I had the Archos 605 30GB model for a couple days before returning it.
As a music player, there's the issue with the hiss, and the SQ is nothing to rave about. The interface for playing music isn't that great, and the only lossless format supported is WAV. I can also hear the hard disk spinning along with the hiss. Many players have hiss issues, but in the case of Archos (I've had the 504 for a while), the hiss is pronounced, especially with sensitive IEMS (Livewires and even UE Super.fi). The lack of lossless codec support with no Rockboxability is a glaring omission. I think it fails as a music player. It also lacks a line out capability without the huge optional dock.
What about video playback? Well, the screen is one of the best I've seen in a portable device, and the new support for certain subtitle formats is great.
However, the Archos 605's battery life is aweful - much, much worse than my 504's. On the 605, with medium brightness, low to medium volume on IEMs, I played a few DiVX files continuously and never got more than 2.75 hrs on a full charge - unacceptable since the battery is not swappable, and the battery dock costs $50. The same files on my 504 would have played for at least 4 hours continuously. The 605's battery can also take several hours to fully charge without the optional dock/charger.
Which leads to the other problem - add ons. Browser: $40, Codecs: MP4/AAC $20, MPEG-2/AC3 $20, recording dock $80+, Battery dock $50. It becomes a lot more expensive when you want the functionality that people like us expect out of the box.
Also, the yet-to-be-released HD plugin is an unknown both in terms of performance and price. Unless you want to stick to DiVX/XVID/MPEG1 with resolution no higher than DVD, you have to buy additional codecs. However, even older lower resolution videos look better as this screen is a great improvement over the previous Gen 4 screen in terms of brightness, sharpness, resolution and the speed at which it zooms and displays JPEGs. As it stands, many podcasts and all HD files (e.g DiVX HD, QT HD, WMV HD, H.264, MKV, etc) will not play on the Archos out of the box without optional plug-ins. It may never support .mkv.
Wi-Fi: Had trouble connecting to some WEP networks, no problem with unsecured networks or WPA security. As a result, I did not buy the non-refundable Opera Web browser plug-in. Had the Wi-Fi work flawlessly, I would have considered keeping it instead of waiting for the Nokia N810 ( http://www.nseries.com/index.html?cp...=products,n810
). However, the intermittent connection issues along with the poor battery life really limits its usefulness in my experience.
Don't even bother trying to read PDFs with it. The best thing to do is to convert your PDF into JPGs and use the photo browser to read the pages.
Checking the forum at www.archosfans.com
, I found that many others had similar complaints
It is a real shame because there is nothing ready-to-ship in the US feature-wise that is like the Archos 605 - the gorgeous touch screen, USB host capability, plug-ins and accessories, Shoutcast, Flash, etc. However, the current implementation is a disappointment, and the cost of the add-ons is a real turn off.
For now, I'm keeping my Archos 504 (already maxed out on plug-ins) and ipod Touch. The Touch still has more capacity than the Flash Archos 605, the WiFi and browser implementation is better. Touch supports a compressed lossless format (important if you're using high-end IEMs) and the Touch's battery life is as advertised.
For my purposes, I found that it is easier to transcode video files than it is to make up for the shortcomings of the Archos 605. Also, I can keep improving the SQ from the Touch with LOD and amp. The Touch is still a niche product, but it works for me for now. I did not find any workarounds for the Archos 605's short comings as a music player.
If you're considering the Flash version of the 605, maybe you should wait a month for the Nokia N810. This is Nokia's 3rd implementation of such a product and it should be rock solid. I had a N770 that died on me for no reason, and would have considered the N800 but the N810 looks so much better.
There's also the Cowon Q5 that might be a worthy (albeit more expensive with lower capacity) alternative. It is available only in Korea, and its introduction to the US is constantly delayed.
I guess if all you'll be using the Archos 605 for is, say, a short commute or plane ride, the 2.5 - 3 hr battery life would not be an issue (at least in the short term as battery life decreases with time, but a replacement battery can be bought on ebay). If your IEM is not prone to pick up hiss and lossless format support is not important to you, the 605 is acceptable. If you're in love with the 605's gorgeous screen and can put up with it's other short comings, try a friend's or buy it from a place with a good return/exchange policy (e.g. amazon.com). In this limited setting, nothing right now would work as well as the 605.