The Null Device

Archos Jukebox Recorder

The Archos Jukebox Recorder arrived today. My first impressions are pretty good. It's reasonably small (larger than an iPod, but smaller than the cassette Walkman from my childhood), a bit better-looking than in the photos (they replaced the light blue with a tasteful charcoal grey), and feels fairly solid (the case seems to be made out of a light alloy of some sort). It came with a USB cable (A-A male-male, for some odd reason), a carrying pouch (which doesn't look quite as flash as the unit), a pair of cheap-looking headphones (which don't sound too bad, actually), a power adaptor (despite the fact that there's no Australian distributor, the unit shipped all the way from France packaged with an Australian power adaptor), and the obligatory headphone-plug-to-2-RCA-plugs cable.

Plugged into a computer, it looks like a USB Mass Storage device (as expected); in particular, like a hard disk containing one VFAT partition. It came with about 4 MP3s preloaded onto it, including the Thievery Corporation remix of GusGus's Polyesterday, as well as some naff country song, a generic electronic number and a track by a (presumably) French band which I've yet to listen to. (Aside to indie musicians: now there's an idea for a promotional technique...) With USB 1.1, it is rather on the slow side, but the device does USB 2.0 as well; time to get a USB 2.0 card, methinks.

Taking it for a spin, the sound quality (from 192kbps MP3s) is quite good, and the interface is quite usable too. (In case you're wondering, the first thing I played on it was Minimum Chips' Freckles EP.) I haven't tested the recording function yet. I've installed the Rockbox firmware on it, and it works quite nicely.

The only drawback I've noticed so far is that the manual seems a bit vague and short of information; for example, it doesn't tell you what the two LEDs mean, or indeed whether the S/PDIF socket is optical, coaxial or both (as it is on my old MiniDisc).

The unit ended up costing me some AUP650 in total, including shipping from France. (There was no import tarriff, as recording devices are tariff-free in Australia. If you decide to buy one and UPS tell you Customs want money for it, remind them that it's a recording device and they'll let it pass untrammelled.) That's almost 400 pesos less than an iPod costs here (and that's not counting the cost of a FireWire card one needs for talking to an iPod), and unlike the iPod, it does recording too. All in all, I'm quite pleased with it.

There are 2 comments on "Archos Jukebox Recorder":

Posted by: Jeremy http:// Thu Aug 21 02:30:54 2003

Wanted to know a couple of things about the archos a) are you still happy with it b) what's the power supply like? I ask cause amazon has them for $US199 for postage in North America (which can be got round) but if the power supply is unusual it may be a problem.


Posted by: acb Thu Aug 21 03:31:32 2003

I'm very happy with it. Other than 20Gb being not enough space, that is. The power supply a standard power supply (9V or so), with a standard plug; though the polarity isn't documented on the case and Archos warn that using a third-party power supply will void your warranty. See various Archos hacking websites for more info.