Archos, best known for its portable media players, is the latest company to enter the highly competitive and volatile consumer facing set-top box market. Offered in 80GB ($249) and 250GB ($349) versions, the Archos TV+ features TiVo-like DVR functionality, as well as WiFi and Ethernet connectivity to support access to the Internet for web browsing and downloading paid-for video content from CinemaNow. Additionally, the device can operate as a media extender of sorts, to stream content (movies, TV shows, photos and music) from a PC to the TV.
The Archos TV+ offers support for an impressive range of video and audio codecs. Used as a DVR, programs are recorded in MPEG-4 (AVI) at VGA resolution (640 x 480 at 30 or 25 f/s), while the device is capable of playing back MPEG-4 video (which we’re pretty sure includes DivX/Xvid), MPEG-2, WMV and H.264, although some codecs require the purchase of additional plug-ins. On the audio side, the Archos TV+ can playback MP3, WMA, Protected WMA, WAV, and AAC.
Notably, the Archos TV+’s web access is powered by the Opera browser with Flash video support (similar to the Nintendo Wii), giving full access to video sharing sharing sites such as YouTube, along with the rest of the Web. To support Web surfing, the Archos TV+ comes with a QWERTY remote control, so as to make checking email or searching the Internet a much more pleasant experience than it would be if driven by a standard TV remote.