Archos TV+ DVR Media Streaming Set-Top Thinger is Sadly Not HD

I've wanted an AppleTV for a while now, not because I particularly like their interface, but just because it seemed like a slick little piece of hardware. Now Archos is showing off the "Archos TV+" and it looks like a winner, although perhaps not as powerful as the AppleTV could be, as video playback seems to be restricted to "DVD resolution" instead of 720p, the standard at which the AppleTV can output. That makes the Archos TV+ a standard definition device, not an HD device, which is a big thumb in an otherwise delicious pie. Still, it's inexpensive at $250 for an 80GB model and $350 for a 250GB model, comes with a variety of outputs including HDMI, slurps up data over Ethernet and Wi-Fi, and even includes a slick little square remote with a thumbpad and QWERTY keyboard. (Handy for surfing the web via Opera, which is included.) It really looks like a fine device. Why didn't they make it HD capable? I would have paid another $50 for a video processor that could handle higher resolution. Product Page [Archos via Technabob via Ubergizmo]
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4 Responses to Archos TV+ DVR Media Streaming Set-Top Thinger is Sadly Not HD

  1. bidmead says:

    Frankly, I can forego HD. Our UK 576 lines does pretty well on a big screen (most of the improvement in detail you see in side-by-side HD/SD comparisons is down to bandwidth and compression artifacts, not resolution).

    The downside is that the Archos TV+ can only record incoming analogue video (no internal Freeview tuner), crunching this into single-pass DiVX with (why???) ADCPM audio, so the resulting files are about as big as they would have been in pristine MPEG2 — even though it throws away vertical resolution, reducing this to 480 lines.

    The anomalous HDMI is only there for copy protection. A copy protected digital stream into, say, a Sky+ STB goes out through that box’s SCART with a MacroVision flag attached. The TV+ respects this flag and creates a special kind of recording that can only be played out through the TV+ HDMI connector. Jolly neat and ingenious, if you enjoy this kind of thing. :-)

    On the, er, plus side, the Archos box is the only way I’ve been able to get uncopyprotected recordings off a proprietary STB of the Sky+ class. You’re re-recording in real time, you’re doing digital-to-analogue-to-digital, you’re throwing away lines and you’re recompressing to single-pass DivX, but this engineer’s nightmare does leave you with reasonably viewable, eg, Turner Classic Movies in an accessible form. Just flip the TV+ into Windows Server mode and you can get at the resulting files across your network. Wired, preferably — I’m finding the 802.11g very sluggish.


  2. Simon Greenwood says:

    I started to set up a PowerPC Mac mini as a media server over Christmas by installing Debian and mounting an external drive containing a lot of video and most of my music. I installed Firefly media server for my music needs (I have OS X desktops and might as well keep using iTunes until Songbird gets up to speed) and explored using VLC as a video streamer. “What this puppy needs”, I said, “is a nice little multi-format IPTV box that I can run over wifi, or, more likely, over Ethernet over Power so I can stream TV around the house.” And here is that puppy, less than a week later. What a time it is to be alive.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Note that there’s a base station for the current Archos disk-based media players which lets them act as a lightweight version of this, with playback either to external devices or on their own internal screen/earphones. (I’ve got one on order, refurb.)

  4. Anonymous says:

    “It really looks like a fine device. Why didn’t they make it HD capable? I would have paid another $50 for a video processor that could handle higher resolution.”

    My guess is that in 1-2 years, the successor to this will have HD capacity. Given that HD is almost but not quite ubiquitous in the US, it’s not as big a deal. So they pick off the early buying Archos fans now, refine their experience, and come out with something better later.

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