Archos Debuts Large-Screen Media Players

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Archos has announced its new “Generation 4” line of portable multimedia devices, first exemplified by its Archos 404 and Archos 604 handheld video players, sporting 30 GB of storage, big built-in screens, and even DVR capabilities.

Both the 404 and 604 claim to support “all” standard media formats, which isn’t quite true, but the capabilities are still impressive: For video, the 604 and 404 support MPEG-4, AVI, WMV, and optional support for H.362 and MPEG-2 via plug-ins; for audio, the units handle MP3, WMA, protected WMA, WAV, and optional support or AAC and AC3 via plug-ins; for images, they display JPEG, BMP, and PNG. (The devices can also display PDF documents, though don’t support all PDF features.) Archos says the devices will support movie downloads from popular online video services (we assume this means video services using protected WMV media), and the 30 GB hard drive means the units can store dozens of movies, 130 hours of TV programming, more than a quarter million photos, or 15,000 songs.

The Archos 404 sports a 3.5-inch color LCD screen, while the 604 offers a truly gargantuan 4.3-inch display. (We mean gargantuan for a handheld device, folks.), all while being around 0.6 inches deep. An optional DVR station enables users to record video directly from television, DVD, cable box, or satellite receiver, and the units can be connected to a TV for large-screen playback and surround-sound support. Users can manage content from a computer using USB 2.0, connect 3.5mm headphones, and get up to 4 hours of video playback (or 12 hours of music) on a single battery charge.

Sound intriguing? The Archos 404 will be priced at $299.99, and the 604 will carry a $349.99 price tag. Archos is taking pre-orders today via the Web, and unit should hit stores in early September. No word yet on the pricing of the DVR Station accessory.

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