What's not to like about the Archos 105 - a light, compact, 2GB media player with a colour OLED screen? Try this: kludgy software, mediocre audio quality, and ability to play only one video format.

The Archos 105 plays music ripped in MP3, WAV, WMA, and WMA Lossless formats. But you'll have to convert any digital content in AAC, AIFF, Apple Lossless, Audible, or FLAC format to something else, because the Archos 105 never heard of them.

The Archos 105's video restrictions are even worse: the only videos you can use are WMV-format files. The resolution of the little 1.8in screen (160x128 pixels) is adequate for viewing photos and (WMV) video clips. But many other multimedia players let you view crisper, clearer versions of both.

Archos claims that the Archos 105 offers up to 18 hours of battery time for audio use and up to 10 hours when viewing video - figures we did not verify.

Archos calls the player's menu interface "intuitive" but we're not convinced. For instance, moving backwards sometimes involves pressing a dedicated back arrow button; at other times, you need to press a different button to do the same thing. That's confusing. In addition, all of the buttons on our test player seemed a bit resistant or sticky to the touch.

The Archos 105 doesn't produce fantastic sound, either. When we cranked up the player's audio to level 80 (it maxes out at 99), it sounded good enough to use at the gym; but at lower volumes (under 50), the sound had a bit of a hum that a true audiophile would find disturbing. The Archos 105 scored poorly in our signal-to-noise ratio tests (where a higher number means a cleaner signal), managing a 59--11 points below its closest competitor, the iRiver E100, and 25 points below the SanDisk Sansa View.


The Archos 105 does many things, but none of them really well. We'd recommend this player only for someone who doesn't want to spend a lot of money for a device to multitask with music, videos, and photos. The Archos 105 would be a good first player for a careless teenager, for instance, since you wouldn't have a heart attack if it went missing. But a picky adult should look elsewhere or accept its limitations as the price for its price.