New Toy

I was not living up to my reputation as a technogeek recently, so I went ahead and got myself one of these:

It’s the Archos 605 WiFi media player, which is basically what an iPod Touch would be if you pumped it full of steroids and took away a lot of its sexy. What it has in common with the iPod Touch is a touch screen, the ability to play music and movies, show pictures and to surf the Web via wifi. What it offers as a premium is significantly better screen resolution (800×480, which is the same resolution as your average TV), a Web browser that can play Flash, a tiny onboard speaker, the ability to stream music and video off your home network, and 160GB of memory, which is 10 friggin’ times what the most expensive iPod Touch offers, for pretty much the exact same price. And — get this — if you spring for a couple of accessories, it turns into a full-fledged DVR. Wacky.

What you don’t get is the multitouch screen (it’s merely single touch), that swoopy thing the iPod Touch does when you turn it, Apple’s general one-touch ease of use, or, of course, the immediate “oh God it’s so hot” technolust thing people get with iPods. I can live with that, however, since the practical benefits to the Archos 605 are self-evident, and I’m enough of a geek that I don’t mind drilling down an extra interface level to play a song. No, it’s not as sexy as an iPod Touch. But I think of it a little bit like the plain Jane who isn’t arm candy, but has a good personality and a nice laugh and then goes home with you and rocks your world.

Which is not to say I wasn’t tempted by the iPod Touch. We got one for my niece recently and before we gave it to her I played with it, ostensibly to stuff it full of music and a couple of movies so she could have fun with it out of the box, but really so I could see if I wanted one for myself. And it is indeed a sweet device, and I indeed wanted one. But before I could stampede headlong to Amazon to buy one myself, I started enumerating the issues: the most memory it has is 16GB, you’re locked into the iTunes closed ecosystem (a problem for me, since I have a Rhapsody subscription), every stupid goateed art-dick has an iPod, and etc. Fact is, at the end of the day, no matter how cool and stylish every Apple product is, I sort of resent that they all drive you to suckle exclusively at Steve Job’s hairy manteat.

The Archos solves that problem for me. It’s not as aesthetically pleasing as an Apple product, but it’s a hell of a lot more open, and I can do more with it without having to bow towards Cupertino every time I switch the damn thing on. And it makes me feel geek-smart. The Archos 605 is not a media player for hoi polloi; you’ve got to have at least a smidgen of geek skillz to get the most of it. This pretty much condemns Archos to scrabbling after Apple’s scraps, market share-wise, but I suspect there are enough people like me out there for them to get along fine.

Anyway, that’s the new toy. Fear my geekitude, y’all.

52 Comments on “New Toy”

  1. Personally, I’ve had it with Steve Jobs and his monumental hubris. That man will get no more of my hard-earned money. And I don’t care how much he tempts me with stylish products. I just can’t reconcile spending that much money when I can get a comparable product without having to drink the Apple Kool-aid.

  2. Yeah, that’s my thinking on the matter as well. I’ll pay a premium for aesthetics once in a while, but not as a way of life.

    Also, I typed this comment on my new toy. Wheeee!

  3. Never understood why people like D.Paul have it in for Apple. They make good gizmos and terrific computers. So Steve Jobs has “hubris.” Big whoop. If you were as rich and successful as he is, you would too.

    Having said that, I was a little boggled that the iPod Touch came out with only 16GB of disc space when one the same day they released the 160GB iPod Classic for $50 less. Wha? Just having a spiffy touch screen and the ability to run Safari can’t logically mean that much of a price disparity, surely. Since I’m more about functionality and the ability to walk around with a million CD’s worth of music in my pocket, and I don’t really give much of a shit about the other wifi bells-and-whistles the Touch offered (not to mention I don’t feel the need to have my MP3 player also do everything else under the sun short of cook me pizza and fellate me), the Classic was the obvious choice for me. One thing Apple is bad about is having the first-generation versions of all their gadgets be hopelessly overpriced and inadequate, quite possibly so they can collate all the bitching and complaints and make everything better in the next-gen versions. They’re good enough to get things right the first time if they tried.

  4. Well, the iPod Touch, like the iPhone and iPod Nano, uses flash memory instead of a hard drive like the iPod Classic and Archos, so yeah, it’s significantly smaller. It’s also lighter and doesn’t have to spin up to play anything.

    But anyhow, it annoys me when people talk about “the iTunes closed ecosystem”. The iPod plays most popular non-DRMed formats; WAV, AAC, MP3. (The only things I miss are OGG and FLAC support, which is unfortunate but understandable given the patent trolls that are watching Apple like a hawk.) iTunes will even convert non-DRMed WMA audio. What you really mean is that you’re locked into the “Windows Media DRM closed ecosystem” — DRM is bad, no matter whether it comes from the iTunes store or Rhapsody.

  5. I ordered an Apple iTouch the day they were announced. My needs were not as an iPod or movie viewer, but strictly for the WiFi Safari browser in a tiny format — capable of reading the university’s e-mail. My Windows Mobile PDA can’t do that, because of Bill Gates’ tiff with Java. The unit has been pretty amazing and I am very impressed with it. Especially Safari’s multiple browser windows — something else my Windows Mobile PDA won’t do — and the MacOS’ ability to keep the same session open despite logging on via different networks at home and the office.

    Annoys the students when they say they didn’t know about something and I pull out the iTouch and show them on the class web page where it was mentioned or where they could print out a copy of the handout or read the due date. (grin)

    I had been tempted by the Archos units, but Apple does some damn fine design work and excellent fit and finish. And to some extent I don’t view this as Version 1.0 of the iTouch, but as a phoneless iPhone.

    As to the pricing, there is still considerable difference in price between solid state memory and spinning hard drives. About 10 to 1, I think. So 16GB for the iTouch and 160GB for the Scalzi Toy for the same price — about in line.

    Dr. Phil

  6. Oh, bah. I don’t have the slightest problem with rental music DRM because I’m not confused by what the rental concept means. Nor do I think DRM is an absolute evil, particularly in rental setting. If apple wants to start asubscription service, I’m all ears.Until that time Apple is the inferior solution for me.

  7. I for one love suckling at the Jobsian Manteat. It lactates not milk but sweet nectar. iPhone, which is awesame and the future of handheld PC’s. Thanks to Jobs and his Manteats I can have a music studio on my macbook pro at a price I can afford, yet can still approach professional quality. Long live Jobs and his teats.

  8. Um, John? I could care less what you use.. if you like it cool… but I can play MP3s, AAC etc with not a lick of DRM in sight. You don’t have to buy a single thing from the iTunes store if you don’t want to. So how is it closed? Now, if you want to put Rhapsody sourced music on it, I see your point.

    As for hubris? Don’t buy any Microsoft products. Or Oracle if you’re a corporate person. Or… oh give me a break. What the hell does the CEO’s attitude have to do with whether a product is great? Are you people going to run background checks on the CEO of every company whose products you buy?

    In any event, CNet rates the Archos slightly ahead of the Touch… sounds like a nice gadget… have fun this weekend…

  9. Jon @ 4@: The Zune will play non-DRM’d AAC, but Apple devices have firmware that disable playback of WMA. I’m not going to convert 250GB of lossless WMA (non-DRM) to play on another device, not even in 2GB chunks, especially since iTunes installs lots of resident crapware on a PC irrespective of whether you have an iPod or not.

    For sheer geeky joy and no small measure of practicality, I just bought an Eco Media Player, which has a crank handle for powering the device (1 minute winding for 40 mins playback), and which may also be used to recharge my cell phone. Just what I need for my next London-Sydney flight.

  10. Mike @ 9: ‘disable’ seems like too strong a word. More like ‘does not support’? AAC is a standard, part of MPEG-4. It’s supported by many devices. WMA is a proprietary Microsoft format, and I suspect if Apple ever started paying money to license it, it would quickly turn into a case of danegeld. They’d be fools to give Microsoft that sort of leverage. Use standards for your music, okay, preferably patent-free standards. Among other things, it helps keep your collection from becoming obsolete.

    Anyhow, if it’s lossless, you could easily script up a conversion to another format, such as AAC, MP3, or Apple Lossless. You don’t even need iTunes installed to put music on the iPod; there are third-party programs for this purpose. And crapware is a matter of perception, perhaps; I’ve got no complaints with iTunes and what it installs on either my Mac or my Windows box.

  11. Damn it, John. How are we supposed to take you seriously if you spread such blatant falsehoods?

    Steve Jobs is immaculately waxed. He’s got a couple of smooth, sweet, ecstasy-inducing man-teats. There’s not a hair in sight. Trust me.

  12. “…that they all drive you to suckle exclusively at Steve Job’s hairy manteat.” – dude, no one needs that image, my mind’s eye feels violated.

  13. I’m typing this on my Thinkpad running good old XP, so I definitely don’t want to hear how I’m an Apple fanatic. I’m also a Rhapsody subscriber and I love it. Still, your commenters are right: Rhapsody is much more of a “closed ecosystem” than the iPod. Right now, as it happens, every single song on my iPod nano is either an un-DRMed mp3 I burned off of a physical CD I own or an un-DRMed mp3 I bought from eMusic or Amazon. Rhapsody doesn’t offer anything like that level of openness.

    Granted, I can’t tell my iPod “Play me that Strawbs song I haven’t heard since 1977.” That’s one of Rhapsody’s strengths. But to characterize their difference as a matter of the iPod’s “closed ecosystem” is a conceptual mistake. If whether a system is “closed” or not is the only issue, the iPod wins hands down. Nothing about the iPod requires that you buy music from Apple; whereas with Rhapsody, there’s nothing to do except buy (or rent) music from them.

    I will say that it’s a testament to the sheer mojo of Apple’s reality-distortion field that even a John Scalzi blog post about the (evidently very cool) piece of tech he just bought…consists to a great extent of defensive blather explaining why he didn’t buy Apple’s nearest equivalent. Lesser marketers can only dream of achieving that kind of mindshare.

  14. Echo what PNH et al. have said. Buying an iPod does not lock you into any ecosystem. You may choose to participate in the iTunes Music Store ecosystem if you want. However, I have over 80Gb of AAC on my iPod, and only three files are from the iTMS, a free download of “The Areas of My Expertise.” (I listened to them once and haven’t since. They’re the first to go when I start running out of space.)

    Your statement wasn’t about DRM per se. It was about lock in. Buying an iPod does not lock you into any eco-system. However, lots of people think buying an iPod does. It’s a surprisingly common misconception. I hope, we, your faithful blog readers have disabused you of this.

    I thought about buying the Archos 605, but I wasn’t tempted by the iPod touch at all. One of the reasons why I ended up with an iPod classic though is because my google-fu wasn’t strong enough to find out how I sync an Archos 605 with my Mac. Sadly, my audio is on Mac, not my Tablet PC (not that it would fit on the Tablet PC anyway). The CNET review says the Archos 605 is Mac compatible. So, it’s surely possible.

    Also, the Archos 605 web browser, and AAC plugins costs extra. Out of the box, the only advantage the Archos 605 had for me was a larger screen. I don’t do that much video.

    This doesn’t stop me from being a little envious that you have one. It is a cool toy. I’m glad you got the best toy for you.

  15. Geekiness, I submit, has very little to do with it. I’m about as technical as it gets, and I still demand user interface simplicity in my consumer products. I code enterprise software for a living, regularly orchestrating nearly impossible things over hundreds of machines and tens of thousands of software processes. In that role, I’m the Wolf, the guy you send for when you don’t trust anyone else to get it done. My current software project has to work perfectly, or the CEO ends up testifying before Congress. Again. That said, I never bought one of the original IPods for myself because the interface was simply too clunky and cluttered. Thumbwheel? Cascading menus? Nope, sorry, too much hassle. The idea of owning one of the competitors to the original IPod was just nonsense. I now own an IPod Touch and a clip-on IPod shuffle. Both finally hit my user interface sweet spots, not because they are pretty (although they are gorgeous pieces of design) but because the control surfaces were designed by people who somehow know that my time and attention are valuable, and not to be squandered. That’s a lot more difficult that shoving a hard drive and a bunch of software in a hand-held Linux device, and I’m more than willing to pay it.

    Also, I’m not sure what Rhapsody has to do with anything. The base Rhapsody account is a perfect tool for hunting for music to then purchase off ITMS. I use it that way all the time. If that doesn’t fit Rhapsody’s business model, that’s really not my problem.

  16. Kate Nepveu:

    Well, you definitely notice that it’s not feather-light, and I personally hope not to drop the thing. That said, so far it’s not too bad. One of the nice little features it has is a kickstand built in, so if you’re watching a movie (or whatever), it props itself up and saves you 90 minutes of holding out your arm.


    “Right now, as it happens, every single song on my iPod nano is either an un-DRMed mp3 I burned off of a physical CD I own or an un-DRMed mp3 I bought from eMusic or Amazon. Rhapsody doesn’t offer anything like that level of openness.”

    Er, what? Rhapsody currently sells a whole stack of non-DRMed music, in MP3 form (256kps, 44.1k sampling rate), most for $8.99 an album or 89 cents a song, if you’re a subscriber (99 cents if you’re not).

    Besides which, you’re comparing players to services, which is apples (so to speak) to oranges. Service to service (and speaking about music specifically), Rhapsody offers more flexibility than iTunes, because in addition to buying music (in unDRM’d MP3s or DRM’s WMAs), you can also stream or rent the music, which I find useful.

    Comparing the iPod to the Archos, the Archos is also a lot more flexible in terms of services and architecture. iPods by design funnel you through iTunes; it’s pretty difficult to use an iPod without it, and it won’t integrate at all with most other services. The Archos, on the other hand, plays well with pretty much everyone else. Please note that the limiting factors in all cases are down to Apple: It won’t let iPod integrate with non-iTunes services, and won’t allow non iPod players to integrate with iTunes.

    Now, I think we should probably note that when we’re talking about “openness” here, what we’re talking about is (ironically) the ability to integrate with pay services; I think we can take as read that both iPod and Archos (and most of the major players) offer a lot of support to non-DRMd formats, and one can fill one’s player with all sorts of non-proprietory stuff. That said, paid services are important to me, because even when I’m renting or streaming I like to support the artists, and Rhapsody, for one, lets me do that.

  17. I had a 2nd generation 30GB Ipod back in the day and ended up giving it to my mom when the battery would no longer hold a charge for more than an hour.

    As far as services are concerned, I was really happy with Itunes when I had an IPod. As far as their layout is concerned, the ease of use can’t be beat. Yet, the more DRM music I bought, the more I had to convert to mp3 when I traded the Ipod for an Iriver. This was both a time consuming process and used a lot of cds.

    Just recently, I went back to rip the rest of the music and consolidate the library to ultimately remove Itunes for good, the good people at apple upgraded their service to ‘plus’. For a nominal charge they went through the library and offered non-drm format for most of the songs that were originally mp4. While I hate paying for songs twice, this saved me a lot of time in burning/ripping/renaming.

    So while apple may be late to the free music generation, I think they’re realizing that they’re not the only product out there anymore and people will definitely go elsewhere for legitimate music.

    Although, I will caution any of you Steve Jobs fanatics, we all found out in John’s recent visit to the creation museum, what happens when you take a bite out of that apple. ;)

    Har har.

  18. For my uses – around my neck at work, then in my car to and from work, sometimes riding my bike or mowing the lawn (mechanical mower folks – I’m not competing with an engine) the Archos would not be useful. It does look pretty neat though. But given the size of the Archos, if every goateed art-dick had one, how would we ever know? I’m certainly not going to their scattered dens of sensitive artistry to investigate.

    I like to think of myself as a Mac/Windows agnostic. I have to use both at work and they have pluses and minuses. That said I have an iPod Nano, I use iTunes for my music, RealPlayer to stream radio, and WMP for that which cannot be played otherwise at my computer. I do not update my iTunes (still rocking the because it works just fine right now. I have a Windows laptop, because the software my graduate program uses to stream distance education lectures is wonky with Macs, which did not have Intel processors when I had to purchase a new computer.

    As for services, I like to own my music so I use emusic which is a legal, subscription downloading service (free trial if you are interested). No DRM, nice quality (generally 200ish VBP mp3) but no huge labels. I also purchase those wacky cds the kids don’t recognize anymore and rip them to my hard drive. I cannot ‘synch’ my iPod because it has less space than I have music. I like NPR podcasts, and the iTunes music store has a nice interface for downloading subscriptions.

    I’ve never purchased anything from the iTunes music store. I agree that Apple wants you to spend money in the store. I’ve never grokked the AAC format, and I certainly down import any music in a format only playable on an iPod. I also understand that people want me to purchase penis enlargement pills/apparatus on the web and extended service agreements on electronic devices in stores. I just am not going to do any of these things as they all seem like sucker moves.

    In summary, cool toy John. I’m glad it meets your needs.

  19. Bookninja: AAC was meant to be the successor to MP3. MP3 is really ‘MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3’, and AAC is the audio codec for MPEG-4. It’s a standard supported by lots of hardware, not just the iPod, though Apple’s DRMed AAC files can only be played by Apple products. I’m led to believe they have good contractual reasons for keeping it that way, and Apple’s products are flexible enough for me to keep buying them.

  20. Speaking of Apple geekiness, has anyone else heard about an Apple eBook Reader? I have a fairly reliable source who says it could be in the works. In fact, he was speculating that the upcoming Mac Book Nano would have something built in. Remember the iPhone launch? “New iPod, New Phone, New Internet device”. I’m getting those same vibes. Just a little chum to stir the waters…

  21. Let me add my $.02 to the iPod users who haven’t looked at iTunes since first plugging his iPod into the Windows machine to do the initial setup. I use Winamp on the Windows box and Amarok on the Linux box and have no major problems getting the files I want on my iPod from one hard drive to another.

    While I certainly respect someone’s right to choose to rent music, I have to agree it seems like a “sucker deal” to me. If I’m streaming music, I’d rather listen to SomaFM, send them an occasional donation, and if I like an artist buy the artist’s CD.

    As far as supporting the artists goes, you do far more to buy a t-shirt from them than you do buying a CD or renting a song. The percentages just aren’t there, and this whole “DRM supports the artists!” mantra is Big-Four-FUD, unfortunately. If the Big Four gave a rat’s ass for artists, they could start by increasing performance royalties to a par with songwriting royalties, agreeing to the repeal of California Labor Code 2855(b) (which, as far as I know, they’ve continued to successfully lobby against), and agree to some form of binding mediation to revert physical copies of recordings back to artists (i.e. if the label doesn’t want the tapes, agree to give the artists a means to market the tapes elsewhere instead of sitting on the recordings out of spite).

    Y’know, I don’t necessarily have a problem with DRM, and I absolutely have no problem with a company making a profit for distributing artistic works; but let’s not rationalize anti-consumer issues by claiming we’re looking out for the artists when the artists are hardly entering into it. I won’t say that a few pennies of your iTunes or Rhapsody download doesn’t eventually get to the artist–I’m sure it does, at some point, after Robert gives half to Grenville and Grenville gives half to Larry and Larry gives half to a foreign publisher who gives back half to Larry and the artist gets half of goodness-knows-what.* Or two cents of it. And paying for your music is more honest than not paying for it in any event. But it’s a lousy way to “support the artists.”

    *Give some love to Ray Davies. Or money. Or both.

  22. An Eric:

    “While I certainly respect someone’s right to choose to rent music, I have to agree it seems like a ‘sucker deal’ to me. If I’m streaming music, I’d rather listen to SomaFM, send them an occasional donation, and if I like an artist buy the artist’s CD.”

    It’s not a sucker’s deal at all. For $15 a month I get access to three million (or so) songs, play them when and how I want and explore new music which I may then go and buy (my rule of thumb is if I listen to a single/album three times, it goes into the “buy” column). Also, as an aside, Rhapsody has been useful when I’m writing music articles, since I can generally just pull up anything, listen and write about. In the grand scheme of things, Rhapsody has helped me make more money than I’ve spent on it. Which is the opposite of a sucker bet, really. Admittedly it won’t work this way for everyone, but I like that it works this way for me.

  23. One note you neglected to mention about the iPod Touch: You can’t use the thing in a car worth a damn, unless you’re willing to take your complete attention off the road. Love the touchscreen, but it absolutely sucks ass as a no-look control scheme.

    I bought a Touch just last week…and returned it two days later for that reason, plus the fact that Safari was constantly crashing (a common if not ubiquitous problem judging from the Apple support forums) and the fact that for some unfathomable reason Apple took out the Album Shuffle option — which is how I always play music on my crotchety 3G iPod.

    I so miss the tiny, handheld browser, though. Your post has got me scouring the Archos site for details. Anyone know of any other internet-enabled device with a touch screen? (Tablet PCs don’t count due to price and the incomprehensible fact that no one makes one the size of a small trade paperback.)

  24. Joe, there’s the Nokia 800 line, of which the most recent is the 810. It’s basically a tablet PC, smaller than a trade paperback.

    The Archos has the touch screen but it also has buttons down the side for no look music forward. Which is useful, as you note.

  25. BTW, just looked up the “MacBook nano” that Brett @23 mentioned. The talk is of a thinner, lighter, MacBook with solid-state drives and a 13″ LED screen. They’re calling it “Mac’s return to the sub-notebook arena.”

    I would like to get this off my chest:

    THIRTEEN INCHES IS NOT A SUB NOTEBOOK. Good lord, people. My old Vaio has a ten-inch screen. This is perfect for portability, readability, and useability. And almost no one sells such a device anymore. Blargh. Sorry, this is just something that’s chapped my ass since my ol’ standby started showing its advanced (3 or 4 years old now) age.

  26. Rio Chiba fo-EVAH! All other digital media players are feeble imitations, even if they get better battery life, possess increased storage capacity, and actually weigh less.

  27. I have a question re: movies. Why does anyone get excited about being able to watch 90+ minute movies (or even 20 minute TV shows) on a screen no bigger than my hand? This isn’t an Apple v. [anyone else] issue, it’s a basic conceptual issue. I just don’t understand the appeal of watching video on such a small device.

  28. To clarify, I listed purchase of music in the AAC format, penis enlargement, and extended warranties on electronics as “sucker deals”. Music subscriptions work very well for some people. Scalzi may be right in the long run when the inevitable new format comes along he won’t be saddled with tons of work in conversion. Also, he doesn’t have to worry about the short life span of digital media (about 15 years – back up in multiple places if you care). Subscription rental services (as opposed to my subscription purchase service) are fine, they just not for me.

  29. hugh57:

    Finally, an issue I can address with some authority.

    First, the size: It’s relative. I typically sit about 15 feet away from my rapidly antiquating 27″ CRT TV (I stepped it off just now). When I hold my (classic-style) iPod a typical 10″ from my face — the screens are the same size in my field of vision. Just not a problem.

    Second, the content: Two words — “video podcasts.” In a year-and-a-half with this thing, I have yet to watch a full-length movie on it. That’s just not something I would do. But I have a regular commitment that requires me to wait up to an hour in a place with few diversions. I don’t always feel like listening to music or reading. Video podcasts are phenomenal, with content I’d never find on broadcast or cable, and couldn’t afford on DVD. I subscribe to Photoshop and InDesign instructional programs that keep me entertained and edumacated. I’ve also found some great animation shorts at Again, stuff that’s not widely available.

    Watching video on an i-screen is never going to become my (or anyone’s, I’d guess) default viewing mode, but it is an incredibly cool and convenient option.

  30. @joe: I’ve got a Nokia N800, and it’s a really nice device. There’s no way web-browsing is going to be terrific on a 3.5’x2.5″ screen, but given that limitation,the display is pretty damn good. It comes with Opera, and it’s easy to install a mozilla-based browser (which I prefer). Besides that, it’s basically a Linux-based computer, and there’s lots of third-party stuff to install. The WIFI performance is amazing.

    The N810 has a pull-out key/thumb board and a built-in GPS. Whee!

    John: sorry to be such a fanboy on your blog, but for somebody looking for a small web-browsing device (with lots of other capabilities, too), the N8xx is attractive.

  31. No problem. I looked at it myself. The Archos works better for me, but I liked the Nokia.

  32. So, you’re saying that you don’t want the Ipod touch I got you for xmas, in exchange for letting me be a guest blogger? No, nothing like quid pro quo, mostly quid. Very very very little pro quo . . . . just the barest essence . . .

  33. @Steve: I’m a little concerned by the minuscule memory on the N800. Is it sufficient for, like, “real” browsing?

    Both it and the 810 do look pretty sweet.

  34. If you want a small tablet/laptop PC running Windows XP (or God forbid, Vista), check out the Fujitsu Lifebook U810. A little bigger than a PDA, it basically has the same specs as the tiny Fujitsu Lifebook P1510D in half the size. 1024×600 (5.6″ screen), 1GB memory, 40GB HD, WiFi, keyboard, touchscreen, 5 hour battery life — around $1100. Compromises including keeping the keys usable by cutting the keyboard back to the QWERTY basics and using extra shift keys, slower processor (~800MHz I think).

    Dr. Phil

  35. Re Fujitsu U810 comments: Forgot to give size:

    6.73” (W) x 5.24”~6” (D) x 1.04~1.26” (H) (with the 4-cell battery)
    Approx. 1.56 lbs. with 4 cell battery

    And I should point out that the Fujitsu P1510D small convertible tablet I have has been the most troublefree PC I’ve ever owned. I’ve used it as my main PC at the office for two years now. Current model is the P1610.

    Dr. Phil

  36. Jon @ 10: No the onboard DSP will handle WMA. The firmware masks it. Apple presumably pays for their WMA conversion ability, and their MP3 licenses. Most cheap CD/DVD players will handle WMA and I’m sure the margins on those are far tighter than the premium Apple hardware.

    I call resident software to handle iPods that haven’t been installed crapware. The difficulty of removing said software (not “optionally installed”) is close to spyware-nuisance level, that takes up RAM and loading time on computers that have never had an iPod connected. Because Apple bloated Quicktime with iTunes releases and thus the crapware, a lot of PCs got infected with the stuff. iTunes has a history of behaving aggressively on Windows computers for music file handling, and it the methods just change with each release.

  37. If you’re interested in a 13″ laptop with LED screen, Dell already beat Apple to the punch with their M1330. I’d rather get that and put Ubuntu on it than pay the Apple tax and have to deal with the Apple’s version of Vista (Leopard, from what I read lately).

  38. Joe, I’ve not had any issues with the memory interfering with the browsing on the N800. There’s some funny layouts, sometimes, because a *lot* of websites assume a bigger screen, but it works – you just have to scroll. It supports Flash, and supposedly youtube works, but that’s not something I care about. There’s a nice review of both the N700 and N800 at

  39. John, do you really get much use out of that?

    I’ve got a LifeDrive. After a few weeks of shuttling videos on and off it, I just got bloody tired of that. I hardly ever use it for video and only once for music (I have a separate crappy MP3 player). I find that when I want/need to occupy myself/pass time, I’d rather be reading a book (which I also do not do on the LifeDrive — but I’d like a Sony Reader!).

  40. Well, I haven’t got much use out of it yet; I’ve only had it three days.

    But yeah, I think it’ll be useful. At the moment I’m finding I’m using it primarily for casual Web browsing; it’s more convenient then using the laptop if all I’m doing is reading. And I can stream music, etc from my server; that’s pretty cool, too.

  41. I think you’ll get some great use out of it now that you’re a travelin’ author man. Every time you get holed up in some hurry up’n wait travel situation, you can whip out the tablet of infotainmentness!! Sweet.

  42. When you’re on a five hour plane flight, and you’re wearing an infant in front of you, so you can’t lower the tray table at all (hence, no use of laptop), it’s damned useful to be able to watch eight episodes of _House_ in a row, in order to keep from going out of your mind. Or so I’ve found.

    Also was nice on the train.

    Not sure how often I’ll use the video feature on the iPhone, but I’ve only had the thing a month and it’s already proven its value for me.

  43. Design rules for me. Clunky boxes with clunky interfaces lose. I’ve had too many tech toys that I bought because they were cheaper, but turned out to be big boxes with all the design esthetic of a brick. I’m not saying that the Archos is that, I don’t know, don’t have one. Personally, I’d prefer an iPod touch with a 160gb drive :).

  44. Shouldn’t you have just told someone you wanted one of these and let them buy it for you as a holiday present? *snicker*

  45. I’ve been looking at the Archos 605 Wifi, along with the Cowon A2 or A3 (if it ever comes out here in the US).

    A lot of reviews say the Archos feels flimsy, and strongly dislike having to buy all the extras. Do you feel the same, or have other reactions? I too am a technogeek, so I’m willing to poke through some things, but I have to admit one of the things I liked best about the early iPods was the ease of use.

  46. Damn you, Scalzi, for showing this to me! I really had no idea these little PMP things had gotten so good since the last time I looked at them. 160 GB (!) of storage, near-DVD resolution screen, mounts as a USB mass storage device… The temptation is too strong; Amazon will have it to me on Thursday.

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