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Archos ships 'DVR to go' handheld video recorder

But more expensive than many laptops

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Reg Kit Watch French portable media player specialist Archos has announced its latest video device aimed at consumers who want to record TV shows and watch them on the move.

The AV400 series offers either 20GB or 80GB of storage for audio, video and still photography. There's the usual broad array of supported formats: MP3, WMA and WAV for audio; MPEG 4 SP, XviD, DivX 4 and 5 for video; and JPEG (non progressive) and BMP for stills.

Archos AV480 Video RecorderThe players used MPEG 4 SP to record programming (at 512 x 384 and 30fps), pumped into the device from a TV, set-top box or VCR via a docking cradle. The cradle is capable of controlling the VCR or set-top box's tuner and incorporates a timer to record content when you're not around.

There's a built-in microphone and audio jacks whose input can be saved in any of the supported formats. Archos said it intended to offer a separate FM tuner which can also be used to record radio programmes. Cunningly, the machine buffers everything, allowing you to capture a complete song or show, even if you don't press 'record' as soon as it starts.

A CompactFlash slot allows picture taken on a digital camera to be transferred straight to the AV400's hard drive. Other card formats are supported by an optional add-on. Files can be exchanged with a Mac or PC via a USB 1.1 or 2.0 cable.

Archos is offering two AV400 series machines: the 420 and the 480. The former sports a 3.5in display, the latter a 3.8in panel. Both 320 x 240 screens provide 262,00 colours. Content can also be displayed on a TV via the docking cradle.

The two models weigh 280g and 320g, respectively. Both measure 12.5 x 7.8cm in front, but while the 20GB unit is 2cm thick, the 80GB model is slightly deeper, at 2.6cm. The AV420 provides up to four hours' video playback and 12 hours of audio-only play. The higher capacity model yields 4.5 hours and 16 hours, respectively.

The AV400 series doesn't come cheap, however, with the top-end model cost as much as a mainstream notebook computer. The 20GB AV420 will be available on 19 July, for $550/£400/€TBA. The 80GB AV480 is available now for $800/£600/€900. ®

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