Even the process of setting up the TV+ to work with your digital receiver is long-winded and convoluted. First, you have to search through a list of manufacturers to find your box. Even though the remote control has a Qwerty keyboard on it, you can't, for example, press S to skip to Sony. Instead, you have to use the left and right arrows to scroll through all the entries one by one. Then you have to conduct a series of tests to find the correct code for your box. If a code doesn't work, you're never sure if it's the code that's a problem or the position of the boxes.
Once you've got that all working, you're stil not done. You can't just fire up the electronic programme guide (EPG) and get watching - that would be too simple. Instead, you have to hook the TV+ up to your PC - which no doubt means disconnecting it from the telly, unplugging the power and then moving it to another room where you computer is - and then register on the Archos website, download an application and then run that while the TV+ is connected to the computer.
This is hardly a consumer-friendly process. Subsequent updates can, thankfully, be acquired over the Wi-Fi or wired network connections the box features.
HDMI (and other) portage, no HD compatibility
When you've got the EPG installed, you still have to go in and manually change some settings - for example, to deselect all but one of the 16 ITV regions that for some reason were displayed by default. There doesn't appear to be a way to record all the episodes of a series, other than by scheduling a recording to repeat at the same time every day or week, which isn't exactly a sophisticated approach given that the programme data is there.
Even with everything finally set up and your digibox and TV+ awkwardly pointing at each other, the Archos still had problems making recordings reliably. In one instance, the Freeview box was off, and the TV+ failed to switch it on, resulting in a black screen. Another time, it didn’t change channels successfully so it recorded the wrong show.
The TV+ can also stream video content from PCs connected to the network, though out of the box it's limited to just MPEG 4 and WMV formats - and both only at standard definition. It can also handle H.264 and MPEG 2 content, but you'll need to splash out a further 15 quid each for these two plug-ins. As a result, it's pretty limited in what it can play compared, for example, to the Netgear EVA8000 - reviewed here. With both plug-ins installed, it only managed to successfully play the SD Divx, Xvid and DVD MPEG 2 files from our standard set of tests.
Archos - I wouldn't bother
After having purchased a 405 player/recorder - I used it once, found a load of bugs - updated the firmware - found a load more bugs and promptly put it back in its box and have never used it again.
After requesting support many times I received none. As a consequence, it does not surprise me that this product is shoddy.
I would never buy Archos again.
Hmm, clearly you're well versed in the use of Apple products then...
Quite a few folk above and even in the article mention the Apple TV, despite it's limitations being rather good... oh and the fact with a little bit of work the AppleTV actually becomes an incredibly powerful box!
But hey, it's hip to bash Apple isn't it... you must feel so cool!
slap an apple logo on it and it will sell
The player looks nice enough. The remote is a sight from hell...
As far as I can tell, aside from hard drive space, it has precisely zero features my TiVo series II did not - when I got it four years ago for half the price. And the TiVo actually HAS its own tuner, a remote with a play button... well, you get the idea.
WTF!? Why in god's name would anybody buy this instead of an HD Tivo? Or a bag of bricks?