Far be it for Archos to sit idly by and watch Apple, Microsoft, and Creative have all the fun. Today, the company announced its next-generation Archos 5 device, which is perhaps the most fully featured "portable media player" we've seen. In fact, the unit is being marketed as an Internet tablet rather than as a PMP, and that's entirely accurate. The new Archos 5 is running the Android platform, which the device uses for nearly every function besides media playback (that's still handled by Linux). And you know what that means: apps!
There is an interesting caveat here, however. Since the Archos 5 is running at the HD-friendly 720p resolution, which is not approved for Android Cupcake, the selection of apps at start-up will be limited to about 300 (with that number increasing to at least 1,000 by the end of the year), and they are only accessible via the Archos app store. Still, the chances are you'll have the full selection of Android apps by early next year, and we're willing to wait if it means high-res video on the device, something to be fully-appreciated when outputting to a TV (see the gallery for an example).
So what else have we got here? Well, it would be easier to list what the Archos 5 doesn't offer, but we'll give it a shot. Per the Archos legacy, the device offers support for a plethora of codecs--MPEG-4 HD (up to 720p), MPEG-47 (ASP@L5 AVI, up to DVD resolution), H.264 HD (up to 720p), WMV (MP@ML, up to DVD resolution) including WMV protected files, M-JPEG (Motion JPEG Video) in QVGA resolution, MP3, WMA, Protected WMA, WAV (PCM/ADPCM), AAC, AAC+, Flac, OGG Vorbis, JPEG, BMP, PNG, and GIF--except now you won't have to pay extra to add support for any HD video via plug-ins. There's also integrated Wi-Fi for Internet browsing and accessing content on-the-go from services such as CinemaNow or through the integrated Internet radio and Web TV widgets. The device includes Bluetooth, through which you can access the 3G connection of your mobile phone. Out of the box, the Archos 5 will come preloaded with several Android apps, including the eBuddy instant-messaging app, Twidroid for sending and receiving tweets, Craigsphone for posting or accessing classified ads, Thinksfree for viewing Microsoft Office files, Quickpedia, and several others.
In addition, the Archos 5 offers some functionality that is optional via paid extras. If you have the DVR station accessory (or purchase the new one), you'll be able to record video. Also, the device has an excellent integrated GPS (with a neat real-3D option), which you'll be able to access for free for the first month and then will have the option to buy flat out.
The Archos 5 will be available tomorrow in a flash model at 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB capacities (with a MicroSD card slot) and a hard drive version with a choice of 160GB or 500GB. Pricing starts at $249.99 for the 8GB device and maxes out at $439.99 for 500GB. For more details and up-close-and-personal shots of the interface, check out the slideshow.