This is an MP3 player with a difference. It doesn’t rely on expensive, low-capacity memory cards for storage and it doesn’t use high-capacity MP3 CDs, which require a PC with at least a CD-R drive and MP3 recording software to copy your music. The Archos Jukebox Recorder uses a 6GB notebook-style hard drive to store your music (there’s a 20GB version of the device, too), so you can have up to 6,000 minutes of MP3s held in a unit about the size of a compact 35mm camera.
So far, then, there doesn’t appear to be much to distinguish the Archos machine from Creative’s DAP Jukebox. It’s a bit smaller and the rubber corner pieces make it look a bit more robust, but the price is similar and both play MP3s through their supplied headphones at adequate quality and volume for mobile players.
Where the Archos Jukebox Recorder outdoes the DAP is in recording. Yes, you can use the supplied USB lead to link to your PC and download MP3 tracks you’ve ripped from your CDs or downloaded from the Internet. More interestingly, though, you can record audio straight to MP3 on the Archos device itself.
With the audio leads supplied, you can connect to any sound source and record and rip tracks directly, in real time. This makes the Archos Jukebox Recorder a very versatile piece of kit, as you can capture sounds from any number of sources (bearing in mind the copyright implications, of course) to play back on your mobile device. You could record a radio show just as easily as a music track from CD, tape or vinyl. With the built-in microphone, you could even use the Jukebox Recorder as a dictation machine, with hours of dictation time.
The design of the device is neat and functional, with two pairs of NiMH rechargeable cells fitting in either side of the hard drive, which itself sits behind a large, backlit lcd display. The Archos Jukebox Recorder’s operating system is well designed and covers all the bases in both playback and recording, as well as managing your music – even the creation of playlists is a pretty straightforward business.
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