Slipping almost surreptitiously into stores tomorrow is perhaps a better portable media player than the much ballyhooed new Apple iPods and Microsoft ZuneHD — the Archos 5, one of the first non-cellphones to run Google’s Android OS.
Up front on what the company pretentiously calls an Internet Tablet is a bright and sensitive five-inch 800 x 480-pixel touchscreen. In addition to Web surfing, photo viewing, game playing, music, and 720p HD video playback, the Archos 5 is preloaded with full TeleAtlas 3D photo GPS navigation, complete with voice prompts and lane assistance (alas, no real-time traffic since it doesn’t offer 3G cell service).
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The Archos 5 preloaded with several Android apps, including the instant-message eBuddy, Twitter Twidroid, Craigsphone, Thinksfree for viewing Microsoft Office files and Quickpedia. You can also download new apps right to the device from Archos’ AppLib Store via Wi-Fi (n), or use your cell’s 3G capabilities via Bluetooth. Apps are automatically resized to fit the Archos 5′s bigger screen. It’s powered by a speedy Texas Instrument ARM Cortex A8 processor and is compatible with all previous Archos attachments and accessories.
Also alas: no camera or video capture.
There are versions available with either flash memory — 8, 16 and 32GB — or slightly thicker models with a hard disk drive (250 or 500 GB), all is priced between $250 and $440.