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Archos Gmini 400 20 GB

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    6 Reviews
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      05.10.2010 03:37

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      Maybe dated, but highly reliable

      After being constantly let down by various Ipods (I was on my 5th ipod until that broke and was the final straw!) I bought this around 4 or 5 years ago from Amazon and it has not let me down!

      As a Mac user, I found it slightly annoying that there is no software to enable you to synchronise the player with any software, but using it basically as a USB to transfer songs was fine (although manually writing file names can be a hassle).

      The user interface is very simple and easy to navigate- no touch button fiddling either. You can watch videos, look at photos (and change the background of the player to be one of your photos) and play some simple games. It's fairly easy to add your own playlist too- just create a folder on the player, give it a name and you're good to go. There's also a built in microphone.

      20GB is enough for someone like me who constantly changes their mp3s, and there's enough a few films and videos as well. The quality of the video is pretty good, and it's not too small as on some other mp3s I've bought since.

      The only negative experiences I had were the aforementioned synchronising issue (not much of a problem once I got used to it) and also it isn't the fastest for downloading songs onto the player. The battery life could also be a bit longer (seems around 8hrs).

      Basically, for a long term investment- this is it. It has lasted me for 4-5 years and, even though my tastes might have changed and made me buy a new player, I've never had a player as reliable as this one. It's taken a few batterings and looks fairly old by now, but I've never had a major issue- software or hardware.

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      08.03.2010 20:49
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      I'd buy this over an Ipod.

      I got this about 3 years ago on amazon, at the time I thought I was grabbing a bargain. I paid around £120, which really was a steal for 20GB of music and video goodness.

      Weighing in at 160g, this is much heavier than competing products available. That said, the actual size is the same of that of the Ipod, but it is thicker and seems more 'cluncky' to me. One thing that irks me about this is the design; it looks stylish, however it isn't practical, requiring two hand to navigate quickly. Many video players enable you to use just one hand. It reminds me of using an old gameboy advance.

      It comes preloaded with several games, some of which look quite fun. This is another flaw of the system though; it only comes with trials of the games. You have to buy the full version from their website and download them onto the device. You also cannot multi task, so if you want to listen to music and play a game, you cannot do it. In the same way, you cannot view photos and listen to music at the same time, either.

      It features a 2.2-inch LCD screen, which is pretty decent. Not the best quality, but watchable. You have to be facing it straight on though, so it isn't great if you're sharing video with a friend. My device also has a pixel missing, which is annoying but many screens on many electronic devices have this problem, and it isn't something companies will do anything about.

      The playback quality is very good. Better than some MP3 players, but not as great as you get from the likes of Sony. You will also want to invest in a better pair of headphones than those provided.

      I like how it can be connected to the TV, so any videos you have on the device can be watched on the big screen. It goes across well; the quality after transfering is very good. You can also transfer photos directly from a digital camera by connecting them together, which is very handy if you want to use it as a photo storer. These can be views on the TV as well.

      The device also lets you create playlists without the need of a computer. In the past, I have had to create a playlist in media player and sync it to the device, which is time consuming and annoying when I want to make a list there and then.

      Navigation is simple enough, nothing is hidden and you wouldn't need to read the 68 page manual to get to grips with it. A lot can be gained from the manual though, and I think that tomake the most of what the device can offer at least half an effort should be made to read it.

      There is an audio recorder, which records to a high standard, it picks up sound well and isn't distorted much.

      The device is a mass storage device, meaning it acts like a hard drive. Here comes another irk. It can get noisy. Not noticable on a bus or in a public space, but when it's quiet sometimes it whirs a little too loudly (I dare say even my laptop is more quiet). It also crashes on me sometimes. For example, sometimes the screen will randomly go blank, but the sound will continue, and you can navigate it still, you just can't see what you are doing. It also goes mute on me too on occasion, but this is fixed by pausing and un-pausing a song.

      I like this product overall. It represents value for money, though does still have many flaws.

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      27.01.2010 22:14
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      Good product, a little big for todays standards

      I got the Archos Gmini 400 20GB around 5 Years ago on QVC. When it arrived i thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. While everyone else was out with their ministry of sound and phillips mp3's with 200 songs, I had 20GB capacity and more options than you could shake a stick at.

      First of all, Not only can you download music files straight from your computer, It would upload the album cover, and any related Album Videos to the video section of the device.


      If you want to watch a film on the train/in the car, the Memory is big enough to store plenty, not to mention the battery life is decent enough to see you though the day.

      You are also able to store photos on the archos in albums

      Admittedly for photos, video and films, the picture is clear, but not as clear as an Ipod which is clearly newer technoloy, but it is not by any means bad quality, more a TV v High Definition TV sort of comparison.

      It is also VERY hardwearing. Being the clumsy sort, i dropped this on the floor from my pocket on many occasions and it still works after all these years. The battery is going a bit flat but they are cheap to replace.

      On the downside, this is not the sort of thing you want to go on a run with unless you want popeye arms on the one side. It is extremely heavy and quite large to go in a pocket walking down the street.

      The user interface is very easy to use and the screen is quite big.

      But, although this product is good quality, if its a music player you're after, get an Ipod. If you want a portable memory stick with viewing function, get this.

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      25.08.2008 02:44
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      A Great Multimedia Device!

      The Archos Gmini 400 was one of the first MP4 players to hit the market and is still one of the best. The device can play popular audio and video files such as MP3, WMA, AVI (XviD, DivX) and with its large screen it means that you can watch whole films without any problems. The battery on the device is amazing and will last for a long time.
      One of the best features about the device is that you can use it as a external hard drive which comes in handy if you need to keep some files safe and with you all the time.
      The interface on the Archos Gmini 400 isn't the best but is quite easy to navigate.
      The Gmini 400 also comes with a microphone inbuilt so you can record 16 bit WAV files directly from the device which can be useful for podcasting etc.
      The sound and video quality on the device are very very impressive and one of the best features of the Gmini 400 is that you can hook it up to your TV and watch DivX or XviD videos directly on your TV along with music and photos.
      The Archos Gmini 400 overall is a great portable media player and can play the most popular media file types and with its long battery life and big screen its a great device.

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      29.08.2006 15:30
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      Forget the ipods... Get this!

      I had been wanting some kind of music player for some time. I initially considered an ipod but the fact that they break very easily put me off alot, also the price on ipods was too high.

      So I looked around for other players, I checked out amazon and very quickly found this. I managed to grab mine for £125 second hand and I was very impressed with it. It playes DIVX movies, almost all music formats, and as it used Media layers ync device it can work on almost all songs.

      The controls are also very easy. The GUI is nice, similar to that of a mobile and very simple to use.

      What I really liked is how everything comes with it.

      It comes with a case, tv output, headphones, etc. And whate more the TV output is fantactic... Almost no quality is lost! you can simply add a movie to the Archos and then just watch the movie perfectally on yout tv!.

      It allows you to set up play lists, and on adding music to the device it will altomatically sort songs into authors, albums and tracks.

      For music the 20GB space is more than enough, however I do find myself running out of space if I add movies.

      Yes another adgantage of the Archos is that it can connect, and transfer files from cameras etc without a pc... What I lvoed about this is that when on holiday, I am no longer limited to the 128MB memory of the camera, I can just plug in my Archos, transfer the photos and then take some more, which saves alot of time an hassle!

      Really it's just a great product and I strongly advise it if your looking for a music player!

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        10.11.2005 14:39
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        If you can avoid getting an iPod, this is a supercool device

        When I decided to get an mp3 player, the one thing I knew for sure was that I didn’t want an iPod. I know they look sexy, but there is something just too generic about them. They’re almost too perfect. Plus I had had a look at iTunes and I didn’t like the way I was being forced to work with Apple’s software if I wanted to own their hardware. Also I download the vast majority of tracks illegally and I didn’t want some globally linked program keeping records of what’s in my library.

        I first looked at the Gmini 400 in a shop. It seemed incredibly compact with a nice clear full colour screen. I was immediately attracted to the idea of listening to a song with the album artwork on display and I started researching the device further on the Internet.

        Capacity

        The Gmini 400 has 20 GB of space on its hard drive. I hate it when they tell you that it’s enough for 5000 or 25000 songs. Of course it’s possible to fill one of these things up if you want a load of rubbish on your player, but I reckon anybody with a CD collection of 100 discs and a bunch more mp3s on their computer would have no problem copying the whole lot over to the Gmini. I choose the songs I transfer to the player very carefully, for example, I’m a big fan of The Beatles but I don’t need to carry She Loves You with me everywhere I go. Even if you’re less selective, space shouldn’t be an issue. Format-wise, I keep all my songs as .mp3s although I understand that the Gmini can also handle .wma and .wav files.

        Audio

        I said earlier that one of the things I was looking forward to was seeing the album artwork displayed when I listen to a song. In reality this was a lot more effort that I had anticipated. First of all I had to find pictures of all the albums on the Internet and save them to my PC. Then attaching each picture to a song wasn’t a simple procedure. Using Windows Media Player didn’t help as saving a picture to a music file saves it with the album title and not with the individual track and therefore the Gmini wasn’t reading it. It took a couple of calls to Archos customer service and some trial and error with a free progam called Music Match to achieve the desired results.

        Playback is very simple. The Gmini’s buttons are similar to a Gameboy. You navigate the onscreen icon-based interface and choose Music. Then you can select a track by Artist, Title, Genre or Year. Of course this information is only available if you have captured it in the tag of each file, but if you’re anal enough to have done so, it’s easy to get going. The Gmini also works with playlists which you can set up on your PC or directly on the Gmini itself. I prefer to have all my songs (around 3000 at the moment) playing at random so that I never know what’s coming up.

        I find the sound quality to be more than adequate. The Gmini comes with a decent set of earbuds with a volume control on the wires. I soon switched to a hardier pair of earphones with no discernible difference.

        Photos

        Long before the iPod Photo became available, the Gmini was already offering to store all the .jpg and .bmp files in your collection. I enjoy knowing that I am carrying around pictures of my kids but I’m not sure how much more use I’m really going to make of this feature. The Gmini also has a built in CompactFlash™ slot for use with the right kind of memory cards, but I have never used it.

        Video

        I decided when I bought the Gmini that I was doing so because I wanted a device to listen to music. The video playback would only ever be a ‘nice’ extra as the chances are it wouldn’t provide a very enjoyable viewing experience. In fact the literature about the Gmini went into considerable detail about the specific format a video would have to be in in order for it to work on the Gmini. It made it very clear the most files would need to be converted and that although the software was provided with the device, it was not a simple process. It was almost as if they were trying to put me off. So it was with some trepidation that I started playing around with the video capabilities of the Gmini. First I installed the video transfer software onto my PC. Then I identified the .avi file that I wished to convert in order to later transfer it to the Gmini.

        I started with a 22 minute sitcom episode that I had downloaded. The conversion seemed to take place almost in real time taking about 20 minutes to run through the 200 MB file and tying up my computer’s CPU in the process. I was not terribly impressed. When I transferred the converted file to the Gmini and tried to watch, I found that the sound and picture were intermittently out of synch. Not terrible for a sitcom but it would make watching a movie pretty unpleasant. Just to confirm I converted an entire 600+ MB movie .avi file and found the same synch problems as before.

        I was about to give up when I decided to try copying over the original file without running it through the conversion program, just for kicks. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the sound and picture perfectly in synch and the video playing perfectly. Now I am no expert when it comes to video formats. I have a hundred and one different players on my PC for different files and I know how to download a codec although I have no idea what a codec is. Still I find now that the majority of programs I download (ranging from UK TV quiz shows through whole seasons of US sitcoms to one hour dramas and full length movies) play perfectly well on the Gmini. I guess that the stuff I’m downloading has mostly already been encoded with DivX or something and that the whole preamble that Archos went through was aimed more at people wanting to watch home video on the Gmini. I’m still not sure what that all means, but given that I don’t have a camcorder and I do download a lot of TV, everything is just dandy.

        To give you some idea, the screen on the Gmini is not something you would choose to put on a desk and watch with friends. But I travel for business a fair bit and I find that sitting in Airport lounges watching last week’s Never Mind the Buzzcocks is a very satisfying way to wile away dead time. Last month I was stuck on the M25 for over 4 hours when a lorry literally exploded a hundred yards in front of me. I found the time passed very easily thanks to several episodes of Seinfeld I had thoughtfully prepared before my trip.

        The Gmini also allows playback through a regular TV using the standard yellow and red input sockets. I took a couple of episodes of Extras with me when I went to visit a friend recuperating from a back operation. Despite never having tried it before, I was able to hook the Gmini up to his television and play the files as normal. Again, it’s not something I see myself doing often, but it’s a nice little bit of extra functionality.

        I still use the Gmini primarily as a music player, but the video playback possibilities add a real dimension that Apple devices are only now coming to grips with at considerably greater expense.

        Games

        Archos have developed some games using the Morphun engine which you can buy and transfer to the Gmini. I like video games as much as the next man, but I don’t fancy ruining the Gmini’s delicate buttons with the strenuous pounding that many games require. The Gmini comes with one complete puzzle game and four more demos. I tried them all once and didn’t bother again.

        File Transfer

        Now that I use the Gmini on a daily basis I find this to be one of its most compelling arguments. The device connects to a PC via the USB port. I was cursing when I realized that I didn’t have any spare, but then I noticed that the connection on the device is exactly the same as that for my cheapo digital camera. Now I just leave the wire in and connect whichever device I’m using. Once connected, your PC (provided it isn’t an antique) will automatically recognize the device as an external drive called “Jukebox”. Transferring files is then as easy as dragging and dropping. There are folders already set up on the Gmini for Music and Video and I have added hundred of subfolders for each artist in the music folder just so that I can manage my files better when connected to the PC. As an external drive you can also use the Gmini to store or back up any other files that you wish up to the maximum capacity.

        As an example, I download TV programs for the kids on my home PC, but I only have a DVD burner on my work laptop and the two are not networked. It is a simple matter to copy the files to the Gmini and then copy then from the Gmini to the laptop. Transferring over 4 GBs of .avi files took less than 6 minutes. Transferring a single song (3-6 MB) to the Gmini takes less than 10 seconds.

        Battery Life

        According to Archos I’m supposed to get 10 hours of audio playback and up to five hours of video on a fully charged battery. I’ve had the audio playing for over six hours on a plane journey (with the screen blank to save battery – so much for the album artwork!) and I’ve watched about 3 hours of video on the trot and the battery has never entirely worn down. The Gmini comes with a clever charger that includes an adaptor for Europe, UK and the US. From nearly empty to a full charge takes a couple of hours. One useful point is to keep the charger connected when the Gmini is connected to your PC as transferring files uses a lot of battery power.

        Already Obsolete

        I see that according to their website Archos has already ceased marketing the Gmini 400. They have replaced it with the Gmini 402 which is basically the same device with greater flexibility for file formats, and the Gmini 402 Camcorder which is the same as the Gmini 402, but with a built-in camcorder. Nevertheless I have seen the Gmini 400 still on sale in Dixons and this insignificant upgrade may actually help prices drop on the original. I bought mine at Heathrow Duty Free for under 200 quid. I have seen them in the high street for £240+. Amazon currently have them New and Used only from £194.99, but if you have a way of doing it, your best bet is to pick one up in the States and pay Dollars for it.

        Customer Service

        To date I have had only used Archos’s customer service once as detailed above. I found them genuinely concerned and keen to help. At one point they even called me back with further information despite the fact that I gave them a mobile number a long way outside the UK. Impressive.

        Conclusion

        I love my Gmini 400 as it does everything I wanted an mp3 player to do with a reasonable amount of efficiency and considerable style. In addition, the opportunity to watch TV on the toilet is too good to miss.

        To discover more about the Gmini range you can go to Archos’s own site: www.archos.com.

        There is also a Gmini owners forum at www.gmini400.com. Clever, eh?

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