The Archos Gmini, for my requirements, is one of the best MP3 players on the market and is brilliant value for money.
That being said, I think it's really important to add the disclaimer "for my requirements" as the main things I love about my Archos may well be negatives to the Ipod lovers out there.
Owning a smart phone, all I really want from my music player is a simple system with the biggest possible memory size in the smallest possible package. I don't want to play solitaire on it, watch video clips and I really don't care about album art.
For me, the Gmini achieves just that. It's a simple, no frills design that packs 20 GB (approximately 5,000 songs) into a solid, impressively compact, little case small enough to put in any pocket. While being small it still has a strong, weighty feel to it that personally I really prefer to some of the lighter, flimsier cased players on the market.
The sound quality is good and the volume has more than enough power behind it.
The screen is a plain, LCD display, with a back light that activates on use.
Navigation is via a joystick which is much preferable to the unnecessary touch screens found on other high end players. One of the biggest negatives however, is that by the time you hit the 3,000 song mark scrolling through the artists can be quite time consuming and there is no decent quick scroll option.
With fewer features and a low detail display I have found that the battery lasts a really impressive amount of time before you have to plug it back in.
Upon connection the Archos acts as an external hard drive, meaning that you can access, add/remove and rename your music files via the standard files and folders set up that you use day in day out on your pc. This for me is a must. I have owned an ipod in the past and being of the opinion that itunes is a program of pure evil it is a massive breath of fresh air to be treated like a sane minded adult and be left to drag and drop files to your hearts content.
Also with no need for the installation of drivers or music management software, the Archos makes a perfect "plug in and go" player, meaning that while you're out you can easily connect to a friends pc, with a standard USB cable, and share music or use as an external hard drive with minimum fuss.
To summarise, the Archos Gmini is by no means a suitable alternative the ipod. If you want the features, the trendy design and high spec then I strongly suggest you spend the extra money and buy an ipod. On the other hand, if you want simplicity, good size to memory ratio and value for money then the Gmini is undoubtedly the one to buy.
At 7.5 x 6 x 2cm the Gmini is small enough for a pocket although it is quite heavy for its size (you won't be clipping it to your collar like some of the new tiny ones). The computer recognises it as another hard drive (like a memory stick), so it's very easy & quick to transfer files, including setting up folders if you want to. It will happily play mp3, wma, BBC iplayer files, any audio files I've thrown at it in fact.
I find the navigation system a bit counter-intuitive and fiddly, especially for setting up playlists, but I soon got used to it.
The buttons are rather easy to nudge by mistake. There is a "lock keys" option which locks everything except the volume but even that can get turned off in a pocket. Keeping it in the side pocket of my bag it tends to get turned on accidentally so that the battery is flat when I go to use it. I have occasionally had the problem another user mentions, where it turns itself off at random, but only when the battery has been very low. When it's turned off properly it keeps its place but if the battery runs out then it goes back to the previous "bookmark".
The capacity is huge - I have most of my music collection on here & I love not having to decide ahead of time what I will want to listen to. Sound quality is better than the quality of my headphones! It doesn't seem to go very loud but again I think that is a headphone issue.
I've had mine about 3 years now and although the battery doesn't last as long as it used to, it still does about 3 hours playing time and I haven't had any problems with it. It's been dropped any number of times & has several dents in the casing but that doesn't seem to affect the functioning at all.
Sadly, I have been through 3 of these in 1 year! It was love at first sight but then things started to go downhill.
Pro's: Lovely little things. Much smaller than iPod equivalent. Getting going is not that straight forward, but once you're up and running its really easy to put new music on.
Cons: All 3 of these that I have had, have had the same problem. They would erratically turn themselves off. When you turn them back on again to resume, it doesn't resume where it left off.
I decided I could live with this (as it happened with replacements 2 and 3), but then the battery completely failed. The manufacturer directed me back to my dealer (who couldn't replace battery under warranty) so hours of time spent downloading music wasted (as unit won't power up for me to take a copy). Local dealers (within 25 miles)no longer stock them so a replacement is even out of the question.
I have however had a friend who has several MP3 players by the same manufacturer and says they've all been great! Maybe my local dealer had a bad batch??
I-Pods are cool. They are, too look at, an I-pod is pretty sexy. I-pods revolutionised how we listen to music. MP3 players have been around for ages, and they haven't been relatively expensive. I-Pods have been expensive, they've always been expensive, and to be honest, they still are. But something about them made them flock of the shelves. Celebrity endorsement? Various cool colours? Whatever it was, it certainly worked, and Apple im sure are laughing all the way to the bank, if not posssibly buying their own bank to store their dosh in.
Its probably I-tunes that did it. When the sharing of music collapsed (to an extent) Apple got in and launched a easy cheap and legal way to share music. Sure you had to pay, but it wasnt too much, better than risk being caught by the fuzz, and furthermore, being caught out by a horrible spy-ware virus. Whats more, it was pretty much accepted that to play I-tunes, you needed an I-pod. So off the shelves they flew.
Anyway, you're all probably wondering why I am talking about I-Pods. Well, i was <-------------> this close to buying one, when i stumbled upon this little beauty. And I haven't regretted it since. The fact is, people just assume that I-pod is the best on the market, but its not. Its just an mp3 player that only plays I-tunes. Maybe its the look, or maybe its just people being conditioned into thinking they need one. Chances are they dont need one at all, and whats more, if they do need an MP3 player, they'd be far better off shopping around.
As it stands, the Archos retails on the Dixons website at £149.99.
For that you get a stylish stainless steel MP3 player, with a large crystal clear LCD screen (with backlight). On the front, it has only one toggle which controls the whole system. It does everything (think sony erricson phones with the control stick in the middle), and is silver to match the rest.
On top of that, you get a fast 2.0 USB connection, which makes transfering onto the system a doddle. No software required, simply drag and drop it as if it was just another file or drive on your computer (which essentially it is).
Its light weight at 120g.
But this is the main selling point, it has 20GB!!! Thats a huge amount of memory. In comparison, the mini I-pod, (which costs an extra tenner!) only has 4GB. Thats five times more memory space, holding upto 5000songs. The 20GB I-pod is currently selling at about £210!!! You do the maths.
In addition, i must also add that this MP3 player plays practically all, if not definately all music formats eg. WMA, I Tunes, Wav etc. On top of that, it also holds various other files such as jpegs and word documents. You cant specifically view them, but what im trying to say is this doubles as an external file storage. Essentially, you can use it as a very large USB pen. You dont need to carry floppy disks as this can hold all your work, and all your tunes as well! It is more than just an MP3 player.
The only real downpoint with this product is the headphones. I thought they were very uncomfortable, and quite frankly at certain volumes painful. They lack any sound cushioning that more expensive headphones provide. Therefore, you may find yourself splashing out 10-20 pounds on a new decent pair of headphones to go with it. But hey, when you've got such a bargain, its small price to pay.
Essentially, I had two motives in this review. First was to review such an excellent product. Secondly, it was to try and point people in the right direction. Im not saying dont buy an I-pod if you really want one, im just saying look before you leap. They are needlessly expensive, and you might find something alot more appealing if you stop and look around. What I have reviewed here is just one of the many quality MP3 players on the market that are looked over because of I-Pods. My girlfriend, who works for Dixons tells me that they are told to do everything in their power to try and turn people away from I-Pods and onto other products. Even the shops dont want you to buy them! But at the end of the day, it's your choice. Im just trying to make sure you realise that you do actually have a choice.
After seeing everyone on the train listening to their ipods I decided that I too wanted one, however, I was not going to shell out that much money, and after all my friends saying how they are always breaking down, I started to look for something better.
The Archos Gmini XS202 is a fantastic little MP3 player, in fact it is (so far) the smallest 20gb MP3 player on the market.
Using USB2 (and 1 if you do not have 2) you simply plug in, and drag and drop. Or if you are feeling happy that all the music you have on your PC is to go onto it, then you can synchronise it with the PC using Windows Media Player.
Creation of play lists can be a little tiresome however, but this can be overcome with the USB connection. Simply plug it in to the PC, access the player (usually called Jukebox) and create play lists using Media Player, and the drag and drop the contents to the play list folder and away you go.
One of the other good things, is that whilst software would be great to use, thus saving manual find, drag and drop etc., is that without software, and just a cable you can plug it into any PC or MAC, and it becomes a mass storage drive, thus enabling you to transfer anything to it, or indeed from it.
Firmware updates are on the site, and unlike some players these updates are simple to install. Again drag and drop to the appropriate place, then click the upgrade option and off you go, all done.
The earphones are great too, with volume control on the cable. However, the designers forgot one thing. A clip would be nice to attach the cable to your shirt/jacket/ coat or whatever you are wearing at the time.
I am an archos xs 200 mp3 player for a little more than a year now. More than an player I had used for data storage due to the efficient quality and space that this product offered to me; without any dough I can tell that anyone who look at it thinks that is a pager or something similar because it is a really small unit and it feats on the pocket during the whole day. You dont need any kind of software or installers for the computer, it installs itself , it is very strong , my unit has scratches everywhere because the bad used and I can guarantee that the unit is still working at its 100 % . the color on this item is cool and professional for those who use for working for example and for rockers is a beauty.