Archos has just launched a new set-top Wi-Fi media receiver that one-ups Apple TV by enabling you to record content from your television. The Archos TV+, which includes a Web browser, also enables you to watch Web content like YouTube video and certain programming from network TV Web sites.
The DVR capability is the coolest feature of Archos TV+, which is otherwise a pretty average media streamer. The device includes a built-in programming guide that enables you to select and record TV programming (assuming you have the TV+ hooked up to your cable or satellite box, that is). Programming is stored on the device’s hard drive, which comes in two capacities: 80GB ($249.99) and 250GB ($349.99). Unfortunately, TV+ cannot handle HD TV—it outputs at a maximum resolution of 576p. It can play MPEG-4 and WMV files, and you can buy optional plug-ins ($19.99. Ouch!) that enable the device to play H.264, and MPEG-2 video formats. Another downside: Unlike TiVo boxes, it can record only one show at a time.
As with other media receivers, the TV+ connects wirelessly (or via Ethernet) to your PC and can stream content such as videos and MP3 and JPEG files. Archos also has partnerships with content services such as CinemaNow, where you can download videos for rent or purchase.
You can also stream video from TV sites online, although sites that use a proprietary video player won’t work. For Web browsing, the TV+ uses an intuitive Opera browser but (again) you’ll have to shell out $19.99 for the Flash 9 plug-in. Archos includes a nice little square remote control with a QWERTY keyboard for input.
The Archos TV+ will appeal most to those who use other Archos portable media players because it can easily transfer TV recordings to the portable devices, giving you on-the-go access to your video content. I found the interface a little clunky but the TV+ seems to be a solid solution to those who aren’t wedded to iTunes.