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Archos Jukebox Recorder 20

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  • $319.95

At 115mm by 83mm by 34mm, the rectangular Jukebox Recorder 20 is currently smaller than every hard drive-based MP3 player except the iPod. However, its 350g weight keeps it from being pocket-friendly. Four oversized rubberised corners offer some degree of protection, but don't let that fool you into thinking that this is actually a rugged unit.

As far as controls go, the Jukebox Recorder 20’s ten buttons are arranged for very intuitive operation, which almost makes up for the fact that the in-line remote consists of only a volume wheel. The large backlit display uses a fairly small font, but a no-nonsense layout and a simple navigation system make operation logical and hassle-free.

Connect the player via USB 1.1 or 2.0 after installing the drivers, and the Jukebox Recorder 20 shows up on your PC as an external hard drive. This means that you can simply drag and drop your MP3s, music folders and any data files onto the unit without learning how to use proprietary software. Archos claims transfer speeds of up to 1.5MB per second for USB 1.1 and 60MB per second with USB 2.0, but that's a bit optimistic. Our test machine transferred files at 1.06MB per second over USB 1.1 and 8.43MB per second when using USB 2.0. Still, the latter number -- a brisk two songs per second -- compares favourably to that of other hard drive-based MP3 players with fast connections that we've tested.

In the menu, you can select MP3 Record, Sound, Play Mode, Playlist, Language (English, French, German) and Hard Disk Diagnose. Behind these choices lie myriad playback and recording options that let you fine-tune EQ using graphical sliders, choose recording quality, and create playlists on the fly, among other things.

The device's inputs and outputs are just as versatile: you'll find an optical S/PDIF in/out, a headphone out (a 1/8-inch-to-RCA cable is included), and a 1/8-inch analogue input. This means that you can play back audio over the folding around-the-neck headphones or on a stereo with optical-digital or analogue RCA inputs. In addition, you can record from any digital or analogue line-level source, such as a digital microphone, a CD player or a record player via a receiver. However, the built-in microphone is suitable for only voice memos.

The Jukebox Recorder 20 records audio into the MP3 format at sampling rates from 16KHz to 44.1KHz and at bit rates from 30Kbps to 160Kbps -- a reasonable range of recording quality and file sizes. We were delighted to see recording levels displayed with a slider; this enables you to change the strength of the incoming signal, which makes it easier to get a decent recording than is possible when using Creative Labs’ Nomad Jukebox 3. The latter device does not display recording levels, but can record to WAV files for higher-fidelity sound.

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Besides the aforementioned headphones and 1/8-inch-to-RCA cable, Archos throws in an AC adapter for powering the four internal AA rechargeable nickel-metal-hydride batteries every 10 hours, as well as a neoprene belt clip that is suitable for walkers but not joggers. Audio sounds clean due to a 90dB signal-to-noise ratio and distorts only slightly at maximum volume.

Archos's Jukebox Recorder 20 is neither as small or sleek as the iPod, nor does it have all the bells and whistles of Creative Labs’ Nomad Jukebox 3. But not everyone needs special EQ settings for multiple environments, including train travel. With its fast connection, enormous capacity and ability to record MP3s, the £282 (inc. VAT) Jukebox Recorder 20 currently offers better a price/performance ratio than any other hard drive-based player, and we highly recommend it.

Specifications

Miscellaneous
Color Category blue, silver
General
Type digital player
Interface Supported USB 2.0
Signal-To-Noise Ratio 90 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion 0.1 %
Weight 12.34 oz
Body Material metal, plastic
Color blue, metallic silver
Included Accessories USB cable, software kit
Software type MusicMatch
Carrying Case
Case type pouch
Type pouch
Battery
Type standard battery
Rechargeable Battery rechargeable
Form Factor AA type
Included Qty 4
Required Qty 4
Technology nickel metal hydride
Run Time (Up To) 10 hour(s)
Header
Brand Archos
Product Line Archos Jukebox
Model Recorder 20
Localization English
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility Mac, PC
Built-in Display
Type LCD
Display Illumination Yes
Audio System
Type digital player
Digital Player Type hard drive based
Digital Player Functions line-in recording
Functions digital player, digital recorder
Audio Formats ADPCM, MP3
Sound Output Mode stereo
Additional Features portable hard drive function
Subcategory MP3 players (flash, CD, HDD)
Digital Player (Recorder)
Supported Bit Rate 32 Bps
Radio
Type none
Cassette System
Type none
Audio Specifications
Type Digital Player
Frequency Response 20 - 20000 Hz
Signal-To-Noise Ratio 90 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion 0.1%
Remote Control
Type none
Internal Storage
Capacity 20 GB
Flash Memory
Installed Size 330 hour(s)
Digital Storage
Capacity 20 GB
Audio Output
Product Type headphones
Headphones Type binaural
Headphones Form Factor ear-bud
Connectivity Technology Wireless
Sound Output Mode stereo
Audio Input
Type microphone
Microphone Form Factor built-in
Microphone Operation Mode mono
Connections
Type DC power input, USB, audio line-in, headphones
Connector Type 4 pin USB Type A, mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm
Power Device
Type power adapter
Battery Life Details
Usage Mode digital playback
Battery Technology nickel metal hydride
Run Time (Up To) 10 hour(s)
System Requirements
OS Required Apple MacOS 8.6 or later, Apple MacOS 9.x, Microsoft Windows 2000, Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition, Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition, Microsoft Windows XP
Additional Requirements CD-ROM, USB port
Dimensions & Weight
Width 4.5 in
Depth 1.3 in
Height 3.3 in
Weight 12.34 oz