Review: Archos 70d eReader

 
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Published: May 1, 2012 3:00 PM
By Marine Goy
Translated by: Hugh Ehreth
Archos is advertising the colour 70d eReader as the ideal companion for reading and entertainment. It has video, photo and music players, but what makes this device stand out from the rest of the models in our reviews is the screen technology. Closer to a tablet than a traditional e-book reader, the Archos 70d has a backlit LCD screen instead of an E Ink display. "More compact than a laptop, but with a bigger screen than a smartphone, it’s the perfect size to carry around in your purse, briefcase or jacket pocket..." But is that really what people are looking for in an e-reader?

Hardware & Design

The 70d has fairly standard dimensions for an e-reader (17 x 12 x 11 cm; 280 g), but it isn't one of the thinnest or lightest. The plastic body is well-crafted and the solid black colour gives it a dose of sobriety and discretion.

Archos 7 od integral
Archos 70d eReader and homescreen

The 7-inch (17.8 cm) screen just begs to be touched. But, contrary to rivals such as the Cybook Odyssey, it isn't a touchscreen. All your navigation is done with physical buttons and a directional pad that isn't always that intuitive. Even after several hours, you still have the reflex to touch the screen. And remember, backlit displays consume more battery power than E Ink displays, so we advise choosing the sleep mode settings that will best optimise the battery life (15 seconds to 1 minute).

archos 70d buttons
Navigation buttons


The contrast ratio is fair: 810:1, which is close to average for a computer screen. However, the colours are false, with a delta E of 12.5 (accurate colours will never be above 3). The colours veer highly towards blue with a colour temperature of 12,000 kelvins. That's almost twice the preferable temperature of 6,500 kelvins. The gamma curve, which expresses how brightness is distributed across different tones, shows that the blacks are too dark and the whites are too bright. Basically, other than the decent contrast this isn't an amazing screen. As far as visual comfort goes, we tested it for you and we can confirm: E Ink is easier on the eyes than a backlit TN screen. TN screens may be better for watching videos, but it's much less enjoyable for reading books.

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The Archos 70d comes with a mini-USB-to-USB cable. The protective cover case is sold separately.

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ON/OFF button, microSD, MiniUSB, headphone jack


The 70d doesn't have a speaker, so you need a pair of headphones in order to listen to music or watch movies.

Interface & Navigation

The Archos 70d eReader has 4 GB of internal memory and an SD slot capable of expanding the storage up to 16 GB. The homescreen shows the list of all the books in your library with the one you've most recently read on top. You also see the date and time of when you last read it and the page where you stopped reading. Unlike so many of its competitors, Archos has no e-book store of its own and no Wi-Fi, so you have to buy your e-books online from a site of your choice and then transfer them onto the device via a computer (see inset).

A vertical scrolling menu allows you to go straight to a specific page in a book, change the settings or select your activity (videos, music, etc.). This is a multilingual e-reader that supports 29 languages. The accelerometer automatically flips text and images into portrait or landscape mode depending which way you're holding the device (this function can also be turned off).

Navigation


When you're looking at your books list another scroll menu suggests actions for you. You can add bookmarks, go right to a given page, listen to music, thumb through the book (automated, from 5 to 60 seconds) or change the font or background colour. You can also set the brightness according to your preferences or to the ambient lighting. But those are just about all the actions that are available.
 

Optionslecture


You can select the font size, but not the font. There's also no feature for annotations or highlighting and there's no integrated dictionary—that's a shame. Books in your library can be sorted by title, author, category, date or format.

Interface


Supported Formats & Battery Life

The Archos 70d eReader is compatible with four text formats: PDF, EPUB (including Adobe DRM-protected PDFs and EPUBs), TXT and FB2. It supports one audio format (MP3), three image formats (JPEG, BMP and GIF) and eleven video formats (MPEG-4 AVI, FLV, MPG, RM, RMVB, FLV, MP4, DAT, VOB, MKV and MOV up to HD 720p).

It has a battery capacity of 2100 mAh. That's more than twice the 1000 mAh found on other e-book readers. The Archos 70d eReader lasts 5 hours when reading and 3 short hours when watching video (not 4 hours as advertised).

Specs:
Internal storage: 4 GB of internal memory + SD slot for expanded memory (cards up to 16 GB)
Screen: Colour 7” (17.8 cm) TFT display – 800 x 480 pixels - 16:9 – Anti-reflective surface
Compatibility: Windows®, Mac® or Linux in mass storage mode
Connections: USB 2.0 High Speed
3/5 Archos 70d eReader DigitalVersus 2012-05-01 16:00:00

Pros

  • Multiple uses
  • Responsive
  • Supports many different formats

Cons

  • No touchscreen
  • No Wi-Fi
  • No dedicated e-book store
  • No integrated dictionary
  • Screen quality
  • Reading can get tiring on your eyes

Conclusion

The Archos 70d eReader is a hybrid device that has the advantage of offering more functionality than an ordinary e-reader. But unfortunately the backlit screen makes reading tiring on the eyes. If you want something that functions primarily as an e-book reader but does it well, this probably won't interest you. But others who are looking for a "tablet-like" device with a low price tag may find just what they need with the 70d.

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