Movies on the move

29 Mar 2006

As consumers of sound and vision our appetite and expectations have been piqued and something of a ‘right here, right now’ culture exists.

Today, the idea of even going to the video shop seems arduous and DVD collecting by the bundle is the norm. Who would have thought five years ago that a lifetime’s collection of records could be condensed into pocket-sized devices? Quite soon, it seems, travelling the globe with your entire movie collection (including the sweeping epics) will be as commonplace as carrying your life’s music everywhere on an MP3 player is today. Devices such as the Archos AV 500 mobile digital video recorder are making this idea a reality.

At a time where people can’t make up their minds to buy a bog-standard DVD recorder or go for one with a built-in hard drive or wait until the entire applecart is upset by the onset of Blu-Ray, the AV 500 is a compromise without the meaning of compromise. It sits interestingly in the middle ground between the home entertainment fraternity and people likely to buy video iPods or PlayStation Portables.

The device boasts a 60GB hard drive that can store 30,000 songs, 600,000 photos or up to 260 hours of video — theoretically 130 movies if you so wish. About the size of a small bible, the AV 500 comes with a small pod that you attach to your TV and you can play and record movies as you like or transfer DVDs on to the device. It even comes with its own remote control. Alternatively, you can plug it into your TV and watch movies from the device and treat it as you would a DVD recorder with a hard drive.

But ultimately the AV 500 is a portable device and its four-inch screen is a viable competitor to the PlayStation Portable in terms of crystal clear imaging. Control of the device consists of an intuitive set of cursor keys so there is no real learning curve necessary.

The AV 500 also comes with a USB cable and I found its interoperability with my PC exactly what all digital devices should be but aren’t. Interoperable with Windows XP, I didn’t need to install any software and within seconds I was dragging and dropping songs and pictures on to the device and playing away. The device can also be turned into a video camera to record personal videos by just plugging in a camera lead.

Essentially the AV 500 is the perfect bridge for a music or movie lover that wants to marry the latest in home digital video with a life on the move.

The Archos AV 500 is available exclusively at Dixons and Currys in Ireland for €549 ex Vat.

By John Kennedy