Ahead of its publication in our January issue - out December 13th - here is our First Test of the Archos 605 WiFi portable media player....

Archos 605 WiFi £299 (80GB)

FIVE STARS

For: Big touchscreen that looks good; WiFi features; easy to use; good value storage capacity.

Against: Some grain to video; shame the DVR Station isn’t included.

Verdict: A highly capable, forward-thinking machine that’s surprisingly elegant and simple to use – a winner, then.

Long before Apple decided to dip its elegant toes into the world of portable video, Archos had been delivering feature-heavy multimedia portables. If not always the most intuitive to use, you could always rely on its products boasting the most advanced technology of the time.

With its fifth generation of products, Archos has yet again upped the ante – and in some style.

The 605 WiFi is capable of many things. Available in 30, 80 and 160GB incarnations, audio, video and image playback is your bread and butter here.

More after the break

You’ll get some 13 hours of sound and over 5 hours of video. The 4.3in, 800 x 400 resolution screen is certainly a pretty face, and the twist here is that you can touch it. Touchscreen controls – coupled with a series of clear, chunky buttons down one side – make for a simple interface that’s easy to negotiate.

But the real eye-catcher is the 802.11g WiFi connection. This enables you to browse, stream and download content on-the-go either from various Archos-approved content portals, or directly from your home networked PC.

The device is a pleasure to use, and by and large provides fine performance. Music sounds clear and dynamic, video is lush, detailed and smooth – if at times a touch grainy compared to class-leading screens, like that on the PSP – and the WiFi connection is for the most part reliable and simple to explore.

While Apple’s iPod Touch and Sony’s PSP provide strong competition, the large hard disk, big screen and optional expansion using the DVR Station (£50) to allow recording straight from TV mean its place on the market is well deserved.

Also consider: Apple iPod Touch (Four stars, December 2007) Endlessly desirable product with WiFi, music and video, plus cool control system – but the small storage seems foolish.

Sony PSP (Five stars, Awards 2007) Much like the PS3, this is a versatile multimedia player dressed-up as a games machine – class-leading picture quality, though not the innate capacity of the Archos.