Archos 3 Vision review

This Archos certainly has potential, but the poor useability of its interface means we really can't recommend it Tested at £90.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

We find it hard to look past the disastrous interface – if you can, there are some neat functions here


  • +

    Minimalist design

  • +

    abundance of functions

  • +

    FM radio recording and FM transmitter are smart additions


  • -

    Feels flimsy

  • -

    very poor interface, tricky to navigate

  • -

    so-so performance

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Best known for its feature-packed, file-friendly media players, Archos has predominantly concerned itself with internet tablets of late. But with the 3 Vision, the company clearly has more portable machines in its sights.

The 3 Vision is certainly pocketable, and with just the one control button it cuts a minimalist appearance. The small, slim design appeals, although in the hand it feels rather flimsy and lightweight.

Still, cast your eye down the spec sheet and it's clear this Archos machine is very capable.

FM transmitter included
Alongside music and video playback, you'll also find an FM radio, sound recorder and, intriguingly, an FM transmitter. This allows you to send your tunes from the Archos wirelessly to a receiver, such as an in-car radio.

There's voice recording, a calendar and a USB-to-composite video cable, too.

File compatibility is decent: there's no support for AAC files here, but the 3 Vision can support MP3, WMA, WAV and FLAC, with AVI and MP4 video files compling the roster.

Sadly, our first stumbling block is a major one – the Archos is a right pain to use. The unit's single button acts as a ‘back' key throughout, while all other movement is via the touchscreen.

Prodding the resistive screen is both a fiddle and inaccurate, but it's the touchscreen's circular scroll that takes the biscuit – it's nigh-on impossible to find to any degree of accuracy, meaning navigating menus is painful.

Challenging on so many levels
We press on – haphazardly – and look at the 8GB Archos in action. The busy ‘now playing' screen is enough to give anyone a headache, but thankfully the sound is less taxing.

Vampire Weekend's Horchata is relayed with much enthusiasm, and is only found lacking in terms of absolute detail.

It's also worth highlighting the 3 Vision's 14-hour battery life with music – far lower than that claimed by its rivals.

Video performance? Colours on the 3in screen are a little washed out and images are a touch flat, but we could watch it without grumbling too much.

The Archos 3's features are excellent – the inclusion of an FM transmitter is a seriously smart move – and we also like the slimline design.

But we can't abide a machine that's such a nightmarish fiddle to control, and the level of performance doesn't make us want to try.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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