Archos is a producer of portable drive devices. These include mini high capacity portable hard drives, CD burners, and multimedia recorders and players. All devices are USB 2.0 compatible and are easy to use with any personal computer platform.

My favorite product at the moment is the Archos Jukebox mp3 player. There are two subcategories: the Studio and the Recorder. Both include a hard drive of either 6, 10, or 20gb (the Studio also comes in a 5gb version) and are identical in size and shape outside of the product name on the casing. To be exact, the size of the Jukebox is approximately 4.5" x 3" x 1" weighing about 12 oz., or for the metric literate, that translates into 115 x 83 x 34mm and 350g (almost exactly the size and weight of my wallet). The hard drive is a standard notebook drive and can be easily upgraded. The only real difference between the two models is the recorder's ability to record on the fly realtime mp3s. Pretty impressive stuff, but I have yet to discover a real need for such a capability. Although only mp3s can be played, any file format can be stored.

The biggest hassle I've found with the Jukebox is the USB cable. Unlike most standard cables which have one square end plugging into the device and a flat end plugging into your computer, the Archos cable is flat on both sides. (Yes, those are technical terms!) The Archos comes with a cable, but when carrying the device one often does not carry the cable. An adapter is tough to find, but can be done with a lot of searching at many different computer supply stores.

Once the Jukebox is connected to your computer, it shows up as an extra drive, so copying files in or out is a breeze. Just click and drag as usual. It's all too easy to forget that the Archos is a hard drive, and files can be corrupted or lost if you don't unplug the device using the proper eject method (i.e. don't unplug the archos without parking the hard drive).

It may seem that 20gb is a lot of storage space at first, but as with all things, it's never enough. It's easy to get greedy, so keep this in mind when you're choosing a model.

The Jukebox battery is rechargeable and lasts for about 10 hours. A car kit is available for about $40. It comes with a cassette adapter, cigarette lighter adapter, stereo cable, remote control, and headphones. It may be worthwhile to some people to buy all of those products, but I just bought the cigarette lighter adapter at Target for about $15 and a new stereo cable for about $2. Who needs a remote control for a portable device that only has 3 buttons to begin with?!

In summary, the Archos Jukebox is cool.