OK - so you gurus may have been here before, but for the novices amongst you - and I count myself as a novice - the last 48 hours has been an education of sorts to learn how to use various Archos devices.
I was seduced to Archos when I bought my 604 (no wifi) with DVR station, and dock quite a few years ago. This was my first experience with Archos, and as I look through the forums, I notice that ,unusually, it worked straight out of the box without any problems. Apart from the battery swelling up every few years and needing replacing, it worked without any issues and I went into mourning when it eventually broke down recently. The only realistic replacement was the 48 Internet Tablet which I have bought with its accompanying DVR station, and whilst I like the 500GB storage and that you can do a bit of browsing of the Internet, its primary purpose was to record TV programmes which I would then store on my Network Attached Storage (NAS) device.To be honest, I still prefer my 604, but the 48IT just about manages to do what I want it to do - with my device the video recording is choppy if you also have the TV out function working, but if you record with the TV out off, at least on my device, the recording is then smooth - I do not know if this is a firmware issue, or just an issue with my particular device.
Any way, to continue with the story, my children had grown out of their old mp3 players - and I was prepared to purchase anything but apple - but the last 48 hours have made me question my judgement !! In spite of my touch and go experience with the 48IT, I directed the children to look at Archos products, and eventually one of them settled on the Archos 3CamVision, and the other on the Archos 43 Vision - the latter should not be confused with the Archos 43 Internet Tablet - they appear to be very different beasts and this took me a little while to figure out as well in the last 48 hours as I scoured the web looking for an answer to my problems.
Anyway, Archos boasts that their MP4 players should be able to play a wide range of file formats, including AVI - interestingly, with respect to the Archos 3CamVision, the official technical specs on the Archos site state that it shouldn't play WMA files http://www.archos.com/products/mp3_players/archos_3cam_vision/specs.html?country=gb&lang=en
- however, a review at http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2366858,00.asp
, says that it can play WMA files - so who is correct ?!! Well, having
bought the Archos3CAM, I can report that on the device that I purchased, that it does play WMA files - I can't tell what firmware version runs on my device, but to be frank, I am not that interested in examining this bit further, as it works. I am afraid that that is the only good news I have - unless a guru can tell me where I am going wrong.
With respect to the Archos 43 Vision, the Archos website is spectacularly lacking in useful information. The forums and other sources inform me that it is a rebadged chinese device, but of course I couldn't possibly comment see http://www.anythingbutipod.com/forum/showthread.php?p=536948
for snippets on this aspect of things.
So far the 43Vision device that I have purchased has been unable to play WMA files. But I guess if it is supposed to have the same specifications as the Archos 3CamVision, then theoretically it shouldn't, so I should not be surprised.Furthermore, I purchased my 43 Vision device at Argos, and at http://answers.argos.co.uk/answers/1493-en_gb/product/9263130/questions.htm
they explain the file formats that this device will play (and this does not include WMA). However, my eldest wasn't too concerned about this, as she was more interested in viewing MP4 files. So how does it fare on this front? One would have thought that any AVI file created by an archos device, would play on another.....so if my Archos 48IT creates an AVI file, you would think it would play without problem on the Archos 43 Vision or the Archos 3CamVision - well, the last 48 hours have proven this not to be the case - at least not on the devices that I have purchased ie Archos 3CamVision - firmware unknown, and Archos 43 Vision - firmware 1.19 - clues from the qvc website and other places suggest that the files need converting - I tried a few different video converting software/freeware, and for those of you who are keen to loose 48 hours of your life which you will never get back, please feel free to spend your time as I have trying out the following software - which I am sure is very good, it just never worked for me - so you may not wish to waste your time with it : the free version of any video converter from http://www.any-video-converter.com/
; winff - supposed to be very good, just couldn't cope with the audio codec produced by my Archos 48IT/DVR DivX encoder ; mp4 converter.net - the free version only converts the first 3 minutes of any video.
So what did work for me and stopped me from taking the device back - although I am still not happy that I am having to convert files to make the thing work - the answer is Pocketdivxencoder from http://www.pocketdivxencoder.net/EN_index.htm
- I used PocketDivXEncoder_0.3.96.exe on a windows 7 machine. It is freeware.
After starting the programme (I don't think it actually installs on your computer), I selected the Archos devices - but didn't specify an actual device. I moved the file that I wanted to convert from my NAS device to my local hard drive and pointed to that file by browsing to it using the browse button next to the File to encode row (it probably isn't necessary to copy the file to your local hard drive, but it may speed up the encoding process). You can change the location of the output file by pressing the browse button on that row - but I chose not to, as the file is saved in the source folder with an identical name as the source file except with _Archos_ concatenated at the end of the file name. (Recordings made by my Archos device which are greater than about 2 GB in size result in another file created with the same name, but a different extension - .AV2, and if that goes on beyond another 2 GB, another file with the same name but a differenct extension .AV3, etc is created. For Pocketdivx to recognise the files, they need to be given the AVI extension, but if they are all in the same folder, the files will need slightly different names. In windows 7, display the extension of the file if it is hidden - see http://support.microsoft.com/kb/865219#LetMeFixItMyselfAlways
for details, and then just rename the extension to AVI, even though you will get a warning to say that this will change the file forever (I assume you will make a copy of your source file just in case it all goes horribly wrong !!)).
Once Pocketdivx encoder can recognise your avi file and you have told it where you want the output file placed, initially the only other thing that I did was to click on advanced options and selected XviD - although when I repeated the encoding process later for another file, it turns out you don't need to do this, so I would suggest that you leave everything as is and click on the encode now button - a nine minute video took about 2 minutes to convert (intel i5 processor, 4GB RAM). I then copied the output file onto the archos mp4 player into the video file section, and it played. The same file also plays on the Archos 3CamVision player.
You can convert multiple files by adding to list, but obviously the more files you want to convert, the longer it will take !
Finally, I am sure you have your favourite paid for or freeware audio file converting software - the one that seemed to work problem free for me to convert WMA to MP3 was any audio converter downloaded from http://download.cnet.com/Any-Audio-Converter/3000-2170_4-10717584.html?tag=dropDownForm;productListing
Disclaimer - I am making no warranty that this or any of the software I name will work for you and you do what I suggest at your own risk - it just happens to be what worked for me - if reading this has saved you time in the long run, then I would like to think that the good karma will return to me - as I hope it will to all the people that have created the software that I tried out, both with and without success and from others who's writings gave me clue as to where to look for answers - if any archos personnel are reading this and they think there is a problem with either of my players - feel free to pm me - For me to have to go to this length to get your devices working suggests there is a problem somewhere - I don't think the problem is me but some may choose to differ!! Some of you will now be thinking that Archos may not be the way to go. I still miss my Archos 604 and wish that Archos still made it !!
If this account of my trials and tribulations helps you then I will have done my good deed for the day.
P.S. neither player could play any of the WMV files I tried either player with. I have no idea how to rip DVD's, so please do not ask me.