Video playback is very smooth and the 704 responds speedily when fast-forwarding or rewinding during a film. The screen has an impressive resolution of 800x480 pixels, so movies looks bright and detailed. The display's matte finish, however, means that it doesn't look quite as razor sharp or as vibrant as some of the glossy screens we've seen on rivals such as the Creative Zen Vision W.
On the sonic side, the built-in speakers are relatively loud considering their small size, and audio from the headphone output is also crisp and clean. To get the best out of it, though, you will need to replace the tinny sounding headphones.
Those who do purchase the add-on recording dock will find the video recording quality to be the best of any portable player on the market. Frame rates are smooth and you'll see very few compression artefacts. The player's battery life is also pretty good. You get 16 hours of music playback, 5 hours of video and 5 hours of Web browsing.
Surfing the Web with the 704 via Wi-Fi is a mixed experience. On the one hand the screen has a high enough resolution to accurately render most pages, but using the virtual keyboard to enter an address can be clumsy. Also, the browser doesn't support Flash or Java, so you can't access some popular sites such as YouTube.
The Wi-Fi support does have other benefits though. If you have a network at home you can stream files from your PC directly to the 704, or alternatively you can turn on the file server function on the Archos and share its files across your network.
The 704's bulk means it won't appeal to everyone, as it's too large to be used as a day-to-day media player, but for those who often travel by plane or train, the sheer size of the display will be a major boon.
The machine also packs in some seriously impressive Wi-Fi features and its video and audio playback quality can't be faulted. It could do with some software updates, however, to enable Flash and Java support in the browser, and subtitles for movie playback. We'd like to see these features added before we would wholeheartedly recommend it.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield