The Archos AV 700 TV is the first mobile television that comes with a built-in recorder. It's also got a digital Freeview tuner, giving you access to around 50 channels instead of five, making it a mightily impressive product on paper.
There's more to this device than television. It's also a fully functioning portable media player, able to display movies and photos and play back MP3s, and the USB-on-the-go function means you can even use its 40GB hard disk as a storage dump for your digital camera. There's no need to use a computer as the middleman -- you simply connect them up and move the files over. That said, it needs to be something special to justify that wallet-kicking £480 price tag.
If the AV 700 TV looks somewhat familiar to you, that's probably because it's based on a product that has been out for some time: the Archos AV 700 (which is just a portable media player, without the TV tuner). It's a big old unit that weighs in at more than half a kilo -- and that's not including the twin external antennae that you'll need to connect for Freeview TV watching. So, unless you happen to be a clown by profession (or MC Hammer), there's no way you're going to be slipping this into your trouser pocket on the way out of the house.
On a positive note, the build quality is impressive. The player is so solid that you could probably run over it with your car and still watch Neighbours afterwards (not that we recommend doing either of those things).
The AV 700 TV isn't exactly an oil painting either. Being based on an older design, it falls some way short of the ruggedly handsome Archos AV 500, and certainly won't be challenging the likes of the video iPod for style awards.
The upside of (and perhaps the reason for) the large size is the 7-inch widescreen TFT, which is one of the largest you'll find on a portable video player. It dominates the front of the device, but the designers have left a little space on each side to accommodate the controls, the remote-control infrared sensor and the integrated stereo speakers.
Around the back is the rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which can be removed and replaced (you only get one supplied with the device), as well as a pull-out leg allowing you to setup the player on a table. The various input/output connections -- composite, S-Video, stereo audio and aerial -- are located along the top edge.
When watching TV, you need to hook up the twin antennae. These are located in a zip-up case that can be opened out and propped up on a desk or shelf. Unfortunately, you can't fit the AV 700 TV into the case as well, so you'll end up carrying around two separate bits all the time, which strikes us as an oversight.
Switch the device on and you're immediately greeted by an icon-packed menu screen. You access the Archos AV 700 TV's different functions by moving a cursor around and highlighting the option you want (TV, video playback, music playback, file browser etc). You then have to press the play button to start up that function. Oddly, the play button is located on the right of the screen, while the cursor controls are on the left -- it's a weird design decision, but you get used to it after a while.