Review: Archos 605 Wi-Fi GPS Car Holder

The Archos 605 WiFi is a damn fine portable media player. (It received the coveted Best of Test award last year.) Now it’s slightly mo’ better due to this new GPS accessory, which for $130 adds full-bore street navigation that’s on par with a Garmin or TomTom system. Well, a low-end Garmin or TomTom from a few years ago, anyway: This lackluster accessory does not have many of the bells and whistles of modern nav systems, and the one it does have-real-time traffic updates-works only in Europe.

The GPS Car Holder is exactly that: a big, chunky, suction cup-powered windshield mount that houses a GPS receiver. Install the included TeleAtlas mapping software on your Archos 605 (any of the four models in the lineup) and you’re ready for the road. Just make sure to budget a seemingly eternal 30 seconds for the GPS app to start up, which wouldn’t be so bad except that the unit shuts down randomly. On the plus side, the software locks in satellite signals faster than NORAD.

However, it navigates like a base commander heading home from the officer’s club. On several occasions the GPS tried to route us totally out of the way instead of continuing on the road right in front of us. To make matters worse, the software doesn’t do text-to-speech, meaning all you ever hear is “take next left” or “after 400 yards, turn right.” This is 2008: We expect all nav systems to announce street names. Well, at least we’ll have our tunes to comfort us while we drive-the 605 is a media player, after all. So, um, why can’t it play music while the nav software is running? Again, 2008…

And there’s the rub: The GPS Car Holder would look pretty good if this were, say, 2003. And it does get you where you’re going, if not always by the fastest or most logical route. But don’t base your purchase of an Archos 605 on this accessory alone. At $130, it’s a decent deal for current owners, but definitely behind the GPS times. This is a rare hiccup for Archos, we’re hoping future versions of the GPS unit will kick as much ass as the 605 Wi-Fi does.

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