One of the most affordable ways to expand the functionality of the Archos 5 Internet Media Tablet is to snap on the optional mini dock ($30). The small plastic accessory allows the unit to play videos on a TV, transfer media files directly from various USB devices, charge more quickly, and eventually connect to an HSDPA network with a USB modem and the still-unreleased 3.5G Ready plug-in. Though it should have been included as a bundled accessory, keep reading to see why it’s still worth the cost.
Unlike the Archos 5, which comes with very few accessories, the mini dock is packaged with quite a lot.
Inside the blister pack are the mini dock, AC charger with three regional adapters (US, UK, EUR), USB 2.0 cable, AV cable, and S-Video cable.
The dock itself is a lightweight plastic piece that doesn’t really inspire any strong reaction, positive or negative.
It isn’t particularly attractive or unattractive; it just is what it is. It’s well built for the price and about as compact as it could be, but that’s about it. It’s rather ordinary-looking compared to other docks and cradles we’ve seen before, but there’s nothing wrong with simplicity every now and then.
That said, some added spice certainly wouldn’t hurt, especially considering the scrumptious device it’s meant to accessorize.
The mini dock fit into the accessory connector ports at the bottom of the Archos 5 with ease. Rather than click or snap into place, the dock connector just sort of goes in with some guidance.
The fit is nice and secure, but there’s a problem . . .
The dock can’t support the weight of the Archos 5 (note that the 120GB/250GB models are 1.8 ounces heavier than the 60GB model; shown throughout this review is the 250GB unit). All of the press photos show the mini dock standing upright when connected to the device, but the setup immediately tips over backwards in real life. This may or may not be true with the slimmer 60GB model.
Good thing the Archos 5 has a built-in stand! It makes the player look cool and relaxed, sort of like it’s kicking back and lounging.
Since no one will be buying the mini dock for how it looks, let’s move on to what it does.
On the left side are the power and S-Video ports.
And on the right are a mini USB 2.0 port (for connecting the Archos 5 to the computer), AV-out port, and USB 2.0 host port (for connecting digital cameras and mass storage devices like thumb drives, external hard drives, and certain MP3 players).
To test the USB host function, I plugged in my 4GB Sony Micro Vault Tiny drive. The Archos 5 recognized it as a USB device immediately and displayed its contents in the file manager area of the system. From there, media could be copied between the player’s hard drive and the Micro Vault Tiny (no prizes for guessing that the iriver SPINN review is coming up).
When the 3.5 Ready plug-in is released, this is also the port that will accept USB modems.
And that’s the mini dock for the Archos 5. It’s simple, straightforward, and an inexpensive way to do more with the Internet Media Tablet.
The Archos 5 mini dock is available now for $30.