Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist
15 October 2003

I wanted a USB data storage device, but it seemed a shame to get one that just did data storage. So I ended up with the Archos Ondio which has 128Mb of storage (but is expandable through MultimediaCards – yet another new storage format to deal with). But that’s not all…
* it’s also an MP3 player
* And has an FM radio…
* But (unlike most other similar players) you can record from the built in radio.
* And it is a voice recorder…
* But (unlike most other similar players) it also has a line-in jack so you can record streamed audio (or any other audio source like tape) directly into the device for later playback.
* And if you send it plain text files you can even read them on the built-in 112×64 pixel screen!
I am also happy that it works on AAA batteries instead of requiring a special charger.

Truly this is a Swiss army knife among USB storage devices!

Minor drawbacks I have come across so far
* I had some teething troubles getting the USB to connect to my home Win2k PC (but it worked trouble-free when connected to two other win2k computers, and the tech support guy I reached was pretty good)
* It did once cause a fatal system crash for no discernable reason when re-attached to a Win98 laptop.
* I can copy MP3 files over to it directly without trouble but the Musicmatch Jukebox software playlist copying doesn’t seem to function – I’ll be nagging tech support about that tomorrow.
* The radio doesn’t pull in the signal terribly well (it’s probably the last analogue radio I’ll buy!)
* The UI is a little clunky (perhaps not surprising since it is so small and has just 5 buttons to work with)
* It’s the size of a (small) mobile phone instead of being thumb-sized, but I’ve got reasonably big pockets.
* To connect it to USB you need to carry around a USB cable – it won’t plug in directly.

I’ve only had it for an afternoon so I may become more disillusioned later.

FWIW I bought it in the UK from Datamind for £120 inc VAT – the cheapest price I was able to find. I’m not amused to note it is $150 direct from Archos, but I thought having a UK supplier was worth a few quid.

P.S. Before you ask, I did consider buying a hard disk-type device instead but
1) The prices are still too high (around double?)
2) They are significantly larger/heavier and not solid state like this is.
3) I don’t think I really need that much portable storage at present and when I decide I do I can buy a storage card for it (and other things like cameras) once prices for those drop further.
4) The iPod doesn’t record or include a radio – what’s up with that?


  1. Well, in about 5 minutes I think the iPod *will* record audio. 🙂

    There is also a third-party clip-on that does FM radio. Not sure about AM.

    Comment by Reid Ellis — 16 October 2003 @ 5:55 pm

  2. Yep, http://www.apple.com/ipod/accessories.html shows a voice recorder with which you can record up to 670 hours.

    Comment by Reid Ellis — 16 October 2003 @ 7:58 pm

  3. True (and it’s ingenious that someone managed to circumvent the lack of a mic jack) but the iPod still weighs three times as much, would have three different bits to carry around if I wanted radio and a mic and would cost (with both) a minimum of 2.5x as much. Still I do kinda wish I could have afforded one.

    Comment by David — 17 October 2003 @ 12:56 pm

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