One bird, one stone
I wanted a device to play videos downloaded from webcasts or sessions from MIX07 or TechEd that I could watch without the inconvenience of sitting watching my computer monitor or even finding a comfortable position to watch these videos on a laptop.
The Archos 704 has a nice-sized screen (7") and built-in speakers and costs about $480.
I wanted to watch some presentations about Silverlight and WPF and .NET 3.5 and thought it would be worth it for the convenience. I had some video training on Expression Blend/Design/Media Encoder downloaded from TotalTraining (more on this later).
After a little initial awkwardness using the stylus on the touchscreen (it helps to drag slightly when you tap on the screen), the device delivers what I had hoped for. They say that you can transfer files via USB, but it didn't turn out to be as simple as plugging in a USB key and transferring the files.
It pretty much has to use Windows Media Player to sync content because it has to do some conversion (either quickly or slowly depending on the source file's format) with a USB cable from your desktop or laptop to the device.
The video quality is pretty good although it does lose the extreme top or left side of some videos.
You can supposedly connect it to a TV with an optional Archos digital video recorder docking station and also stream video to the device wirelessly from your PC and supposedly use the built-in Opera web browser but comments from owners on Amazon are mixed at best.
My favorite feature was one I discovered by accident while browsing for information about the device. It has a little built-in kickstand that I use to prop up the device so I don't have to hold it while watching a video.
It also plays audio and displays pictures, but as I said, I bought it to do one thing only, and it handles that bird pretty darn well.Here's an audio review of the Archos 704 but it's much the same as what I just described.