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Archive for March, 2008

EchoStar to control near-nationwide 700Mhz WiMax network in the USA

Posted by Charbax on 24th March 2008

Echostar owns around 20% of Archos stock, and they have just succeeded in buying a nearly national coverage of licences to deploy wireless broadband in the USA on the 700MHZ spectrum. Not only does that mean that Echostar can now deploy their own wireless broadband network to distribute video-on-demand directly to their set-top-boxes without being dependent on the established internet service providers, it also means Echostar can ask Archos to build for them a portable video player that will stream video directly over their 700Mhz WiMax networks.

They could also use their spectrum to build WiFi and WiMax mesh networks, thus blanketing the whole USA relativelty cheaply and rapidly with their own wireless broadband network. So customers who agree to install a little box outdoors next to their Dish Networks satellite dish, could then hookup to the central WiMax broadcaster and republish that signal to the whole nabourhood as Mesh networking of both the 700mhz signal and normal WiFi. Customers who would agree to install this free box could thus get a rebate on their Dish Network and wireless broadband subscription fees.

Another strategy could be for Echostar to use the established ADSL, Cable and Fiber networks that people already have gotten at home through established internet service providers and re-publish that Internet connection through the Ethernet plug of the set-top-box out to the nabourhood using the 700Mhz spectrum and WiFi. This way Echostar would basically just need to distribute set-top-boxes to cover a whole country with free wireless broadband. Other ISPs might complain that Echostar would be using their bandwidth, but that is the way Fon works today with a million users worldwide sharing their Internet connection using WiFi, and that way of doing wireless networking deployments might be approved and regulated into law by the politicians. As a means to lower the cost of deploying better and cheaper wireless broadband, supporting network neutrality which means ISPs should not be allowed to throttle or restrict in any ways how consumers use their internet connection.

Echostar should build their 700Mhz network in cooperation with Google, so that devices to use that 700Mhz spectrum also work in the unlicenced spectrum that Google is suggesting the FCC should be used for free wireless broadband.

Sources: Echostar’s 700Mhz spectrum, Google’s unlicenced spectrum proposition

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Refurbished Archos available in the USA and Canada

Posted by Charbax on 18th March 2008

If you are in the USA or Canada and considering buying an Archos for as cheap as possible, you might consider getting one refurbished at the official store. The prices are really good, and a refurbished product is most probably as good as new and comes with a 6 months warranty.

Here’s a selection of some of the best refurbished Archos you can get:

Refurbished Archos 605 – 30GB: $225 – product information
Refurbished Archos 605 – 80GB: $265 – product information
Refurbished Archos 605 – 160GB: $325 – product information

Refurbished Archos DVR Station – Gen 5: $55 – product information

Refurbished Archos 404 Camcorder 30GB: $165 – product information
Refurbished Archos 404 30GB: $145 – product information

Refurbished Archos AV500 30 GB: $145 – product information

Refurbished Archos Gmini 402: $125 – product information

Refurbished Archos 104 6GB: $75 – product information

Thanks to jbmm.fr for the tip.

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Archos hopefully preparing to release 720p firmware for Gen5

Posted by Charbax on 12th March 2008

When Archos initially announced the 605 WiFi and TV+ in June of 2007, they clearly were talking about a plugin to support 720p content:

Archos has been saying HD was not urgent but would come when video-on-demand in HD would be available.

I think that the key reason for the delay of the release of HD support could be the requirement for DRM to work for HD. And the solution to 720p HD video DRM for Archos might be in the recently announced partnership with Widevine: http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=60960

Which basically allows Archos to sell HD content in the Archos Content Portal encoded in other formats then WMV. The basic thing that could have delayed the release of the 720p plugin could be that WMV does not work on the current generation Texas Instruments DaVinci chip, but that only less processor intensive 720p Mpeg4 Simple Profile such as Mpeg4 DivX or Mpeg4 XviD would work. So now, hopefully, with Webvine as a DRM technology partner, now the DRM for HD video content could be using any codecs including Mpeg4 Simple Profile.

The simple fact is sure a few people have DivX 720p content (like I have published 1000 DivX 720p videos on my video-blog the past 3 years), but most people do not have DivX 720p content. And content providers, the big movie majors will not allow Archos for one second to put unprotected DivX 720p movies on their content portal. But if they get a technology like Webvine to somehow put DRM on DivX or other types of Mpeg4 Simple Profile 720p, then that could be the solution that we have been waiting for.

I don’t know if the Dish Networks type 720p or 1080i Mpeg2 recorded content will work. Hopefully it will work, and that would be protected by Dishes own DRM system which is already implemented for non-HD content.

Adding HD support and HD content to the Gen5 could be absolutely huge. This could be a move from Archos to directly compete with Blu-ray and become a product of choice for customers who have HDTVs and HD projectors.

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Latest rumor: Archos 606 HSDPA is black, larger screen, no buttons

Posted by Charbax on 11th March 2008

French blog PC Inpact claims to have gotten some informations from a reliable source about the upcomming Archos 606 HSDPA to be released after the summer hollidays. The rumors are as following:

- The case is totally black. (following the Apple trend of iPhone case color)

- The size of the device is about the same as the 605 WiFi but contains no buttons on the front of the device, instead uses a 1-2cm larger touch-screen. The whole interface is touch-screen based. There are still buttons on the side of the device, just not on the front of it.

- The price would go from 150-300 euros with or without subsidization by the HSDPA provider which in France is SFR. The HSDPA could be used for wap Internet access (whatever that means), and subsidized versions with 15-30 euro per month subscriptions would include access to features such as SMS, MMS, Yahoo messenger, streaming HSDPA TV and some other stuff. Non-subsidized model would go for 300 euros.

- While the Archos might or might not support VOIP, for telephony on the SFR network in France, users might have to get at least a low-cost simple mobile phone with another HSDPA sim-card perhaps within the same monthly fee on the same HSDPA user account. So to do your telephony you’d use one of those 10 dollar phones that do a good job saving battery power and providing good telephony functions, while Archos is best for all the multimedia and Internet features.

The source of this rumor is http://www.pcinpact.com/actu/news/42348-archos-SFR-eeePC-internet-illimite.htm

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16GB SDHC cards for $79

Posted by Charbax on 1st March 2008

Beware of this cheap A-Data 16GB SDHC class 6 card, I just bought two and they aren’t recognized by the Archos while they seem to work fine in my Sanyo HD1000 camcorder and other SDHC devices including SDHC card reader on the PC. You can read about SDHC card compatibillity in this thread: http://forum.archosfans.com/viewtopic.php?p=81448#81448

Amazon.com US has 16GB A-Data cards for $79, which is kind of nice to think about. Prices for those SD cards seems to go down about half every 18 months or something like that.

So for $250-279 you get the 605 WiFi 4GB with a 16GB SD card, thus 20GB of storage. And possibillity that you will buy more SD cards in the next couple of years that have 32GB each, and for a price of less than $1 per GB soon on the SD cards.

I think Archos is preparing the flash based solution nicely for when Archos will be able to include HSDPA in the devices. Then you could basically stream all the audio and video content directly from the Internet from everywhere, requiring that the battery consumption for HSDPA audio and video streaming is tested to be usable by the time that the Archos HSDPA devices will be released.

For sure there should always be the nice big fat hard drive Archos model options. Also considering that in theory Archos could put as much as 500GB in a PMP using one of those recent 500GB 2.5″ hard drives by Toshiba, Fujitsu, Hitachi and Seagate. 1.8″ and 2.5″ hard drives will certainly always be able to provide their advantage in capacity and cost per GB compared to flash based memory, as when there are flash innovations, we also see very rapid improvements in hard drive capacities and prices. So expect also that hard drives will double in capacity every 18 months. The comparison in price/GB and capacity/inch for hard drives and flash memory could stay the same for a while. So for uses where you can use a lot of local storage, high capacity and low price per GB of hard drives will continue to make sence, though with ubiquituous broadband connectivity, local storage on the pocket device itself might be less necessary.

Here in Denmark, http://3.dk just started providing unlimited bandwidth for 299kr (40€ = $60) per month, before that 7,2mbit/s download and 384kbit/s upload connection was limited by a 10GB per month bandwidth limit. Now they say that the limit is gone, so one can basically leech as much as one wants on the HSDPA network for a fixed fee now here in Copenhagen.

With Femtocells and stuff like that, HSDPA providers could quickly add more bandwidth to their HSDPA network to provide even more bandwidth to everyone.

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