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Archos MP3 Recorder

by Matty filed under gadgets on March 28, 2004 10:24 AM

20 gigs of music, a text viewer, games, video player and more. Be honest, now you want one, too.

I am a geek, and I like geek things and I like to listen to music (prolly geek music). I have headphones on most of the time at work. Nanc and I have been on the lookout for new mp3 players for a while now and the Archos Jukebox seems to be a pretty good place to start.

Also, since nanc has been updating the site more than me, there is a need for more testosterone-fueled articles. Matty = testosterone -- heh...

I will start off by being honest. Would I like an ipod? yes. They are uber-pretty and lets face it - the commercials are dang sexy. Though I have never played with one, the user interface is supposed to be quite nice.

The purchase decision was made on several levels. A 15GB ipod costs $300. The 20GB Jukebox costs (after rebate) $124.88 on Amazon. More gigs, half the cost, and a operating system to hack around with. hmm...

So far, I've only purchased one, but if it works out nicely, we will buy another.

20 Gigabytes is a whole lotta space. (audience: how much space is it?) Supposedly, it's enough space to record 300 hours of mp3s or approximately 244 74 minute music cds. Of course your mileage may vary if you have several copies of the Frampton Comes Alive double album. (Was that even on cd??? if so, why??) ...but I digress...I should be able to load every song from every cd I own, and still have room left.

So, I am going to document the process of playing with this mp3 player and using the open source software (rockbox), and hopefully tweak it here and there. I think that this will work well...

Stay tuned and I will update this page with more info and pix.

So here's the new stuff.

Let's start off with some pix, so that you can see what we're talking about. The official name is "Archos MP3 Jukebox Recorder Version 2" (Electric Boogaloo). As you can see, the Archos is approximately the same height and depth as a Zoe PEZ dispenser. No, I didn't have a ruler handy, but thanks for askin'.

Weight-wise, I was again stumped, as I don't have access to a small scale. So, I have judged the weight of the mp3 player to be approximately that of two packages of Peeps and a deck of Iraqi most-wanted playing cards.


The unit comes with several accessories, most of which are useless/ugly. Leading the ugly group is a blue neoprene carrying case with convenient belt loop. If this case could talk, it would say "please beat me up, as I am a loser. Thank you." Heading up the useless group are the fancy foldable headphones. The good news is that I didn't buy the player for the accessories. But really, if you buy this, get new headphones quickly. Also included are usb-usbmini (to connect to your PC) and rca to 1/8" jack (to connect to other audio equipment).

how does it work?

The player is essentially a hard drive in a cute box. It works like a hard drive. When you plug it into your PC via the usb cable, the player is recognized as a regular hard drive. Copy and paste, drag and drop, or use any other favorite method to move and organize music. When done, undock the drive and go listen to some Sly and the Family Stone.

installing rockbox

There are two different ways that you can install rockbox. Both are pretty easy. The first is placing the rockbox files on root directory. This method uses the Archos software to load the rockbox. It's a little bit slower booting (approx 12 seconds) but provides a way to test drive rockbox without getting too indepth. Want to remove rockbox? just remove the files and the original software will load. The second way that you can install rockbox is to flash the image. This is a little more in-depth, and in theory a little more risky. But worth it. Once you flash the image the player will boot in about three seconds. woo!


I can't really evaluate how well the Archos software works, because I got rid of it immediately. I am very happy with the Rockbox software. It provides more functionality (text viewer, games, video player, and more stuff). The rechargeable batteries last for about 12 hours of constant use. The cool thing is that once the batteries lose their oomph, you can replace them yourself. (ipods have to be sent in for servicing to replace the battery. Another nice function that I haven't played with yet is that you can use this as a voice recorder, or plug into other audio sources (record players, cd players, etc) and record directly to the Archos unit.

I haven't had anything but fun playing with this. If you buy this, make sure to investigate the rockbox link at the top of the page. I haven't had time to hack together my own set of software, but I will write about it once that happens.

a cautionary note

This note comes from my little sister, as her boy has a jukebox recorder also. Remember that these are little hard drives, with spinning moving parts inside. If you have ever owned a flash card based mp3 player, there aren't moving parts and they can take a fair amount of abuse. Don't drop one of these. Chances are good that you will kill it.

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