Thursday, December 30, 2010

iPod Touch vs Archos 43 Showdown!

I've been looking for a strong alternative to the iPod Touch for a long time.  The original had several shortcomings, although there were no decent competitors to it at that time. Some challengers have shown up since.  Apple didn't rest on its laurels, and the latest Touch answers almost every complaint I had with the first one.

Archos appears to have decided to win back bragging rights for tablet media players, and the Archos 43 Internet Tablet looks like it shoots straight at the Touch. I have both, and am getting many questions about which is better. This is my showdown. I'll rank for technology, media support, ease of use, build, and a few other things. You may not agree with every conclusion, but hopefully this showdown will help you make your own decision.

I have reviewed both.  The Archos 43 has been updated since that review. Here is how they compare price-wise:

iPod Touch 8gb for $229. 32gb for $299.
Archos 43 16gb for $249. 16gb MicroSD-HC card for $36. Total for 32gb = $285.

- Processor: Tie
    Touch: Apple A4 1GHz processor running iOS 4
    43: ARM Cortex A8 at 1 GHz with DSP running Android 2.21 
- WiFi: Tie
    Touch: 802.11b/g/n  (802.11n 2.4GHz only). 802.11n no speed
    improvement over G.
    43: 802.11 b/g/n (including 5GHz for 802.11n) 802.11n doesn't work
    at the moment.  Archos is looking into it.
- Bluetooth devices supported: 43 wins.
    Touch: Profiles include A2DP, AVRCP, PAN, HID. Headphones, Keyboard, some accessories.
    43: Profiles include A2DP, AVRCP, HID, PAN, Headphones, Keyboard, Mouse, GPS, File Transfer,
    Phone tethering. 
- Screen size: 43 wins.
    Touch: 3.5" diagonal. 1.984375" x 2.9375", 5.83 square inches.
    43: 4.3" diagonal,  2.09375" x 3.75",  7.85 square inches.
- Screen resolution: Touch wins.
    Touch: 960 x 640
    43: 854 x 480
- External controls: Both have volume toggle power/hold button. Tie 
- Power button options43 wins.
    Touch: Simple press to turn screen off.  Long press for power OFF
    43: Simple press to turn screen off. Long press brings up several
    device options including Airplane Mode, Buttons Mode, Power
    Off, and Silent Mode. Choosing Power OFF brings up a second
    set of choices including Deep Sleep, Reboot, and Power Off.
- Ports: Inputs, outputs, and memory expansion.  43 wins.
    Touch: Dock port, headphone jack.
    43: Micro USB sync port, HDMI output, MicroSD-HC slot, headphone jack.  USB storage drives  and devices supported with adapter cable (not included, typically under $10).
- Cameras: Touch wins with 2.  Both devices require great lighting to take good photos. The 43's camera app was updated in the latest firmware with 6 white-balance settings, resolution/quality choices, color effects, and (video) unbanding choices.  It has a Photo/Video toggle as well.   The Touch has a choice of cameras (front or back), the shutter button, and a digital zoom slider that shows up when you tap the screen.  Both have links to their photo galleries from within camera app.  
    Touch: Front facing VGA 640 x 480 resolution. Rear facing 960 x 720 for Photos, 1280 x 720 for Video.
    43: Rear facing 1280 x 720 photos and video.
- Speakers: The 43's speaker reaches to lower frequencies. The iPod's speaker is louder at the same position along the volume slider (about 50%). Both serve fine for notices, games and chat, but are not recommended for music listening. Tie.
- Microphone: Touch wins.  Its microphone is more sensitive, and the voice memo app is better integrated than the Audio Recorder app on the 43 is.

Media Support:
- Music File Types: Tie. Differences in what is supported by each, though.
    Touch: AAC, Protected AAC, HE-AAC, MP3, MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV. 9
    43: Stereo MP3, MP3 VBR, WMA, WAV (PCM/ADPCM), AAC3, AAC+ stereo audio files, OGG Vorbis, FLAC, AC3, AC3 stereo audio(options plugin required). 9 or 10

- Video File Types: 43 wins. Many file types are simply containers. Still the 43 is easily most capable. It also can play videos from shared folders on your home network. Above are scenes from videos playing on both. The MULAN video on the 43 was streaming from my PC over my home WiFi network.
    Touch: M4v, MP4, MOV, AVI
    43: M4v, MP4, MOV, AVI, MKV, WMV, MPG, PS, TS, VOB, FLV, RM, RMVB, ASF, 3GP.
- Photo File Types: Tie  
    Touch: JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF
    43: JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF
- Photo apps: 43 wins.
    Touch: Pictures app. Sources include local, from cameras, from email, and from Web that you've downloaded.
    43: Galley and Photo Frame apps.
- Music Sort Options: Tie.  Differences. On the 43 you can find separate apps for Audiobooks and Podcasts.
    Touch: Albums, Artists, Songs, Playlists, Audiobooks, Compilations, Composers, Genres, Podcasts, iTunes U, Seach
    43: Albums, Artists, Songs, Playlists, Recently added, Recently played, Favorites, Storage, Party shuffle, Search.
- Music Now Playing: 43 wins.  Info and Features accessible directly from within the Now Playing screen.
    Touch: Artist, Album name, Song name, Position slider/info, Volume slider, Next/Previous, FF/REV, Play/Pause, Shuffle toggle, Repeat options, Album art, Shortcut to song list, Song x of Total, Back. 17. Music app changes to limited cover flow view in landscape position.
    43: Artist, Album name, Song name, Position slider/info/absolute, Volume slide/up-down/position bar,  Next/Previous, FF/REV, Play/Pause, Shuffle toggle, Repeat Options, Album Art, Shortcut to Song List, Shortcut to initial Library screen. Tap menu for Info, Party Shuffle, Add to Playlist, Add to favorites, Delete, and Audio Settings choices, Search (any text on the screen for related info using) Music/Web/Pandora/YouTube, Back.  30.  Music app presents same options in landscape and Profile views.

- User Interface: Ease of use.  Finding what you want. Managing your files and apps. 43 wins. Neither device is intuitive, despite YouTube videos of toddlers play with an iPad. Many options are hidden in Settings, and the only way to know about them is to search through them one by one.  Android apps generally have related settings accessible within the app.  On the Touch, you have to leave the app and then open Settings to find related options.
    Touch: Folder support. Multiple (11) App pages.  System wide search. Capacitive screen +. Multitouch. Uninstall downloaded apps.  Multitasking.  Bookmarks as icons. 8
    43: Folder support.  Multiple (5) App pages.  System wide search.  Resistive screen -. Uninstall downloaded apps. Multitasking. File browser.  Delete file capability. Put icons anywhere on a screen. Widgets. App icons (shortcuts) and widgets on more than one page if you want. Shortcuts to contacts, bookmarks, direct messages, directions, an email, Gmail label, Latitude, any setting, Google Voice toggle as icons on a home page. 18

- Build: The Touch (below) is too thin.  I find myself getting hand cramps when holding it more than a few minutes.  The 43 weighs a little more, but with its larger screen the weight is expected.  Both are well built, but Apple again demonstrates that they are on top of engineering and production. The 43 is well made.  I greatly appreciate the built-in kickstand (above).  The Touch is a beautiful piece of work. Both are fingerprint magnets.  Although not the easiest to hold or use, the Touch wins build.
    Touch: 7.2 millimeters thin. Engineered glass front and stainless steel back.
    43: 9 millimeters thin. Glass front with plastic body molded over a steel frame.

- Reliability: Tie. The Touch I have now is a replacement for my original purchase.  The power button failed and Apple replaced it for me. So far my 43 doesn't work using 802.11n for WiFi connectivity as it claims to. It still connects using 802.11g. Archos is aware and hopefully will fix it in an upcoming firmware release.  Of three iPod Touches I've owned, two have gone back to Apple as defective. Of the 6 Archos product I have none has needed to be sent back as defective, yet nagging firmware glitches so far keep this 43 from being all that it can be.  Both products thus appear tied for reliability.

43 = 16.  Touch = 12. Wins worth 1.  Ties worth 1 point to each device.  By numbers the 43 is easily the winner. Android 2.21 is a more versatile OS than iOS 4. Since my 43 arrived it has become the one device I prefer to use over everything else you can find reviewed on my blog. The larger screen of the 43 is more welcome than the higher-resolution screen of the new Touch. Applications are available for both. The range of android apps, despite fewer in number than Touch apps, covers every category well.  With no restrictions there are Android apps that do things Apple doesn't allow Touch/iPhone apps to do.   The Touch is a great piece of hardware.  Archos has a better device in its 43 though. In fact, Archos can't seem to make them fast enough to satisfy demand.


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  1. Nice roundup! I was undecided about the two but finally ordered the 43it from Pixmania before Christmas (they'll only have them in stock by the end of january).

    The 43 has by far more features!

    Hows the audio quality?

  2. Audio quality with good headphones is good on both. The Touch is a little louder, although I never need my music as loud as the Touch can go. One nice thing about the 43 is that it plays more lossless audio codecs than the Touch does.


  3. So... you've listed a bunch of specs, most of which are automatically suited to the 43 (power control options? really?) and then declared it a winner. You've dismissed the software almost completely. To say that Android is easier to use than iOS is complete garbage. I've used both extensively, and it really is a jumbled mess of menus. It's the little things that matter in software, and Android doesn't even come close.

  4. Thanks for your comment. I'll assume you own a Touch. I do to. Easier yes. Limited and less efficent, yes. More capable, no.


  5. Given the rarity of the A43 (it's all but impossible to get), how would you compare it to the A5 IT, which is widely available and quite reasonably priced?

    Thank you,


  6. Michael,

    I also have the 5it. It is it thicker, heavier, and generally enough larger than the 43 to be far less portable. It also stopped at android 1.6. There are features on the 43/2.21 that I've grown dependant on, so my 5it now collects dust.


  7. A killer feature of the Archos devices is that they can tether via blue tooth to my smart phone for web browsing. I have a 5it with 1.6 installed. What features of 2.21 have you found to be so useful? Just curious as I can't find an excuse to upgrade!

  8. I like the smaller size of the 43, the HDMI-output, and the efficiency of the better compiled 2.21 firmware. If you already own and are happy with your 5it I see no compelling reason to trade it in for a 43 though. The 5it is a good device too, for its size.

  9. Thank you, 4DThinker, for your comments on the 5IT. I've gone ahead and bought one while I await shipment of the A43 I bought in mid-November. I look forward to comparing them to each other and to my iPod Touch 4g in the coming months!

  10. Hey 4D,
    About the screen, you talked about only the resolution but what about the quality (vivid colors and brighness for watching videos)? Can you tell wich of this devices is better (with a mini review if it's possible) between Archos 43, Ipod 4g and the Cowon J3 screen?
    (I have an J3 now and i want to upgrade it for one of these two)

    cheers and great comparaison.

  11. Fransisco,

    Looking at the same photo displayed on each device, the Touch shows better contrast and truer color than the 43. Viewing angles are the same. The same applies watching the same youtube video. The difference in only obvious when side-by-side. The 43 is still fine for viewing videos, and plays far more codecs than the Touch.


  12. Just curious, you have Wifi as a tie but the only problem that I can see is that the A43 won't work with wireless N, not having a speed improvement on the Touch with wireless N is negligible. Winner should go to Ipod Touch in this category.

  13. Thanks for your comments, Anonymous. While the Touch does work with 802.11n it only connects using 2.4Ghz and not 5Ghz. Essentially the speed of connection matched what the 43 gets using 802.11g. The 43 also seems to have a better antenna, as I can get quite a bit farther from my router with the 43 than I can with my Touch and still maintain a good web connection.


  14. Hi Great review. Just wondering is it worth it to wait for android 3 to come out I'm looking for something like the 43 or should I just buy this. Thank you in advance

  15. The best device to match the 43 is a 43. I am enjoying mine. You might as well invest now and have access to it while you wait for 3.0.


  16. Thanks for taking the time to do this comparison!

    I was trying to decide which I wanted for quite some time then decided on the Archos 43 two days before reading this. It reassured me of my choice.

    For those who are finding it hard to get one. I found Amazon and Newegg both have stock in them. Tip....Newegg offers FREE UPS guaranteed shipping. Amazon got their's first so I am waiting 3-5 days...doh

  17. One question I have regarding the two, possibly a decision maker for many people seeing as how the touch was the number 1 selling portable gaming device last year, is how does the 43 compare in the game arena. Are the comparible gaming options for the 43. I'm still trying to decide which to invest in, and both are about the same price after the purchase of codecs from archos, and the sd card.

  18. Joshua,

    The 43 has the power to play any game that would play on a Touch. Many devs have released versions for both platforms. You need the android market hack on the 43, but once done you find emulators and thousands of other games to play. No multi-touch on the 43 though, so if that is a critical part of the game don't buy it for the 43.


  19. **Are there comparible gaming options on the 43**
    Thanks for the rapid response. Now I just need to find out if there is an option to view and edit office docs on the touch, which I believe comes standard on the 43.

  20. I went with the Archos 70 250gb. Capacitave touch screen, multi touch, pinch to zoom, and all the other gen 8 goodies. Thanks for your input :)

  21. I am confused about buying touch 4g and 43. As touch is offering skype video call support and also has a capacitive touchscreen while 43 has resistive. Does the touchscreen technology makes any difference?

    Which one is sleek?

    Primary use will be,
    Music and web browsing with video calls.

  22. The 43 is a better Music player. Strean from your home network. FLAC support. Folder and database sort/search.
    For web browsing the Touch wins with multitouch zoom and more detail thanks to its high rez screen.
    Video calls has to go to the Touch, as the 43 doesn't have a front facing camera.


  23. I find it really interesting that you never talked about the touch screens. I too have owned 3 iPod Touches and recently purchased an A43IT to dabble in Android. The resistive touch screen on the A43 makes it a total FAIL in my books no matter many more "geeky" things I can do with it over my touch. As far as the rest of your review, it's fair.

  24. The Touch Screens use two different technologies. I'm used to both. Of all the resistive screens I own and have reviewed, the latest Archos generation are the best I've seen. You have to use capacitive and resistive a little differently though. Resistive gains an advantage if you hate leaving fingerprints on the screen or need to operate it wearing gloves. Multi-touch on the Touch is an advantage, but only in a few stock apps. There are easy alternatives in the same apps on the Archos. Each has advantages, but when I add them both up it's a wash. With no experience using resistive screens I see your point. Try using a fingernail to tap instead of the pad of your finger, and it won't take long to appreciate the screen on the 43.

    And thanks for your comment.

  25. Great comparision! I'd like to know if you think the archos 70 would be a good alternative (I know its a lot bigger) but in most reviews I've seen there were more positive impressions compared to the 43.

  26. I was wondering how archos battery is using wifi and bluetooth tethering. I tried using wifi @ apple store and it seemed to last an hour.
    Also, it seems that the battery is not replaceable so is there any way to extend the life of the device once the battery goes?
    As I see it, the main advantage to the touch is the application availability and the amount of apps you can install.
    How does the archos 43 fair as far as internal memory and installing programs. I know some programs can be installed on sdcard, but many can not still and probably won't be able to for various reasons.

  27. Yes the 70it benefits from a capacitive screen, multitouch, and of course a larger screen. The downside is that you'll need a much larger pocket to carry it in and it is heavier than the 43. After that they run the same apps and support the same media formats.


  28. WiFi and Bluetooth are both big drains on any battery. I haven't done any duration tests though.

    As for replacing the battery you'll have to contact Archos. The 43 will still run when attached to an AC adapter or your PC, but that limits the portability of course.

    As for program space, I'm already getting warning on my 43 that storage space is running out. I have no idea what amount of memory is available for apps though.


  29. The Gen8 Archos flash-based devices (both A43IT and A70IT 8GB are Gen8s) have @300MB set aside for apps. The A70IT 250GB has a GB, though...

  30. Sorry for the numerous posts - forgot to respond the battery question in my previous one: my A43IT has very good battery life. Like 4DThinker, I haven't done a scientific test of it, but playing music or, as I've been using it for the past three days, reading ebooks (Amazon Kindle app), it's amazing. I've been reading an ebook on it now for a combined total of about 6 hours, with the wi-fi radio on, and am still at 79% battery remaining. During that time I have done some google searches and watched a few minutes of video as well.


  31. Just an absolutely excellent job here, thanks for your efforts as I am trying to decide between the two devices. I have owned an iPhone 3G, and currently use a Samsung Moment (Android 2.1 though I guess there's an unofficial hack for 2.2 I may try). I'm a very heavy use Google person - GMail, Google Calendar, and Google docs and tasks are very centric to what I want to use the device for, so obviously I'll need to hack into the Android Market instead of relying on Appslib.

    Other than using Google services, I primarily want to use the device to make and receive Skype calls, as, along with using a real Skype phone on my home network, I will use the touch or 43 as my mobile phone to save $100+ a month on Sprint charges. I'll also have a GSM pre-paid dumbphone for non-wifi "emergency" needs, but I expect to make and receive almost all calls over skype on the touch or 43. The only reason I'm still considering the touch is that I KNOW skype calls work well on it per reviews, though I guess you have to listen with headphones and speak into the mic - no support for blutooth headset for calls on touch I've read. For the life of me, I just can't find anyone really comment on using skype on the 43, how well it works, whether I can leave the app on in the background for receiving calls, and whether or not I can use it physically like a phone holding it to my mouth and ear, without bothering with a headset.

    Do you have any knowledge on how well this would work? Sorry for the long post but I need clarification before I buy one of these two.

  32. @Eric: The 43 has an extra low-output speaker at the top intended for use as the earpiece when used for Fring or Skype calls. Mic at the bottom. I've personally used neither though. You should ask the same question at


  33. Hi there, currently i have D3, J3 and Archos 43 under consideration for my purchase. I just order myself a Ultrasone Pro 900 and looking for a portable source for it and i need help.

    My main concerns is good audio, movies on the go, decent battery life.

    J3 - this is awesome with nice & sleek design but the downturn is the screen resolution.
    D3 - This is just nice which came into my mind at first with capacitive touch screen & good screen resolution but i heard there is lots of problem with the freezing, crash and so on.
    Archos 43 - This is cool with all the media file codec supports, nice screen size and resolution. The worrying thing i'm thinking is the audio quality, equalizer and touch screen sensitivity

    Which will be the best that suit me ?
    Oh ya in the future i might be buying an iphone4 as for my phone replacement if this help sorting out.


  34. Good audio? Any of the 3. Great audio? Either of the Cowons. Amazing audio capability? The J3.

    Movies? Both the 43 and the D3 will do HDMI-out to a HDTV. With the D3 you only get video play. With the 43 you get the whole UI.

    Decent battery life? The J3 will blow the other two away, but it doesn't have WiFi or apps. The 43 goes a little farther than the D3 between charges.


  35. Great review. Just some questions:
    1) I should use it for sheets like excel, and documents as word based. In those cases, wchich will be best?
    Better screen in 43 but capacitive in Touch, I'm not sure what's better.

    2) Is there any solution for the uncompatibility with flash in case of Ipod, to see the pages properly?


  36. Documents2Go is an app available for Android devices If you have that app then either device will work fine for Excel, Word, and Powerpoint files. I prefer the 43's screen for being LARGER, although the Touch has a higher resolution.

    The only solution for Flash on the iPod is an alternative browser. I'm not sure the name, but one of them simply passes your internet request through its own servers to convert flash to something the Touch can display.


  37. Hi, great review you have here. I have a question regarding the Archos 43IT and 70IT. Do you know if it can drive headphones of relatively high impedance?

    I have a Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro (250ohms) and it pairs well with my iPhone 4 without the need of an amp. I'm wondering if the Archos 43/70 can drive this headphone to decent volume levels.


  38. Anonymous: I don't have any comparible headphones to test my 43 or 70 with for you. The best I have are Sennheiser HD595s at 50ohms and they sound fine from either player. I also don't have an iPhone to compare with, although what I have that works well with my iPod Touch (above) works well with the 43.


  39. Hi, I really learn from your comparison.
    Is Archos43 can expand the capacity to 32GB micro SD?

    Thank you

  40. Yes, the 43 will take 32gb microSD-HC cards.


  41. Absolutely fantastic review and I love your website. It's so hard to get an objective opinion on gear these days!

    One question for you, are you aware that Samsung have a couple of new PMPs on the market (ie. the Galaxy Player Wifi 4 and 5), and do you think you'll be doing a review on these devices at all?

    I'm tossing up between an Archos 43, the Samsung Galaxy Player 4 and the Cowon D3 at the moment. My main use will be for ebook reading (must fit in jeans pocket) as well as music listening and the odd movie/game.


  42. Thanks for your compliments, Andrew. Yes, I am aware of Samsung's 4" and 5" players. I have the 4" on order but no indication of when I'll get it. Expect a detailed review a few days after it shows up.


  43. Hello, 4D. I ordered my Archos 43 IT yesterday on and was just looking at more reviews when I found this blog. Great comparison! I personally went with the Archos 43 just so I don't have to deal with itunes. I always have and always will hate itunes (it just makes things too complicated for me, I prefer the simple drag-n-drop style of file transfer) which the Archos 43 has.

    4D, I do have a question for you. I got bit by the photography bug last year and so I own a Nikon D90. This is a pretty nice camera, ultra high resolution and huge photo dimensions and file sizes. Will I be able to transfer and view these ultra high resolution photos (JPEGs) I have taken with the D90 on the Archos 43?

    What I'm asking is this: Ipod Touch 4G optimizes my photos and makes them much smaller (and there is loss of quality), will the Archos 43 display my ultra high resolution photos without any kind of optimization/compression? Thanks for your help.

  44. Yes, you can copy JPGs over to the 43 and they won't be compressed or altered (unless you use an android app to change them). The larger they are though the longer it will take for the 43 to display them when you are swiping through a set. When I have a set of photos I want to have on me to show people, I'll usually batch re-size them to fit the destination device or a 2x or 3x multiple of it's screen resolution for simple zooming in on. Leave the original files on my PC. The 43 will look like a removable storage drive to the PC, but different photo viewers available for the 43 may make their own thumbnails of the originals to speed up perusing. You'll appreciate the 43's larger size over the Touch, and its screen resolution is a pleasure to view.


  45. Hey what do you think about the 43 of being used as an music player? Does it fit your pocket and is it fast to use with music? Its kinda big....

  46. @Anonymous: The 43 is an excellent music player, and fits fine in most of my pockets. Music doesn't slow it down in any way, although updating its database with new song info each time you've added some usually takes a few seconds.


  47. Could the 43 get music from iTunes? I'm wondering cause I have tons of music on iTunes that I don't want to waste

  48. @Jackson: If your itunes music has DRM then no it won't play directly on the 43. If your songs are the more current non-DRM type then they should play fine on the 43.