Firestore versus Archos.

fs100.jpgar601v2.jpgRiddle me this, caped crusader…

If I want to capture video
direct to hard drive
in a pocketable recorder

I could pay a lot or a little,
then get a little or a lot.
So which do I order?


Well, lets’ see:

For nearly $2000, ‘s FS100 gives me:
100g hard drive,
hard to read monochrome screen with deep blue background,
no video preview,
no internal video playback

For $382 (& free shipping) the Archos 605 gives me:
160g hard drive
4.3″ full color 800X480 touchscreen
the ability to see video being recorded into the Archos
video, audio and still playback of more than 13 different formats
Just half an inch thick

Okay, yes, the Firestore is engineered to accept professional production formats and wrap them in various AVI or QuickTime envelopes to facilitate nearly immediate editing. The Archos only records standard def video to MPEG-4- but jeez, with a 160g hard drive, I can record 400 hours of video.

So let me ask you, if I made a clunky-big hard drive recorder with an LCD screen that was cutting-edge in 1978, would it be worth $2000 today? Better yet, do you think it wold cost $1600 to license and engineer the codecs the Firestore has into the Archos? Oh, wait, I’m forgetting the value of the drop-dead gorgeous full-color LCD touch screen and the ability to play back video content from within the device!!!


How much would it cost Focus Enhancements to add that screen to the Firestore?

So how can Archos make so many different models, and change them so often, and still charge so little?
The R&D to design, manufacture, license, build, ship and manage so much different, ever-changing hardware… and still make a profit, means that professionals who settle for technology from 1978, for ungodly prices, that refuses to change, or be updated or advance after how many years… we are being had. Taken to the cleaners.



Actual photo of my Firestore screen in use.




It’s time to stand up and demand professional products that aren’t a joke compared to the technology available to consumers from any electronics store, for one fifth the cost of our pro gear. Demand a color screen. Demand video playback. Today, video decks have screens that let you know the signal is making it into the deck. Why not the Firestore?

Either that, or contact Archos and ask them to add a Firewire input and accept DV, HDV andmapower.jpg DVCPRO signals.

For something really wonky, there’s the MaPower 2.5″ hard drive enclosure which serves to only copy flash memory cards to hard drive: CF I/II, MD, SM, MS, MS-Pro SD, Mini-SD, MMC Card, XD, etc. But the screen on this $42 enclosure looks like it could easily be better than the one on the $2000 Firestore.

Only by demanding what you deserve will you get it; because it’s clear they are perfectly willing to never update the screen and playback capability of the hardware, and continue to sell it to you at ungodly prices.

It’s time for a change.



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7 thoughts on “Firestore versus Archos.

Add yours

  1. Well stated Anthony! I’m a Firestore user too and am shocked at how much they cost and how little features they have. At bare minimum give me the ability to upgrade my 40GB unit with a new, larger hard drive.

  2. I completely agree. Once I had thought about getting one of those portable PVR (DVR, whatever) and just recording the audio/video through analog. But the capability of the Firestore and products like it (which are few and far between) is so nice. I don’t care so much about the ability to playback on the device. I can either connect it to the camera and playback through that or to a computer. That is the standard computers and devices like the firestore use for capture and playback.

    So, lets list the features of the firestore for nearly $2000 brand new from teh factory (cheaper if you go to ebay, amazon, etc): firewire, ability to record at different frame rates and VFR, 24, 25, 30, etc (and some of us want that 24 FPS ability for various reasons!), various codecs. Now codecs is a tense topic but very important. Quicktime, AVI, MPEG, and or what ever a portable DTE (direct to edit) device has helps out and the ability to record to the formats with as little or no compression as possible. The reason you may be able to record 400hours of video onto a 160GB archos is because of the high compression/low resolution combination which means the video will look horrible if you’re trying to make a movie. True DTE’s have their place. Should the be so expensive; absolutely not. They should be more inline with things like the archos pvr/dvr but not the same price. If a brand new firestore was being sold for more like $500 to $1000 which other profession DTE’s often are, then I would be more likely to get them, but until then, I’ll just have to dream.

  3. You make good points about the specific features the Firestore offers. Also, because of the lack of competition, it’s clear that there isn’t really enough market to support numerous competitors that would drive product advancement to where we want it.

    Still, though, have you ever seen a media recording device with such a basic LCD display that has hardly been improved in all the years since its inception? It’s a shame, really.

  4. Excellent points, Anthony. I’ve used one of the older Firestores and while the idea and usefullness of these products are immensely cool, even compared to today’s HDD and solid-state based cameras, their prices and UI are completely unacceptable.

    For what it’s worth, I sent email to Archos with a link to your blog post. :)

  5. In working on this article, I spoke to Firesore and they indicated that the LCD screen is much improved over the earliest versions. While I can’t discount that- I do not have one of every Firestore ever made to do my own comparison- our point is that, even the cheapest, under $100, consumer media player has a better screen.

    This $70 Zen has JPEG video playback and a 1.5″ OLED screen. You’re not going to critically assess video quality with it, but with a screen like this (OLED draws very little power compared to LCD) you can make sure your Firestore is recording video, that you have the right white balance, playing back the clip you want is easy, and, most of all, all the menus would be so much easier to see at all angles, in all kinds of conditions.

    Why Firestore is not providing professionals with better tools is: a) because continued sales prove they don’t have to, b) because it costs more and reduces their profit. In the end, despite how truthful those reasons are, both reasons are just shameful.


  6. I have often wondered why Apple discontinued the Firewire connection for the iPod. Seems to me the 160GB iPod with video in would be the perfect device to make FireStore re-consider its position in the marketplace.

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