Just to keep you posted I returned my AV500 to dixons even though it was beyond their money back period I cited the sale of goods act as the product would not support 16by9 and to be honest the sales staff diddnt seem too surprised.
I was assured by Arcos UK that the new 604 had cured our aspect ratio problems and so I managed to grab one cheap from ebay about a month ago.
Archos have made a slightly backward step by forcing customers to buy various docks, and this has slowed me down also as I've had to wait for the travel dock to become available.
I've been playing tonight as the dock finally arrived and the new Archos is a fantastic piece of kit. The screen is larger and perfect for our purposes, and the keys and menus are far better.
Only one snag...
Yup, you guessed it... Archos 16 by 9 is cropped and distorted.
Once again the 604 loses about 10% of data from both top and bottom of screen, then for some reason stretches the remaining picture back vertically in order to fit the archos screen.
I tried recording a DVD tonight and their version of 2.35:1 has even worse problems... a huge amount of the image is lost from top and bottom anf the picture is then stretched back to an approximate 2.35:1 giving that now familiar hall of mirrors effect.
Had a go at recording Gladiator in both formats and chubby old Russell Crowe not only looks emaciated but also has no hair or chin in his close ups!
The only way to use this device without affecting the original framing is to record in 4x3. I had hoped to then display in 16 by 9 but again the Archos software lopps off the top and bottom of frame and displays a distorted image.
I cant tell what happens if the Archos recording is displayed on a TV as Archos have been very cunning, the travel dock is input only... no AV out (which you dont find out till you buy one) and I'll be damned is I'm forking out for the full AV dock until I really need it.
This is all Veeeeery frustrating as the 406 is otherwise a beautiful piece of kit. They've cured the tiny record window problem and made the graphics optional, you see a full size image of the AV source as soon as it is plugged in.
Once you tweek the power saving options to keep the backlight on it is far better than the predecessorsand as long as you stick to 4x3 it is quite servicable as a mini colour viewfinder.
I will probobly keep this one, and use it as a 4x3 recorder, 16x9 may also be usable for film as around 20% of headroom is generally outside the ground glass and ignored.
I am posting this message on the forum in the hope that the boffins at Archos will see the errors of their ways and maybe produce a firmware update to give full frame and un-distorted aspect ratios.
It is quite ludicrous that Archos continue to advertise 16 by 9 ratios when the DVR's clearly cannot support the ratio without slicing off chunks of the picture.
Even if used for more domestic purposes it is unlikely that the 604 will be used to record 'Richard and Judy' It is more likely to be used by movie buffs who will be similarly disappointed by the distorted images.
Come on Archos, please sort yourselves out and fix this software!