If you have read my previous posts you will know that myself and Paris7 are both cameramen and are keen to use the Archos device to record our camera rushes so that we can check shots and keep an archive of important work etc.

There is huge interest in the TV and Film world as the 604 seems an ideal device, but previous Archos widescreen DVR's have had serious flaws as the widescreen pictures are badly cropped and distorted.

I was assured by Archos 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 16by9 IS STILL cropped and distorted.

Once again the 604 loses about 10% of data from both top and bottom of your carefully framed picture, 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 16by9 but again the Archos 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.

AMENDMENT; Just found out by reading the online manual that the headphone jack is also an AV out! Pictures on my 32" TV are pretty stunning even on a travel dock encoded Video.

I suspect that the ratio damage is done at the record stage anyway as the AV500 had similar problems and also displayed a cropped distorted picture when plugged into a TV.

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 predecessors and as long as you stick to 4x3 it is quite servicable as a mini colour viewfinder.

Trouble is most TV work is 16by9 and the client requires this in their DVR archive.

I will probobly keep this one, and use it as a 4x3 recorder, and put up with the frustration of having a 16by9 picture squished down to 4x3, and then displayed on the Archos widescreen with black bars either side.

Archos iffy 16x9 may only be usable for film as around 20% of headroom is generally outside the ground glass 'safe area' and can be 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 16x9 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 the firmware this time around !