Aside from Big Buck Bunny, a 20 minute cartoon provided for free by Archos, the only way to get movies and video content on to the Archos ChildPad is via USB or microSD card. In our tests we got an impressive array of file formats to play, including AVI, MKV, MOV, MP4 and even the RealPlayer Media RM format, a true collector's item (though largely pointless).
If file support is nothing short of stunning - something's that's typical of Archos gadgets, it must be said - the same doesn't apply to either the navigation or integration of the non-standard Video, Music and Gallery pre-installed media apps.
Videos are listed with thumbnails along the left-hand side, though those thumbnails often get confused, or disappear. Once playing, the navigation controls - which include scanning, playback, bookmarks and aspect ratio - physically layer-over the core Android navigation controls along the bottom, so it's not possible to change volume during a movie, or even exit straight to the home page.
To do either of those, you have to select the 'go back' option, represented by a circular arrow. It's another example of why stripping down features and offering some hastily put-together software doesn't constitute a child-centric device. Apathy towards the Archos ChildPad could quickly ensue - after a barrage of questions to parents, perhaps.
That's a shame, because picture quality is the right side of acceptable; contrast is a bit of a washout, and the viewing angle is tight, but some good work with colour and detail (from hi-def files, in particular) makes the Archos ChildPad more than acceptable as a basic video host.
Photos in the JPEG, BMP, GIF or PNG formats are highly watchable, with six to each page in Gallery, and some nice transitions between them.
There's a carousel of images along the bottom of the screen, too, though the icons are far too small for our grown-up fingers. However, the aspect ratios do appear to judder and change when swapping between images and general navigation.
Music was never going to be the Archos ChildPad's strong suit, because of its terrible speakers. We know kids prefer the sound of compressed music to 'proper' tunes, but this is going too far. Play a high-octane track - such as one with drums or guitars in it - and it sounds like an attack of insects.
However, through headphones things are different, and the plethora of filetypes we threw at the Archos ChildPad - including MP3, WAV, OGG and FLAC - all produced good volume and enough detail, though none had the depth and width that you'd expect on a reasonably good smartphone or MP3 player.
Although we liked the chance to play a song then revisit our library while it continued playing, it took us a while to then figure out how to stop the music.
Unless you download e-books or comics as dedicated apps, or a free e-book reader from the AppsLib online store, the likes of EPUB, MOBI and even plain text files are out of reach on the Archos ChildPad.
Given the short battery life, it's probably wise to avoid using it as a reading device, but that does detract from its usefulness.