I have owned both of these MP3 players for a while now. The Archos Jukebox Studio 20 since 2002 and the iPod nano 4G since 2008. I thought I would do a comparative review.
Form factor: The Archos is like a brick, weighing in at 10.2 oz compared to 1.2 oz for the nano. The Archos is 3.1 x 4.4 x 1.2 inches and the nano is 1.5 x3.6 x 0.24 inches. The nano fits in virtually any pocket and the Archos does not. Winner: nano
Display: The Archos has a 1.5 inch monochrome LCD screen with 112 x 64 pixels. The nano’s screen is nicer: 240 x 320 2 inch screen with full color. Both display battery level and have backlighting. Winner: nano
Capacity: The Archos is 20 GB 60 GB and the nano is 16 GB. Neither can use this full amount after formatting. This is a nice amount of capacity. Winner: Archos.
Ease of Use: The nano uses iTunes which is a huge resource hog. While it is powerful and in some ways easy to use, it also greatly limits how songs are stored. The Archos is simplicity itself. You just put MP3 files on its hard drive and it will play them. If you have a bunch of singles, you can put them all in the same folder regardless of who the artist is. Since I have more music than either player will hold, I have to go through and check the songs I want to sync to the nano, but then these won’t play in iTunes since it skips songs that aren’t checked. With the Archos you just move songs over until it is full. If you want more room, delete some of them and put others on there. Both the iPod and Archos support playlists. Once the songs are on the player, the nano has the better interface and it is easier to navigate to songs, though you have to crank the touch wheel a lot to get through all of the artists or songs. With the Archos you can avoid some of that by using subfolders. With iTunes you are also constantly having to download 80 GB update files. Winner: Archos
Headphones: I got rid of the headphones on both of these. The nano headphones don’t fit in my ears correctly and the Archos headphones were some silly behind the neck things. I like my Sennheiser CX-300 headphones, which can now be had for less than half of what I paid for them a couple of years ago. Winner: tie.
Battery life: This is probably about the same. Realistically I can get 10 hours out of either player. However, once the nano’s battery no longer holds a charge, it is time to get a new nano. If the Archos batteries go bad, you can buy 4 more AA batteries. Winner: Archos.
Price: The Archos was $279 when I bought it and the iPod was $250. I had to pay tax on the nano which increased the cost and I wound up buying an AC adapter separately since one wasn’t included. The Archos came with its own AC adapter in the box. Winner: tie.
Sound quality: I think the nano sounds better than the Archos, but that might be my imagination. If the Archos gets bumped a lot while playing it will eventually skip whereas the nano has no moving parts and never skips. Winner: nano.
In conclusion, both of these are good players with some pros and some cons. The nano won in three categories and the Archos won in three categories while they tied in a couple of others. Therefore it is a tossup.