Archos 101 review - First Impressions
Archos 101 Internet Tablet
I succumbed to a touch pad! Logic would have dictated that I do like everyone else, be hip, and buy an iPad, resting on the brand's notoriety and its continuous buzz in the media. Except that for some reasons I preferred to wait for something else. And it was a good idea: Archos now released the Gen8 (read: Generation 8) series, a bunch of tablets that virtually cover all needs and sizes of screens - with the 28, 32, 43, 70 and 101 tablets). And at last, Archos fully relies on Android, the Google OS, that I already enjoy on my Galaxy S.
The Archos 101
I'll tell you upfront that the price was the deciding factor! A $300 tablet with a 10.1-inch 8GB ARM Cortex A8 1Ghz processor, a capacitive screen and the android OS, I was hooked! Added to these characteristics are other elements that Apple fans are really not used to, notably a very complete connectivity: USB, usb microphone, a slot for a SDHC compatible micro-SD card, a mini-HDMI and of course the headphone output; add to this a webcam with, as always, a complete set of compatible video formats from Archos: AVI, MP4, MKV, MOV, WMV, MPG, PS, TS, VOB, FLV, RM , RMVB, ASF, 3GP and 720p HD format support, subtitles .srt .ssa .smi .sub (good for foreign movies / series in their original versions), and audio files: MP3 CBR & VBR, WMA, WMA Pro 5.1, WAV (PCM / ADPCM), AAC, AAC + 5.1, OGG Vorbis, FLAC.
You have therefore noted: no proprietary port that we have to use. That's why 8GB of space does not scare me: adding a micro sd + usb stick from time to time, that's just fine. I watched a DivX left on my USB key, no problem.
Lighter and thinner than the iPad, you quickly forget the Archos 101 is in your bag! 500 grams (1lb) and 12mm (half an inch) thick!
The back is rather stylish with this foot particularly well integrated and very useful for placing the device as a photo frame or to watch a movie on the train.
Yep, it's a glossy display. In the sun, it will be painful. And fingerprints are there as well.
Archos comes preinstalled with AppsLib, a library of applications from the Android Market, but managed by Archos. Strangely, no direct access to Android Market. Whatever. The community released an archos apk file to install the market, that can be installed with two clicks (or two finger taps). I did it, and it works without problems! One hopes that Archos will soon understand the value of a full and complete access to the android world...
Of course, WiFi b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1 are there. I cannot yet tell you what the total battery autonomy is. In the specs, it says 10hrs with wifi, 7hrs of video. I can say that I have not yet reconnected since its first full charge and it still has 40% battery, despite fairly intensive use (games, internet, various applications, some videos).
As with a smartphone, all your applications are together in one place:
With its accelerometer, the Archos tablet has no problem whatsoever to switch from horizontal to vertical orientation or vice versa.
In portrait or landscape, widgets are always "the" android thing that I love compared to Apple iOS. Here, you can see my "news" widgets. For those of you who do not know much of android, these widgets are updated automatically.
I'm rather surprised by its stability and fluidity. The update to android 2.2 Froyo brought a real improvement in performance. Because yes, there were some bugs in 2.1: apps that had to be forced to close, files that took a long time to launch, an app that did not switch to landscape mode, etc.. Sometimes apps are not yet fully adapted for use on a touch tablet. However, so far, all the ones I used fully exploited the screen size (1024 × 600).
But I do not worry much about the application catalog. With the arrival of Dell, Samsung and other giants in the sector, the number and quality of apps can only go up!
No problems at all to browse Internet. You zoom in and zoom out by pinching because yes, it's a multitouch screen.
About Multimedia files: Archos has always been effective for playing movies or audio files. And photos scroll at your fingertip in the gallery, like on any android device.
Here, the music section with some songs pre-loaded. Clean, efficient:
By the way, tethering works perfectly with the Samsung Galaxy S. The HDMI connection to the TV also works well, quality is top, just plug and play.
While there will always be Apple fans vs fans of Android, the real question for a normal human being would be: why spend $700-$800 for an iPad when you can spend $300 for a tablet that does what it is intended for: enable one to consume information and entertainment? And if for some reason it really goes wrong, nothing prevents me from buying a new tablet in one year; I'd still be below the price of an iPad or Galaxy Tab!
In conclusion, I am for now very satisfied with my purchase. It meets my needs as I expected. And I think for my travels, the 101 will replace my macbook to watch a movie on the train, connect to a wifi spot and check my mail if necessary. You'll understand that this test is far from exhaustive, but I wanted to give you my first impressions!
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