Archos 80 G9 8" Tablet Review
Archos Turbo Tablet 80 G9 User Review
I'm not the most technical guy when it comes to the 'new' computing technology, so when I decided to buy a tablet I went through a steep learning curve to make sure I bought the right thing for my needs.
Those needs were quite basic and simple - internet on the go (mostly for emails), VOIP capability (voice over internet) and a few minor feature such as decent video playback and simple word processing. The Archos 80 G9 fits the bill and then some, providing more features than some tablets costing twice as much.
This tablet is an 8" model, which are relative newbies in the tablet range, and I like the feel of it. The 10" models can seem a bit bulky and the 7" devices are a bit limiting on screen size, so the Archos 8" is a great compromise.
The tablet is handsome, comfortable to hold and well made. I didn't have the impression that it was a low end product at all,and well worth it's price which equates to around $200 (I bought it from Amazon France). This was my first time a tablet, so had to rapidly adjust to navigating a touch screen with my finger and let the Android OS (Operating System) guide me. By the way, basic navigation is intuitive with a few basic icon to negotiate - perfect for a non-techie like me.
The Inputs And Outputs - Where The Various Cables And Extra Devices Go
It's recommended that the tablet is fully charged before first use and a dedicated charger is provided - one end connects by standard USB connector to a mains charging adapter and the other holds a micro USB connector which fits into the left hand side of the tablet (where most everything else is, except for the 3G connection and volume control - more about these later.)
The 'holes' along the left side include a mini-HDMI which outputs to a TV, a stereo headphone jack (great sound), a tiny built in microphone and a micro SD card slot. The power button is also on this side - a long touch gives you screen options for sleep or total power off. A short touch on the button puts the device in standby. NOTE: If you power down completely, theunit doesn't charge, so leave it on standby.
Audio And Video
There is a camera mounted towards the user on the left of the screen, but the resolution at is nothing to write home about - OK for Skype use. I suppose this is one of the things that are down graded in the interest of producing a low cost tablet, and for most people it's probably not an issue, as excellent quality HD video cameras are almost universal nowadays.
As you would expect from a small tablet computer, the sound is quite thin and tinny - not surprising given the size of the speaker, which is mounted on the back in near the center. I use mini USB stero speakers for audio and video playback, and I'll demonstrate the complete set up later on in this review. The video playback quality is excellent.
Internet Connection - WIFI or 3G
Unusually amongst tablets, the Archos 80 G9 has the option for WIFI or 3G and is chosen in the settings by the user. Other manufacturers have either/or, so this is refreshing. For example, I can switch to WIFI and use a hot spot to save my bandwidth. WIFI set up is easy and intuitive.
The 3G feature is great and adds a lot of flexibility to the tablet. It's situated on the back and the slot accepts the Archos 3G stick which connects with a standard USB connector.
This standard USB connector can also be used to expand the tablet's capabilities and I'll talk about that later.
The 3G stick isn't included, but available as an optional extra. 3G internet connection capability is not available for those living outside Europe.
For Europeans, the stick gives internet access almost everywhere and it's possible to insert SIM cards from any service provider, again maximizing user convenience, as you can search around for the best deal. Isn't competition wonderful?
Storage Capacity And Speed
The Archos 80G9 Turbo is a flash device, which means no hard drive guys! There is a 250G hard drive model, but the price shoots up. In my opinion, this is not big deal, as I wanted a portable device for occasional use when traveling. However, due to micro SD card slot and extra USB connection possibilities, it is easily possible to add an extra 64G using cards or USB memory.
The tablet was fast enough for my needs and the 1.5mHz processor performed well while navigating between application windows, or playing video. I haven't compared with other devices - my observation is simply based on my experience with my desk top and laptop.
The tablet takes some hours to fully charge, and once charged the length of usage is impressive, with a couple of provisos. Playing video with a screen luminosity set at around 65% (easily done in settings) and using on-board speaker, battery life came in at just over 7 hours, which delighted me. I do know that laptop batteries (particularly the Chinese variety) lose their charge retention capability over two to three years, but I'm not sure how the Archos batteries perform in this respect.
Bear in mind that most people will watch video with head phones, as the small speaker sound is not brilliant, although it is adequate. Even though they are small, headphones do take extra power to drive them, so the battery life will be reduced.
I prefer to use external USB speakers when watching video, particularly if there are more than one viewers. In this case, the battery life is further reduced and you might want to consider connecting the charger when using extra devices such as USB speakers. (USB devices take 5V power from the computer itself and don't have a separate power supply.)
This is the basic Turbo model of the 80 G9, which has no hard drive, just 8Gb of internal flash memory. Installed software takes around 3 Gb, leaving a little over 5Gb for storage.
The hard drive model takes care of the storage issue with a huge 250Gb capacity!
Case And External Keyboard
My wife also wanted to use the tablet when traveling, particularly for writing notes. The touch screen keyboard is not particularly convenient for typing, except for short commands and text messages, so I looked around for a combined case and keyboard that wouldn't break the bank.
I settled on the model shown, which was cheap and came complete with two USB adapter cable, one of which was suitable for the Archos connection. The tablet is gripped by a spring loaded clamp at the top and all in all looks quite handsome and business-like. Once the keyboard is hooked up, the screen keyboard becomes disabled automatically and you can just type away.
Strange thing is, the OS only supports an English QWERTY style keyboard and not a French type (I live in France.) It's not that important, but a bit weird as Archos are a French company.
This almost a throw away item at the the price, but it greatly enhances the usability of your tablet. It protects against knocks and holds it securely by adjustable spring loaded clamps. The keyboard connects by a standard USB connector and detection is automatic, disabling the touch screen keyboard on connection - just type!
My Set Up - The Archos 80 G9 'Power' Work Station
On the face of it, there is just the one micro USB connector on the side of the tablet, so what if I want to connect a USB stick, hook up my USB speakers, attach my USB keyboard and charge the tablet at the same time? Well, the answer is the rear 3G stick connector. Basically, it is a standard USB connector which can be used as such. If a 3G stick is attached, it is detected and configured for internet connection. If a USB stick is attached, it is seen as, and can be used as, an extra storage device or whatever you like.
A basic USB hub is a must for any lap top or tablet where more than basic functions are needed. It facilitates the addition of a keyboard, USB memory stick and a mouse.
Using a USB hub turned my Archos tablet into a really useful portable work station.
When not needing 3G internet connection, I connect an adapter to the rear USB port as shown, which then connects to a hub. This is where I can connect my speakers and my keyboard, leaving the side micro USB port free for charging.
Adding a micro SD card completes the set up, which acts a mini work station and media center. Not bad for a little tablet!
This neat unit sports a decent quality set of stereo speakers and also 5 USB connectors for adding other accessories like memory sticks or a mouse.
Like most tablets, the on-board speaker has a rather thin sound - headphones or speakers improves the sound quality tremendously.
USB speakers are low powered devices that don't need an extra power supply, using the 5V supply from the computer.
Did You Know You Can Kindle With It?
The Differences Between A Kindle Reader And A Tablet.
Yes, it's true - you don't even need a Kindle reader to benefit from the technology. With the Archos 80G9 (or any any tablet) you can read all Kindle publications with a free application available here - Kindle free application for Android.
There are several differences between a Kindle reader and a tablet - a reader is not just a cheap tablet and it's functions are limited. Some things it doesn't have:
3G Internet capability
Memory expansion slot
As usual, it depends on your needs, but in generally its worthwhile paying a little extra rather than wishing for those extra useful functions later on when its too late!