Archos has been in the Android game for awhile now, but I never really gave them much respect and generally considered their first-gen Android tablets as cheap (to put it nicely). However, after playing with their new lineup of Internet tablets at IFA this week, I think I’m ready to fork over my cash for one and become an Archos fanboy.
For quite some time now I have wanted to purchase an Android tablet, but nothing has fit what I was looking for. The Samsung Galaxy Tab is hands-down the best effort yet, but I’ve really been wanting something a little bigger (like 10 inches) and I’m not too thrilled about purchasing it from a carrier.
It feels like someone read my mind because the new Archos 101 is exactly the device I have been waiting for. If you are looking for an affordable tablet to browse the web and consume media, then check out my top reasons for considering an Archos.
1. Size Matters
With five different models soon available, Archos gives you the choice of display size. Their new tablets will feature screens that measure 2.8, 3.2, 4.3, 7.0, and 10.1 inches.
Each tablet is also incredibly sleek. The Archos 101 (my fav) has a thiness of 12 mm and weighs only 480 g. I was amazed at how light the device felt in my hands (compared to other tablets) and the build quality was rock solid.
2. Android 2.2 with Flash Player 10.1
The demos we got to sample were still running Android 2.1, but Archos is already working on Android 2.2 and expects to have it ready around launch time. Archos also confirmed they have partnered with Adobe and will make Flash Player 10.1 available.
Each tablet has an ARM Cortex processor (ranging in speeds from 600 MHz to 1 GHz) and they will all support Flash 10.1 meaning you can view your favorite online videos and access the growing library of optimized Flash (and Air) apps and games.
The Android build is mostly stock, with several Archos apps and widgets thrown in. It’s nice to see a manufacture stick with vanilla Android instead of creating some custom wacky skin.
Unfortunately, Google will not certify these devices because they don’t meet all their standards (no GPS, no cellular radio, etc.) which means you will not find the Google apps or official Android Market. Normally that would kill the deal for me, but in this case I don’t mind because I’m buying one mainly just to browse the web.
As an alternative, Archos will ship their tablets with the AppsLib market. I don’t have much experience with AppsLib, but I was told the number of developers and apps was quickly growing. There are quite a few devices out there that Google will not certify, so it appears AppsLib could become the lead alternative market once these tablets hit the street.
3. Pricing and Availability
Tablet prices range from $99 up to $349. If you opt for the 10.1 inch model with 8 GB of internal storage, it will only set you back $299. It sounds like the 7-inch Galaxy Tab is going to retail around $600, so I really surprised to find out Archos’ larger offering can be had for half.
Best Buy will be one of the retail partners, so it will be really easy to walk into your local store and pick one up. I was told the 10 incher has a launch date of October 15th and it’s possible you could see the smaller ones before that.
4. No Contracts
Maybe my favorite reason of all, there are no lame carrier contracts when purchasing an Archos tablet. I like being able to hand over my money up front and not have to deal with any monthly charges to use my device. All models include WiFi (b/g/n) so you easily tether it to your phone and still be connected anywhere you travel.
The 7 and 10 inch Archos tablets are loaded with some unique expandability options which allow you to connect with multiple devices.
- A full HDMI port is included for video out, so there is no need to purchase some special micro cable.
- A full size USB host allows you to plugin keyboards and mice.
- Bluetooth 2.1 EDR is included, also with support for keyboards.
- A micro SD slot allows expansion up to 32 GB.
Maybe I’m a unique customer, but I think there is definitely a group of us that want an affordable Android tablet to use around the house and have no need for an always-on cellular connection. Archos delivers that device and I was sold the moment I held one in my hands.
I’m just barely scraping the surface of what these tablets can do and I encourage you to visit the official Archos site and browse around. Check out the hands-on video I filmed with Will from IntoMobile and let us know what you think.
Would you consider purchasing an Archos tablet? If you think the devices are lacking, what other features would you like to see included?