Archos: a company who have long been in the tablet industry with their range of popular MIDs, has it leapfrogged the major manufacturers, such as Samsung and LG, in the queue of tablets due to join the Apple iPad on store shelves.
The new Archos Android Tablets devices range hugely in size and several other hardware related aspects, but the one thing they all have in common is the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system planted on each of the five devices, whether it be the 2.8-inch PMP-like device, known as the Archos 28, or the 10.1-inch iPad competitor, the Archos 101.
The former is the smallest of the new range, which features 4GB of built-in storage and is Wi-Fi enabled supporting various media formats, including MP4 and WMV as well as the majority of popular music formats. It comes loaded with the latest Archos music app, which has really stepped up to the plate thanks to a polished UI and the inclusion of album artwork. Incredibly, the tiny devices feature an 800MHz ARM Cortex A8 processor, meaning it can handle probably all of the media you throw at it. The 28 will be available for $99.99 toward the end of September.
Moving on, the Archos 32 is the next step up featuring, you guessed it a 3.2-inch display and will be available for $50 more than the 28, but will hit the shelves a couple of weeks prior. Storage is doubled too, with 8GB built in, but the biggest advantage over the baby model is the built-in camera, which reportedly shoots impressive 720p video.
This offering is ultimately aiming to replace the Archos 5, and although in terms of size this thing would be seen as comparable to the Dell Streak, the lack of 3G and phone functionality says otherwise. However, the 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 processor found in this, as well as both of the bigger models, provide a great basis on which to play games and enjoy your media collection. Perhaps this is more like an Android iPod Touch, but bigger. The price point of $199 would also hint at this general area of the mobile market and the 720p-shooting camera is just a little incentive to choose Archos for your next PMP. This will hit the stores a little later than the smaller models, arriving at consumers mid-October.
This is where it all starts to get serious in terms of tablet devices. 7 inches is seen by many as the optimum size for a mobile Internet device, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and measuring just .4 inches thick it is certainly no heavyweight either. This is the first in the line to include a capacitive touch screen too and is a great size and weight for a multitude of uses, such as watching movies, browsing the web, e-book capabilities, HDMI out and a front facing camera in conjunction with preloaded video chat apps. Available for $274.99 from mid-October, this is more expensive than the Archos 7 home tablet it replaces in the Archos line-up but adds a lot of extra functionality and Android 2.2.
The premium offering in the line-up is the 10.1” Archos 101 is going to be priced modestly at $300, and again become available mid-October, but what benefits does it bring over the cheaper 7” tablet? Well, it remains thin, only adding .1” to the thickness over the 70, and is even lighter than the iPad. Plus, keeping the 1GHz processor and front-facing VGA cam, mini-USB and HDMI out, it is pretty similar in terms of what you can do. However, the included kickstand adds extra convenience and comfort when enjoying media. Other than that it is pretty similar, just bigger than the 70.
So while it is nice to have a little extra competition in the marketplace, the restrictions placed by Google mean that there are no preloaded Google apps on any of the devices and no access to the standard Android marketplace. Plus, with the lack of 3G, and perhaps less importantly phone connectivity, there is no incentive to choose any of these over the iPad, or any of the wealth of Android tablets on the way, if you are looking for something on the go.
However, replacing the range of ‘home’ tablets is exactly what these Archos Android Tablets do and the inclusion of decent processing power and accelerometers across the board, there is at least some entertainment to be had here. The price points are attractive and the form factors are neat and tidy, indeed impressive.