Archos claims that the 101's battery will last for seven hours when playing video, or up to 36 hours for music. This is significantly below the iPad's rock-solid 10 hours of battery, but Archos's figures aren't too far off the real-life results. It managed between six and six and a half hours of video playback, with Wi-Fi enabled. It's enough for two or three movies, and this was just off the tablet's highest brightness setting - although this is what you'll want to use for movie playback anyway.
The Archos 101 arrives at a tricky time. Not only are the first waves of Android 2.3 Gingerbread and 3.0 Honeycomb tablets about to arrive, the first iPad has also been given a price cut ahead of the iPad 2's arrival.
Now £329, the iPad retails for just £50 more than the recommended retail price of the 8GB Archos 101, and just £30 more than the 16GB version. This makes the Archos a tough sell. It offers greater flexibility than the iPad, with expandable memory, a built-in miniHDMI slot and virtually all of the customisation available to a vanilla Android device. However, in the trade-off you also get an inferior screen, equipped with a much less responsive touchscreen, a less attractive design and more problematic performance.
It's also stymied by its video-playing issues. When video-watching is one of the key functions of this device, why is its playback quality so mediocre? We can't think of a decent excuse - while this is an early tablet, it's also part of a wider Archos video-player series that has been about for years.
Now is not a great time to buy a tablet, but even with its array of problems the Archos 101 is a reasonable, if lesser, alternative to the first-gen Apple iPad and one of the best 10in Android tablets available. If you can stand to wait a couple of months before buying a tablet, though, do.
The Archos 101 is a little unwieldy for one-handed use, has an average screen and slightly unresponsive touchscreen, for a capacitive model, but with a tweak or two it's a very versatile and useful entertainment device. We'd recommend waiting for the next generation of tablets to arrive before making a buying decision though, especially when the first-gen iPad's price drop shows that prices could tumble significantly.