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Archos 101 Internet Tablet - Performance and Video

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

The Archos 101 is powered by a 1GHz ARM A8 Cortex processor, the same type used in several of last year's top-end Android smartphones including the Samsung Galaxy S. However, performance here doesn't quite match the standards set by these smartphones.

With Android 2.2 installed, there's still some lag throughout the tablet's interface, and the occasional multi-second loading blip as the Archos 101 does the computing equivalent of counting its coppers at the post office counter. It demands more patience than an iPad, but there are ways to tweak the tablet's performance. With the custom UI LauncherPro installed, this lag decreased slightly - to an extent that we quickly learned to live with.

Performance within apps is solid though. Android doesn't have the same level of high-end games as Apple's iPhone does, but the 3D games we tested had no problems running here.

Touchscreen performance is disappointing. Archos makes a big fuss about the 101's multi-touch capacitive touchscreen in the tablet's marketing blurb, but its performance is mediocre. We spent the first few hours of use convinced we were prodding a resistive panel, so limited is the responsiveness of the touchscreen. Whether it's the software or hardware at fault, the touchscreen is not sensitive enough to compete with the Apple iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab.

There's a grid pattern overlaid across the whole screen, visible when it catches the light. It's presumably part of the device's touchscreen layer and is not visible at other times, but is another indication that you're using an "affordable" device rather than a premium tablet contender.

The multi-touch gesture does work as expected though, zooming in and out of web pages, and photos within the gallery app. When browsing, the benefits of the large 10.1in screen quickly outweigh the quibbles of the less-than-perfect touchscreen - and while performance isn't exemplary, the level of lag is acceptable. This is a very good device for browsing the net while lounging in front of the TV - home ground for any ~10in tablet.

Archos's product history is firmly wedged in the personal video player sector. Before the iPod Touch offered an affordable solution for buyers looking for a small-screen video player, Archos was the top video PMP player, for a while at least. It is reassuring then to see the Archos 101 includes a wide array of codec compatibilities, including MKV, H.264 and VOB DVD rips.

Performance is good, with DVD-quality files playing with no issues. Picture quality is less impressive. Decent quality files still showed significant digital artefacting, much more than Creative's rival Ziio 7 tablet, negating the benefits of the tablet's widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio and generous screen real estate.

The screen itself is unusually dim too, with the standard brightness setting not far off the maximum. Ropey viewing angles matched with iffy brightness mean you have to be careful about how you angle the tablet. Thankfully, the commuter's video-watching pose, with the Archos 101 resting on - or held down nearby your - knees while seated gives good results. That said, the screen needs to be angled away from your face slightly to avoid losing most of the picture's detail due to the flawed viewing angles.

HarryGlass

March 21, 2011, 6:31 pm

Archos have been making tablets (or PMPs) for years, before the iPad was even a glint in Steve Jobs' eye. I've liked their ideals, they've been going somewhere nobody else really had, but their products just didn't quite manage to tempt me into a purchase; there's always been something about them that's held me back either with the software or the hardware.

Here we are now firmly into the world of the tablet, and I'm sad to say they've been lept over by Apple (and soon HP, RIM & many other Google Android devices). I'd love to fly the flag for Europe (Archos are French), but they just haven't been able to keep up, let alone take the lead with all their years of experience. Like the article says, now isn't the time to buy a tablet, come Autumn when it's a better time I'll give their next tablet a chance and hope for the best, but unless they can raise their game, I'll be looking past them yet again.

Gk.pm

March 21, 2011, 8:27 pm

Reviews of these devices just glaze over the fact that installing Android Market (and the other Google closed apps) is actually against the license of said programs. This is effectively software piracy, not unlike claiming that installing a pirate copy of Microsoft Office is fine because the computer came with Windows.

CyanogenMod already got in legal trouble with Google in the past and were forced to remove these apps from their distribution.

Google is probably just tolerating it while illegal usage numbers are low, but surely companies cannot depend on this method being around for very long, including the possibility of Google activating their remote delete and removing the lot.

BobaFett

March 22, 2011, 12:46 am

I think the problem with this device is that the 16:9 aspect ratio and 1024x600 resolution, makes for a good video playing device but not so good at browsing. 600 pixels isn't a lot of vertical space in landscape mode and I'm guessing it's useless in portrait mode.

If it serves no purpose in portrait mode, you might as well get a netbook with the same resolution and higher specification for only slightly more cost (and with a keyboard, trackpad, built-in screen cover and adjustable screen stand to boot).

Moggy58

March 22, 2011, 12:58 am

Have one of these as i wanted to try an Android tablet without to much of an outlay.
Maybe Andrew had a dodgy unit or is just a fruit fanboi ;-) because i find it performs very well and the touchscreen is fine with just the right amount of sensitivity.
The connectivity options are excellent, had both a 16GB MicroSD card in and also a 16GB USB flash drive.
There are a large number of accessories including a leather case with a keyboard which turns it into an android netbook.
Installed a matt screen protector on it from Folix, would not recommend this as its a nightmare to get it installed without any dust underneath and the matt finish makes the display very grainy and reflections are as bad as a glossy screen when outside. The touch sensitivity though was only slighlty less.
I would give the design and performance an extra mark and agree with the overall mark of 7.
With a bit of work Archos could nail this as an iPad alternative or an alternative to any tablet because it is different.

mr dollars

March 22, 2011, 6:32 am

Whilst it's nice to see something that dares to be different, in reality I can't see this form factor catching on. Surely Honeycomb is the minimum spec for a 2011 Android based tablet?

GT

March 22, 2011, 2:21 pm

"An acquired taste, it demands some nerve if you're going to take it on a morning commute stuffed full of iPad users"

Are they really that common? I've seen loads of kindles but its quite rare to encounter an ipad on way to work... maybe they're just too bulky?

Andrew_TR

March 22, 2011, 3:23 pm

@GT I find it depends a lot on the train line you're on. Loads of iPads and Kindles on my current commute! Probably fewer iPads on buses too I'd guess.

Matt2j

March 23, 2011, 4:07 pm

I thought the screen wasnt very bright and crisp. and when I had 6 aps open for more than 20 minutes I got a low memory warning. welcome to 1992.
Matt~ http://www.webmatic247.com

Luchoe

July 28, 2011, 6:44 am

i had the archos 101 for 3 months and these are the problems i observed :

- device freezes sudenly ( even after full reinitialization )
- battery takes 4 days or more to fully charge
- keyboard hard to use because of the time between typing a character and appearing
on the screen
- camera has horrible imaging quality
- after installing some apps it became extremely slow .... impossible to use
- operating system become unstable after using youtube ( even after full
reinitialization )
- non-responsive touch screen ( really exasperating )
- grid lines in screen
- high glossy screen , is hard to see anything with or without light ( the viewing
angle is too narrow )
- sometimes unit reboot by itself
- bad memory configuration , with 256 mb will never work fine ( is like having a pc
i7 with 1gb ram ).

conclusion :

bad engineering design, it can be a good toy for a children under 3 years old .... i
lost 373 bucks

sprit2001

December 25, 2011, 2:41 am

je peux pas voir les vedio ni les telecharger comment faire

Fernando Hidalgo Marchione

August 27, 2013, 8:51 am

Are really comparing a 150 pounds tablet against a 300-400 pounds iPad?

Your comments about it totally discredit your review.

abdo_mody

June 10, 2014, 7:34 pm

there is problem about read arabic language??

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