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Archos 5 Internet Tablet review



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Archos 5 Internet Tablet
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  • Archos 5 Internet Tablet
  • Archos 5 Internet Tablet
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Our Score:


You may be wondering why it has taken so long for me to review the Archos 5 Internet Tablet, and considering that I attended the launch event back in September, you’d be forgiven for assuming that I’d forgotten about this device. The truth however, is that I have been using the Archos 5 Internet Tablet for the past couple of months, but it is only now that I feel it is worthy of a review.

Why so? Well, to be perfectly frank, when I first received this device it simply didn’t work properly – it refused to output audio properly via headphones, it locked up and crashed all too frequently, it stopped playing video files mid flow, stating that the file format wasn’t supported when it clearly was, and it had a nasty habit of spending hours checking the hard disk (which is actually solid state memory by the way), leaving me with no media player for my entire train journey.

However, a couple of months and many firmware updates later, the Archos 5 Internet Tablet is finally a device that’s worthy of its specification. In its current state I can honestly say that this is a very impressive personal media player with a feature set that other devices can only dream of. Unfortunately the early teething problems that I experienced with the Archos 5 Internet Tablet are not unusual for the brand, which is why I chose to wait a little while before tackling the review.

Of course I could have reviewed it with the original firmware, but experience told me that there would be numerous updates in the early life of this device that would, for the most part, solve the litany of problems that plagued it in its formative days. Looking at the big picture though, where this review will stand forever, it made more sense to give you an idea of what this device was really capable of. That aside, Archos as a company really needs to start shipping products that are stable and usable from day one, rather than leaving it to early adopters to perform quality assurance duties!

Looking at the hardware, it’s clear that this is a serious portable media player. There was a time when Archos devices were all about features, with design seeming like a distant afterthought, but the Archos 5 Internet Tablet looks fantastic and feels great in the hand too. The device is dominated by the 4.8in screen, which is a real beauty – the colours are rich and vibrant, while blacks are surprisingly deep, making this a truly excellent movie machine. Add to that the excellent viewing angle, and the Archos 5 Internet Tablet can happily entertain more than one person.

Alexander Tsavalos

January 4, 2010, 6:44 am

I slight correction concerning why Android Market isn't available (yet) on this device. The Archos screen has a resolution of 800x480, which is not natively supported by the version of the Android OS it ships with. It's this lack of official support that prevents Google from allowing access to it's core apps and market, so this is why Archos had to design apps specifically for it. Support for this resolution was incorporated into later versions of the Android OS (versions 1.6 and above). Archos are due to release the updated Android OS in the next few days and with it the inclusion of the Android Market (and maybe even the google apps).


January 4, 2010, 7:25 am

bit of an overly frank intro paragraph that.

so you saying if its rubbish you wont review it,bad reviews hurt your website,whilst letting chums by blindly hurts no-one.


January 4, 2010, 3:33 pm

Betelgeus, it sounds more like he was waiting until the device was ready to be reviewed. There'd be no point releasing a review early, slating it badly for having so many bugs only for the bugs to disappear a couple of months and firmware updates later. Think of it this way -- a review released a week after it was released would be relevant for a few months, but then it would be out of date for the rest of the device's life.

Eddy Hall

January 4, 2010, 4:37 pm

@betelgeus: I agree, it would be better if Archos released products with great firmware & software stability and functionality out of the gate. But they don't tend to, so rather than having a review that needed to be updated with further releases, let's get an accurate one after they have made their updates.

Reviews are not live document. They take a snapshot in time. If you take a photo when people aren't ready, you wouldn't keep it. It's not representative.


January 4, 2010, 4:51 pm

nice in-depth review, Riyad, thanks ;-)


January 4, 2010, 7:56 pm

@betelgeus – Errr no, I’m afraid you’ve got completely the wrong end of the stick. I have no problem saying that a product is poor if it is so, but as has been pointed out by AlexMck and Eddy Hall, writing a review based on the initial release firmware would have meant that the review was completely unrepresentative of the device a month or so later.

And no, bad reviews don’t hurt my website in any way shape or form. The point is that experience told me – that’s experience from being a technology journalist for the past fifteen years or so – that there would be a flurry of firmware updates shortly after release of this device, so I waited a little while. Now, if you’re suggesting impropriety there, why not ask yourself why I needed to start the review the way I did at all. I could have not mentioned that there were all those problems early on, which surely would have made Archos far happier.

I can guarantee that had I reviewed this device back in November with the original firmware, right now there would be a plethora of readers telling me that many of my complaints had now been addressed and that the review wasn’t a fair assessment of the product.

As I said in the review, and as Eddy Hall reiterated, Archos should not expect early adopters to bug check their devices, but this is often the case. So, I decided to review the device once it functioned properly, but made a point of highlighting the fact that it was far from perfect out of the box. That way, the review stands the test of time, but readers are still made aware of the early problems.


January 4, 2010, 10:28 pm

@Riyad: I can't believe you actually had to spend time explaining that. You must get pretty tired of these comments sections sometimes...

To my mind, it's this kind of transparency that helps set TR apart from the crowd and some of us really appreciate it.


January 4, 2010, 11:19 pm

err chris no...

just type archos 5 internet tablet into google and you get reviews dating back to september,i would rather TR reviewed at time of release stating how it was and mentioning firmware updates may improve things.

would you rather come here to see things reviewed 4 months later than anyone else.

many products are released in beta form these days,look at the furore over ssd's.

i would rather be informed at the time with updates as and when.


January 5, 2010, 3:55 am

@betelgues – there may be people claiming to have “reviewed” the Archos 5 Internet Tablet in September, but all they did was have a quick play with one at the launch event, as I did…


In fact, if you actually look at the “reviews” you’re citing from September, pretty much every one of them is a news report or a quick hands on from the launch, just like my piece above.

Actual review samples were not available until the end of October, so anyone who claims to have reviewed it prior to then had spent very little time with the device at all. And I know from first hand experience that those early devices didn’t even have the full feature set enabled.

Proper, detailed reviews started to appear in December, and had I not been quite so busy on the run up to Christmas, I probably would have posted this review a few weeks back, but instead I had to take time out over Christmas to get it polished off before flying out to CES.

As for products being released in beta form – I have never reviewed any product until it is in full production form, anything prior to that will get a preview, without scores of conclusions. Again, many other publications will run so called full reviews of preproduction samples in a bid to be first and grab traffic, but I don’t feel that does the reader much service.

Kevin Penwarden

January 6, 2010, 5:19 am

Great review - have to concur, more or less, on your observations

I have a 160GB (HDD) model and have found it a wonderful convergence device, but with typical Archos quirks. That said, as is their form, Archos have released a flurry of constructive firmware updates, and the platform is solid and dependable.

I have owned a variety of PMPs in recent times, the last few all being Archos. The A5A is comfortably the most rounded of recent devices, and I feel that this reveiw was accurate, informative, fair and balanced.


January 6, 2010, 6:12 pm

Nice review, good to see TR reviews getting a bit longer. I think the extra detail over 3 page reviews is useful.

Funny how people complain about a review. I mean it's not like TR have to review any particular product. Sure this review could have come out earlier - and then been updated - but it's fine to come out now as better late than never and this is the product you'll get if you buy it now.

But with CES pumping out a lot of tablets I'd hold off buying something like this until we know what's available at the end of the week.


January 7, 2010, 3:39 pm

of course people would buy it, but only some at best if not few... why ? what would you think it were a smart phone ? would you be more anxious to buy it despite the big screen ?


January 8, 2010, 11:36 pm

Hey, does this properly support multiple audio formats in .mp4 containers or .mkv? It supposed to, as in, it would say use a vorbis stream over DD. What about multiple subtitle support? That's a handy feature the itouch thankfully supports.


September 7, 2010, 12:53 am

Good Review Riyad. I was just wondering if the the hard disk variety of the Archos 5 internet tablet would be any slower than a solid state memory version, as I am considering getting one but don't really know which version to get, either the 64GB or the 500GB.


December 28, 2012, 11:53 am

I bought one of these for Christmas, for my son, who is Autistic and loves you tube, only to discover that it does not support you tube and he can not use it to access videos this way! Anyone got any advise as to a similar free service he could use or any way of enabling him to use you tube

Ben Wharton

January 11, 2013, 9:01 pm

I've had the same problem, and I'm going to try to solve it by hacking it to a later android version... but that's not really practical advice and I'm only doing it as a little project of mine.

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