On the downside, this is a resistive screen rather than a capacitive one, which means controlling it with your finger isn’t quite as easy as it could be. To be fair, Archos has produced one of the best resistive screens I’ve used, but it still falls foul of being slightly sticky, and I often find myself selecting something random when I’m trying to scroll down a list. This isn’t a deal breaker by any means, but it does make the Archos 5 Internet Tablet slightly frustrating to use at times.
Another frustration is the accelerometer, which is somewhat erratic, to put it mildly. The orientation is supposed to switch from landscape to portrait as you turn the device, but I constantly find it switching randomly for no apparent reason. To be fair, this problem has improved significantly after the many firmware updates, but it’s still there, and still annoying when I find myself having to turn the device through 90 degrees for no good reason.
While I’m on the subject of issues with the hardware, the Archos 5 Internet Tablet can also be incredibly slow in operation. I often find myself waiting for what seems like an age after making a selection. Even something simple like pressing the Back or Home buttons can leave the Archos 5 thinking for a while before responding. Considering that there isn’t much on my device other than the core applications, I can only assume that this will get worse if you start to install more apps.
It has never been easier to install new apps to an Archos device, because this is the first PMP that the company has produced that runs Google Android. Just like the plethora of mobile phones that sport the Android platform, the Archos 5 Internet Tablet can access and download a whole library of apps via the AppsLib store. It comes with a base suite of Android apps installed, some more useful than others, but the real win is the ability to download apps that suit you, just like with an iPhone or iPod touch.
If you’re an Android user you’re probably wondering why this device doesn’t use the Android Market to download apps like every other Android device. Well the answer is that the Archos 5 Internet Tablet can only use Android apps that are specifically designed for it, which kind of limits the usefulness of the Android implementation in the first place. As things stand, the level of Android support on offer for the Archos 5 is fairly limited, and while this will no doubt improve with time, I doubt it will ever compete with what’s available via Android Market.