The Archos 70 is the little brother of the Archos 101, another Android tablet we reviewed recently. Like the HTC Flyer and Samsung Galaxy Tab, this has a 7in screen device, but unlike those grand débutantes of the terribly trendy tablet scene the Archos 70 will leave you change from £200. The market's already packed with poor-quality Android tablets though, so will this budget number be just another one for the slag heap?
The Archos 70 is a largely plastic tablet. If it looks curiously familiar, it may be because you're familiar with Archos's 7 Home Tablet, released last year. It's the direct successor to that cheaper gadget, bumping-up the CPU from a 600MHz model to a 1GHz chip and running Android 2.2 FroYo rather than the now-aged Android 2.1.
In a rare move for an Android device, a 250GB hard drive edition of the Archos 70 is available alongside the flash memory 8GB and 16GB options. The model we looked at was the lowly 8GB edition, but if you're out for a bargain basement tablet, this is likely to be the one you're eyeing-up anyway.
Aesthetically the Archos 70 is a scaled-down version of the Archos 101. Its front features two shades of grey, a shiny screen surround and a more textured finish for the edges, which function as hand grips. In-laid into each of these grips are holes for the sound of the stereo speakers to escape out of. At maximum volume, they provide enough clout to watch some video in bed happily but they can't contend with much ambient noise. Naturally, there's a 3.5mm headphone jack on its body that can also be used as an output for external speakers.
This sits on the left edge of the Archos 70, when held in the standard horizontal position. Alongside it are the microUSB, microSD and miniHDMI ports, along with the power jack. The only other physical controls are on the other side of the device - where the volume and power buttons live.
Although the design is more utilitarian than stylish, the Archos 70 is impressively slim. At 10mm thick it's thinner than both the original Apple iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Weighing-in at just 300g too, one-handed operation is no problem, although the design positively encourages two-handed "sideways" operation.
These numbers sound impressive, but the Archos 70 lacks the cohesive build of a more expensive tablet. The reams of seams, the mix of plastic and metal construction - a brushed metal panel makes up the most part of the back - and a lack of flair ensure that it's simply not as desirable as some more expensive rivals. But as it could save you £400, the sacrifice may be worth it.
Some of the body elements that compromise its looks come in handy too. The rubber feet on the back will help to avoid scratches to the backplate and the flip-out stand is useful for movie-viewing. It's made of fairly flimsy plastic though, which is disappointing when the Archos 101 uses a much stronger metal alternative. The general build quality is good - leagues above the creaky Archos 70b eReader - but it's just rather uninspiring.