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Archos G9 101 - Android Gingerbread, Apps and Performance

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

6

The Archos G9 101 is the first Archos tablet to use version 3.2 Honeycomb of Google's Android operating system. Although it has produced more than a half-dozen tablets using the OS, this is the first one to use software intended for tablets. Crazy, isn't it?

The result is that this is easily the least compromised Archos tablet yet. It doesn't feel as though the software has been stretched to fill the screen's 10.1 inches, a vibe the first Archos 101 occasionally suffered from. The design philosophy of Android Honeycomb is largely the same as it is in the smartphone 2.x edition of the software, though.Homeycomb

It grants you homescreens that you dump widgets and shortcuts onto - these are your virtual playgrounds - as well as a scrolling apps menu that holds all your apps in icon form. Plenty of widgets don't quite look right yet on a tablet, but some goodies are starting to seep through, such as HD Widgets. The G9 devices, the 101 and 80, are the first Archos Android tablets to give you Android Market access as standard, and it's what makes the 101 G9 a viable alternative to more upmarket rivals. While it doesn't feel "fancy", you can do everything you can with a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 here - and more besides, as we'll find out later.

Performance isn't perfect, though. Android Honeycomb has been available within tablets for more than six months, but we're yet to see a Honeycomb device that isn't fairly buggy and prone to unexpected glitches. The Archos G9 101 is worse than most. The most noticeable foibles here are the moments of unresponsiveness. Occasionally, the touchscreen simply refuses to repond for brief intervals. It might be argued that the 512MB of RAM is the bottleneck (most Honeycomb tablets have 512MB), but these never feel like brief load times - rather the products of under-optimised software. It's as if the G9 101 has fallen asleep with its eyes open. It's even picky about whether it responds to the power button, refusing to come out of sleep mode like a spotty teenager refusing to get up.

Archos G9 101

Power on tap is good - day-to-day performance isn't so hot though

This could also be down, in part, to the processor, but not because of its speed. The G9 101 uses a dual-core 1GHz Texas Instruments processor, rather than the Tegra2 model seen in the vast majority of Honeycomb tablets. This isn't the reference model for Android 3.x - the Tegra2 chipset is - and the differing architecture can't have helped. When tested using the AnTuTu benchmarking tool, it performs roughly as well as the Motorola Xoom, a Tegra2 tablet with 1GB of RAM, scoring 4753 points. The last affordable dual-core tablet we tested, the Time2Touch HC701A, scored just 2870.

If you can cope with the odd pause and moment of unresponsiveness, the Archos G9 101 has the power to handle high-powered Androids app and games easily. However, we found the erratic behaviour a continued annoyance, rather than something you just get used to. Hopefully Archos will remedy this with a software update. But for now this is buggier than the other Honeycomb tablet's we've tested.

Luan Bach

June 30, 2011, 5:59 pm

Any idea of how much RAM in the G9 devices ? One big contributor to the G8 devices feeling very sluggish is the 256MB of RAM they have. Not to mention just 256MB of Flash space for applications.

Andrew_TR

June 30, 2011, 6:21 pm

That's a good point. No, we're not sure yet - it's one of the specs Archos hasn't released, even though the "full specs" are available on the Archos website.

Arctic Fox

July 3, 2011, 10:07 am

@Luan Bach

Archos are not saying:

http://www.archos.com/products/gen9/specs.html?country=us&lang=en

and I note that that question is being posed in Archos forums by fans of their devices and the said fans are getting a bit irritated by Archos' coyness on the issue.
I have to say that I am interested in this tab but not if the producer is not prepared to come clean on *all* the specs.

Luan Bach

October 25, 2011, 2:30 pm

Disappointing but fair review I think. We've got he G9 80 in the office for development purposes and all of the software glitches and build quality problems mentioned here applied to it as well. Especially the touch "deadness", it annoyed the hell out of me when trying to do page turns and typing as it regularly missed touches. It also has a real problem coming out of "deep sleep" mode as Archos calls it, the device seems to have crashed every time so far for me and required a hard reset. Considering that this happened on the G8 as well I guess Archos developers have not learned their lessons.

The 4:3 aspect ratio is better though for reading pdf and comics. Though it gave me eye strain after a couple of hours. I wish manufacturers would make a large screen eink device.

Our G9 80 has a the common problem with "screen ripples" that is affecting the G9 80. Does it exist on the G9 101 too ?

Andrew_TR

October 25, 2011, 5:32 pm

I had heard about the screen rippling on the 80. Didn't notice anything here, although the odd momentary flashes on white when tapping on it are odd.

I was a bit disappointed too. After having tried out the units a few months ago, I was hoping they could really pull it off. That the other tablets are coming down a lot (probably because of poor sales) really doesn't help either.

Fingers crossed Archos will fix the narcoleptic touchscreen with an update - I think it may be because they re-wrote the memory management within the device, to compensate for "only" having 512MB of RAM.

amd444

October 26, 2011, 11:36 pm

this looks much better than the old version, would it be possible to plug a normal USB memory stick in to the 3G dongle socket and use it for additional storage instead of the actual 3g dongle? just a thought!

Andrew_TR

October 27, 2011, 3:48 am

Not with the current firmware, but a tweak allowing this is in the works according to Archos. Not bad, eh? :)

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