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Archos G9 101 - Screen, Touchscreen and Usability

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

6

One of our key complaints about the last batch of Archos tablets, the 70 and 101, was that the screen quality wasn't great. Turn the screen the wrong way and the image would almost disappear - it's an effect known as contrast shift and it affects almost all budget tablets and the vast majority of laptops.

The Apple iPad blasted away contrast shift problems with its IPS screen, thereby setting the standard by which all subsequent tablets would be judged. Archos's G9 101 doesn't have an IPS display, but it does offer remarkably good performance. Tilt the screen to as extreme an angle as you like and the image on-screen will stay perfectly visible. Archos deserves a pat on the back for including such a good panel in an affordable tablet - the similarly-priced Acer Iconia A100 didn't.

G9 screen

Viewing angles = good, but it's highly reflective

That said, contrast, black levels and colour reproduction can't quite match the best tablet displays out there and the surface is highly reflective. Others 10.1in Android tablets offer a punchier image, although the 1280x800 pixel resolution is the same as you'll find in every 10.1in Honeycomb tablet in town. This gives a pixel density of 149ppi - very low compared with the top smartphones, but still sufficient, as you tend to hold a tablet further away than a smartphone. It's much sharper than the previous-gen Archos 101, which had a 1024x600 screen, with a pixel density of 117ppi.

The top-most screen layer is hard plastic rather than glass - and as such doesn't feel quite as glorious under your finger as an iPad 2 screen. Tapping on it a bit harder than usual causes the screen to flash white momentarily too, which is a bit worrying and may be a bad indicator of its longevity. The touch layer is capacitive, though, and very responsive when not affected by the core software's buggy bits. Multi-touch is fully supported, and while its ability to sense four points of contact at once is just "mid-range" in performance terms, it's easily enough for any gestures we've come across.

G9 101

This enables the usually pinch zooming web browsing gesture, and helps to make the G9 101 a decent sofa web surfer. Equip it with a 3G dongle and it'll do the same while you're out, although the widescreen aspect ratio makes it feel unwieldy when held upright. Unless you can hold it in two hands, this isn't the best tablet to be lumbered with - like other 10.1 Android tablets. The 4:3 aspect ratio of the iPad may not seem great for movies, but it is more comfortable to hold one-handed and feels altogether more compact - and Archos even offers its own tablet this shape, the Archos G9 80. We'll be back with a review of that model soon.

Assuming you're using it in a fairly favourable environment, the Archos G9 101 is very usable. The virtual keyboard is large and accurate, whether you're tapping away in portrait or landscape aspects, and full Flash 10.1 support is on hand too. It's just a pity that its operation isn't a little smoother and that run-ins with bugs are quite so common.

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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