Archos already has several generations of Android tablets under its belt, but the latest G9 range sounds like by far the best of the lot. The 8-inch Archos G9 80 is the model closest to Apple's iPad 2 in design, thanks to its 4:3 aspect ratio, but at just £199 it costs half the price of that most famous of tablets. We take a closer look ahead of our full review.
Until now, Archos's tablets have received something of a lukewarm response. They traded-in too many features to reach a low price point, and none of them even featured the Android Market app store. Archos is trying very hard to turn things around though, as the Archos G9 series packs-in a frankly astonishing range of features considering the price.
The Archos G9 80 is the smallest of the G9 range, sporting an 8in, 1024x768-pixel screen. This is an unusual form factor for Android tablets, which thus far have tended to stick with 7in or 10.1in sizes. The tasty-sounding £199 model features 16GB of flash memory, but there'll also be a 250GB hard drive version. Archos didn't tell us the price of this model, but judging by the larger G9 101 tablet's numbers, it'll retail for around £349.
The non-widescreen 4:3 screen ratio - the same seen in Apple's iPad - makes the 80 very pleasant to hold. While not ideal for movie-watching, as you'll either have to chop off the ends of the screen or deal with black bars above and below the picture, it feels more compact than a wider device like the original Archos 101 (and not just because its screen is 2in smaller).
The most significant budget cut is evident has soon as you pick up the Archos G9 80 though - its body is clad in plastic like the budget Arnova model. While there's still a metal skeleton within, this plastic outer ensures this tablet has none of the high-end feel of pricier alternatives like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
There are remarkably few cut-price bits elsewhere though. Perhaps the most impressive high-end feature of all is the 1.5GHz dual-core processor, trumping all current Android tablets - in pure numbers terms at least. In use, the Android Honeycomb operating system didn't feel quite as snappy as we'd seen it in previous tablets like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, but it was nevertheless slick - and the software wasn't final either. Our demo G9 80 ran version 3.1, but the retail edition will hit the shelves with 3.2 come September.
Unlike the previous Archos 70, the G9 80 comes with the full Android Market on-board, a huge step up from Archos's older models. There are plenty more improvements to suggest this could be the best sub-£200 tablet yet too.