Archos 101 XS Review - Software, Perfomance and Screen Review

Sections

Archos 101 XS Software and Performance

The Archos 101 XS runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich, the precursor to the very latest version of the Google OS – known as Jelly Bean. Archos hasn’t fiddled with the core OS much at all, which is a good thing. Manufacturers often try to put their own stamp on the OS, and it occasionally backfires, making the system run slower than it should.

With a dual-core OMAP 4470 processor running at 1.5GHz, the Archos has a decent amount of power on tap. However, it isn’t quite enough to stop the occasional – minor – laggy interruption. We also ran into a few glitches and core app crashes that suggest the Archos 101 XS could do with a firmware update or two, increasing stability rather than the Android version number. However, it’s good to hear that Archos says a Jelly Bean update will arrive later this year, which should help to grease the final performance grumbles away.

Benchmarks show that the Archos 101 XS is a middleweight contender. In the AnTuTu benchmark, it achieved 7429 points – just over half the amount the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity managed going at full pelt. However, with the stock Android browser the Sunspider Java benchmark came out with a score of 1586ms, which is extremely impressive.

Archos 101 XS Games

To get a better view of how it performs in real-life conditions, we took it for a spin with some of the high-gloss 3D games that are often used to show off the Archos 101 XS’s Tegra 3 rivals. Aside from the occasional dropped frame, it performs well, keeping the 3D zombie shooter Dead Trigger blasting along at a good zombie-dismembering clip.

For avid games, though, it’s worth considering that games are much more likely to be optimised for Tegra 3-powered tablets than the 101 XS – in the trade off you may lose some fancy visual effects and “advanced” graphical tweaks such as anti-aliasing.

Archos 101 XS Screen

The Archos 101 XS has a 10.1in screen with an MVA TFT panel, rather than the IPS type used in the majority of non-budget Android tablets. It’s not a top-tier screen, especially evident now that much higher-resolution tabs like the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity and Acer Iconia A700 are doing the rounds, but by Archos’s previous standards it’s not too shabby at all.

Viewing angles are excellent with practically no contrast or colour shift, no matter how far you tilt the tablet – there’s just some loss of brightness. Black levels are also good – deep and rich as long as the tablet is viewed dead on, otherwise a bluey tint creeps in.

There are some negative points to the screen, though. Maximum brightness isn’t great, and colours appear duller than on several IPS rivals. As the screen is fairly reflective, the limited brightness does not make it the perfect choice to use outside on a summer’s day – unless you’re looking for an expensive mirror.

The 1,280 x 800 pixel resolution isn’t cutting edge, but is pixel-packed enough to make text appear fairly sharp at normal viewing distances – half an arm’s length. However, the pixel structure here is a little more apparent than in some rivals of the same res.

A good screen? Certainly, but one that doesn’t quite punch as hard as some other sub-£400 tablets.