Archos 101 XS Video playback
What the Archos 101 XS does better than virtually any other tablet on the market, though, is video playback. This is one of just a few tablets to have its own, properly thought-out media player. And it comes as no surprise that it’s pretty good – Archos was once the king of PMPs, portable media players.
The app features a swish interface that uses an animated wheel of video thumbnails to let you flick through your video collection. More impressively, it grabs info on your films from the net using TMDb, a free, user-made movie database (think IMDb on the cheap and you’re there.)
Following a few system restarts – for a while the Archos 101 XS refused to load any video whatsoever (again, this thing needs a tweak or two) – the tablet was able to play all of our test videos at full speed. It routinely stumbles over the first few seconds of videos, either dropping frames or displaying weird digital artefacts, but after that all is plain sailing. Having a decent movie app to rely on shouldn’t be underestimated either – with most other tablets you’ll have to snap up a third-party app.
A DLNA app called Media Server also comes pre-installed. DLNA lets you fling video between compatible devices, such as from the tablet to an internet connected TV or Blu-ray player.
Archos 101 XS Internal speaker
Want to stick with the tablet for your movie-watching? There’s a single speaker on the Archos 101 XS, whose grille is drilled into the right side of the plastic screen surround. If you’re going to watch a movie on this tablet, we strongly suggest using a pair of headphones or speakers as this internal number is dreadful.
The sound is tinny and harsh, distorting when put anywhere approaching max volume, which isn’t particularly loud anyway. In a word – avoid.
Archos 101 XS Battery life
Set to playing a SD-quality looped video at 50 per cent brightness, the Archos 101 XS’s battery lasts for around six hours. For a 10.1in tablet, this is poor.
The rival Asus Transformer Pad 300 soldiers on for 10 hours off a charge, or a full 15 with the keyboard module, which houses its own battery. Archos’s keyboard offers no such benefits.
Archos 101 XS Cameras
Like the Google Nexus 7, the Archos 101 XS leaves out the rear camera, keeping just the video chat one on the front. It has a 1.3-megapixel sensor that deals with motion fairly well.
However, its positioning is a problem. It sits to the left of the screen so that when you look directly at the display, the thing captures the side of your face. This is not a good effect if you want to use the 101 XS for video chat.
The standard Android ICS camera app is pre-installed, which lets you take panorama shots as well as stills and 720p video.
Archos 101 XS Value
The Archos 101 XS is perhaps the cheapest big name tablet-with-keyboard you can buy. It’s a full £100 less than the Asus Transformer Pad 300, but we’re not convinced the saving merits the sacrifices. The processor isn’t quite as good, but that’s far from our biggest concern. There are too many build problems, too many odd software quirks, and the keyboard base lacks the finesse of Asus’s Transformer tapper.
Archos 101 XS Verdict
The Archos 101 XS is certainly one of Archos’s best Android tablets yet. It offers a decent 10.1in display, a serviceable keyboard dock, and is sold at a competitive price. However, a few too many of the old Archos issues crop. There are some pretty serious build blunders and while the keyboard design is great in some respects, it’s still not as practical as the Asus’s Transformer solution.
Score in detail
Screen Quality 7
Battery Life 5