The Archos 70B is dubbed an ebook reader, but is it any good for reading on? It’s a mixed bag.
The page controls feel great under the thumb – like the rest of the build, the action isn’t luxurious, however, it is very definite and satisfying. Positioning of the “next page” button is perfect too, although we think placing a “previous page” button below it, rather than (or in addition to one) on the other side, might have been a better design choice. Touchscreen operation is possible using the built-in reader app, but using this diminishes one of the 70B’s core USPs – those dedicated buttons.
For short bouts of reading, this tablet performs well. Turning pages is quicker than most dedicated ereaders, changing font size is easy and there are five font sizes available – enough for all but those with severe issues reading close-up. For reading novels though, it’s not a patch on an E Ink screen. Like any LCD display, reflections make this ereader useless for taking out on a sunny day – all you’ll likely see is your own face staring back at you.
E Ink screens are used in most dedicated ereaders for good reason. They are lit by ambient light rather than a backlight so while useless in darkness, without a light to hand, they excel in daylight or other well lit conditions, and are much easier on the eye than LCD screens like the 70B’s. Over time these advantages result in less eyestrain and just generally a nicer reading experience.
Text is formed differently too – you can see a close-up macro shot of the 70B’s screen against the E Ink screen of a Sony PRS-505 Reader below. The text of the E Ink isn’t perfect, still tied to the resolution of the screen itself, but looks much more natural than that of an LCD screen.
Whether or not you suffer from eyestrain following prolonged usage of an LCD display, the Archos 70B is still let down a little by the quality of its screen. The white background of a page doesn’t appear as plain white, but as a shimmering, mottled approximation of whiteness, possibly caused by the distortive effect of the resistive touch layer.
The 480×800 resolution is adequate for a device available for just over a hundred pounds, but it’s stretched when laid across a 7in screen. Switch to large font and characters are rendered with enough pixels to relay their curves properly, but they’re never perfectly sharp – this screen resolution is now a standard for much smaller 3.5in to 4in phone screens.
There’s no built-in book store, but transferring books over USB or using the SD slot is very easy, and there are book portals available to download over the Applib app store if you don’t already have a collection. The Kindle book store isn’t here, but The 70b supports ePub, PDF and FB2, as well as less demanding formats like TXT and RTF.