Like many early Android tablets, the Arnova 10 doesn’t feature the Android Market app store. Instead it uses a third-party alternative, AppsLib. This is slower and less well-stocked than the massive Android Market, but is a reasonable compromise. It covers most of the bases with favourites like TuneInRadio, Angry Birds and maps applications but isn’t – and never well be – a patch on the real deal.
Some of Archos’s other tablets can be tweaked to get the full Android Market installed, using the Arctools program, but this method didn’t work with the Arnova 10. For now at least, you’re stuck with AppsLib, and without Google’s own fine selection of Android apps.
Pre-installed apps are very sparse, comprised of the bare-bones basics such as an email app, browser and video player. There are no impressive dedicated apps here – the Arnova’s only special move is being able to play plenty of video types including MKV, Xvid and DivX. Spend an hour searching through the AppsLib app store and it’s easy to get the Arnova 10 stocked up, but many apps – games especially – struggle on the tablet. Angry Birds for example is extremely slow, reduced to a frame or two per second instead of the 60 you’d get with a more capable tablet or smartphone.
Smartphones running a 600MHz processor have no such trouble keeping simple games like Angry Birds running at playable speeds, so we can only assume there are some serious software issues at the Arnova 10’s core or that its Rockchip 2818 processor has been seriously underclocked. This would likely be to maintain a decent battery life, but even in its current state battery performance is not all that impressive, languishing around the 4-hour mark when playing video.
It’s not good at running apps, its resistive touchscreen makes it a ropey web-surfing device, but is it any good at video? If the Archos Arnova 10 has a trump card, it should be video.
Playback quality is reasonable at the price and as mentioned codec support is very good. Indeed even though some HD content stuttered significantly in our tests, it makes us wonder why this tablet has such a problem with apps and games. Plus points aside, the low quality of the display stops watching video on it from being particularly pleasurable. Yes, even with video it ultimately fails.
Viewing angles are very poor, contrast is below par and the half-decent brightness is tripped-up in real-life use by the contrast shift that occurs when the tablet is moved even slightly from the perfect viewing angle. 10in is a comfortably large size to be watching full-length TV episodes and even movies on, but we’d trade down to a 7in size if it meant getting a better-quality display.
In any case, that’s exactly what we’d suggest you do here, and not just for video. The Archos 70 is available for slightly more than, or even the same price as, the Arnova 10 but offers a better display, far better touchscreen, superior build and the potential to get the Android Market up and running. If you have to get hold of a 10in tablet, the Archos 101 is also a much better bet – patching up almost all of the key issues with the Arnova 10, if not quite to the extent to make it a must-have gadget.
The Archos Arnova 10 has had so many of its corners cut to save cash that there’s almost nothing of worth left. A poor touchscreen, bad display and molasses-slow speed within apps team up to ruin the day of anyone trying to use the Arnova 10.
Score in detail
Battery Life 5