Archos 101 8GB Android tablet
Lightweight, 10.1in Froyo fondle slab, anyone?
Review The Archos 101 – that's 'ten-one' – sits at the top of company's range of Android devices that also includes the 43 personal media player, reviewed here. So now, Archos can offer you an Android device with a screen anywhere between 2.8 and 10.1 inches – from a pocket media player to a fully-fledged iPad-esque tablet.
Netbook worrier? Archos' 101
The first thing that struck me about the 101 was how light it was. Despite having a 10.1in screen, it weighs only 480g. That's 200g less than an iPad and only 100g more than the 7in Samsung Galaxy Tab. And at only 12mm thick, it's no more portly than your average smartphone. The weight shedding and slimming has slightly compromised the solidity of the device - it doesn't flex, nor does it feel like it will fall apart but you wouldn't want to risk sitting on it either.
The design language of the 101 follows from the 43 – and, indeed, earlier generation Archos media players – with a gun metal grey plastic case, metal flip-out stand and a front that is almost all screen and no bezel. It's smart and restrained rather than inspired and flamboyant, but none the worse for that.
The sleek and minimalist looks are enhanced by all the connection ports including the 3.5mm audio jack being housed together on the left hand edge along with the power and volume buttons, the latter two being the only physical controls on the 101.
Everything else is managed on-screen, which means that like the 43, all the controls are orientated to appear the same place, no matter which way up or around you hold the device. This is handy if you want your cable connections on the right rather than left or if you are holding the thing in portrait to read an e-book.
Archos maintains its prop stand stance – a nice touch
In addition to the microSD and mini HDMI portson the 43, the 101 features a full-sized USB A port, which brings with it a host of benefits too long and obvious to list – the most noteworthy being that, while it can only access flash storage, it won't drive an external HDD.
Next page: Camera obscura
Archos has given with one hand and taken with the other
"...because there is no rear facing camera."
To be fair here... Who would want to ever use a thing this big as a camera? don't we all have phones that do the camera thing already..
Im guessing you could say that its not a phone either.. but same as above...
The CDD needs it
Archos runs afoul of Google's compatible device document (CDD). In 2.2, there are a lot of things a device MUST implement to be compliant with the CDD - GPS, compass, 3.2mp camera etc. By not including these things, the 101 fails the CDD and therefore doesn't ship with the Marketplace app. That's why it has appslib instead.
Who can blame Archos for jetissoning these features anyway? This thing is meant to be a media player not a giant phone but the price they pay is no official support by marketplace and that must impact on sales.
Android 2.3 apparently loosens the CDD up a bit, so perhaps if a firmware update appeared that used 2.3, the device would actually be compatible. I hope that the CDD for Android 3.0 is also more realistic of what tablets should and should not implement. A tablet primarily used for PMP or ereading should not have to be burdened with a bunch of crap which adds to the price of the hardware. I don't suppose the 101 will ever be an Android 3.0 compliant device, but perhaps its successor will be.
The real thing I see from the Archos 101 is the obvious fact that tablets do not have to be anywhere as expensive as the iPad to be functional. There were so many tablets announced at CES 2011 that there are going to be some very affordable and attractive devices coming this year. I hope Apple is going to discount the iPad (when iPad 2 turns up) otherwise it will get steamrollered otherwise by cheaper competitors.
"...the only tablet now on sale that I would actually spend my own hard-earned on."
Yep, for the first time since these new-gen tablet things started coming out I'm actually quite tempted to tot up my pennies and purchase. I think I may just hang about to see how Honeycomb looks (and costs) before I actually take the plunge, though.
Not even tempted by the iPad. Have played with colleagues' pads and, while slick, they're awful shallow...