Arnova is Archos’ budget brand, the arrival later this year of its impressive sounding Gen9 Honeycomb tablets necessitating some clear water between its developing market and budget offerings, and the good stuff.
Running Android 2.1 on a 600MHz ARM9 Rockchip CPU, the Arnova 10 is hardly cutting edge but on the other hand it has a 10.1in 1024 x 600 screen and though the RRP is £170 you won’t have any trouble finding it for £150. Naturally, there is no Android Market but the AppsLib market is beginning to flesh out, so at least you can instal Angry Birds. Sadly though it ran like cold molasses and was unplayable.
Though the matt screen is resistive, it’s pretty reactive and using it to control the UI is no chore. The device is also impressively thin and light for a 10-incher and you get a full-sized USB port with the facility to act as a USB-host. There’s no Flash support but locally hosted 720p video played well and battery life was excellent, easily running for three days between charges.
If you are prepared to surrender some screen acreage you can pick up the smaller but otherwise similar Arnova 8 for around the £100 mark.
Reg Rating 60%
More info Arnova
The BeBook is a Froyo device that ships with the Android Market and all the Google apps but the rather unusual 600 x 800 screen size has an impact on app availability. Facebook, VEVO, Flixter even Dolphin HD were all absent from the Market, presumably due to screen resolution problems.
The design is also a little unusual. The 7in screen sits in-board of two plastic lips, the left side houses the 2Mp web cam and the right features buttons for home, menu and back. This means you can hold the device in landscape and keep your fingers well clear of the screen. I like it though it’s a shame the three buttons are not backlit for identification in low light.
With a 1GHz Samsung A8 chip and 512MB of RAM the BeBook supports Flash and is a very slick performer and has an extremely responsive screen – it gives very little away to the likes of the HTC Flyer or Samsung Galaxy.
At £230 it’s the most expensive device on this round-up but with 4GB of internal storage – of which 1.2GB is available for applications – Bluetooth and a Mini-HDMI port, you are getting a decent amount of kit for your money.
Reg Rating 70%
More info BeBook
Next page: Binatone HomeSurf 705
Hcomb for Vega a number of months away!! Been around for a couple. Latest build near perfect :-)
Had the Archos 70 250Gb for a month or so now, it's not for the faint of heart and does require a little monkeying around to get running nicely.....but I'm really pleased with it for the price.
Also got the 11 year old the Archos 101 for her birthday last week and it has literally not left her hands for more than a few seconds.
They're obviously for the slightly nerdy type who doesn't mind getting under the bonnet every now and then, but for the money they're really nice solid gadget toys. If not these I'd have gone for the Hannspad or the Advent Vega.
I'm never going to pay 400-500 quid for a toy, I won't even spend that on my main system. Good to see some companies understanding what they need to do to woo the non Apple buyer, make them reasonably priced and functional rather than aspirational lifestyle products.
But ... Which one runs Linux (Debian)??
My usual question here, all the time. I want one that allows me to install Debian (Ubuntu).
Please, spare me the usual answers of 'Android runs a Linux kernel' and 'you could try in a chroot'.