November 24th, 2010, 12:47 PM
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Archos 101 My Review [First Impression]
I was one of the lucky few that managed to get their hands on the Archos 101 internet tablet. It arrived in the mail today.
First, let's make one thing clear: this tablet costs $299. Period. Do not expect superb iPad-like quality. But I must say, it is very close. I would pay $400 for this tablet, top. Let's make another thing clear: I will be buying Notion Ink Adam regardless of this purchase.
The Device Itself: first impressions is that the device is heavier than I expected, but also thinner. It is of a better build quality than one would expect for a $299 tab. It is plastic, but it totally feels like metal. It has a sort of weird shape, since the aspect ratio is 16:9 (iPad has 4:3) making it look skinny. The front is obviously dominated on the screen, and to the left is the camera that I doubt I'll ever use.
The Screen: I think this is its by far the biggest flaw that I've found so far. Make sure to run the screen calibration when you first start it, to save yourself being pissed off by the screen not registering your touch. After screen calibration, the screen works... fine. Bugs out sometimes, but as a N1 user, I'm used to it. Now comes the bad part: the viewing angle of this screen is absolutely terrible. You will need to get used to holding it in a specific position, and don't hope that your friends next to you will be able to see anything on it. That's the thing I so far hate the most about Archos 101. Also, the screen is a complete fingerprint magnet. When the screen is off, and if you tilt your device, you'll be able to see the touch sensor grid. I personally don't care about this, but some people might mind it. I wouldn't mind if the backlight was brighter, however, that can't happen because of the hardware limitations. Another big issue with the screen is its resolution (and that's bad news because all the upcoming Android tablets have the same resolution). Basically it's this: Nexus One has a 3.7" screen and a 800x480 resolution. This thing has a 10" screen and 1024x600, so just a bit higher res. If you stare at the screen, you will be able to see the pixels (dots). However, this won't bother you while you're watching a movie
The General Stuff: I think I'm falling in love with the tablet idea. The device does not come with the Market (or Gmail app, or Maps, or any of the GApps), but fixing that takes literally 1 minute and comes down to downloading one .apk file from Archos website. With Gmote, I managed to share movies on my PC with my tablet, and now I can watch movies (that are stored on my computer) on my archos! Even though Gmote says it doesn't support .avi , it worked just fine for me.
Reading websites is super smooth and clear. You most likely won't have to zoom in to read standard text. Android Browser renders pages perfectly fine, although you should change the settings to "desktop".
The device is generally very smooth unless it is doing something in the background (same as my N1). Switching screens, opening menu, windows animations...everything is just fine. That being said, for some reason, whenever the device is doing something in the background (downloading, installing, syncing), say goodbye to the smoothness. But that makes sense: this device has the same CPU speed N1 has, yet it has 3 times the screen real estate.
The device runs 2.1update1 as of right now, but Archos promises to deliver 2.2 by the end of this month. According to their forums, it is already in final stages of beta testing and most of the bugs have been fixed.
My other complaint is not with the device itself, but with android. Sometimes it is very clear that Android is not optimized for tablets, which is annoying (granted, Google did say this). Something that looks normal on your phone will look stretched here. Text won't be distorted/deformed though.
Overall it's an excellent device and I'd definitely recommend it. If you don't want to give more than $300 for a tablet, this is definitely the device for you. If you're ready to spend some more cash, I suggest you wait for the Adam Tablet.
SUPER DEVICE A+++++++ WOULD BUY AGAIN