Archos 101 Internet Tablet review

£240
Price when reviewed

Unlike many of its competitors in the tablet arena, Archos has past form. As far back as 2007, the company was installing browsers on its large-format Wi-Fi media players, while its 2008 Archos 5 and Archos 7 products were actively sold as internet tablets. The 2009 updates even came with Android 1.5 preinstalled. This should have given the company an advantage when designing the Archos 101 Internet Tablet; it’s had time to get used to the ways of Google’s mobile OS, and opportunity to learn from past mistakes.

It certainly helps to explain why the Archos 101 is so distinctive, with a sculpted, thin-framed, slimline design that echoes its predecessors rather than the iPad. Weighing just 480g and measuring only 12mm thick, it’s a remarkably lightweight tablet, and while the plastics used in the outer casing can leave it feeling cheap, the underlying steel chassis makes it surprisingly robust.

Despite the compact dimensions, battery life is respectable: it managed three showings of Star Wars Episode II before giving up. This is in line with Archos’ claims: seven hours of video playback, ten hours of web browsing.

Archos 101 Internet Tablet

Inevitably, it’s the screen that draws attention. It’s a 10.1in, glass-fronted TFT with a 1,024 x 600 resolution, and at its best it’s bright, crisp and punchy. Unfortunately, seeing it at its best can be a challenge. Viewing angles in landscape mode are poor, particularly on the vertical, and it takes only a fractional tilt before contrast drops off and blacks invert. The situation worsens in portrait mode, particularly since the optimum angle isn’t quite face on as you might expect. And the Archos 101 is almost impossible to use in sunlight, with the high-gloss screen instantly transforming into a mirror.

Still, used indoors it’s a comfortable and usable device, and the Archos handles its basic tasks – web browsing and media playback – perfectly well. Browsing, using the default Android browser, is fairly speedy, with the Archos taking around eight seconds to load the BBC homepage. The capacitive touchscreen is sensitive, multitouch capable and responsive, and there’s no struggle to tap hyperlinks or buttons.

True, the Android onscreen keyboard isn’t a patch on Apple’s model, but you can still type with reasonable accuracy, and the fold-out “kickstand” on the back of the 101 holds the unit at a decent working angle (a neat touch others would do well to copy).

The Archos also fares well when it comes to media. With 802.11bgn WLAN support, we had no problems streaming audio and video from a Windows Media Center system across a wireless network. The Video app will play WMV9, H.264 and MPEG4 video files, plus MP3, WMA, AAC, OGG Vorbis and FLAC audio.

Battery Life

Talk time, quotedN/A

Physical

Dimensions270 x 150 x 12mm (WDH)
Touchscreenyes
Primary keyboardOn-screen

Core Specifications

RAM capacity256MB
ROM sizeN/A
Camera megapixel rating1.3mp
Front-facing camera?yes
Video capture?yes

Display

Screen size10.1in
Resolution1024 x 600
Landscape mode?yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth supportyes

Software

OS familyAndroid

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