Archos 101 Hands on Review by ap3c0

Discussion in 'Archos Tablets' started by Insomnia, Dec 12, 2010.

  1. Insomnia

    Insomnia Member

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    Archos 101 Hands on Review


    When I first opened the box I was surprised at how long the tablet appeared. The first thoughts running through my mind were "how am I going to type on this thing?". Once I got the tablet unpacked and charged up the first order of business was getting the firmware updated. I ran through the settings and found the remote update option. After setting up the wifi security settings I went ahead and started the download. I gave it a total of 4 tries with the download failing each time. Finally I just decided to download the update manually using my PC to a micro SD card. Unlike some other android tablets the 101 requires manually downloaded firmware to be placed on the root folder of the device. Once I popped in the SD card and opened the file manager it was only few taps to move it from the SD card to the data folder on the device which is considered the root of the device. A quick tap on the file name got the update started. Once the update completed I began my evaluation of the tablet.

    Hardware specs

    The 101 features an ARM Cortex A8 at 1 GHz with DSP, Graphic accelerator 3D OpenGL ES 2.0, High resolution capacitive multitouch screen, 1024x600 pixels (WXVGA), 10.1'' TFT LCD. The tablet comes with 8gb or 16gb of internal storage for about $45 more.

    I'm not a fan of the 1024x600 form factor, but I'm sure there are those who would disagree with me. I personally find it to be bit narrow and long. I was concerned that typing on the 101 in landscape mode would be all but impossible. Especially since unlike other tablets of this aspect, the virtual keyboard is not split to either side. once I actually started typing on the device, however I was a bit surprised. Although it took a bit of maneuvering, I was able to type in landscape with some efficiency. I attribute that to the fact that the 101 is thinner and lighter than other units of this size which makes it possible to grip the unit from under while typing rather than being forced to grip it from the corners like with heavier tablets.

    The screen is of average quality. While direct viewing is quite adequate, viewing at an angle is out of the question. The tablet shell is thin plastic which on the one hand contributes to it being thin and light, it also makes the screen easily distressed if one were to grip the device with any pressure. You could compare it to what happens when you press on the back of a laptop screen, the pressure skews the liquid in the display. A denser back plate would prevent this from happening, however it would also contribute to the weight of the unit.

    The interface is 100% touchscreen. With the exception of a hard power button and a volume up and down button, all input to the device is done via touchscreen. When in landscape mode, to one side of the device are 4 touch buttons, home, menu, search and back. I try to hold mine with the buttons to the left, as when I type and they are to the right the back button shows up next to the delete key, which causes some confusion when trying to type fast. I've mixed those buttons up on more than one occasion. Trying to use the tablet in the dark can also be difficult as the 4 input buttons do not illuminate and they have no identifiable texture.

    Froyo oh boyo

    I've had occasion to test several tablets running froyo to date and the basics are all the same. There is no app market, only the web based 3rd party app library with a very limited number of apps. Sideloading apps is fairly easy, but finding them is the hard part. I installed a few apps downloaded directly through the browser with ease, but compatibility is an issue. While I appreciate the effort that has gone into making some of these apps originally developed for the much smaller screen of a mobile phone, installing these apps on a tablet can often lead to odd screen placement. I have installed apps that ranged from working in landscape to portrait mode from the center of the screen to a far corner and everything in between. It's pretty much hit and miss with android apps on a tablet.

    Also of note is that there is currently an issue that causes wifi connections to be dropped. I can't say with any certainty who is to blame for this, but I would add that this is not the first android tablet I've tested with this problem. To correct the problem I had to go into settings and quickly disable and reenable the wifi. This worked until the next time my connection got dropped. I should add that while this was a bit annoying, it didn't happen frequently enough to become intolerable.

    Multimedia

    Archos is known for their multimedia tablets. They've been making them since before anyone was buying them. The 101 comes with a multimedia app that makes streaming media easy. Included is support for USB flash drives, micro SD cards, upnp and samba. I was easily able to connect to my network and stream video and audio files off my NAS to the tablet, however I should add that it is a bit buggy. I was only able to succeed in viewing older formats such as xvid and avi, when I tried to play a mkv i got a message complete with a link explaining that I needed to go to the archos site and buy a codec. The problem with this is there is no codec for sale. flash is also an issue. When you download the latest update from archos, they state that while the firmware supports flash the plugin is still awaiting approval by Adobe. So no flash yet.

    Final impressions

    The 101 is thin and lite. It's reasonably priced and has the power to be a useful tablet for many computing tasks. The more I used it, the more the 101's limitations became clear. Like many in it's class, the hardware Is adequate, but the software issues are crippling. I have no doubt these will ultimately be worked out in subsequent updates. If you want s reasonably priced tablet, dont mind the limitations of the screen, and are willing to wait a few months for a fully functioning tablet, the 101 isn't a bad choice.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2010
  2. feverhost

    feverhost Super Moderator Staff Member

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    My Tablets: Pandigital White Novel - aPad iRobot RK2818 - Motorola Xoom 4G (Rooted JellyBean 4.1.2) - Kindle Fire - Novo Elf 7" - HP Slate 7" - Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro
    That was a very helpful review..... thanks so much for posting it! =)

    Sent from my DROID2 using Android Tablet Forum App
     
  3. Andrewinsa

    Andrewinsa Member

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    Thanks, that was a great review, I wish I could read on like that on all the tablet options I am considering.
     

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