I have a problem with edges. Edges are something that for me, just get in the way somewhat. In this review
I am reminded of several of my pet hates whilst discovering a brand that I knew existed but had never paid attention to. The brand is Archos and they seem to have spent the last decade being mostly ignored by the casual shopper but lusted after by pure geeks. Whilst Mr and Mrs Average walked lustfully into the Apple store to buy the latest colour iPod
, the wisest of us all kept quiet about the technical marvel that was in our hand at the time....I’m talking about the Archos you disgusting people! Incidentally I want it made clear that I am Mr Average in the example above. I’m a geeky sort of fellow but there are limits.
With the recent release of the 8th generation of Archos devices
, the company decided to send me a 7th generation product. This is presumably due to the fact that I (like most others) have ignored them in the past and this is their introduction to their range. So here it is: a review of an Archos 5 Internet Tablet
that is going to be largely ignored because everybody who wants an Archos, wants the latest generation of it.
Announced in 2009, the Archos 5 Internet Tablet sports a 4.8 inch 800 x 480 resistive screen
and a range of options regarding storage space. This is the beginning of a long list of reasons why these devices are deemed a tad too geeky for us average people. All I want as an end user is to decide on the size of the hard drive. In truth I don’t give a flying monkeys
whether it is solid state or not. The Archos 5 can be supplied with a relatively tiny 8 GB flash memory or a massive 500 GB hard drive. You see? You are totally bored by the fact that I said “flash memory” instead of using more user friendly terms like “the anorexic model” whilst calling the 500 GB goliath “the fatty”. The bottom line is (as an end-user) I care about only a small number of things:
- Does it work?
- Is it pretty?
- How long does it last?
- What it can do?
- How much does it cost?
- What's annoying about it?
These questions will be answered below in the simplest of ways:
- Not as pretty as the iPad
- Anywhere between 7 hours for video use and a massive 22 hours for music use (my experience was somewhat different to this but still extremely impressive)
- This is a very big list but basically with a few minor adjustments everything an Android 2.1 system can do which is a lot!
- This is another quite annoying question to answer as Archos likes to complicate their pricing somewhat; offering four hundred prices for the four hundred different versions of the product. I’m exaggerating somewhat but I hate unnecessary complications. The bottom line is, if you’re quick you can pick up the device that I have reviewed for under £150 (at PC World UK who are selling it at nearly half of its retail price). They are doing this because the aforementioned 8th generation of Archos devices are being released next week.
- The annoyances of the device revolve around edges, sound issues, paste lids and cost.
When you pick up an iPad or iPhone you are welcomed by luxuriously clean lines. You can effectively molest the screen unhindered by some nasty bits of plastic getting in the way. This is not the case on the Archos. Around the screen lies the nasty edge which makes for pressing buttons at the very top, bottom or sides, very difficult. This is such a shame as the screen itself, despite being resistive, is very impressive. Unlike previous resistive products the screen only requires a firm touch and not necessarily a fingernail to operate and despite my first worries, became second nature to use. Typing with those blasted edges in this way is a pain in the proverbial bottom and I demand that the person involved in the design of such edges be flogged!
Second up, if you take a gander round the back of the device you will notice what i refer to as the paste lid problem. Most of the back is covered by a metal-looking plate which (like a ham and beef paste lid that has been opened) makes a popping noise when it is depressed. Call me a fussy man but this started to grate on my nerves after about ten minutes. I had just expected a bit better design from a french
The sound coming out of the speaker is almost entirely worthless and for the price of the device this is just not good enough. Yes, I mostly gave up on the internal speaker and used an external sound source and to be honest, if I had the money to buy this then a pair of headphones is not exactly a vast investment. Nevertheless I had hoped for a few speakers capable of producing more than the odd squeak.
The retail cost of this device when new was absolutely insane! At a retail price (for the 32 GB device I reviewed) of £279.99 I could not justify the expense of a book reader, video player and games device.........That was until I used it.
This review is perhaps 3 weeks too late. This is simply because I have used the device each and every day and have forgotten that I needed write some notes on it. On average, each day I have used this fantastic tablet for about 6 hours and have found it to be the most impressive eBook reader out in the market today. It is small and comfortable enough to hold in one hand and using the Aldiko or Laputa app I have managed to find a modern and effective way of reading on the move.
The battery life seems endless and after fighting with a modern Smartphone with a battery that lasts approximately three seconds I was amazed this tablet was so efficient. Streaming films through my home network was a breeze and it accepted all of my randomly codec-ed videos I threw at it. Browsing the internet was perfectly reasonable for a device of this size. The largest of issues came though, with regards to the Android Market. Google allegedly only allows devices to have the Android Market installed on the machines that they deem fit. As an alternative to this, Archos manage and install Appslib which is a suitably large alternative market offering many free apps. However I suggest you take advantage of the very easy workaround that allows you to install the Android Market on the device as whilst Appslib is good, it certainly isn’t the mutt’s nuts!
All in all this is a device when at the right price, is well worth your attention. Sound issues, paste lids and edges aside, the Archos 5 Internet Tablet is a better choice for mobile reading down your local Starbucks than all other options on the market.
Ultimately despite being a fantastic product, the fact that it is last year’s model becomes evident as when compared to the upcoming Archos 70 and 101 the Archos 5 is found wanting with a smaller and resistive screen. Admittedly I am excited about using the 8th generation of Archos products and after using this device I am actually moist with anticipation. If they can only address the relatively few problems I have had using this device, then I will definitely be in line for the upcoming Archos 101….who am I kidding? I’ve already pre-ordered it.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Without question, the greatest mobile book reader and handheld device I have ever used.