December 24, 2010

Amigos with Archos ...

December 24, 2010 Posted by Vijay 2 comments
So after a long long time, finally a post. And why not, when I am all excited about what I am about to reveal in the next few paras. The iPad launch has taken the world by storm. Prior to the launch there was mass speculation on how it will be received across the tech world. With the sales of iPad in millions within months of launch, it was no surprise competitors started hastening their own tablet plans. Though I never prefer Apple products, to be fair, iPad gave much of the tablet world the confidence to pursue.

The relevance of the tablet cannot be understated. Simply put, it is a device for entertainment and web surfing. While a laptop is heavy duty, a tablet is more mobile and portable. Unfortunately, the iPad weighing over a kilogram and being 10'' is nowhere near portable. There are already rumors that Apple may consider a 7'' tablet version, where Samsung Galaxy Tab has already taken a huge headstart. While iPad runs the same OS as that of the iPhone, the Tab runs the Android 2.2 Froyo. Though Google till date is apprehensive of how the smartphone compatible Froyo would scale up to the tablet version.

Even before the iPad though, Archos had started with their Tablet variant with an Android powered Archos 5 and another Windows powered Archos 9. With a bit of experience and vast knowledge of the multimedia experience, Archos unleashed 5 Gen8 tablets during August this year. The 28,32 are so small, many buyers consider them as mere mp4 players. The 43 is more like a smartphone. The 70 and the 101 are the real competition with other Tablets. And where Archos 70/101 stand apart is the lack of any carrier network tie up (like for the Tab or iPad), but still having commendable hardware. There is no need for a carrier tie-up to buy the Archos, no need to jailbreak it, and you can pocket an Archos 70 for $278.

There was a lot of waiting period for the 43/70/101 tablets. I had to go through the waiting period myself, with the 43 which I considred because it was cheaper. But my wait seemed never ending after 3 weeks and it never came in stock (not even now!!). I bit the bullet and opted for the 7'' Archos 708GB (A70) and got it 10 days back. Archos listed on their site that it would come with Android Froyo, and before long, there were 2 firmware updates, and now I am running Froyo on my A70. There is also 250GB A70, which is costlier, with a hard drive memory.

The A70 does not come with Android Market. Instead Archos have their own Appslib, which unfortunately is neither responsive nor near as close to being the Android Market. So, any A70 purchaser must have the Android Market using the hack here. Once you have the Android Market, then A70 is a lot of fun. The array of features A70 has is truly remarkable for a tablet. And to think that it gives amazing battery life and is very lightweight adds to the excitement. Some of the standout specs of the A70 are:

HDMI out (1080p)
MicroSDHC card expansion (Contents easily get synched)
Slew of Video formats can be played (mov,mkv,vob,rmvb,avi,mp4,flv etc .. with no need for conversion. Just drag and drop!)
Capacitive touch screen with multitouch support
Bluetooth and Wifi
Ideal 7'' inch screen with just 300gms weight.(250GB would be a tad heavier)
1GHZ processor
Front VGA camera for video chatting
Great battery life (10 hrs Web Surfing, 7 Hrs Video)
Flash support (coming soon)

You can find more of these specs at the Archos site. I wonder if Apple will ever have Flash support or a memory expansion option or the ease of Video format conversion. My answer would be not until Apple is going broke :)

While Google has not certified any tablet for using Android Froyo (Tab being the exception), Archos has gone ahead and used the open source Android platform and come up with an amazing product. I must forewarn though, out of the box it can be frustrating if one were to expect a lot from the Appslib. Android Market hack is a must and its pretty easy to install as well!

Apps and Games I have - from Android Market of course! (Make sure to visit Appbrain)

Angry Birds
Angry Birds Seasons
Bonsai Blast
Barcode Scanner
Dolphin Browser HD
Indian Rail (YES! irctc information)
Yahoo Messenger
Google Maps
Documents to Go
YouTube App

There is a wealth of information on the dedicated forum for each of the Gen 8 tablets. This is what really excites me as a buyer, to see a passionate group of gadget freaks exploring and sharing thoughts on a forum. This is one major reason I bought this tablet. This was also the reason I really love Cowon audio products also. My D2 experience being still ever so memorable.

The Tablet world is going to really explode in 2011, with Android Honeycomb being suggested as completely Tablet compatible. Though the Tab has crossed 1 million in sales, iPad is still the tablet to beat. Android has a huge advantage here, because of the success of Android on smartphones. Most manufacturers rely on the Android. LG, Motorola,Asus,Acer and many more are rumored to launch Android tablets in 2011. Motorola which mocked iPad as a huge iPhone (which I completely agree with) in the sneak peek of its own Tablet version, will be the first one to have Android Honeycomb.

To summarise my A70 experience thus far. It has been exciting, and a lot of fun. And to know that more tablets are on the horizon gets me even more excited. A70 is by no means an iPad killer. Just like Cowon, Archos does not have the marketing capability or the international visibility to be a top seller. It is however one of the best tablet options in the market right now for the price and features it has. For someone who believes Tablets will be integral to anyone's life (like a computer or digital camera is today) this is by far the best starting point.


Lakpri Vj said...


Sriram said...

Nice one Vijayeee :)