Ever since the release of the Apple iPad, the home tablet PC market has exploded with a flurry of enthusiasm and expectation as wave after wave of devices with a similar kind of approach appear for sale. Archos are certainly not missing out on this technological vibe and have released new tablets including the Archos 7.
The Archos 7 Home Tablet hovers around at just over one hundred pounds, which compared to other devices of its kind is certainly a very reasonable entry into this area. Featuring the Android operating system created by Google, smart-phone users will certainly find the learning process straight forward enough.
So let’s take a look at what the device offers…
Immediately upon first seeing the Archos 7 Home Tablet unpackaged from its box, your desire to pick it up is overwhelming. It looks wonderful and once in your tight grip, your passion for exploration continues. Scampering for the power control, you will also realise how little weight there is. There are a number of ports including headphone, USB 2.0 interface and a Micro SD slot to provide additional storage if you so need it on top of the internal 8GB provided out of the box – in my version at least.
The resistive touch-screen is 800×480 pixels, 7” TFT LCD capable of displaying 16 million colours. Resistive displays to be frank are a quite basic implementation of touch-screen technologies compared to today’s standards and this is most evident in its recognition of applied pressure. Most of the time your finger presses will be understood by the device, however particularly around the edges it will just flat-out ignore you. With patience, you will become adept at triggering applications and using the virtual keyboard even with this irritation.
Android Operating System
Android is competing hard with Apple in the phone market, each of them have their advantages and the same also applies in the tablet arena. The Archos 7 isn’t quite there on the software side either, running on an older version than currently available, which has its drawbacks. The Android Marketplace is an area where you can download free and paid for applications (also now known as apps), however the Archos 7 has its own version called ‘AppsLib’. AppsLib features a cut down selection of applications and games varying greatly in quality, but half of the fun is trying the free ones out.
I have a HTC Desire smart-phone that features the Android operating system and maybe I have been spoilt with the snappy speed you receive on a device that costs around five times more if purchased without a contract – as the Archos 7 suffers from a laggy response due in part to the basic processor specification.
Also included is a web browser and using the built in Wi-Fi, you can visit many of your favourite websites. Many sites recognise the Android operating system and display the mobile version of their website. This is essentially a cut down version of the site that runs better on less powerful devices, so reading the latest news need not be a problem.
Reminding ourselves that this is a very cheap entry into tablets, let’s move on to where the Archos 7 really shines.
Browsing photographs on the Archos 7 is a far more pleasing experience and a great way of sharing fond memories with friends and family. A slideshow can be selected so your Archos could also double as a digital photo frame. The built in stand that flips out to stand up-right on a desk is a very nice touch indeed.
Another great use of the Archos 7 Home Tablet is the ability to play music. The internal speakers are surprisingly loud and if you desire the more solitary music experience, you can always wear the included headphones. Audio compatibility includes MP3, WMA (non protected), WAV3, APE, OGG, FLAC and AAC.
Video playback is even possible, with up to 720p playback support. Viewing the sample videos included on my device, the frame rates were fairly smooth and very watch’able. The device supports various video formats including H.264, MPEG-4 and Realvideo.
Reading ebooks (electronic books) are becoming quite a fascination with the general public and the Archos 7 features an application called Aldiko. Aldiko features a selection of free and purchasable titles. Opening a digital book on the Archos is actually a lot more fun than you might have expected and if the screen appears a little bright during lengthy book readings, you can always change the screen colours from black text and a white background to the more eye friendly white text and black background. The screen size and light weight casing is ideal for reading, although due to the limited applications available, there is no sign of the Amazon Kindle app currently to really excite those reading aspirations.
- Mass storage memory: Flash Memory: 2 to 8 GB (Extendable via micro SDHC Slot)
- Display: High resolution touch screen with virtual keyboard, 800×480 pixels, 7” TFT LCD, 16 million colors
- Video playback: H.264 up to 720p resolution – 30 fps / 2.5 Mbps — MPEG-42 – 30 fps / 2.5 Mbps — Realvideo up to 720p resolution – 30 fps / 2.5 Mbps (With these codecs, the device can play video files with the following extensions: .avi, .mp4, .mkv, .mov, and .flv)
- Audio playback: MP3, WMA (non protected), WAV3, APE, OGG, FLAC, AAC
- Image compatibility: JPEG, BMP, GIF
- Battery life: Music playback time: up to 42 hours / Video playback time: up to 7 hours
- Dimensions and weight: 203 mm x 107 mm x 12 mm (8” x 4.2” x 0.5”) – 388 g / 13.7 oz
The Archos 7 Home Tablet is a very affordable entry into this new emerging home market with a fair few features to tempt you into considering this device. You will need to be patient with the resistive touch-screen and basic processor specification, allowing the device to load the various applications. It certainly is nowhere near as snappy as smart-phones, however it doesn’t attempt to compete at this very low price point and you wouldn’t expect it to.
It is a lovely little gadget featuring web browsing, music playback, photo viewing and even 720p video playback, but unfortunately let down by a few niggles.