A widescreen tablet computer running Android, but with flaws
The Archos 101 Internet Tablet is a 10in tablet computer in the mould of Apple's iPad (see sidebar) that uses the Android operating system.
Unfortunately, it was very unimpressive. At the time of going to press, the impending release of the iPad 2 means a first-generation 16GB iPad costs £329, while the 8GB Archos 101 on review costs £275 (a 16GB version is £305).
It looked OK but the whole unit bent and creaked in our hands, and while it's true that it is both thin and light, it shouldn't have felt so fragile. There is a kick-stand that comes out from the back panel but this feels flimsy.
The display, though widescreen, was terrible: it is glossy, so either reflected our face straight back, caught the glare of nearby lights or was too dark to use.
When angled just right it was viewable, but the quality of the screen was much poorer than those of other tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab (see sidebar).
It's designed to be used in either portrait or landscape modes but it never seemed to identify which way around it was being held. Holding it horizontally in landscape mode the screen displayed as portrait and it was slow to change from one to the other. The iPad exhibits the same problem, but less frequently.
The biggest problem was that it crashed frequently. In the first few minutes of using it the web browser crashed four times and the video player crashed too, and resetting it to ‘factory settings' didn't help. Even the setup wizard crashed and when we got it up and running again the icon for the Archos app library had been deleted from the device – the only way to get it back was to hunt for the installation file on Archos' website.
In theory the Archos app library offers access to thousands of downloadable programs, both free and paid-for.
As the Archos 101 doesn't have a mobile phone Sim card slot (it connects to wireless networks and Bluetooth devices) it's not allowed to use the official Android Marketplace for app downloads. Archos's version is a workaround, but some of the apps we tried to get were missing or didn't work.
It has some redeeming features, though: it can play high-definition video and there is a mini-HDMI connection for attaching a flat-screen TV, though the cable costs extra. It can also stream video from other computers in the house. And battery life was fair – it will run for several hours in light use.
Unfortunately, though, the experience of using the Archos 101 was so underwhelming that we can't recommend it.
Read more reviews
A poor screen, missing applications and frequent crashes make this tablet hard to recommend
Slim and light; can play high-definition video
Crashes; terrible screen; no Android Marketplace access; feels flimsy
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