A 10in Android tablet with a keyboard for just £300
Inexpensive Android tablets don't usually come with any extras, but the Archos 101 xs is an exception. This cheap 10in tablet comes with a keyboard dock that also doubles as a screen cover which will appeal to anyone who wants a tablet but can't quite live with a touchscreen keyboard.
The tablet itself weighs 600g with the keyboard adding an extra 200g. When not in use the keyboard attaches magnetically to the screen protecting it from scuffs and scratches. The 101 xs is a remarkably slender tablet, even with the cover attached, although the creaky plastic build feels a little cheap. The tablet physically docks with the keyboard, rather than using a wireless connection, and a small fold out stand props it up.
The keyboard cover is a great idea, but it's flawed in practice. The keys are small and don't have much travel, so they're not very comfortable to type on unless you have very small fingers and type slowly. It is possible to get used to it, but we still wouldn't want to type a long document on it.
When docked the tablet only has one viewing angle so it can be uncomfortable to use, especially when placed on your lap. The keyboard also feels a little flimsy and top heavy with the tablet plugged in, so the whole thing wobbles and bends when used on your lap. The keyboard is too slender to have an extra battery built in. This is a shame as the tablet's battery lasted just six hours when playing videos which is below average.
The shoddy keyboard is a shame as the handy Officesuite Professional app is included. Other useful bundled apps include video and music players that can play files stored on a NAS or networked PC.
Archos claims the 10.1in screen is superior to the screens of other tablets, but we disagree. The 1,280x800 pixel resolution isn't bad, but text doesn't look as crisp as it does on tablets with higher resolutions. More worryingly the screen isn't very bright and has a grainy sheen, both of which can ruin the look of images.
Although the 101 xs has a dual core rather than a quad core processor like most other new Android tablets it still stormed through our benchmarks. In real use however it felt sluggish when browsing complex web pages, although apps such as games ran smoothly.
A tablet with a keyboard cover is a great idea, but the Archos 101 xs feels rushed and half-finished. A swarm of Windows 8 laptop-tablet hybrids are coming soon, all of which will likely outclass the 101 xs. If you can't wait then the more expensive Asus Transformer Pad is better value due to its superior screen and keyboard.
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Unless you have very small fingers to go along with the very small keyboard, we'd much rather have another tablet.
Keyboard cover acts as screen cover; Useful bundled apps
Badly designed, uncomfortable keyboard; Below average battery life
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