Archos 101 G9 review

Archos waves its magic media wand yet again, this time producing a full Honeycomb tablet

Archos 101 G9
Full Android 3.2 operates this cheap 8GB tablet

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Archos 101 g9

The Archos 101 G9 isn't an easy device to judge. Looked at purely in isolation, there's a lot to love here, thanks mainly to the fact that it handles media playback well. And that seemingly tempting price tag would appear to put the machine in a certain form of isolation.

There's a problem with the pricing though, and it's one that's going to be hard for Archos to solve. Essentially as the new Tegra platform, codenamed Kal-el, makes its way onto the market, that means that a whole host of existing machines are about to see some tempting price cuts.

These price cuts have already started to appear, and they're only going to continue. These cuts are leading other manufacturers to make much better hardware that costs only a few quid more and looks far more tempting than this clearly budget-focused system ever will.

Compare the Archos 101 G9 to a budget Motorola Xoom, and the two tablets feel poles apart, at least in terms of build quality and materials. It's true that the Archos is better built than most budget-focused machines, but ultimately it can't escape the price tag it has so clearly been built to.

We liked

A full Android 3.2 Honeycomb tablet at this price point is not to be sniffed at. Archos offers full access to the Android Market, at last, too.

The way your media is displayed in the Archos Video and Music apps is excellent, and thanks to album covers and movie posters, it produces an incredible experience. The fact that the Archos 101 G9 handles pretty much every format you could hope for is to be commended too.

Good connection options, with HDMI, microSD and micro USB ports, afford plenty of options for getting your media on and off the system.

A price that is far more tempting than the £400 standard that other manufacturers have decided is the entry price for the tablets. At £279 it's not the cheapest option, but it does offer more bang for your buck than its peers.

We disliked

The plastic chassis feels cheap, making it something you use for functional reasons, rather than something you want to shout about as a paradigm shift in computing (which for some, will be reason enough to buy it).

The camera is truly awful, and with only a screen-facing lens, this isn't great for capturing those odd moments that you can find yourself near something interesting with a tablet in your hand.

The screen is disappointing when viewing darker images and movies. There is an obvious underlying grid that makes smooth gradients turn into a brown muck.

Performance is lagging behind the competition, and while this doesn't appear to affect movie playback, going forward this is going to rule this tablet out of playing some games and handling certain apps smoothly.

Final verdict

The Archos 101 G9 sets out a specific stall for itself and does incredibly well at delivering on that goal, although only in a functional way. There's no innate joy or passion on show here.

If you're in the market for a capable tablet, but have a limited budget, then this is one of the best options outside of price cuts that you can get.

The potential problem is we're about to be bombarded by cut price tablets, and much better units can be had for this kind of cash - tablets with more memory, built from better materials and generally put together with more love.