Archos 101 Platinum review

Archos's latest full-sized tablet is cheap in every sense of the word

Archos 101 Platinum review
Cheap, but not so cheerful

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Arguably the strongest aspect of the Archos 101 Platinum is that it offers a pure, unadulterated Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean experience out of the box.

This means that in spite of the 101 Platinum's hardware shortcomings, it still feels like a relatively modern and thoroughly flexible tablet. Android Jelly Bean is an excellent mobile operating system, whichever way you cut it.

Archos 101 Platinum

The home screen is as you'd expect

You can read in more depth about the Android Jelly Bean OS in TechRadar's review, suffice to say it's simultaneously powerful and very easy to use. It's an icon-driven interface in a similar fashion to iOS 7 on the iPad, with the key difference being the ability to add widgets to your five home screens.

These are effectively expanded app icons that contain live information from the apps they represent.

Meanwhile, you can drag down two menu overlays from the top of the screen. At the top left you have the main notification bar, which summarises and informs you off any incoming messages. These can be emails, social network posts, or details on available app updates in the Google Play Store.

Archos 101 Platinum

Notifications to the left...

Each of these notifications can be tapped to jump to the relevant app, or they can simply be dismissed with a swipe. Some of them can be interacted with directly - so for example you can reply to an incoming Gmail message direct from the notification bar.

The other drag-down menu, at the top-right of the screen, relates to Android's settings menu. This grants you quick access to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth toggles, and the like.

Unlike iOS, there's a separate app tray, accessible from a dedicated virtual button at the bottom of the home screen, which takes you to a list of your installed apps. It's through here that you can also set up those aforementioned widgets.

Archos 101 Platinum

Apps. Lots of apps

Another thing that Android Jelly Bean handles well is multitasking. Hit the virtual multitasking button in the black bar along the bottom of the interface and you'll be presented with a horizontal list of thumbnails.

These relate directly to recently opened apps, which are retained in memory at the point you left them. This means that you can jump straight back into them with a simple tap.

Archos 101 Platinum

Jump straight to a running app with a tap

Android Jelly Bean's a winner, then, and the best thing is that it runs reasonably well even on modest hardware.

Not that the Archos 101 Platinum is obviously lacking on the power front. With an unnamed quad-core Cortex-A9 processor clocked at a respectable 1.6GHz, it's more than capable of handling general tablet tasks with ease.

Navigating through the Android OS is pretty much free of hitches, if not completely buttery smooth, and streaming HD video content doesn't cause it any problems.

Archos 101 Platinum

Real Racing 3

Of course, with a somewhat dated mali-400 mp GPU, the 101 Platinum isn't at the very top of the Android tree when it comes to complex games. But then this is where that bog-standard screen resolution actually helps out – pushing fewer pixels means less of a hardware strain.

The consequence is that I was able to play advanced 3D games like Real Racing 3, a well-known system hog, at playable (if far from perfect) frame rates. But I'll tackle games in a little more detail later.