When planning to go on holiday earlier this year I didn’t want to go without some sort of computer and unhappy with the resistive touch screen of my two year old 7″ apad, it was the right excuse for an upgrade. Without £350 or any desire for an iPad I opted to get an Archos 101 Internet Tablet. As it was pay day,I bought the tablet from Asda the night before going on holiday, unfortunately I had small set back with the unit already being registered with Archos so I returned it and got a replacement. I can only guess that it was returned to the store and put back on the shelf for resale. Eventually, I set about getting to grips with my new tablet.
Size and Weight; the size of this tablet is great, it’s very thin, but you don’t feel like it’ll snap in two. Although widescreen is not my favourite aspect ratio for screens, it’s certainly not offensive, and it’s marketed as an entertainment device so it’s to be expected. The weight of the 101 is very light, however the weight is not evenly distributed with most of the weight being over the ports, I think I would prefer a little extra weight over the other side to balance it out even it it added to the total weight.
Screen; the obvious focus point of the unit the screen on the 101 does not disappoint, it’s clear and crisp. Although the viewing angle is not brilliant it’s good enough to be usable without problems and it’s bright enough to see in bright daylight.
Touch screen; the multi-touch screen is accurate and responsive, however as you get closer to the edge it seems to loose a little bit of responsiveness. I think you notice the edge problems more as it’s where the main home, menu, search and back buttons are so you have to press them a lot during every day use, this doesn’t bother me massively, but there is room for improvement. As the main reason I have the pad is to blog on the move the touch screen is the make or break for me and this does very well.
Connectivity; for me the power to extend this device is one of the obvious benefits over the iPad is the ability to extend the Archos through the memory card slot and USB port. The Archos has a micro SD slot which can be massively useful if your camera takes SD cards as you can use a micro SD card in an adapter in your camera, then take it straight to the tablet to view or upload, you can also plug your camera or a hard disk into the standard size USB slot. The HDMI output is great for watching movies from hard disk on your TV.
Other Hardware; the camera is not really something I would see myself using, so I can forgive the fact the quality is a bit crappy. The screen orientation switches between horizontal and vertical smoothly on movement and the threshold for each seems fine, it’s never flipped when I’ve not wanted to making me hold it at a different angle. The kick stand is a nice touch and allows the tablet to be held at a very wide range of degrees. The battery life has never been an issue so far, even with heavy wireless usage in a poor signal area, or video playback the battery life is great.
A few seconds in I had set up the wireless and un-installed a bunch of the bundled applications, streaming music and videochatting was not something I could see myself using the tablet for, and it was on to installing apps I could see myself using. I was a bit disappointed to see Appslib instead of the Android market and even more so the lack of the WordPress application in it. Fortunately a quick Google brought up a helpful post detailing the easy steps to install the marketplace on the Archos and within a few minutes I was browsing the marketplace and downloading apps like WordPress, Xconstruct, Slice It and Angry Birds, I was ready for my holiday so I popped the Archos on charge overnight.
The first time I got a chance to use the 101 was on the plane, the tablet combined with slice it made the 3 hour trip fly by for both me and Vicky so as a time passing tool, I would have to give it a big tick. Over the holiday the combination of the 101 and stolen wifi also lead to a lot of the anxieties of leaving my online businesses with no-one to look after them, they don’t need constant supervision but the second your unable to keep check something goes wrong.
The main thing I used the 101 for when on holiday however was for blogging, as you can probably see, it was good to be able to write about the holiday each day when I got back to the hotel instead of doing a single “Spent a week in Tunisia, from what I remember it was good.” post, unfortunatley I hadn’t thought about the microSD in an adapter and didn’t think to take the cable for my camera so all the posts had to be saved offline till I got back to put them together with pictures.
Another great thing about the 101, particularly over the iPad, is the ability to get apps that would never get into the apple store, such as a torrent client which allowed me to enjoy an episode of the Big Bang Theory on the plane home.