By September 27, 2010

Archos 8 Home Tablet review

Archos 8 Home Tablet review

Introduction

The Archos 8 Home Tablet is a confusing lump. Having crept onto the market without too much in the way of marketing the “8″ is something of an odd choice for those looking for an internet media tablet. Archos know their stuff when it comes to portable entertainment but does this device have a market? Lets have a look.

What’s in the box?

  • Android home media tablet
  • Charger
  • USB cable
  • US/UK/European plug fittings
  • Warranty info and User Guide

The ten second review:

  • Device: Archos 8 Home Tablet
  • Price: £179.99
  • Summary: Android rocking digital photo frame with huge media support
  • Best of: Kick stand, media support
  • Worst of: Bezel size, Android 1.6
  • Buy it now from: Archos.com

Archos 8 Home Tablet Specifications:

. Flash Memory: 4 GB
. Extendable via micro SDHC Slot
. High resolution touch screen with virtual keyboard, 800×600 pixels, 8” TFT LCD, 16 million colors

Video Playback

. H.264 up to 720p resolution – 30 fps / 2.5 Mbps.
. MPEG-42 – 30 fps / 2.5 Mbps.
. RealvideoT up to 720p resolution – 30 fps / 2.5 Mbps
With the above codecs, the device can play video files with the following extensions: .avi, .mp4, .mkv, .mov, and .flv

Audio Playback
. MP3, WMA (non protected), WAV3, APE, OGG, FLAC, AAC3

Photo viewer
. JPEG, BMP, GIF, PNG

Interfaces
. USB 2.0 Host: Mass Storage Class (MSC)
. USB 2.0 Slave
. Micro SDHC card

Communication protocols
. WiFi (802.11 b/g)

Miscellaneous
. 2 built-in speakers
. Leg stand
. Microphone

Power source
. Internal: Lithium Polymer battery
. External: Power adapter/charge

Battery life5
. Music playback time: up to 42 hours
. Video playback time: up to 8 hours

Dimensions & weight
. 263 mm x 220 mm x 12 mm (10.3″ x 8.7″ x 0.47″) – 800 g / 28.2 oz

General

Working from left to right there is an SD card port, USB port, MicroUSB port, power button and an LED power light.

Archos 8 Home Tablet review

The bottom has two little rubber feet

ARCHOS_8_home_tablet_3-4_Google_reflet

Both the right and left side a devoid of buttons and plugs

The back has a reset hole. There are two heavy grooves that aid handling the tablet and the left has the power socket inside. This groove is aloes cut to allow for a power cable to run the length of the back and look tidier. Off centre is the kick stand, with a little rubber cover on the end. This acts as a shoe however, it can be removed to reveal a sharp point to provide stability or scratch a wooden table depending on the surface. There are four rubber feet to lie the tablet down and small speakers in the lower left and right corners.ARCHOS_8_home_tablet_dos

In the middle of the large bezel is an 8″ screen. The bezel itself extends the size of the unit to roughly 13″. The bezel has a brushed plastic look however manages to pick up fingerprints like a crazy fingerprint picking up thing. The screen is a resistive affair with a spongy feel.ARCHOS_8_home_tablet_face_home_screen

Highlights

  • Large display
  • 4GB onboard plus expandable SD
  • Major codec support
  • Appslib
  • Kickstand

Lowlights

  • Screen quality
  • Laggy
  • Speaker quality
  • Bezel size

 

Review

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a charger in the packaging. Normally devices come with a USB cable and maybe a plug. This device, sensibly, has both. You can leave it plugged in on a bureau and take it away to connect it to the computer without having to dig down the back of the bureau for the cable. Nice one Archos.

Archos have spent a good amount of time in planning for the Archos 8. There are a lot of considerations that have been made at the design level. Some good, some bad. The build quality is high and the unit is very comfortable to use. Whilst it’s mostly plastic don’t let that put you off, it feels sturdy.

The screen is one of the big let downs here. Sure, it’s bright and large however it just doesn’t have a quality feel to it. At 800×600 you won’t be blown away by pin sharp beauty. In fact when close up some pictures can look rather ugly. I don’t just mean the ones of me, but even the stock pictures provided one the device. The touch experience is disappointing also. The responsiveness of the resistive screen isn’t shocking but it’s not exactly stellar either. Scrolling up and down with the internet browser can become a tiresome experience.

Surrounding the screen is the noticeable Bezel. It’s huge. Archos had muttered they were thinking about reducing this, however they haven’t. Or if they have then I’d hate to think what it may have been like before. It will appeal to some as it’s almost retro by today’s standards of minimalism. From afar it can look quite nice but had Archos shaved 1cm off then it would have been quite striking.

Archos have always delivered fairly high quality products in the past and only recently have they made a push into the budget market. The Archos 8 is wedged in between. It’s a cheap tablet for internet tomfoolery with a great amount of connections and gadgets. It’s a fairly expensive photo frame but it’s nice to have the option to fire off a copy of a picture is a visitor wants one.

 

Software

The device comes with a little bundled software. First and foremost is Archos’ own additions Photo Viewer, Video Player, Audio Player and File Manager

Photo Viewer is a simple affair. Simply collects your images together into albums and you can setup a slideshow or flick through them at your leisure. You can rotate, zoom and amend brightness also.
The Photo Viewer has a second part, the Photo Frame application. This is a different front end that allows for more customisation on the slideshow. It’s rather buggy however.

Video Player is a rather bland but fully featured . video player. Archos is the industry leader at codec support on the go and the 8 is no slacker. It’s doesn’t have the full list like many of it’s brothers however it does have most and nearly everything the average user throws at it will play.

Audio Player adds a little more in the way of features then that Music app Android normally sports. There is a lot more screen so everything is right there to operate. There are also presetting for the equaliser along with a generous selection of slidey bars for fine tuning.

Lastly is the File Manager. To help with organising your media Archos have a functioning file manager that allows the user to move, cut, paste, delete and rename files individually. There aren’t extensive settings to allow you to select multiple files or drag and drop.

Using the keyboard whilst the kickstand is out can prove problematic. You’ll be at the wrong angle and the Android keyboard only occupies a quarter of the screen here, annoyingly small.

After that the 8 comes with Deezer, eBuddy, CineShowTime, Colornote and a couple of other standard Android apps. There is a noticeable lack of Google apps, most notably the Marketplace. Instead we get Appslib. Whilst it contains no where near the amount of apps as Google’s marketplace it’s no half hearted attempt. Appslib have apps Archos have tried and tested to ensure compatibility. There’s over 1000 apps in there of varying quality, most of which you will see in the Marketplace.

Conclusion

The hardest part of reviewing this device is to try to review it as something. If the device is regarded as a digital photoframe then it is quite competent if a little expensive. As a media player it’s got potential, Android 1.6 is not noted for it’s media handling however Archos works their magic a little and it shows. Finally as an internet tablet its leagues behind the standard, the browser is old and clunky, there is no access to the Google Marketplace and for the size of the unit the screen feels a bit paltry.
At £179.99 the device is hardly a steal and it’s never going to be recommended over something like the iPad. No one visiting you is going to mistaken this for anything but a digital photo frame and in that regard this is probably about as flexible as you can get.

 

Posted by: Gareth

About the Author:

Seasoned tech blogger. Host of both the Mobile Tech Addicts podcast and The Mobile Tech Addicts Show.
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