Archos 101 Internet Tablet review
The Archos 101 has impressive battery life and supports external storage, but it doesn’t feel as tough as its rivals and doesn't come with the standard Google apps and account support.
Review Date: 26 Feb 2011
Price when reviewed: £240
Reviewed By: Barry de la Rosa
The Archos 101 is a beautifully slimline tablet, with a brushed-metal screen bezel and rounded edges on the plastic case. It's made using an injection moulding technique that blends steel and moulded plastic to reduce weight while retaining rigidity, and the result is a tablet that's 12mm thin and weighs 480g, with a 10.1in widescreen display that stretches to the edges of the device.
It's also recently been updated to Android 2.2, which isn't the very latest version but brings substantial performance increases over previous releases. Out of the box, its software is limited, however: many apps available on the Android Market aren't designed for the 101's large screen, so Archos has installed what it calls AppsLib - a "controlled" set of apps that Archos has tested. It's not as well organised as the Android Market, and offers a fraction of the variety.
As with the smaller Archos 32 you can install the freely available ArcToolsusing the 101's browser, which gives you access to the Android Market so you can install missing Google apps such as YouTube and Calendar. Before updating the 101 to Android 2.2, some of these (such as Google Talk) didn't render properly on the screen, but with 2.2 installed we saw no incompatibilities, and installed many of our favourite apps with no problems.
The 10.1in screen would be ideal for Google Maps, but sadly it's not supported even by ArcTools, and there's no GPS receiver to help pinpoint your location in any case. It's also a shame that Archos haven't customised the virtual keyboard; it expands to the width of the screen, making typing whilst holding the 101 a question of how far you can stretch your thumbs.
The preinstalled apps are a mixed bag. Archos' file manager is useful, as it lets you browse DLNA network shares and external storage, and there's a handy Uninstall app. We found the Photo Frame app - designed to run slideshows of your photos - was almost impossible to configure or exit, as its control icons were hidden by default and didn't react to touch controls when they did appear. Also, the video player wouldn't play many of our files; it's not powerful enough to decode 1080p video smoothly, and it played some of our test files at odd aspect ratios; surprising considering Archos' long history with multimedia devices. To play some file formats, you'll need to buy the optional Cinema Plugin from Archos' store for £13.
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