Archos 101 G9
10.1 in 1,280x800 display, 649g, 1.5GHz ARM Cortex A9, 1.00GB RAM, 16GB disk, Android 4.0
The Archos 101 G9 tablet has been available since the end of last year, but it's one of the first tablets to receive an upgrade to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which makes it one of the most up-to-date tablets available. There's a choice of storage options: either 8GB or 16GB flash memory models, or a 250GB hard disk version which is thicker and heavier. Our sample, a Turbo model, also comes with faster processor than the original, up from 1.2GHz to 1.5GHz.
It has a bright 10.1in screen with a 1,280x800 resolution. The glossy finish means reflections can be a problem, but the display has surprisingly good viewing angles, and colours are accurate if a bit flat. It's certainly not as eye-catching as the AMOLED screens on some smartphones and tablets we've seen recently, but for reading web pages and watching movies, it's got a good balance of size and resolution.
The dual-core processor can play HD video and 3D games, but as usual we still found Android stuttered a bit when multiple apps were open - this is a problem with Android rather than the tablet. As well as 16GB of built-in storage space, there's a microSDHC card slot, and if you need more room, you can buy an adaptor that lets you attach USB storage for only £8. There's also an optional £50 3G adaptor that plugs into a dedicated slot on the rear.
Android 4.0 is the real star here. The main improvements are behind the scenes, but a major change means apps will scale better to fit the varied resolutions of Android tablets. Older apps get a Compatibility View option - a small icon that appears in the task bar that lets you zoom the app to fill the available screen space. You can also resize widgets on the home screens - once you've added a widget, you simply press and hold on it for a while to bring up bounding boxes that you can adjust to make the app fill the screen better.
As far as apps are concerned, Archos has used a light touch. There's a collection of preinstalled third-party apps, but you can uninstall all of them if you want, although with 12GB of free internal space, all accessible for apps, it'll be a while before you need to clear space. Archos has also added a file manager that lets you browse network shares and media servers as well as the contents of the SD card or attached USB storage.
We were disappointed to find that the preinstalled office document viewer was a trial version and not one of the many freely-available viewers. The other pre-installed apps are hit-and-miss, and it's worth keeping in mind that the Android Play Store (what used to be called the Market) offers a much wider variety, so you should be able to find what you need.