Once we fixed its limitations we enjoyed using the Archos 32, but we're sure better Android media players will be out soon.
It was only a matter of time before manufacturers started using Android in touchscreen media players; its flexibility and polished interface make Google’s mobile operating system the logical choice for anyone out to make an iPod Touch rival. Archos’s 32 Internet Tablet is one of the first, so we were expecting a few teething problems.
The Tablet has its fair share. Its 3.2in resistive touchscreen has a resolution of just 400×240 and looks slightly gritty. Fonts on the icon labels are jagged, the screen isn’t particularly sensitive to inputs and scrolling can be sluggish. Typing can also be a laborious process.
The Android Market isn’t accessible by default. Instead, you’re prompted to set up an account on Archos’s web-based AppsLib market, which fell over with a ‘failed to install plug-in’ error. Instead, we downloaded the third-party ArcTools app via the Tablet’s web browser. This installs the Android Market and lets you link the Tablet to your Google account, making it a fully functional Android device.
You’ll then be able to install whatever apps you like. It’s hard to put too much emphasis on how useful access to the Market and the standard Google Apps are, or how neutered the Tablet seems without them. Adding them certainly makes this little media player far more interesting.
Although you’ll want to add some third-party apps, there’s no need to replace the default media players. We were pleasantly surprised by how easy the video player is to use, and impressed by its excellent format support; it could play almost every wrapper and codec we threw at it. The Tablet’s limited processing power meant that it couldn’t handle our 1080p test files, but 720p files played smoothly.
The audio player is among the best we’ve seen on an Android device, with its own sleek answer to Apple’s Cover Flow, easy playlist creation and massive format support including WMA, OGG, FLAC and even the proprietary Audible audio book format, if you add the Android Market and download the relevant app. Audio quality was excellent, with clear and accurate reproduction of music and voices. The supplied earbuds are passable, if rather quiet, but their rigid material makes them uncomfortable to wear for long.
At £113, the 8GB Archos 32 is surprisingly inexpensive. It’s certainly a good media player, with comprehensive format support. However, the screen is rather small for comfortable movie-watching or extensive web browsing and it’s limited until you install the Market hack. The Tablet works well enough, but we recommend holding out for a better Android media player.
|Storage medium||flash memory|
|Battery and charge options||Li-ion, USB|
|Device has screen?||Yes|
|Viewable size||3.2 in|
|Memory card support||none|
|Audio record options||microphone|
|Video record options||none|
|Tested battery life (MP3 playback)||21h 27m|
|Tested battery life (Video playback)||5h 4m|
|500MB transfer time||10s|
|Audio MP3 playback||Yes|
|Audio WMA playback||Yes|
|Audio WMA-DRM playback||No|
|Audio AAC playback||Yes|
|Audio Protected AAC playback||No|
|Audio OGG playback||Yes|
|Audio WAV playback||Yes|
|Audio Audible playback||Yes|
|Image BMP support||Yes|
|Image JPEG support||Yes|
|Image TIFF support||Yes|
|Video MPEG-4 AVI playback||Yes|
|Video MPEG-4 MP4 playback||Yes|
|Video WMV playback||Yes|
|Video MPEG-1 playback||Yes|
|Video MPEG-2 playback||Yes|
|Video MPEG-2 VOB playback||Yes|
|Video MPEG-4 DivX/XviD support||Yes|
|Video H.264 support||Yes|
|Video MPEG-4 MP3 audio support||Yes|
|Video MPEG-4 AAC audio support||Yes|
|Price per MB||1.4p|
|Warranty||one year RTB|