Saturday, December 18, 2010
Archos 70 Review. 250gb and Android 2.21!
My Archos 70 Internet tablet w/250gb arrived Thursday 12/16/2010, and I had it updated to android 2.21 within 15 minutes of unboxing it. Archos has already update the 2.21 firmware once to address some early WiFi and processor management issues. I also have their older Archos 7 Home tablet, and was looking forward to see if they had learned anything. They have!
First of all, the screen on the 70 uses capacitance to sense your touch. It also recognizes two fingers (multitouch!). They've added a graphics co-processor to help speed up the UI (User Interface) as well as games, and with an ARM Cortex A8 1GHz processor the experience is delightful. This Archos 70 has removed the impatience and frustration I developed using their 7 Home.
- Wireless: WiFi (802.11 b/g/n), and Bluetooth 2.1 EDR.
- Webcam: Front facing, VGA resolution (640 x 480).
- Outputs: Mini HDMI output. (Mini HDMI / HDMI cable sold separately), and stereo headphone jack.
- Controls: Volume +/- rocker, and Power/Hold/Reset button. On-screen Back/Menu/Home/Search icons.
- Other: Microphone, Stereo Speakers, G-sensor, and Kickstand.
This model in Archos' generation 8 line-up has the same media features as all the others do. Great music playback capability. Great Photo and Video display capabilities as well. They all have access to Archos' Appslib application store, and can be easily "hacked" to add the standard Google apps and Market access. I'll refer you to my review of the Archos 32 and Archos 43, as well as the technical page for the 70 at Archos.com for more info about the media capabilities. Where the 70 stands out is that it and the 101 get capacitive (skin sensing) screens, and that means interaction is easier and multitouch comes in to make the web browser and photo gallery app easier to use. Android apps that can take advantage of multitouch also work better when it is available. Since the 70 has a front facing camera, it also comes with the FRING video chat application. The 7" screen makes every app more enjoyable. text is larger. Images are larger. Videos are larger. GAMES are larger! Yet at 7" this tablet is nearly the perfect size to enjoy at home as well as take with you when travelling. Steve Jobs obviously hasn't used a 7" tablet if he thinks they are dead in the water. Expect a smaller iPad from Apple eventually. ;)
Hard Drive: As all the data is on a hard drive, expect load times to take a little longer than they would on the Flash memory version. You have room for far more apps and media on this version though, and you don't have to swap out or even bring along microSD cards when you need more space.
Bluetooth: The smaller tablet from Archos also have Bluetooth, but at the 7" size the potential becomes more interesting. You can pair a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse with it. Add a good word processor from the android market and you'll have a serious work setup. The kickstand props the 70 at a perfect angle for viewing, and it will even stand the 70 up on end if you don't mind a little wiggle. Bluetooth can also be used to pair a $25ish GPS module to the 70, and with Google navigation it becomes a very functional GPS nav unit. I find I can also send pictures to my Canon Printer over Bluetooth, and the printer will then print them out. Lastly, you can send the audio output of the 70 to Bluetooth headphones or speaker docks.
Kindle (Amazon), Nook (Barnes and Noble), Google Books, and Aldiko ebook apps for the 70, and it becomes a competitive e-reader that doesn't discriminate on where your books came from. I've tried several e-readers. I've tried several tablets. At this point the Archos 70it stands out as the best solution to both categories. With battery life rated Music up to 36 hours, Video up to 7 hours, and Web surfing up to 10 hours, expect around 10 hours for ebook reading before needing to recharge.
3D Games: Archos added a graphic accelerator with 3D OpenGL ES 2.0 capabilities to this series of tablet. It means the 70 can play animated 3D games as well as your X-Box or PlayStation. An example 3D game is included, and does a good job of demonstrating the power you have in your hands. The G-sensor in the 70 allows the tablet itself to become the controller of the game. A few more example games can be downloaded from this link: Archos.com. Yes, you can play these games on the smaller gen 8 tablets. No they are not as cool there as they are on the 70! Hook the 70 to your HDTV and play on the BIG SCREEN with the 70 as controller!
Angry Birds addiction, as the version on her iPhone is "too small!". Video viewing is a delight, with good audio from the stereo speakers. It makes a reasonable digital Photo Frame if you're charging it on your desktop and not otherwise using it. Archos appears to have learned their lesson. They have been responsive to owner complaints since it came out, with a firmware update that addressed the most major ones. Check out their support forum HERE. Given that Samsung wants $550 for its Galaxy Tab, this $318 Archos 70it tablet with very similar specs is a winner. If you don't need the 250gb hard drive, give the $268 8gb version a look.
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