Archos 5 Android Internet Tablet First Impressions. (Long!)

Posted on 05 October 2009, Last updated on 10 June 2018 by

I’ve tested A2DP and BT Tethering and both work quite smoothly. I haven’t been able to transfer any files to the device via BT yet (annoying as I want to transfer images from my phone cam for editing and upload) and haven’t got a BT keyboard. I also haven’t been able to test the microphone yet. (Anyone know of any good SIP clients?)

Testing continues with the Archos 5 Internet tablet but here’s a list of notes I’ve been making on the forum (check here for my latest notes)

Positive early thoughts.

  • Slick industrial design. Feels great.
  • Good stand.
  • Quality browser, browser features and great browing and javascript speed (CPU helps here.)
  • Quality video playback to 720p (as expected on a PMP)
  • Great screen brightness, viewing angle.
  • Good support for YouTube playback
  • Battery life seems good (estimated 4hrs with Wifi-on, near-constant browsing)
  • Good ebook reader s/w (FBreader and Aldiko work well and are very comfortable in the portrait format)
  • Twidroid app works nicely.
  • On screen keyboard comfortable (although i’m missing some sort of intelligence e.g. word completion, common mistake correction)
  • Notifications bar (a great Android feature)
  • Access to Archos TV and radio streams data.
  • File transfer speed to built-in flash is way faster than on my 605Wifi. Phew!
  • Browser does re-flow on zoom.

Negative early thoughts.

  • No in-browser flash support (I know it’s coming next year) (Flash game support is supported in a separate app. Download the SWF file and it should work in the flash application)
  • No case (it really needs a soft case and the supplied cleaning cloth is cheap)
  • System Crashes (about 10 in 6-8 hours of testing requiring a 10-second power-button reet. Some crashes were with no extra software installed. One crash even reset the firmware and removed installed apps and configs. (personal files remained)
  • Many application crashes (even the browser is crashing a lot)
  • Android. This isn’t really a full Android device. i.e. it doesn’t integrate with Google. No contacts sync. App store.
  • Archos App store is currently poor. A lot of apps don’t work or don’t even install. No way to easily get to pure android apps and try them out.
  • Very surprising that Google Maps support is not there. Kind of expected on an Android device with a compass GPS. (Archos nav app is pay-only)
  • TV out. A PMP without TV-out. I know how Archos operate but many will be pissed to have to buy and carry a dock for even composite video out.
  • Hard to get to screen brightness. (needs a wdget)
  • Medium quality built-in speaker. Maybe i’m spoiled by the great speakers on my Nokia N82
  • Still looking for a podcatcher. It’s crying out for an easy client-based solution.
  • USB host requires additional clip-on hardware. (AFAIK) Not very elegant. I want to be able to TX photos from my camera via USB or SD card adaptor.
  • No haptic feedback on keyboard. (Probably not important to people that have never experienced it)
  • Shame it doesn’t support AC3, WMV HD and MPEG-2 out of the box although the codec cost is really not that high.
  • GPS is not internet-assisted (A-GPS) as far as I can tell.
  • Cold boot is slow.

Battery Test Notes:

In a battery test the Archos was on for about 7hrs over a 10 hour period. (In suspend when not in use.)

  • Wifi was on for 7hrs
  • Browser was used for about 2hrs
  • Video playback: 45 mins (full-screen DivX)
  • Twitter and Email running in background
  • I guess I was messing about with apps and video tests for about 30 mins too.
    in active-standby for the rest of the time.

That’s looking very good for the size of the device and for me, acceptable as a home / coffee-shop device.

Tested applications

Note that it’s difficult to find applications from trusted sources. Many app developers don’t provide links to their application install packages. A google search helps but this is a risky process as you can’t check the apps for viruses beforehand. apk works
Spotify installs and runs. Can’t test it here as I don’t have an account (and I don’t think it works in Germany)
Aldiko working very nicely (Epub format ebook reader) Available in Archos store.
Doggcatcher Beta (podcatcher)
FBreader available in Archos store
Shazam installs but doesn’t seem to work. (Maybe it can’t find the mic?)

Continued on page 3…

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46 Comments For This Post

  1. Steve 'Chippy' Paine says:

    New article: Archos 5 Android Internet Tablet First Impressions. (Long!)

  2. CamMan says:

    Thanks so much for this. I’ve been following discussions on the archos forum, and for an unbiased, comprehensive review, this takes some beating. I’d initially decided against the A5 on the basis of the glitches that you were reporting, but can’t really see anything on the market that matches the functionality of what really could be a great product if Archos can improve the stability. So I for one, will be avidly watching this site, awaiting the green light from you that a firmware update has resolved the issues, but won’t be parting with any cash until then.
    Thanks again.

  3. me says:

    wow 2 and 6 millibits per second video capability sounds pretty crappy.

  4. Chippy says:

    OK! Thanks!

  5. czarnikjak says:

    As with all archos devices, you pay 230 euros and you THINK you have fully funcional devices…then…plugin for this plugin for that, adapter for this…etc. And you never know when you spent 400 euros!
    Buyers please be aware of that! Not for me…

  6. Neill says:

    6 crashes in 10 hours use! That is lamentable. Quality has become a real issue with Archos devices. It took them over 6 months to iron out the worst bugs in the non Android 5 and it’s still buggy. The poor user is just expected to wait for the next firmware release and hope it fixes their problems. Not good enough, especially for such an expensive device.

    Every review marks Archos down for their silly docks and add-ons, but they just seem to stick their fingers in their ears.

  7. Chippy says:

    3 resets needed today. 3 browser crashes too.
    Again, about 10 hours of heavy use today (Lots of testing)

  8. Charbax says:

    Did you ever use the clear temporary files and cache feature. Did you go into the recovery mode.

    While the firmware isn’t made resilient to all activities one can do, some times clearing the temporary files and cache or going into the recovery mode stabilizes it.

    You said you didn’t experience one single crash during the first 4 hours of testing, didn’t you?

    You might have installed some .apk, loaded some website into the cache, played some incompatible video that somehow is corrupting part of the systems memory, that is, until Archos fixes that bug or memory leak in a firmware update, or until you actively go clear the temporary files and cache or go in the local storage recovery mode.

  9. Neill says:

    Loaded some website? That shouldn’t cause crashes.
    Played an incompatible video? That shouldn’t cause crashes.

    You should not have to constantly clear caches and temporary files to try to make a device more stable.

    Android is beta. The Archos port is beta. The original code on the 5 that it is based on isn’t even reliable. Go figure.

    There isn’t even Google integration with this thing. Why on earth has Archos released it? Simple answer, they want their paying customers to beta test the Android concept. I guess it’s not just Archos doing this, it is getting an increasingly common and very worrying trend.

  10. abdullah says:

    does it support all flash video sites or only youtube?

  11. Chippy says:

    Only YouTube at the moment but I havent testing an extended list of sites.
    Vimeo and Blip (desktop sites) don’t work.

  12. Wolle says:

    So there is even no “flash light” build in for the browser?

    How does the screen compares to the iPhone 3GS in direct sunlight – still readable?


  13. Brook Zerihun says:

    After the Archos 5, I realized, that I would never go back to Archos. They have a history of filing to support devices, When you think about apple, they continue to support all devices, having regular updates to fix issues, or to support new functionality. I do not like apple, but they make he effort to keep me loyal to their product, Archos only wants to extract as much money from ech line before they abandon it. I have the S5, that is my all in one device, never crashed on me yet, the Archos, will crash every time I turn it on.

  14. Mike says:

    I don’t get it why they didn’t go for maemo, but anyway is it possible to get rid of the original firmware and put maemo on the device?

  15. Chippy says:

    That is a possibility, yes.

  16. says:

    not sure, as previous archos devices have locked the firmware with a signature file, so that only archos signed ones will boot…

  17. Joseph Clore says:

    Archos 5 Android Internet Tablet First Impressions. (Long …: They have a history of filin..

  18. BassoPT says:

    Again main problem with this device is software. Like it was other mid and internet tablets in the past. People are always watching and checking too much the hardware, and that’s a good thing. But what’s the point of having good hardware when nothing works on it. Let’s face it people poor software and OS killed devices in the past and will kill this one… just a few exemples, aigo, smartq 7, etc…

    I couldn’t believe when I read that it couldn’t even sync with google contacts (calendar?!?). It’s android for god show hard can it be to had simple stuff like this.

    I should be used to this by now but I can’t stop being disappointed

  19. LeeN says:

    That sucks about the app store. I would have liked the android experience in an internet tablet type device.

  20. Ed says:

    I will definitely be tuned to this site for updates on firmware tests’. Seems as if Archos is back to their subpar players that are full with bugs. You never hear such a thing with Apple although Apple doesn’t over the things Archos does.

    All in all until these stability issues are ironed out I am NOT buying.

  21. Dennis says:

    I really enjoy using Google Reader on the iPhone using the mobile device interface. In either orientation, it seems that it would be potentially great on that screen.

  22. Kevin N says:

    Thanks chippy! Any chance someone wants to do a quick comparison of Archos 5 vs the Android version, especially with respect to browsing and eReading?


  23. smog says:

    I agree with these comments. I have an Archos 5 and it has great potential but the stability and ongoing support and development of the software is really poor, I won’t be buying another Archos until they can demonstrate improvements in this area.

  24. marcel says:

    chip can you used mifi in archos 5?
    the gps, you think that used this in brazil, because the maps, can get maps of brasil?
    thanks chippy!!!!!!!!

  25. Chengbin says:

    chippy, I would like you to note in the H.264 video performance section that it is HIGH PROFILE it is playing. The difference in decoding power needed for high profile compared to baseline profile (used in iPods and Zune HD) is staggering (at least on hardware, because CABAC is hard to accelerate). Naturally the compression efficiency between high profile and baseline profile is staggering as well.

    Under baseline, I’d estimate it can play well above 10Mbps.

    The number for high profile is fishy anyway, as another owner claimed that it played my 6Mbps video (with a 13Mbps peak) perfectly…

  26. Pyxus says:

    Hi Chippy,
    is there any note taking application?
    I wonder how well the stylus would work to hand-write short notes….

  27. rudy says:

    Chippy thanks for the detailed review,

    Please let us know if archos ever fixes the constant reboots/crashing problem.

    If they did I might sell my s9 and get this. If not i’ll wait for something else.

  28. squirrel says:

    Great review!
    Just want to remind, is it possible to use USB host on the go? With mini-dock or with dock?

  29. chippy says:

    Only with the dock.

  30. David says:

    Just Bought an Archos 5G. Crashed 200 times. I repeat 200 times. I pressed and hold the on/off button 200 times. In 72 hrs.
    I tried all sorts of ways to do a factory reset. It just DO NOT WORK.
    The furthest I got to was the google page and then it hanged. Return to the ebay buyer. Please, for your own sake, and for mine, promise me that you think twice before buying Archos.

    Sometimes a device can promise alot of specifications. There are only there as specs. It will always remain as “it will be superb IF it can work” device.

    Stick with the Ipod Touch/Iphone. Occassional bugs here and then, but if you ever tried archos, you will know how good is Apple.AMAZING.

  31. Matthias V says:

    Thanks chippy! Definitely an interesting device once it is matured. Could you check if the device itself makes noises – like the usual high frequency buzz of a back-light or by the power regulators? I’m pretty sensitive to this stuff, so if I can, I try to get “quiet” devices.


  32. Clarence N says:

    I purchased this device on Friday, from BH in NYC. What an awful experience from an aw inspiring device. It crashes constantly, no GPS until the next firmware and the applib is constantly down!! Why would they release the device when it is not ready for deployment?!?! To top it off, the headphone jack doesnt work. I called tech support and they basically confirmed that I got a damaged unit (headphone jack)and everything else that I wanted to do with the device, would not happen until the next firmware. The return policy is 14 days so I am returning, not replacing and I will wait and see what happens. They will never compete with things like the iphone if we have to be guinea pigs for them and beta test their devices for them!!!!

  33. Chippy says:

    Interesting news about the gps. I was able to get a gps lock and search for local tweets but maybe this is skyhook/wifi driven.

  34. Mike Cane says:

    Ouch. Awful hearing about that experience, Clarence — but you at least confirmed for me that B&H in NYC has it in. Might stop by to see if I can fondle it!

  35. Android Application Development says:

    thanks a lot for first impressions.

  36. lintweaker says:

    Thanks for sharing your extensive review. I think I will wait at least a couple of firmware updates before even considering buying this. Any possibility to just put Ubuntu onto it?

  37. chippy says:

    The problem with all alternative distributions is that you need to find drivers for Wifi, Touch, accelerometer, bluetooth, etc, etc. No-one knows yet if Archos has special hardware and drivers.

  38. Neill says:

    Archos invariably lock the OS down to prevent it being changed or modified. I would be surprised if they have changed their stance on this.

  39. Mike Cane says:

    Chrome needed an update. Wonder of wonders, I was able to watch the video pretty well in FULL-SCREEN mode. Damn you for stirring up my device lust, Chippy!

  40. Alessandro Tucci says:

    RT @chippy: New article: Archos 5 Android Internet Tablet First Impressions. (Long!)

  41. 任天堂DS R4卡 says:

    The Archos 5 is a great video player, but it disappoints as a premium Android Internet tablet and GPS unit.

  42. Jared says:

    It’s not archos’ fault, the reason there is no google integration is because google won’t give the green light on any android device without a camera or a compass and the whole reason why archos has their own app store is because there are no android apps that would work with a screen that has that high of a resolution so unless google adds hi-res support to the marketplace you will always be limited to what archos decides to release. So while the software bugs are archos’ problem it’s google that has crippled this device of some of the features most users have come to expect on an android device.

  43. turn_self_off says:

    iirc, google added resolution independence to 1.6 (cupcake).

    tho i guess the problem there is that things have to be rebuilt to make use of that feature.

    as for camera or compass, it could work by telling the marketplace what capabilities the device had, and then put aside the apps that would not work.

    but again, such a sorting would require a reworking of the existing content of the marketplace before it would be fully workable.

    the trouble of a evolving system i guess.

  44. locking cash box says:

    Couldn´t be written any much better. Reading that post reminds me of my old room mate! He continually kept talking about this. I can forward that article to him. Quite sure he definitely will use a fine read. Thanks for sharing!

  45. archos 5 says:

    hey chippy just checked Archos website there seem to have been a number of firmware updates, if this correct can we get an update on the review.

  46. HM Sathish says:

    ha ha ha..great tablet but now we have so many android tablets with recent technologies.

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