On screen keyboard.
It seems that integrating an on-screen keyboard has always been an issue for tablet and ultra mobile PC manufacturers and the Archos on-screen keyboard doesn’t solve the problem. We ask ourselves why they couldn’t have taken the extra step to integrate a full Windows 7 Home Premium version instead of using third party software.
The virtual keyboard, ‘Touch It’ by Chessware, does it’s job and has a host of features that we haven’t really got to grips with yet. It even includes a keyboard designer program which looks like it could be useful for designing split keyboards or, given the capability, on-screen macro buttons but the same old problems remain. Some notification boxes block the keyboard (it’s impossible to use the Start menu search feature for example) and there’s no automatic pop-up keyboard when input fields are highlighted. Windows 7 touch features are so much better integrated than the Archos 9 offering.
One advantage of the Z-series Atom processor and the accompanying chipset is that it can operate at very low power. Battery llife on the Archos 9 will rarely be below 3hrs (a high-bitrate video at high screen brightness and Wifi-on would probably push it below 3hrs) and normaly you should expect about 3.25 to 3.5hrs active usage of the device. As an input terminal with Wifi turned off and a simple text editor running, you’ll probably be able to squeeze 5hrs out of the device.
Rotation / Ebook reading.
The Archos 9 looks appealing in portrait mode but beware, 800gms is not for ebook reading! The relatively short battery life and average screen brightness doesn’t’ help either.
Heat / Noise.
The Archos 9 is silent (fanless) and keeps cool across most of the device. On charging or heavy use you will find a warm area develop just where the left finger wrap around the device (when holding in two hands.) This area gets warm but not hot.
- Skype performance was good with an audio-only stream. Video introduced high CPU and the framerate wasn’t that good. With good lighting, no programs running in the background and a good connection, the video performance was acceptable however.
- No SD card reader.
- Single USB 2.0 port
- Return from standby was good although keyboard input slows down the re-login process if used.
- Wifi performance was average to good in terms of reception and throughput.
- We did not attempt any Windows 7 optimisations
- Windows 7 Starter Edition appears to have no hibernation mode.
- The Broadcom Wifi module appears to only support G networks.
- The included Vtuner player works well. The radio section is something we enjoyed on the Archos 5 to. The application is freely available but costs $29.99
- No hyperthreading on this CPU.
- Lack of Tablet features in Windows 7 is an opportunity missed.
- Limited storage space. 60GB HDD offers 25 GB or less of free space. (+13GB free on ‘recovery’ drive)
- No easy ability to turn off Wifi or Bluetooth to save battery power.