Archos 101 Update: One for the Coffee-Table

Posted on 08 December 2010, Last updated on 10 June 2018 by

IMG_4661It’s getting somewhat difficult to sort out the wheat from the chaff when it comes to low cost tablets now. For me, someone that has good devices knocking around, it’s even more difficult to find something that stands out.

One device that has piqued my interest over the last few weeks though has been the Archos 101. Personally I’m not too interested in it but it’s not me I’m thinking about. I’m thinking about the family coffee table, parents and grandparents, maybe even the car. As I mentioned in my Sept 3rd hands-on, it’s a good value product that could work well as a gift. The iPad would look better on the coffee table of course but at a starting price of 499 Euros, it’s out of the ‘gift’ price range for many.

What are you going to use this coffee-table gadget for? Ignore email, Twitter, Facebook and anything else that needs an account because when you share a single-user Android device with the family, you’re at risk. What the family needs (possibly) is a flexible on/offline video player, image viewing, web browsing and gaming, a bus/train/flight timetable, holiday booking, Wikipedia and other casual activities. Pure entertainment. You won’t be worried about mobile use (although portability is important) so the low-cost 10 inch screen devices seem to be a perfect fit. Video codec support is will be needed for supporting all the different types of videos thrown at it and TV-Out support goes hand-in-hand with that. SD card or USB on-the-go is also useful. A stand, critical. A full applications market would be great but I think that many can live with a set-up phase that includes a bit of sideloading if it’s going to save them the money.

The Archos 101, at just 299 Euros, looks like the ideal device. It’s Archos which means you’ve got their history to take into account and late delivery of products, quality and upgrades is something that I got hit with on the Archos 5 Internet Tablet. As Froyo has already been released for the 101, at least the major upgrade has been delivered. The community is strong with this one too and hacks, tips and tricks will be freely available.

The Archos 101 is a device that a lot of people are looking at this holiday period. I’m getting a lot of queries about it and even after reading a review of the Advent Vega yesterday, I still see the 101 as being the most interesting of the low-cost 10 inch devices. Yes, the Toshiba Folio 100 has a content store for audio and video but its quite a bit more expensive.

The only thing that worries me about the 101 is the hardware. Tracy and Matt have a review that isn’t positive at all about the hardware. There are mentions of screen viewing angle problems and also other issues but I can’t see any general consensus that the Archos 101 is a bad product so right now I’m putting this one at the top of my 10 inch Android list and might even venture out soon to buy one.

What do you think?

Here’s my hands-on video from IDF in September.

18 Comments For This Post

  1. gobble says:

    Your coverage of these tablets is awful. You fail to report on the real and important problems. I guess you just don’t see them. Presumably, if somebody used your beer as a toilet your response would be “yum, beer!” because you just can’t see when there are terrible problems affecting things. Please, these tablets are awful. Start covering them correctly or cover better computers. Carrypad is getting unbearable.

  2. says:

    details on said missed flaws?

  3. chippy says:

    What important problems do you see in the 101?

  4. John Q. Public says:

    The 101 is a decent product but suffers from some fatal flaws, namely the poor quality screen and only 256MB RAM instead of the now more common 512MB. The poor quality screen makes it difficult to watch a video. In order to see enough contrast you have to tilt the device away from you at least 10 degrees but in so doing, the colors wash out. Text on the device is another sore point as font rendering is rather poor, leading to text that is not sharp and crisp as it should be. I don’t know what they did but this display is much worse than what a typical netbook is capable of. The lack of RAM causes the tablet to lag when running low on memory which is a situation that is surprisingly easy to get into if you use the web browser at all. The combination of using the web browser and having any background tasks running will usually lower the amount of free RAM such that you will run into lags when switching to another application. It’s not an unusable device, especially at the price Archos is offering it for but I think they would have done better to offer a version at higher cost that contained a better screen and more RAM. My experience with the 5IT and now the 101IT has me thinking that purchasing another Archos product would simply be foolish. I do think the 101 will serve me well for the next 6 months until Android 3 arrives and other more reliable manufacturers introduce products based on it. There just aren’t many alternatives in the 10 inch space, especially in the USA so that is why I bought it. The other notable device is the ViewSonic GTablet which is more expensive but has a better quality screen and more RAM. The problem with it is the firmware is awful and you need to dedicate a lot of time and effort into getting it running properly with community developed firmware.

  5. says:

    sadly, very few devices provide ram numbers as part of their spec sheet.

    and on top of that i often see ram and internal storage mixed up in various blog and forum posts, confusing the issue even more…

  6. alslayer says:

    I worry about the lack of a youtube player. I have an archos 7 home tablet and I really missed watching youtube vids that I watch on my ipod touch.

  7. chippy says:

    Doesn’t the 101 break out YouTube into its own.player?

  8. John Q. Public says:

    There’s already a .apk file that can be installed which provides Google Market functionality to the Android 2.2 running Archos 101. Once you install that, Google’s YouTube app can be installed from the Market as well as Gmail and Google Maps apps, in addition to 1000s of other apps.

  9. Nirm says:

    so will we all be opening separate Google accounts for our coffee table tablets & Google TV’s? so that when the family’s teenage kids come over & decide to enter dirty words into Google search it wont be tied to our search history?

  10. chippy says:

    Something I would like to see in android 3 is multi-user support. Interesting, chrome OS has this built in.

  11. C Pham says:

    I think this idea is a nice one, but not very plausible.

    As a personal device, as a device meant only for me, or for someone else dear to me, I can see Android being an excellent choice. But as a device that many can enjoy at once? I think that’s a pretty hard one for Android to accomplish.

    I have actually pondered this question many times, and in the end, I gave up breakfast for two weeks to afford that extra $200 for the iPad. I probably can’t justify a $500 toy for myself, but for my family, it was just right, and it saved the hassle. Why?

    Well, it’s the ease of use. The iPad’s interface is extremely simple and literal. You tap an icon, it takes you to an app. Single button to take you back to the pages of apps. That’s it. Android’s interface often consists of the following concepts: home screen, widgets, app launcher, menu, back button, home button, search button, notification bar. Even disregarding the search button, the menu, back, and home buttons still exist in most Android devices. I can only imagine the hell you’ll have to go through trying to explain to every single person what the homescreen does, or what the app drawer does, or what the menu button does, what the back button does, or what the home button does. It’s like the first time you brought a computer back home. You’ll have to tell them what the mouse does, what the keyboard does, how to turn it on, what the “Start button” means, etc… That’s just… history repeating itself. I wanted to give my family something that they don’t even have to learn to use. Hence the iPad. Single home button to take you home. Done. If you see something on the screen, touch it, swipe it, slash it, etc… It doesn’t take an hour to explain to them what works and what doesn’t and how to use it. I just gave it to them.

    Then, there’s the selection of apps. Android has a lot of cool stuffs, but dare I say… it doesn’t have much (or anything), in the marketplace or not, that is for family use. Sure, the web browser, and the photo gallery, and the movie apps are all useful, but… Sincerely, even as some other family members in the house know a thing or two about using portable media devices, I never found them putting anything on the iPad. I don’t think they would put anything on an Android tablet either. Even if it is as easy as plugging the camera into the camera connection kit on the iPad without even going through a computer, I rarely see a photo or two in there. Mostly just stuffs the kids accidentally got off the internet. I found that the most likely use cases for the iPad in the duration it was there were quick internet lookups for cooking recipes, calendars, dates, instructions on how to do stuffs, or quick searches for sports news, garden collections, and so on. It was occasionally used to view some Youtube videos, but nothing more. The thing I found that they did the most was to play board games. Scrabbles, chess, solitaire, mahjong, battleship, etc, you name it. The kids got them all over the device, and my folks occasionally joined in. Honestly, it’s just the kids that use the device for the most part. My parents would rather watch TV.

    Personally, I use a Motorola Droid (the first one), and I love the phone. But at the same time, with using the phone to its utmost limit, overclocking, customizing, scouring for apps, writing apps for it, etc… I found that it’s just not really meant to be a device for use by anyone other than me. It’s my personal thing… which is both good and bad. I’ve had a chance to play with a Galaxy Tab lately, both in the AT&T and Verizon stores, and I can conclude pretty much that it was just a bigger version of my phone, which means it falls pretty much under the same conclusion. I don’t know what Archos will do to the 101, or what it’s actually like, but I suspect that if it’s just like a giant Android phone, then… it may not work at all as a device for many to use at once. The iPad, as I have seen, turned out to not be a big iPhone after all… thanks to its unique softwares. Board games on the iPad were built and developed to be there for multiple players to enjoy at once. A lot of websites were reconstructed to fit the iPad’s screen, and a lot of video contents on those sites were also re-done so that they could play on the iPad without the use of Flash. Even websites that wouldn’t show anything on my cousin’s iPhone 3GS showed something on the iPad. It almost made me wish they could have done the same for Android. But ah well… not like I use my phone to browse the web much anyways. Some technical websites that I go to (particularly the XDA-Developers forums) lag profusely with the Android browser. I’m thinking of upgrading to a Samsung Fascinate, since that phone seems really fast.

    But that’s my story. Personally, I think an Android device is a great gift for that someone you care about, but when it’s for your family… as a whole, I think something easier to use and maintain might be a better choice.

  12. chippy says:

    That 500$/€ is going to be tough. I know what you mean about software and simplicity though (apart from the pathetic requirement to have a pc in the house to set up an Ipad.) If people can afford that then cool but i’m sure it wouldn’t take two weeks of breakfast times to teach some how to use a basic android setup.

  13. C Pham says:

    Well, it just works for me, and that’s how I like it.

    I can probably sit down with them a whole day to guide them through an Android tablet, but alas, whenever I’m over there, there are so many other things to do. And I doubt my parents would be willing to digest the whole back button, menu button, home button, notification bar, app drawer business…

    Talking about the PC and iPad relationship, I found out it was an unsuccessful one. PC met iPad once, just once, to activate the tablet. Then since then, they haven’t talked to each other. I guess my family just isn’t big on putting movies into a 10″ tablet to watch on the couch. I got them a camera connection kit so whenever they are done snapping the Nikon, they can just plug the thing into the camera connection kit and pictures would flow into the iPad. Simple and painless, I guess. I found the iPad as a photo frame sometimes afterwards, but for the most part, it would be off in a corner somewhere in the house, where the kids left it, or it would be with my mom in the kitchen as she goes through recipes after recipes. I also found my dad using it as a newspaper substitute in the morning on occasions. He did complain about the weight, though.

  14. Chuck Daly says:

    The differences between the UI of the iPad and Android are similar to the differences between Coke and Pepsi. They are far more alike than different. Is there even an OS more similar to iOS than Android? The basic and daily use of Android and iOS are equally intuative. Any higher learning curve for Android comes from its ability for customization and multitasking, things that if added to iOS would equally raise its learning curve

    The problem with tablet discussions are distiguishing between hardware and software. iOS is married to apple products, where android isn’t. I’ve yet to read a review of an android product that makes the distinction between the flaws and merits of the hardware separate from the software. The Galaxy Tablet is a prime example. Its a hardware beast, but uses Android which is a crappy tablet OS. I’ve yet to read a Dell PC review where the reviewer knocks the PC for the poorly layed out UI of Internet Explorer.

  15. says:

    leave only the home button on a android device, and your very close to have iphone/ipad behaves.

  16. Paulinvite says:

    Review is very poor and misleading, this product is severely flawed, and clearly is not the product that it was spouted to be at the Beijing Key note by Archos. Check out this forum of people who are using the product.

  17. Paulinvite says:

    You need to get a few pages into the thread before all the major problems surface. The first few pages are right after the froyo update.

  18. chippy says:

    If you’ve seen my reviews you’ll know that this isn’t one of them! The archosfans forum is a great place to go. I think I already linked it in the article.

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