The coverboard is a thoughtful addition held back by the lack of a secure attachment mechanism and a touch pad. Also, a larger typing space would have made this more appealing to those of us with larger hands.
The 101 XS houses a 1.5GHz OMAP 4470 CPU, with a PowerVR SGX544 GPU, 16GB of storage, and 1GB of RAM. Tablet mainstays like 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi support, Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS are included as well as gyroscope, accelerometer, and a digital compass.
The Archos 101 XS houses an MVA (multidomain vertical alignment) panel and sports a resolution of 1,280x800 pixels and is very susceptible to fingerprint ruin. It's responsive to touch and swipe, but possibly could use just a bit more sensitivity calibration, as some of my swipes would only half-take.
|Tested spec||Archos 101 XS||Asus Transformer Pad TF300||Apple iPad (2012)||Asus Eee Pad Slider||Archos 101 G9|
|Maximum brightness (Super IPS+)||210 cd/m2||331 cd/m2||455 cd/m2||323 cd/m2||247 cd/m2|
|Default brightness||167 cd/m2||135 cd/m2||160 cd/m2||323 cd/m2||111 cd/m2|
|Maximum black level (Super IPS+)||0.12 cd/m2||0.22 cd/m2||0.49 cd/m2||0.34 cd/m2||0.5 cd/m2|
|Default black level||0.09 cd/m2||0.09 cd/m2||0.17 cd/m2||0.34 cd/m2||0.23 cd/m2|
|Default contrast ratio||1,855||1,504||941||950||494|
|Contrast ratio (max brightness)||1,750:1||1,500:1||928:1||950:1||482:1|
The 101 XS runs Android 4.0.4, but Archos says we should expect see a Jelly Bean update sometime in 2012. Navigating the OS felt speedy with less lag than what I've experienced with the Archos Gen 9 tablets. Riptide GP launched as fast on the 101 XS as it did on the Nexus 7. However, actually loading a level from the game took almost three times as long as it did on the Nexus 7.
Riptide GP is one of the best real-world graphics benchmarks. It's available on both iOS and Android; the resolution can be adjusted with a noticeable change in performance, and depending on the speed of the GPU, the game's frame rate will noticeably increase or decrease. After cranking the game's resolution to its highest possible, the Archos 101 XS still delivered a smooth, high-frame-rate experience. By comparison, the game on the Nexus 7 ran at a noticeably lower frame rate, but with the extra Tegra 3 graphical effects not available on the 101 XS.
Most movie files ran smoothly through Dice Player, but a 1080p trailer copied from a PC and converted to a type of file the 101 XS was compatible with ran as if it were being played back at half speed. However, the same file played smoothly through Archos' own Video app. Movie clarity was high, and in low-light environments, viewing from off angles wasn't a problem. However, in a room with lots of ambient light, the picture tended to get washed out quite easily unless viewed straight on.
The front-facing camera is one of the lowest quality I've ever seen on a tablet, with grainy images and heavily dithered color.
Here are our official CNET Labs-tested battery life results. More tablet testing results can be found .
|Video battery life (in hours)|
|Archos Gen10 101 XS||5.6|
I'll get right to the point. At $400, the 101 XS is too expensive to recommend. While the full keyboard is a great addition, it's not well-implemented enough to warrant that price. Also, this is probably the most stable Archos tablet I've seen, but that's not really anything to write home about. I do appreciate the surprisingly fast gaming performance, though.
While the Transformer TF300T with keyboard will run you about $520 or so, it also has a quad-core CPU, great cameras, an extra battery, multiple storage expansion options, and is already being updated to Android 4.1. Archos tablets are known to be heavily discounted from their initial MSRP a few weeks after launch, so if you can find it for $50 (or better yet, $100) less, it may be worth taking a look at if having a tactile keyboard is important to your tablet experience.