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CNET First Look
Archos 9 PC TabletThe Archos 9 PC Tablet certainly looks the part of a full-OS iPad competitor, but frequent frustrations make it a tough sell.
[ Music ] ^M00:00:04 >> Dan: I'm Dan Ackerman and we are here taking a look at the new Archos 9 PC; this is kind of what you want to a tablet pc to look at. Look it's thin, it's light, it's got a cool kind of brushed metal body, it's certainly a lot nicer looking than some of the kind of chunky, heavy, hard to use tablet mock-ups and prototypes that we've seen. Archos actually pitches this as a next generation NetBook because it's got a lot of NetBook components in it. It's got a small hard drive, it's got an Intel Atom CPU, it's got a gig of RAM and it's got Windows 7 Starter and, of course, the screen is a touch-screen. However, unlike other devices we've seen recently like let's say the iPad or even the iPhone and the iPod Touch with those you're very kind of used to an instant gratification from your touching and dragging. Here it's a little bit tougher. You have to really take your finger and work it moving things across the screen. You get a little bit of lag there and, you know, a little casual touch like this is just not gonna do it. There's a Demi stylus included but that's just a little thin piece of plastic and that's not really gonna be too much help and doing the same kind of things. The problem with any touch-screen device without a physical keyboard is a lot of the basic computer things that you do because this is still a computer and it'll require a keyboard. Fortunately, there's a handy little button right here that brings up an on-screen keyboard but when you're holding the device kind of like this your hands are too far apart to really hit all the keys comfortably. It's a little bit awkward to do typing on there. And, of course, you still have to press down pretty hard on the screen to register a letter. Besides moving the mouse point around with your finger you can also use this little, tiny micro touch-pad over here that works fairly well and there's left and right mouse buttons over here on the side. We would have liked to see a button to let you kind of change the screen orientation like this to view it in landscape mode. Instead to do that you have to hold it down for a little while in order to right click and then go into your screen setup over here and pick Portrait mode. Anyway, the portrait mode in some ways is a lot more natural especially if you're using something like the Kindle Reader to read eBooks. And here, of course, you can kind of tap on the edge to get to the next page. What you can't do, however, is swipe to get to the next page. We found that kind of annoying. We've seen that on some other PC tablets so it's certainly not impossible to do. And, of course, web pages suffer from the same problem. If I'm reading a long a web page obviously I want to take my finger and I want to scroll up and down the page. I can't do that I got to go over here and grab a little scroll bar with my fingertip in order to do that. Now even though we like the design and even if they worked out all of the touch-screen issues we still have a big bone to pick with the Archos 9 and that's because, you know, as a NetBooks [inaudible] the device that uses an Intel Atom processor. Now, most NetBooks use an Intel Atom N270 or N280 or the newer N450 and they're not speedy but at least they get the job done. When we see a NetBook with a Z series Intel Atom like the Z520 or the Z530 well, we generally tend to run for the hills 'cause they're pretty slow; this guy goes one step even further back it's got something called the Z510 and it's positively glacial. It takes a long time to open up a window or browse around to really do anything. And, of course, if you're planning on using this as a portable media machine that's what Archos is really known for and certainly the form factor seems perfect for that. You know, playing video files, it worked pretty well. Playing 720p video files, a little bit choppy, but when we went online to try to play a Hulu file no luck at all. So even though we like the concept, we like the form factor, we like the design of this particular unit the fact that the touch-screen has a bunch of frustrating problems and it's just plain slow means that I don't think we've really found our perfect PC-based iPad alternative yet or that holy grail of the perfect Cabot touch-screen computer. I'm Dan Ackerman and that is the Archos 9 PC. ^E00:03:35