Editor's note: As of April 2012, the Archos 101G is upgradable to Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0). For details on the advantages ICS offers over Honeycomb, check the Ice Cream Sandwich section of the Asus Transformer Prime TF201 review.
The tablet business is pretty cutthroat (just ask Hewlett-Packard), and with the release of thejust weeks away, it's only going to get scarier out there for would-be iPad competitors.
The timing of a tablet release is crucial, but does rushing a tablet to market to beat the wave of upcoming competition do more harm than good?
The Archos 101 G9 has a medium-gray plastic chassis and its 1.44-pound body feels relatively thin, and about as heavy as most 10-inchers. When we held the tablet, a couple of edges on the bottom side got our attention. Also on the bottom are two small handles, ostensibly used to pry the chassis open. Although they don't stick out as much as they did on the , not only do they muddy the aesthetic quality of the chassis somewhat, but they can also be distracting when holding the tablet.
On the Archos 101 G9's right side, near the bottom, sits the volume rocker. On the left edge is a Mini-HDMI port, followed by a headphone jack, a Micro-USB port, a microSD card port, and the lock/reset button. When the tablet is held in landscape mode, its button placement is obtrusive, and many, many more times than we'd have liked, we found ourselves accidentally turning the volume down or locking the tablet.
In the middle of the front right side of the bezel is a Webcam (Archos doesn't divulge the megapixel spec) that records 720p video. The back houses a kickstand on the left that comes in handy when watching movies. Toward the middle of the back is a square assortment of pinholes that make up the speaker. Above that is the 3G stick slot, with a dummy stick currently in it. The $50 3G stick provides "anywhere" Internet access on either a per-use or subscription basis.
While we prefer thin tablets, we're willing to deal with a fatter or longer slate when it's warranted. It's not that the 101 G9 feels fat by any means, but it's a little disappointing that it's only somewhat thinner than the 10-inch Toshiba Thrive. The Thrive is thicker, but earns its heft with full ports and a swappable battery. The 101 G9 is also slightly longer than the Thrive.
Overall, the 101 G9's ill-advised button placement makes it a tablet we'd rather set down than hold. For that reason, we do appreciate the inclusion of the kickstand, and the Mini-HDMI port is a useful addition, especially given the 101 G9's 1080p video capability.
|Archos 101 G9||Toshiba Thrive||Acer Iconia Tab A500||Asus Eee Pad Transformer|
|Weight in pounds||1.44||1.66||1.38||1.6|
|Width in inches (landscape)||10.9||10.75||9.6||9.5|
|Height in inches||6.5||7||5.8||7.4|
|Depth in inches||0.5||0.62||0.49||0.45|
|Side bezel width in inches (landscape)||1.2||1||0.9||0.85|
The Archos 101 G9 includes Honeycomb tablet hardware mainstays like an accelerometer, gyroscope, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 EDR, and GPS. Instead of using an Nvidia Tegra 2 processor as previous Honeycomb tablets did, the 101 G9 and its sibling 80 G9 are the first Honeycomb tablets to use the 1GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 4 dual-core processor.
The speaker delivers fairly high volume, albeit with tinny sound that lacks bass. Also, because of its placement on the back of the tablet, its sound gets muffled when the tablet is laid down flat.
The Archos 101 G9 ships with Android 3.2.46, the highest-numbered version of the OS we've seen so far.
Under settings is a Repair and Formatting section where you can calibrate the touch screen and accelerometer. There are also options that allow you to erase the multimedia databases and relaunch the media scanner, delete your tablet's settings and applications, or erase all music, video, and photos. Of course, you can format and return to factory settings as well.
Also, Archos has finally included the full Android Market and not the limited AppsLib app on older Archos tablets.