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Archos 101 G9 Turbo (250GB) review: Archos 101 G9 Turbo (250GB)

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MSRP: $389.99

The Good The Archos 101 G9 Turbo version runs Android 4.0, has a neat kickstand, and can play full 1080p HD video.

The Bad The Archos 101 G9 Turbo's processing speed is slow, its video records out of sync, and it has some awkward design errors.

The Bottom Line Despite its Android 4.0 update and slightly upgraded processor, the Archos 101 G9 Turbo's glacial lag and cumbersome build makes this tablet safe to skip over.

Visit for details.

6.0 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 6
  • Performance 6

Review Sections

Back when we reviewed the previous version of the Archos 101 G9, we weren't very impressed with its performance. It had some aesthetic flaws, had a poor camera, and was too slow for our taste.

Unfortunately, much of that holds true with the Turbo version, despite its name. Even though it runs Android 4.0 and is available with a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, instead of a 1GHz like its predecessor, this tablet still manages to underwhelm. And with a price tag of $390, the device is not worth its trouble.

Design
When held in landscape mode, the Archos 101 G9 Turbo measures 10.86 inches wide, 6.59 inches tall and 0.61 inches thick. Because of its higher memory capacity, this model is heavier than its flash series predecessors, and it weighs a hefty 1.73 pounds. Lugging it around in my backpack wasn't too bothersome, but it got tiring holding the tablet up while snapping self-portraits and playing games for an extended period of time.

On the left side of the device, there is a charging port, a Mini-HDMI port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a Micro-USB port, and the power/sleep button. The power cord fits very firmly and snugly into the headphone jack. Compounded by the fact that they are also placed near one another, you might plug your charger or headphone into the incorrect port, like how I often did.

On the right side of the Archos is a volume rocker. Because it's flush with the rest of the casing, it is difficult to find. I found the buttons to be unintuitively located, so I had to look for the volume rocker many times when handling the tablet. There were also times when I adjusted the volume without meaning to.

The Archos is made out of a dark gray plastic, and the back is no exception. The back comes with four small rubber pegs on each corner to prevent slipping. There's also a neat, but flimsy, kickstand on the left of the backing that you can pull out for easy movie watching and game playing. Near the center are several small holes for the output speaker. Next to that is the port for the 3G network stick. Since the tablet doesn't come with one, a dummy stick comes in its place for the time being.


The Archos 101 G9 has a neat little kickstand in the back for easy viewing.

The 10.1-inch touch-screen display has a resolution of 1,280x800 pixels, and can run 1080p full-HD video. When I watched preloaded movie trailers, both standard and HD YouTube videos, and played games like Spider-Man HD, the images were crisp and bright. Colors were very vibrant and rich, and the device has a wide viewing angle from all sides. The screen itself is also responsive. There wasn't any lag when it came to pinch-zooming, typing, or when pulling back a slingshot during a round of Angry Birds.

To the left of the display is a camera that's capable of recording 720p video. Unfortunately, there is no rear-facing camera.

Features
One of the most exciting things about the Archos 101 G9 is the fact that it's upgradable, over the air, to Android 4.0, making this one of the few handsets to get a scoop of Ice Cream Sandwich so far. Because it is an Android device, you'll find yourself with a number of standard Google apps, including: Google Books, Plus, Gmail, Search, Latitude, Maps with Navigation, Messenger, Shopper, Music, Talk, YouTube, and the Play Store.

There are a number of task management features such as a calculator, a calendar, a clock, an address book, a sound recorder, and a native music and movie player. Some extra goodies include three game demos (Angry Birds, Asphalt 6 HD, and Spider-Man HD); the Barnes and Noble Nook app; the highly popular note-taking app, Evernote; Movie Studio to edit movies; a photo frame app; a social media reader called Brief Me; a trial version of Picsel Smart Office, which lets you store and access files on DropBox and Google Docs; and a news app called News Republic.

The 720p camera has some photo options as well, like digital zoom, GPS tracking, autofocus, and panorama. You can also choose between two picture sizes (one to 1.3 megapixels); three antibanding options (off, 50Hz, and 60Hz); six color effects (none, mono, sepia, negative, solarize, and aqua); a range of exposure options (from -2 to +2); and five white balance choices (auto, incandescent, daylight, fluorescent, and cloudy).


The Archos 101 G9 only has a front-facing camera.

Video recording has the same white balance and color effects options. There is also a time-lapse feature where you can record every 1 to 10 seconds, and two video quality options (either 720 or 480p). One interesting feature is the "silly faces" mode, which will distort your image while the video records. It can squeeze your face together, shrink your mouth, or make your eyes huge and cartoony. Needless to say, I got a kick out of it.

Powering all this is an OMAP 4 dual-core Arm Cortex a9 processor. Although a 1.2GHz processor was previously available for G9 units, Archos will only ship its models with a 1.5GHz processor inside from now on.

Performance
Despite the extra element of "Turbo" and a responsive touch screen, the Archos 101 G9's internal performance was pretty slow. Lag time was noticeable when I had to go back and forth from the home screen, swap between apps, and change my positioning from portrait to landscape mode.

When I ran graphics-heavy games like Asphalt 6 HD, the processor could barely handle it at times. Sometimes, the audio played but the images would freeze, and other times the game would quit altogether.

While trying to hang out with people on Google Messenger, the app became glacial as well. Despite a strong Wi-Fi connection, audio cut in and out and if too many people joined a room, I'd get kicked off the network. During the few times I was able to communicate with my friends, I'd hear an extraneous bubbly noise on the feedback.

The shutter speed on the camera is also extremely sluggish. I'd have to hold the tablet for several seconds for it to take a decent picture without motion blur. When I tested the video recorder, the audio and visual were out of sync, one lagging several seconds behind the other.

Audio quality, although a little tinny and sharp, was for the most part pleasant. The maximum volume level is loud and listening to music on the speaker was clear. When I put headphones on, the music sounded perfectly adequate as well.

As expected, photo quality was subpar. Its low specs make it just adequate enough to video chat and take vanity shots (if your arm doesn't tire out first). When I did manage to take a decent picture, colors were not as rich as they appeared in real life, and images were grainy. However, vanity shots taken indoors showed up a little clearer.


In this outdoor shot, images appear blurry and colors are dull.


This vanity shot taken inside a nonmoving train is grainy and has low resolution.

Archos reports that the device's battery will last for 36 hours of music playback time, 7 hours of video playback, and up to 10 hours surfing the Internet. Anecdotally the battery life was average. I went for a handful of hours surfing the Web, watching videos, and playing games, and the battery lost about half its charge. I did, however, need a charge to get me through the rest of the day. Here are our official CNET Labs-tested battery drain test results. More tablet testing results can be found here.

Video battery life (in hours)
Archos 101 G9 5.5

Conclusion
Although the Archos 101 G9 now has a marginally upgraded processor and the newest Android OS, the tablet still doesn't have enough going for it. The kickstand may be its design's saving grace, but its button placement is still awkward and it has a humdrum and heavy build. Its internal speeds feel perpetually bogged down and the subpar camera just doesn't make this device a worthy buy.

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