Archos created quite a stir when it announced it was introducing a version of itsrunning on rather than its proprietary, Linux-based operating system. Here we review the super-slim Archos 5 Internet Tablet with 32GB of flash memory, priced at around £230. Two fatter models with hard drives are also available: a 160GB version for about £250 and a 500GB version for £290 or thereabouts.
Out of the box, this version looks nearly identical to the 5 Internet Media Tablet that we reviewed last year. It's got the same attractive, glossy black coating on the front and sides, along with a metallic finish on the rear that's something of a fingerprint magnet.
With the interface almost entirely based around the large, 122mm (4.8-inch) touchscreen, there are only two physical buttons on the case -- the power button and a volume rocker switch. We love the fact that Archos has integrated a small metallic kickstand into the rear of the case. That's something that other manufacturers often omit.
Fire up the device and the first thing you'll notice is just how good the huge touchscreen looks. It's got an 800x480-pixel resolution, so text, graphics and videos look pin-sharp, plus it's extremely bright and produces beautifully vivid colours. Unfortunately, it's a resistive, rather than capacitive, touchscreen, which means you sometimes have to press quite hard to get it to register your input. Even if you apply a fair amount of pressure, it's still not as responsive as the capacitive screens used on the likes of theor . It also lacks multi-touch support.
Slick Android OS
The big difference between the 5 Internet Tablet and previous Archos products is that it runs Android, rather than the company's proprietary, Linux-based OS. The Android interface looks rather good when it's scaled up to a device with such a large screen, and it really does make the player much more user-friendly than previous Archos models. The menus are easier to navigate, the general layout is better and the whole package looks much slicker.
As the player has on-board Wi-Fi, you can access the Internet via Android's Web browser, and send and receive emails using the integrated email client. There are several other Android applications pre-installed, including the ThinkFree office suite, which allows you to view work documents like Word and Excel files; the Twidroid app, which you can use to update your Twitter account; and eBuddy for cross-platform instant messaging.
Sadly, you don't get access to Google's Android Market. Instead, Archos has loaded its own app store, AppsLib. Unfortunately, it's very slow to populate its menus, difficult to navigate and doesn't offer very many apps for download. Also, although the device can be used to play Flash games, Flash isn't supported in the browser, which means you can't use it to view content on the BBC's Web site, and, when you go to view YouTube videos, the device opens them up in a separate player.