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Christmas Gift Guide

T'was on a cold, windy morning we first wondered, "Archos, why have you made a netbook?" And now, on a bright, sunny afternoon with the Archos 10 netbook firmly in our grasp, we ask, "No really, Archos. Why have you made a netbook?"

Asus's diluting of the netbook market was bad enough, with over 20 Eee PC models in its portfolio. Combine that with offerings from Acer, Dell, Samsung, HP and MSI, and Archos' late entry to the market makes us ponder, "Seriously, we're not kidding now, Archos. Why on Earth have you made a netbook?"

The keyboard is fiddly, like a newborn kitten in the hands of a man with no hands, and ever-so-slightly vertically squished, making it one of the less comfortable boards to type on. The 2,200mAh battery is also a far cry from the 8,700mAh cell inside the 10-inch Asus Eee PC 1000HE we saw last month, which performed for over 10 hours on a single charge.

You can pick up the 1000HE for around £300 -- a full £49 less than Archos is asking for the 10 in its online store. So we're scratching our heads to find one selling point the Archos 10 offers that makes it really compelling, because there's no integrated 3G and no SSD.

Specifications 'n' that

Inside is a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU, a gig of DDR2 RAM, a 160GB hard disk, a 1.3-megapixel webcam and integrated Wi-Fi. It runs Windows XP Home and weighs 1.3kg. We're not interested in most of the productivity software that came pre-loaded -- such as Lotus Symphony -- because they're simply free downloads from the Web.

So, with the feeling of confusion we reserve only for truly perplexing products, we're feeding the Archos 10 into the ferocious PC editor man hands of Rory Reid later this week, for an all-encompassing, benchmark-rich review. But he didn't look impressed when it was thrusted under his nose earlier. In fact, he looked rather offended that it cost £350.

We've got a bunch of hands-on photos over the next few pages. Have a poke around to see the Archos 10 from a bunch of jaunty angles.

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It's conveniently sized and specced, but at this price it needs to offer something more than run-of-the-mill netbook specs.
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The Archos 10 closed up.
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The 1.3-megapixel webcam.
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The trackpad and accompanying twin buttonage.
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VGA, Ethernet and USB inputs sit around the left-hand side.
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An additional USB socket, SD card reader and power input are on the right.
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The audio input and output sockets. Stereo speakers live around the front here as well.
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The fiddly keyboard that made one or two of us want to kill ourselves.
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