Archos 32 Android Tablet

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Hey, I'm Donald Bell and today we're taking a first look at the Archos 32 Android tablet. This is a pocket-sized touchscreen device that runs Google's Android 2.2 operating system, comes with 8 gigabytes of storage, and will set you back about $149 list price. I think it's a stretch to call it a tablet especially since it's smaller than an iPod Touch, but most of the core Android functionality is here. You get a web browser, e-mail, music, video, photos, and contacts and a few preinstalled apps from Twitter and Wikipedia. The big catch is that this device doesn't have the official Google Marketplace for installing third party apps. There is an app store but it's one that's been put together by Archos and it's fairly limited. Taking a look at the design, you have a 3.2-inch touchscreen on the front which is surprisingly responsive in spite of the fact that it's a resistive screen and does not support multitouch. Beneath the screen, you have touch controls for back, menu, home, and search as well as volume control which is kind of odd since there's also a volume rocker switch over here on the side. There's also a power button here which doubles as a screen lock, and on the very bottom, you have a headphone out and micro USB port. One of the nice surprises here is on the back where you'll find a VGA resolution camera that can take stills and video. The image quality isn't great but it works and it's a nice extra considering the price. We're also pretty impressed with the video player which supports tons of formats ranging from 720p H.264 to MPEG-4 and Xvid. The screen doesn't get very bright, though, and the 400 X 240 resolution on the screen isn't great. I did like the UI on the music player here, though, and the support is there for a broad range of formats including AAC and FLAC. We did notice some pretty big hiccups in playback on some podcasts and audiobooks, though, especially the ones that use lower quality encoding settings, so it's probably not a great choice for that kind of content. Overall, though, it's a pretty impressive little Android device. I would have liked it if Archos had included some memory expansion or a multitouch screen for better keyboard accuracy, but this little Android PDA or media player, it does the trick especially if you can pick it up for around $100 to $150. That said, if you have the extra money to burn, the iPad Touch runs circles around this thing in just about every imaginable way. So there you go, that's the Archos 32. For CNET.com, I'm Donald Bell.

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