ARCHOS announces five new Android tablet computers
Apple has pretty much defined what many of us now consider to be a tablet computer. When the term is used, we automatically think of a 9.56 x 7.47-inch (242.8 x 189.7mm) iPad. Now, French consumer electronics company Archos is about to have us question that perception with the announcement of five new internet tablets with screen sizes ranging from 2.8-inches (71mm) diagonally across to 10.1-inches (257mm). The new devices will all run on Android 2.2 (Froyo) with support for Adobe's Flash 10.1 player, be powered by either 800MHz or 1GHz processors and sport built-in 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi.
Leading the Android assault on established tablet territory is the Archos 101 Internet Tablet with a 10.1-inch (257mm), 1024 x 600 resolution capacitive multi-touch widescreen display and a zippy ARM Cortex A8 1GHz processor. There are two solid state storage sizes on offer, either 8 or 16GB, with expansion possible via an SDHC-compatible microSD slot.
Its surface is larger and its frame thinner than Apple's iPad – at 10.6 x 5.9 x 0.47-inch (270 x 150 x 12 mm) compared to the iPad's dimension of 9.56 x 7.47 x 0.5-inches (242.8 x 189.7 x 13.4mm) – and it benefits from a front-facing VGA camera. Archos says that as well as supporting MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC, Ogg Vorbis and FLAC audio formats and JPEG, BMP, PNG and GIF image files, the 15.87 ounce (480g) tablet can also play up to 720p high definition video. In addition to the Wi-Fi mentioned in the leading paragraph, also included is Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR.
There's USB 2.0 connectivity as well as HDMI-out, for onward transmission to big screen TVs. Archos says that it can also "be used as a game pad for your TV thanks to the built-in accelerometer and 3D open GL technology so users can enjoy a unique gaming experience." To the rear is a built-in kick-stand to help get the perfect viewing angle and the device comes with a built-in speaker and microphone. Its Lithium Polymer battery is said to give up to 36 hours of audio playback, 7 hours of video or 10 hours of web surfing.
As well as automatic firmware updates, "a new feature in the Android settings menu means that the devices can also be tethered to a 3G phone via Bluetooth or USB for Internet connectivity when on the move."
The 8GB version carries a recommended retail price of US$299.99, with the 16GB coming in at US$349.99 upon release in the near future. Included in the package will be some earphones, a USB cable and a power charger.
An upgrade or a new product?
To all intents and purposes, the Archos 70 Internet Tablet looks to be an updated Archos 7 Home Tablet although the claimed battery life doesn't look quite as impressive. Like the Home Tablet, the Archos 70 features a 7-inch (178mm), 800 x 480 resolution widescreen display with 16 million colors but the new model gets capacitive multi-touch interaction.
As well as 8GB of solid state storage (with SDHC-compatible microSD expansion), there's now a 250GB HDD option too. Like the flagship model above, this one is powered by an ARM Cortex A8 1GHz processor and is said to support up to 720p high definition video playback as well as the various audio and image formats mentioned earlier. It also has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR, USB 2.0 and HDMI-out connectivity. There's a front-facing VGA webcam, built-in speakers and microphone, and a handy kick-stand.
The version containing solid state storage has dimensions of 7.91 x 4.49 x 0.43-inches (201 x 114 x 10mm) and weighs 11 ounces (300g) and the HDD flavor is both chunkier and heavier at 0.55-inch (14mm) thick and tips the scales at 14 ounces (400g). Either way, the Lithium Polymer battery is said to give up to 36 hours of audio playback, 7 hours of video or 10 hours of web surfing.
Archos says that its 70 Internet Tablet should be available shortly at a recommended retail price of US$274.99 for the solid state variety and US$349.99 for the HDD.
The half way point
Next in line is the first of two palm-sized units, the Archos 43 Internet Tablet. In spite of the size reduction to 5.3 x 2.6 x 0.4-inches (135 x 65 x 9mm), this model still packs an ARM Cortex A8 1GHz processor and 720p high definition video playback support on its 4.3-inch (109mm), 480 x 854 resolution touchscreen display. Either 8 or 16GB solid state storage is on offer as well as the connectivity and file format support of the previously mentioned models.
This model does have something that the others don't, in the shape of a 2 megapixel 720p high definition camera. Its Lithium Polymer battery life is said to give up to 36 hours music, 10 hours video or 12 hours web surfing and is charged via a computer USB port.
The Archos 43 is scheduled for release in the coming season with a recommended retail starting price of US$199.99
Portable media players redefined
The penultimate device in our list is the Archos 32 Palm-sized Tablet. It has a 3.2-inch (81mm), 400 x 240 resolution touchscreen display offering 262,000 colors, comes with 8GB of flash storage and is powered by an ARM Cortex A8 800 MHz processor. Like those before, this little device is said to be capable of supporting video playback up to 720p and features the same connectivity and media support options.
Stamping its individuality on the proceedings, the 4.1 x 2.1 x 0.3-inch (105 x 55 x 9mm) device features VGA camcorder functionality. It's charged via a computer USB port and its Lithium Polymer battery is claimed to give up to 24 hours music, 6 hours video or 8 hours web surfing.
The Archos 32 Tablet is landing this month for a recommended retail price of US$149.99
And lastly, the first of a kind
The company says that its Archos 28 Pocket Tablet is the first Android player to come in at under US$100. Just under, mind you – with the 4GB version being made available this month for a recommended retail price of US$99.99. There's also an 8GB version coming, but there's no mention of when or how much.
As you may have worked out by now, this one comes with a 2.8-inch (71mm), 320 x 240 resolution touchscreen display. It's powered by an ARM Cortex A8 800 MHz processor and offers DVD-quality video playback. Although Wi-Fi features, Bluetooth doesn't, but there is USB 2.0 connectivity and a built-in microphone. The Lithium Polymer battery in this 3.9 x 2.1 x 0.35-inch (100 x 54 x 9mm) model is said to give up to 16 hours music, 4 hours video or 6 hours web surfing and is charged via a computer USB port.
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The Archos is a little longer, barely wider than the LifeDrive\'s screen and a heck of a lot thinner and lighter.
The Archos\' screen width at 480 pixels is the same as the *height* of the LifeDrive\'s screen.
Cooler yet, LifeDrive\'s original price was over $500. Archos 43 = $200 with twice the storage plus a camera.
P.S. Another \"requirement\" for Android is a multi-touch screen. Resistive multi-touch technology was recently announced. If you like multi-touch but like the precision (and warm fingers in winter!) of a stylus on a resistive screen, just wait a bit and it\'ll be available.