Archos's Internet Tablet multimedia device gets the What Digital Camera review...
The Archos 5 Internet Tablet is a multimedia device for viewing media such as videos and stills on the go. And, thanks to its WiFi capabilities, connect to a hotspot when on the move and internet browsing is at your fingertips too. There are even additional pay-for add-ons such as GPS (can be used for in-car Sat Nav) and the ability to watch and record digital TV.
The widescreen 4.8in screen is large and dominates the overall product, which makes for good viewing. However, at 800×480 pixels, the apparent HD footage you can watch won’t reap the full benefit as a like-for-like HD resolution quite simply isn’t available. Also the touchscreen sensitivity lacks the lightning-fast response that many touchscreen Smartphone users will also be accustomed to, making for a difficult transition between manufacturers’ devices. In terms of still image playback there’s the ability to view JPEG, BMP, PNG or GIF – all the standard formats that you’d expect for internet browsing, but none of the TIFF, PSD or Raw file compatibility that would lend itself well to photographers considering purchasing an alternative to a picture viewer – though admittedly that’s not Archos’s immediate target audience, it’s a potentially missed trick. Also, USB and Micro SD slots miss out the integral standard SD memory card otherwise favoured by most.
The Linux-based operating system of previous Archos releases takes a side-step to make way for Google’s Android OS, though without a camera and compass the Internet Tablet hasn’t got the full green light from Google to download its Apps. As such, Archos’s own Market Place store stands in place, though the choices are relatively limited and won’t cover the kind of depths that can be expected from the majority of current Smartphones. Having to pay out yet more for GPS and Digital TV also tags more on an already weighty price-tag.
One major contender for the internet browsing crown will be Apple’s imminent iPad. While the Archos does allow for Flash-based viewing (and Flash 10 will be fully useable as of next year) unlike Apple’s current bitter row with Adobe resulting in a lack of compatibility, the Archos does have its own angle to offer but isn’t bug-free for streaming content.
Available in many sizes, there are flash-memory models from 8-64GB in size or HDD models from 160-500GB to cover light to heavy use. However, with portable hard drives cheaper and many people owning highly capable Smartphones, it’s tricky to place the Archos 5 in the current marketplace. Its proprietary software doesn’t necessarily excel its potential, and while large storage space and a big screen are plus points, the overall feeling is a little short of the mark. As the market becomes mightily competitive Archos needs to step up the game and provide something wholly compatible, unique and affordable in the market that it once dominated, but which stiff competition is quickly lining up to try and snatch away.