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Archos 7 Home Tablet Test

Wednesday 16 June 2010, by Phi, 3311 Views

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After buying my Apple iPad, I purchased an Archos 7 Home Tablet - 8 Go version, at the low price of 179 euros for father and mother day. So how does it compares to the far pricier Apple iPad ?


Introduction and unpacking

A new parcel

What is in it ?

It’s the new Archos 7 Home Tablet, just released in France

8 Go version

Smaller but comparable package to the Apple iPad’s

Opening: it’s beautiful

Very sleek

Plenty of accessories

International power supply with 3 different power plugs, manuals, USB cable, headphones

Plenty more than Apple iPad’s package

Above: start / shutdown - lock - mini-SD - power led

Left: Headphones - power supply - micro USB

Very beautiful back in metal

It’s square so it stands upright

Power supply with 3 international plugs

Euro plug plugged

Installation

First start

Calibrate resistive touch screen

First installation

Very few settings

Done

First boot screen

Parameters / Wifi Settings

And it’s on the internet - the browser display is very good

Default brightness was pretty low at 20%

Screen looks beautiful playing HD movies

But obviously has limited color palette

Benchmark versus Apple iPad

TestTypeiPadArchos 7HTRatioComments
Boot Hardware 22.8 s 50.4 s 0.45x Almost double boot time, not that it really matters as it is still less than a minute
Shutdown Hardware 2.3 s 0.5s x4.6 Shutdown instant on Archos
Memory Hardware ? ?
Battery Hardware 10h 10h+ 1x Perhaps slightly better on Archos
Battery Charge Hardware 5h ? ?
Web browser - Tomshardware Web 8.4 s 19.9 s 0.42x Archos slower but pretty fast, near iPhone 3G speed
Web browser - Blogeee Web 6.8 s 18.1 s 0.37x same
167 Mo USB file transfer - write Hardware 8.4 s 58.1 s x0.15 Flash memory of Archos 7HT far slower on write operations but bearable
167 Mo USB file transfer - read Hardware 16.5 s 24.5 s x0.67 For read operations, Archos 7HT is almost as fast as iPad
Crashes Hardware same same 1x Same number of applications crashes but OS crashes happens on Archos 7HT, never on iPad
Wifi Hardware idem idem Perhaps slightly better on Archos 7HT

So what does it means when you use the devices ? Which one is better ?

UsageiPadArchos 7 HTComments
Price X
Form factor X
Weight X
Build X X
Stability X
Connection options X
File transfer X
Interface X
Software X
Photo X X
Video X
Music X
Books X
Web browsing X
Mail X
Customization X

Stability

First Application crash

Software

AppLibs gives access to limited Archos Application Library

I really hate Android. Installation of new software on the Archos 7HT is fairly easy, just drag and drop an .apk by USB on the 7HT then click on it under file browser application.

But as the Archos 7HT doesn’t have access to marketplace it’s almost impossible to find the .apk - it’s very hard to navigate in the Android community where 80% of web pages real estate seems to be adverts and there are lots of dead ends in forums and web sites.

To save some frustration here are some useful apk:

Zip - 989.5 kb
Archos7HT_Apps.zip

My software package for Archos 7HT: battery level widget, advanced task manager 1.6, youtube and Opera Mini 5 beta

Photos

To show photos, Archos is perhaps better than iPad ! Main reasons are the following:
- the iPad with it’s pouch system is very unstable compared to the integrated vertical stand of the Archos
- the Archos is very light at 350 grams and can be tossed around like real photos. The iPad with its pouch is almost 3 times heavier.
- the very responsive iPad interface can panic new users (what’s happening here ?), whereas the unresponsive Archos interface, at least for photos is not that much a problem (let’s slide again !)

Video

And playing SD AVI from the net

Subtitles files don’t seem to work however.

VideoNOT OKOKComments
SD .AVI Series X No subtitles
720P .MKV Series X Slightly choppy
720P .MKV clip X No sound, no picture
1080P .MP4 trailer X Sound but no picture, consistent with 720P limit
.MP4 Clip 1 X
.MP4 Clip 2 X
.MKV Clip 1 X Excellent picture but no sound
.MKV Clip 2 X No problem this one
.AVI Clip 1 X
.AVI Clip 2 X
.FLV Clip X
.AVI digital camera X Don’t work, from Fuji camera

In short this is an excellent video player, without conversion needed.

Music

No problem with playing MP3

Books

Included program to read books

Perfect size for reading in portrait

Web

Web navigation: Good rendering

Even compared to the iPad in horizontal position (Archos can only do horizontal web browsing)

Very readable compared to iPad on overview mode

No flash support on both devices

Mail

Email: Very dark interface compared to iPad

Email: missing pictures display on many emails, must click to see

Customization

Archos interface has Widgets like clock and weather, nothing for iPad

The Archos 7HT is almost as thin as the iPad.

Summary

So it looks pretty even whereas iPad is 3 or 4 times more expensive than Archos 7HT ?

No because there is a huge problem with Archos 7HT, which is the tactile interface, which seems to have both hardware and software (Android) issues - and which can make the whole experience very frustrating when you interact with the device:
- touchscreen doesn’t always respond even after many recalibrations, I don’t know if it’s part an Android / CPU power problem - or part a hardware problem (touchscreen seems as good as Nintendo DS, but part of the screen seems less responsive). And most important, it is not uniform, so you have to keep in your mind a map of the screen (here on the left I have to press lower, on above I have to press firmly with my thumb etc). Using a stylus doesn’t help.
- lag in everything you do compared to iPhone / iPad. The display don’t "follow" your fingers like on the iPhone, when you slide the photo it doesn’t hang following your fingers position. You sort of take it for granted on iPhone / iPad but it must consumes lots of CPU power just displaying all these intermediate steps.
- very bad virtual keyboard. If you enable sound feedback, it seems to add more lag. Moreover that stupid keyboard sound is different every keypress (like an old typewriter) which is very annoying.
- bad feedback - some operations take time, but the tablet seems to hang so you don’t know if it’s an input problem or processing (no hourglass or grey screen like the iPhone)
- keypresses backlog, which means if you press twice, Android will use your second keypress after it processes the first, perhaps 1 mn later on a wholly different screen, which can lead to catastrophes
- inconsistent interface. Sometimes menu or home keys don’t work, and you really don’t know why.

Conclusion

The Archos 7 Home Tablet is a frustrating piece of electronics.

The hardware is very good considering the price:
- sleek design, sturdy, included stand which makes it a workable digital photo display
- very light at 350 grams versus 700 grams for my Apple iPad
- plenty of connectivity options (USB, mini SD, headphones, bluetooth) and accessories (headphones or international power supply) which are not included in the far pricier Apple iPad
- very good display of web sites on par with iPhone, capable of downloading files
- plays most or all video or audio formats without conversion unlike Apple iPad / iPhone
- simple drag and drop operation instead of iTunes stuff and locked drives
- multitasking

but the "problem" is the interface responsiveness and inaccuracy as seen above, which will make you want to throw the device out of the window sometimes (so it’s not just a minus compared to iPad).

Most or all of the problems are related to Android which is only version 1.5 whereas the latest is Frodo 2.2.

But even if all interface issues and feedback are corrected, perhaps there is simply not enough power to do the sort of immediate feedback of the iPhone / iPad - this would be fair for the price.

Anyway the tablet meets its objectives, it’s a great photo / video media player (if you don’t fiddle too much with the controls), and it’s a fair internet and mail tablet as long as you don’t go on too complex websites.

But in everyday usage, the iPad is going to win without contest because of interface responsiveness even if it is not that clearly better in end results (rendering or compatibility), and far worse on weight (almost triple if you count the iPad pouch which is a must buy).

Just sold it for an Archos 5 IT tablet which is far better in almost every way except the screen size, for a similar price.

Useful Links

Mon Amazon Kindle 3 In French

My Archos 5 IT Test In English

My Apple iPad In French

Archos 7HT Hardware Wiki

Archos 7HT list of applications Not much yet

Archos / Android Stability

Blogeee Archos 7HT thread In french

Software

Zip - 989.5 kb
Archos7HT_Apps.zip

My software package for Archos 7HT: battery level widget, advanced task manager 1.6, youtube and Opera Mini 5 beta

Android freeware Some apk to download directly

Youtube.apk

Howto access marketplace .apk In french, never tried it as it seems very complex with using Android SDK on a desktop


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