back to article Archos 101 XS 10.1in Android tablet review

Archos has built a decent business making budget Android tablets, so I suspect the word 'merde' echoed loudly around the Igny HQ when Google pulled the rug asunder with its low Nexus 7 pricing. Archos hasn’t given up though and has now released a new device pitched as a budget alternative to the Asus Transformer Pad. Archos …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quick question

    Can you stick the keyboard to the back of the tablet, just to store it while using the tablet as a tablet.

    1. Al Taylor
      Alert

      Re: Quick question

      Very good question. No you can't is the answer. The coverboard and keyboard only mate keyboard-to-screen so you can't stick the coverboard to the back of the tablet.

      1. David Lucke

        Re: Quick question

        That's a shame. Its a failing of every separate bluetooth keyboard I've seen elsewhere too, and makes them essentially pointless. If you're going to carry around something that you need to unfold and put on a surface or lap to use, you might as well get a netbook. For my iPad, I've got a leather case with built in keyboard that folds round the back, so I can use it as a tablet, then switch to the keyboard mode if I need to enter lots of text, but its heavy, bulky and ugly. Its particularly a shame since they're releasing this in a rare 4:3 version. A reasonably priced 4:3 android tablet with proper fold-away keyboard would be something that might finally tempt me off of Apple. Not yet, though, sadly.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Quick question

          >you might as well get a netbook

          I can see your point, but I just find browsing webpages on a standard netbook a PIT due to the 16:9 ratio and usually poor resolution. I have found myself wishing the display would auto-rotate 90º when I pick it up so I could read more than half a paragraph of text without scrolling.

          You can always leave the keyboard in your briefcase or glovebox when you're not using it.

    2. Shagbag

      screen ripple effects

      "Give the tablet a twist, or poke the screen too fiercely and you can see ripple effects but, again, it’s easy enough to not do either, so I wouldn’t want to make too big a deal of it."

      So why mention it?

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: screen ripple effects

        Some people are reassured by a feeling of solidity, some don't care as long as the gadget works.

  2. Phil W

    Good but a touch too expensive

    I'd drive to the shops this minute and buy one if it were £50 cheaper. It's not badly priced at £299 but when I can have a Galaxy Tab 2 for the same money why would I buy the Archos, certainly thats what the average punter will think. The keyboard really doesnt make it good enough for the price.

    Depsite some people seeming to have mixed experiences, I've had an Archos 80 G9 for a while now and it's pretty good especially for the price, £200 at the time. Not the best built or highest spec tablet for the money but it works pretty well with the only slight fault being too little RAM.

    The 101XS has got the right hardware specs, they just need to bring the price down a little to compete with the bigger brands.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good but a touch too expensive

      Jut wait until the sell off in a couple of months, bet you will be able to get this for £250 or less by then

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good but a touch too expensive

      And I'd get on public transport and go to the shops this minute and buy one if I knew I could install my preferred version of linux on it, even if it were £50 more expensive.

      I couldn't care less about android, apps, and other bollocks - I just want a tabletty computer thingy which I can carry about which is configured just like all my other computers.

      1. Michael B.

        Re: Good but a touch too expensive

        Archos have been pretty decent in the past offering an SDE (Special Developer Edition) firmware which unlocks the device and allows you to put Linux on it.

        http://www.archos.com/support/support_tech/updates_dev.html?country=us&lang=en

        Granted it probably isn't your preferred version of Linux but it is a start nontheless.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: tabletty computer thingy

        Thanks for the down votes, but any chance of a commentary? What in particular didn't you like about my opinion?It's a bit hard to appreciate the value of your feedback when I don't know the motivation.

        If it's my price comment, I just think paying +£50 to save hours of hardware/driver research and interminable mucking about with configuration is worth the price.

  3. Lusty

    All these Android tablets with keyboards just makes me think Google need to improve the on screen keyboard. Is it really that bad that everyone is craving a physical keyboard?

    1. Anonymoose Cowherd

      Nothing wrong with the on-screen keyboard, except that it's an on-screen keyboard and somewhat tedious for bashing out a lengthy email or such like. Mine's the one with the Psion in the pocket...

      1. Lusty

        I liked my Psion too, both the 3c and the 5, but I can type faster on my iPad than either of them so don't feel I need a keyboard. I type quite long technical docs on it too, not just small emails and such.

      2. Ian Johnston Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Swype

        I find that Swype on my phone makes emails of at least medium length pretty easy. Alas, it's a complete dog's breakfast on my Galaxy Tab 10.1; slow, unreliable and awkward.

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      There's nothing wrong with the Android onscreen keyboard except for the fact that you're typing on glass / plastic and 40% of your screen is consumed by it. Same as any tablet. You can tweak the settings and replace the default keyboard in Android if you don't like it and there are many others to choose from but it's still dead flat glass.

      Physical keyboards are essential for any amount of typing. I would find typing this comment to be intolerable with the on screen keyboard. I already make enough typos and missing words without the onscreen keyboard and autocorrect bunging more in. Just having cursor keys is a blessing.

      I still think that keyboard support in Android is lacking at least on the Asus Transformer I own. Apps usually just implement the default behaviour of the OS and the default behaviour leaves something to be desired. E.g. extended key actions like ctrl+shift+cursor sometimes work and sometimes they don't. No obvious reason for it but it's annoying. Some bundled apps for the Transformer like Polaris Office don't even support the key combos at all. For some reason my tablet also occasionally asks me which input device to use - in the middle of typing.

      Windows RT might suck for a lot of reasons but I reckon Microsoft will nail the keyboard support and for professional use, in businesses and whatnot that may make a huge difference to the amount of sales it gets.

      1. Lusty

        re:DrXym

        "Physical keyboards are essential for any amount of typing"

        Did you miss the part where I said I write large documents on my iPad keyboard? I'm talking 50+ page technical manuals and proposals for customers.

        "I already make enough typos and missing words without the onscreen keyboard and autocorrect bunging more in"

        This just backs up what I was saying - it's not that the OSK is a problem, it's that you can't type very well.

        1. DrXym Silver badge

          Re: re:DrXym

          "This just backs up what I was saying - it's not that the OSK is a problem, it's that you can't type very well."

          Thanks but I can type very well on a keyboard. On a keyboard my thumb rests lightly against the long space bar. This gives me a point of reference to position my other fingers. Since my keyboard requires some travel I don't have to hold my fingers away from the buttons for fear of accidentally pushing a key I did not mean to. This combined with the feel of the keyboard (recesses, gaps, texture etc.) gives me a reasonable level of precision and speed. I still make mistakes but nowhere near as many as for a screen keyboard. I also benefit from cursor keys so I can rapidly correct errors, cut and paste sentences around and so on.

          On screen keyboards suck balls regardless of the OS underneath. They're better than nothing but they're overzealous with the auto correct, far less accurate and waste a large chunk of the screen. It's no wonder that keyboard accessories are so popular and virtually essential for any amount of typing.

      2. David Paul Morgan
        Happy

        re: Onscreen Keyboards

        I find my TF101 keyboard is fine. I have not seen any strange behaviour since the ICS unpgrade.

        However, I prefer to use a stylus ( the poundland one - two for a pound!) seems to work the best.

        I also use Swype, which has a half-width option, which makes for easier stylus use.

        Also, the Palm Graffiti also works well, if I'm feeling nostalgic.

        At least, with Android, you can pick and choose the onscreen keyboard you're happiest with.

        I, for one, do not like using onscreen full sized qwerty. just feels wrong...

        As an aside, I'm finding the HDMI output to big screen really useful via my Transformer and our Xperia-S. Quickly transforms your Tv into a smart-ish TV!

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: re: Onscreen Keyboards

          Hmm, maybe someone could knock up a silicone 'bumper' case incorporating a chorded keyboard...

        2. Some Beggar
          Facepalm

          Re: re: Onscreen Keyboards

          To the folks clicking "downvote" on posts expressing a personal opinion for or against on-screen keyboards:

          Good. Fucking. Grief.

          You are why the internet is broken.

          Yours etc.

          1. 1Rafayal

            Re: re: Onscreen Keyboards

            I actually agree with you on this.

            Personally, I prefer a physical keyboard - but that is because my fingers are fat and I am constantly having to correct myself on a 10" tablet.

            However, on a 7" tablet, I dont have this problem.

            Keyboards are an entirely personal and subjective preference, clearly noted by tablet makers who are ever increasingly offering an official keyboard add on for their devices.

    3. Leona A
      Angel

      'on screen' keyboards do not give any tactile feedback, thus for touch typists like me, they are useless!

      I like to have a physical keyboard on both my phone (Xperia Pro) and Tablet, I'll be buying one of these.

      I think tactile displays are a long way off from being main stream, that's still Sci-Fi tech at the moment.

      1. Lusty

        Re:Leona A

        "'on screen' keyboards do not give any tactile feedback, thus for touch typists like me, they are useless!"

        And yet, for touch typists like me, they work just fine. Perhaps the one on Android is no good, but on screen keyboards are fine.

        "I like to have a physical keyboard on both my phone (Xperia Pro) and Tablet, I'll be buying one of these."

        You are in the tiny minority there. All the geeks used to say they "needed" a physical keyboard on their phone - now almost nobody even makes one. Nokia almost went under while pandering to this sort of nonsense feedback, and now the tablet manufacturers are following suit.

        "I think tactile displays are a long way off from being main stream, that's still Sci-Fi tech at the moment."

        That's because there is no demand for them apart from that generated by the companies peddling them.

        1. Bodhi

          Re: Re:Leona A

          I would say you were in the minority there, just a quick look on Amazon at the vertiable cornucopia of Bluetooth keyboards available for the iPad and other tablets tells me there are a few people out there who don't like typing on an OSK.

          You may have enough spare time to type a 50 page document on an iPad, however the rest of us have more important things to be getting on with.

          1. Lusty

            Re: Re:Leona A

            "I would say you were in the minority there, just a quick look on Amazon at the vertiable cornucopia of Bluetooth keyboards available for the iPad and other tablets tells me there are a few people out there who don't like typing on an OSK."

            Just because they are available doesn't mean people buy them. Apple have sold tend of millions of iPads, and these keyboards probably sell in the tens of thousands. Even sold keyboards don't mean they are in use - I've been tempted to buy one myself, but I can't imagine when I'd use it. If I'm at home or the office I'll use a computer with keyboard. If I'm out and about then I don't want to carry a keyboard - that's the whole point of the tablet!

            I've never seen an iPad user with a keyboard on a train, in a cafe or anywhere out in public. That said, I've never seen an Android tablet in use in any of the above situations either...

            1. tomban

              I would like a small on-screen keyboard on a tablet

              I've used swype and similar keyboards for a couple of years now on phones and it greatly increases my typing speed, but what I found on a 10inch tablet is the distance to move your hand around is too great and the keyboard takes up ~40% of the screen.

              I would like a phone-sized floating keyboard that has swype capabilities, I'm sure that it would make typing while holding the tablet with your other hand much better, any thoughts?

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

        3. Leona A
          Angel

          Re:Leona A @ Lusty

          "And yet, for touch typists like me, they work just fine. Perhaps the one on Android is no good, but on screen keyboards are fine."

          Ok, try using the on screen keyboard, with your eyes shut, see how you get on then? No guide keys, no feed back, this is what I have to do, well I have no choice, I can't see well enough to use the on screen ones, its why I need a 10 inch tablet, anything smaller is too small for me to use, and even then I have to root it to fiddle with the screen (dpi) to get a size that I can use.

          "You are in the tiny minority there."

          Yep tell me about it! disabled people usually are in the minority.

          The Xperia Pro is the only keyboard (landscape) phone in the UK, but hop across the pond to the US there is 100's of them, its just the UK who fails to make/sell them, I do not understand why, if they sell well enough in the US why not here?

          Some of by blind friends tried to us an Iphone for a while with their accessibly feature, but turned to either the Xperia pro or Mini Pro, there is just no substitute for a physical keyboard!

    4. Lord Voldemortgage

      @Lusty

      The default Android keyboard is fine, SwiftKey (with amazing prediction) and FlexT9 (with swipe input and good voice recognition) are even better.

      But still a physical keyboard is, for most people, still a better option. You can decide for yourself what version of special it makes you that you do not agree.

  4. frank ly

    Good typing and mousing experiences

    The Asus Transformer Pad has a full size USB connector at the back of its keyboard base, which will drive wired mice and wireless mice (at least the two particular species of mice which I possess). It will also drive a USB keyboard, which is useful if you want to do lots of typing and prefer a full sized 'proper' keyboard, as I'm doing right now.

    I'd be happy to have a tablet (screen only) device that had two USB connectors (probably small or micro size) so that I could use a 'proper' keyboard and mouse (via connector adaptors) when I felt the need to do so. Has any tablet manufacturer done that?

    1. dogged

      Re: Good typing and mousing experiences

      No Android manufacturer, so far as I know. My ExoPC has two fullsize USB ports and a full size HDMI port, along with a full size SD card slot but it's an ugly 11" beast with an Intel Atom chip. Win8 is pretty good on it, though.

      1. Bassey

        Re: Good typing and mousing experiences

        Not built in but the M009s (from Amazon, via Wendy Lou, for about £50) has a port adaptor that provides three full-sized USB ports and an ethernet port and I have had keyboard and mouse working on that. However, it is also a resistive screen and is very slow. Mine gets used just as a Kindle now, having been usurped by a 1.2GHz/Capacitive jobby.

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Good typing and mousing experiences

      Toshiba's Thrive had a full size USB and HDMI and a micro USB for good measure. Sadly the tablet was about twice as thick as other tablets. I think most people would go for the thin form factor and carry around a hub or adapter if necessary.

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Good typing and mousing experiences

      >I'd be happy to have a tablet (screen only) device that had two USB connectors (probably small or micro size) so that I could use a 'proper' keyboard and mouse (via connector adaptors) when I felt the need to do so. Has any tablet manufacturer done that?

      Yes. A fair few tablets and phones already support this... Google USB OTG. Supported by both Galaxy and Xperia phones, and probably more. You can get the cable (Male Micro USB > Female USB A) online for a couple of quid, or else see it as a test of your soldering skills: http://tech2.in.com/how-to/accessories/how-to-make-your-own-usb-otg-cable-for-an-android-smartphone/319982

      (in this guide, the diagrams show a blue cable in place of the white cable you will actually find in the plug)

    4. Raphael

      Re: Good typing and mousing experiences

      My Acer Iconia A500 has a full size USB port on the tablet. Chuck a Logitech Unifying receiver into it and you can use a mouse and a keyboard at the same time.

  5. David Gosnell

    Digitiser grid

    Is it safe to presume, given no mention in the review, that Archos are finally sourcing better touchscreen technology? All theirs I have ever seen in-store are blighted by a horribly visible digitiser grid looking like chicken wire laid over the panel.

  6. the-it-slayer
    Facepalm

    Flabby design...

    The front looks fine but I've never been a fan of free-folding hinges. Doesn't it look a little bit too weak to withhold any pressure if pushed against by accident? Ah well, this will please a few hundred people who are desperate for a keytab clone that does far less than a laptop. What's wrong with seperate bluetooth keyboard for occasional use..? Jees.

  7. Cuddles Silver badge
    FAIL

    Budget?

    You can get a Transformer Infinity with double the storage for the same price. You'll need to order it from the US, but mine still arrived in 3 days so that's not exactly a big deal. The Nexus and Kindle Fire work because they're actually cheaper. Why the hell would anyone waste their money on this thing?

    1. terd

      Re: Budget?

      Where from? and I guess thats with no custom duties..

      1. handle

        Don't hold your breath

        cuddles made the same claim in the thread about the Transformer. I challenged it. Response there was none.

  8. Identity
    Headmaster

    "bares a resemblance!?"

    Even at such a noble rag as el Reg! The state of English these days! It's "bears," folks!

  9. Saucerhead Tharpe
    Linux

    separate keyboards

    I have an iPad and am on my third google phone, this time a Samsung Note

    I have done a lot of serious work on the iPad, but being used to keys with a lot of travel, my initial work featured me hammering the screen until my hands got sore, so adopt a lighter touch. All in all though, I got a bluetootch keyboard and am retirning the iPad as a writing devicce for a second hand Acet 3690 that I just bought a replacement battery for.

    Google keyboards are no worse than the Apple one, some incarnations are better. I wish I could use the IAWriter keyboard with the rest fo the Apple apps, but no dice. It's typing on screeen that bothers me about tablets, which is why I was waiting fo rthe ASus Transform and Slider. I wish I had been a bit more patient

  10. JP Cavendish
    Coat

    Can't put my finger on it...

    But for some reason this looks like it was designed by Renault. Is there a French school of design which all French companies have to stick to?

  11. Aldous
    Trollface

    a great idea!

    if only that clam shell designer bloke was able to get his designs light enough so that they could be carried around. we could have screens with attached keyboards, we could even perch them on top of our laps. Great Scott we can call them laptops, quick to the patent office!

    Want a lightweight media/browser machine = tablet

    Need more power/flexibility = laptop

    Both together is a bit like buying a trike all the disadvantages of a motorcycle with none of the benefits of a car

  12. paulc
    Stop

    what bally Appstore does it come with?

    if no official Google Play, then's it's no go for me...

  13. Radiodoc
    WTF?

    Why is it......

    ..that the makers of most, if not all, of these ruddy Tablets are NOT explicit as to WHAT Wi-Fi Channels they will accept?

    I do NOT want to waste my do$h AGAIN on a Tablet that has restricted Wi-Fi channels - probably due to Yankee Hegemony - as I will want to use it in Japan - which has Channels 12 *&* 13 !!

    I can be cut off from a valid channel there because my Tablet of the moment [TF101] is totally incapable of even "seeing" such channels!

    Whilst router makers can usually be found to specify WHICH channels they cover, it is a downright disgrace that Tablet makers are so conniving as to fail to even mention the channel range in their specifications.

    I found out "the hard way" when I set one of my routers to Channel 13, and it couldn't be seen by my Asus TF101, nor by my IBM (Hegemony strikes again) more ancient T60p's.

    However, my Lenovo S10-2's cover ALL the 2.4Ghz band - no problem at all.

  14. rogerpjr

    Unwarrented critique

    Just a quickie...

    Why label this Tablets battery as puny.

    It has to run only a dual core cpu.

    Samsung has a 7000 mah battery and you have no qualms....

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