I bought an Archos 101 (Please see separate review if you want more details of the original model) last year and fell in love until a few months ago when it died. I had a great time at the wake though as Archos (being the amazing people that they are) sent me an upgrade as a replacement, a shiny new Archos 101 3G. Whilst waiting in anticipation for computers to be added to the product suggestions list so that I can write all about it, I've fallen in love really this time (Making the Archos 101 seem like a school girl crush).
A French consumer electronics company that was formed in 1988, Archos is apparently an anagram of the surname of its founder, Henri Crohas. They make internet tablets and also release other low cost Android tablets under the Arnova brand, which shares the same designs and some production and distribution facilities. That's all that I can tell you really (They don't have an 'about us' page on their website) other than that their customer service is really good.
A slim and light tablet at 276 mm x 167 mm x 12.6 mm cm and 649g (the ipad is 18.6 x 0.9 x 24.1 cm and 653g) that is a nice size to hold in in the hands and the rectangle shape is great for watching films in widescreen. As with the 101, the only buttons actually on the tablet are the on/off button and volume control. Remaining buttons are permanently on the screen, change with the screen orientation and are utilized actually within the apps as function buttons (E.g. when in a web browser the back button takes to your previous page). The Search, Home, Menu and Back buttons that were displayed on the previous version now have a handy addition of a applications button which allows you to switch between apps and close with a swipe (I love the swipe). The rotation of the screen changes as you rotate the device, something that has become standard in most devices now but I still find it impressive). Whilst viewing angles were limited to pretty much straight on in the 101, the G9 has remedied this flaw and is viewable from lots of angels which is good if more than one person wants to look at it at the same time. The stand on the back of the device has also received an upgrade, it's been moved to one side so rather than the middle so that it can be used in both portrait and landscape. The tablet also has a slot for a micro sd card, which means you can expand the capacity (good for if you have a lot of ebooks, music, tv shows and films. It also has a headphones socket, microUSB and a mini HDMI port. Sadly the USB port, that was very useful, is no more on the G9 version but you can buy a micro USB adapter for a few quid on Amazon. I highly recommend buying on to use with this tablet as it will make your life so much easier. The multi touch screen supports gestures such as pinch-to-zoom and doesn't really get hot (some people have complained about this but I've used it for hours at a time and it's gotten slightly warm).
Where the G9 stands out is its speed of processing, it is twice as fast as the original. Gone are the days of waiting whilst the tablet has a little rest before it does what you ask it to do. In two months of use I have not had a frozen screen or delay. It responds fast and efficiently to commands. It has a 1 GHz Texas Instruments OMAPTM 4 smart multi-core processor (Apparantly). I have very little understanding of what that means other than my tablet is pretty powerful, can multitask better than I can and I can play full HD videos. Web browsing is a breeze, as is juming between apps. It also runs on the 4.0 'Ice Cream Sandwich' operating system. Again, I'm no expert, so I'm stealing quotes from those that are, from the Archos website; "Specially designed and optimized for tablets, it gives you a full web experience for on-the-go web browsing, communication and applications. With Adobe® Flash® 11 support for the true web experience and the constantly growing number of apps in Android MarketTM, as well as Google's suite of Mobile applications your ARCHOS 101 G9 is your versatile tool for your connected life" (They said it better than I could anyways). It is also fully Flash compatible which means it can display all web pages and the internet looks the same as it does on my laptop. The keyboard takes some getting used to be is fine once you've used it for a while and if you do a lot of typing you can use a real keyboard (You can buy a case with a keyboard built in that turns the tablet into a mini laptop for £10ish on amazon) but you will need a micro usb adapter. The tablet also has a built in camera and microphone which I only use for skype but is a pretty good quality for that purpose, it's probably not so great for taking actual photos and is only front facing.
The tablet is fully wifi enabled and I've tried it on several wifi networks and found it pretty fast. It also connects to my nas (via wifi) very easily and I've never had an issue when streaming videos. The tablet also has Bluetooth (But I've never used it) and is 3G enabled. In order to use 3G have to buy a specific Archos USB stick which is available from a number of places (Such as Amazon and play.com but I'm sure computer retailers would also stock it) which costs around £40. As I have a smart phone I've never found the need for it but if you did decide 3G is a must then there's a slot built in for the USB at the back of the tablet so that it's tucker away and hidden. Theoretically this USB port could be used for other things such as USB storage devices but I've never tried it. The tablet also has a built in GPS module, making it great as a satnav and allows you to utilize apps that use locations fully (Like google map). You can also connect the tablet up to your TV like you do with a pc, allowing you to watch whatever is on your tablet on a big screen.
The standard version, which I have, has 8GB of space. I have quite a few apps, a lot of photos, 20 ebooks, a number of films and TV episodes and quite a bit of random stuff stored on my tablet and I have 4GB free. You can also expand your available space through the use of the SD card slot. I tend to store the majority of my things on SD cards and the G9 makes it easy and quick to access these, due to a very good file management system supplied on the tablet. You can also buy a 'turbo' version of the tablet with a 250GB hard drive for £300 (RRP, I've found it for £250 in places). From what I've read the extra memory does drain the battery a lot though and also weighs 100 odd grams.
The tablet last 7 to 10 hours if using it constantly. I've found that I can a number of days without needing to charge if I'm using it sporadically. I generally only use the tablet continuously when reading books on Kindle so to put it into perspective, I read to and a half books of the Hunger Games trilogy before needing to plug the power adapter in. Unlike other tablets, it will not charge when shut down completely however the battery never seems to drain much in power save mode. If I left the original 101 in power save for a couple of days I'd turn it on to find the battery had gone completely dead whereas it seems to have little effect on the G9. I'm very impressed with its battery life. The only downside is that it takes a while to charge when connected to a computer through a USB. It charges a lot quicker when it's plugged directly into a power source.
The tablet comes installed with a number of useful apps. The multimedia apps to play music and video that are already installed on the tablet are really good and are well designed. I've found them very easy to use and play all formats I've tried, on my old tablet I needed several different apps to play different types of videos. It also comes with an app called BriefMe preinstalled, which lets you gather all your social network feeds in one place. Whilst it doesn't have Microsoft Office, Smart Office (also preinstalled) allows you to read and edit your Word, Excel and PowerPoint files however it is only a trial version but there are other apps available for free that do the same job. For apps that are not already installed, you also have access to the Android market (All you need is a gmail account). There are a lot of great apps on the Android Market that are free. The Kindle app is really good, allowing you to read pdfs as well as any kindle bought books and gives you everything a kindle reader does as far as i can tell. I use my tablet to read all of my uni texts books that i got in pdf format. There's also the standard apps such as twitter, facebook, youtube, angry birds, skype, bbc iplayer. The game Temple Run is great (and free) and shows off the tablet really well. Apparently the dual-core processor also makes the tablet an excellent choice for 3D but I tend to avoid games (3D games confuse me).
~Freedom of choice~
One of the things I love most about the G9, and the plain 101 that came before it, is that I can make decisions. If I don't like the web browser, install another one (Dolphin is really good), want to put 50 ebooks on a SD card and decide what to read later, I can, I just stick it in the card slot. It actually has a card slot. I can transfer files to and from the tablet till my heart's content (and I don't have to use itunes to do it (Me and itunes have a troubled relationship). It has flash, I can look at whatever websites I want, I don't have to view an altered version adapted for my technology. I actually get the 'real' internet. I could also change my operating system if I can the inclination (or ability).
The RRP stands at £300. Since I didn't pay for it I can't tell you how much mine cost but I have seen them on various internet sites for between £180 and £230. The price fluctuates a lot on Amazon. If you're looking for a cheaper deal then you can generally get the original 101 for around £150 (Again, this changes up and down quite often) but do lose the power and speed that the G9 has by choosing its much slower older brother. If you're buying it instead of a Kindle I'd go for the cheaper option but if you want a fully functional tablet I'd probably spend the extra cash.
~Technical Details (Taken from Archos.com)~
Display characteristics * 10.1": 1280 x 800
Application Framework * Android
Processor * Standard version: OMAPTM 4 smart multi-core ARM CORTEX A9 at 1GHz.
* Turbo version: OMAPTM 4 smart multi-core ARM CORTEX A9 from 1.2GHz to 1.5GHz (at start of 2012).
* 3D OpenGL (ES 2.0)
Capacity * Flash Memory: 8 or 16GB* + microSD Slot (SDHC compatible)
Video Playback1 * MPEG-4 HD (up to 1080p)
* MPEG-42 (ASP@L5 AVI, up to DVD resolution)
* H.264 HD (HP@L4.2, up to 1080p@30 fps and 1080i/720p@60 fps)
With optional plug-in:
* Cinema: MPEG2 (up to DVD resolution MP/D1)
With the above codecs, the device can play video files with the following extensions: AVI, MP4, MOV, 3GP, MPG, PS, TS, VOB, MKV, FLV, RM, RMVB, ASF
Audio Playback1 * MP3
* WAV (PCM/ADPCM)
* AAC3, AAC+ 5.13
* OGG Vorbis
With optional software plug-in:
* AC3 5.1
Photo viewer4 * JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF
Subtitles * .srt, .ssa, .smi, .sub formats supported
Webcam * 720p front camera with 720p encoding
Interfaces * USB slave: Mobile Transfer Protocol (MTP)
* USB host: Mass Storage Class (MSC) (Micro USB/USB Host cable sold separately)
* microSD (SDHC compatible)
* HDMI output6 (Mini HDMI / HDMI cable sold separately)
Communication protocols * WiFi
* Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR
Miscellaneous * Built-in GPS
* Built-in speakers
* Built-in kick stand
* Built-in Microphone
Power source * Internal: Lithium Polymer battery
* External: Power adapter/charger
Dimensions & weight * Flash series: 276 mm x 167 mm x 12.6 mm (10.86 x 6.59 x 0.50 inch) - 649g (23.8 oz)
* Hard Drive series: 276 mm x 167 mm x 15.6 mm (10.86 x 6.59 x 0.61 inch) - 755g (27.7 oz)
Battery life * Music playback time7: up to 36 hrs
* Video playback time7: up to 7 hrs
* Internet navigation time 7: up to 10 hrs
Scalability7 * Device automatically downloads latest firmware updates when the WiFi connection is activated
* Updates can also be downloaded at www.archos.com
Minimum system requirements * Microsoft® Windows® 7, Vista, XP or higher
* Mac OS. X with Android Transfer Files application (not included)
* Linux with android MTP tool (not included)
* USB 2.0 interface