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Archos 101XS - A Decent Package At A Fair Price

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Archos takes aim at the Asus Transformer range with this tablet-keyboard combo

 

Jelly Bean

Android 4.0 is on board at launch, and an update to Android 4.1 is promised before the end of the year

Archos 101XS

Archos 101xs

Magnets

The device comes with its own keyboard section, and magnets help keep the two parts together when they’re being used and when the keyboard is doubling up as a screen cover

Coverboard

The coverboard houses a reasonable quality keyboard that doubles up as a protective case when not in use

The Archos 101 XS comes with a coverboard - a keyboard that doubles up as a cover for the screen when it's not in use for typing.

The Archos 101 XS comes with a coverboard - a keyboard that doubles up as a cover for the screen when it's not in use for typing.

Archos has been around making screen-only devices for a very long time. We’re talking pre-iPad and the company has also had a long history of working with Android with, admittedly, mixed results. Usually Archos sticks to the consumer end of things, happy to push the media side of what its tablets can do.

This time around Archos has taken a different tack. The Archos 101 XS comes with a coverboard - a keyboard that doubles up as a cover for the screen when it's not in use for typing. And Archos bundles a copy of Office Suite Pro too. Effectively this means that the Archos 101 XS could be attractive as a less expensive rival for the popular

Asus Transformer range of solidly built Android tablets with keyboards. At £299 the Archos 101 XS can’t rival the Asus Transformers for build or for its generally very high-end specifications, of course, but what’s here might prove to be good enough for many people.

Certainly the build is attractive. The silver and white chassis to the tablet has a neat appearance, one of the best Archos devices we’ve seen, though it has to be said that the silver parts are metal and they scratch fairly easily.

Okay, there’s no back-facing camera. But the front camera ought to be enough for most of your needs. We’re never really convinced tablets need high-quality back-mounted cameras. What matters more are the internal specs and general usability.

The coverboard attaches to the main unit via a proprietary connector and is held in place by strong magnets and a fold-out stand. The overall effect is that the tablet sits at a good viewing angle and feels fairly sturdy. When not in use, more magnets around the coverboard’s edge hold it onto the tablet protecting its screen. We found that it does fairly easily slip out of alignment, though, so you will still need a separate carrying case for proper protection when travelling.

The keys are quite small but relatively comfortable to use. The minimal amount of travel for the keys means it never threatens to completely replace your laptop In the way a Transformer does. There are plenty of Android specific keys such as Menu, Home, and recent apps, as well as dedicated keys for media playback, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi toggle, screen brightness and audio volume.

The keyboard has been thought out quite well and mixes in really well with the screen, providing for a good all-round experience.

Archos has been clever enough not only to build in Android 4 but also to promise an upgrade to Android 4.1 before the calendar year Is out. It has also included a dual-core 1.5GHz processor supported by 1GB of RAM. There are quicker devices around but what’s here Is more than good enough for the tasks you will carry out with it.

The keyboard has been thought out quite well and mixes in really well with the screen, providing for a good all-round experience.

The keyboard has been thought out quite well and mixes in really well with the screen, providing for a good all-round experience.

It is good to see HDMI output here, albeit in mini socket format and Archos doesn’t bundle an adaptor. The mlcro-USB port features USB Host so you could attach external peripherals - again you’ll need to provide your own adaptor.

There’s a micro SD card slot on one of the short edges too, making it really easy to double - and more -the built-in 16GB of storage.

The screen is good while remaining behind the best. At 10.1 inches it Is perfectly large enough for seeing typing appearing as you tap at the keys. The 1,280 x 800 pixel resolution is the same as we’ve seen on the seven-inch Nexus 7, and it can be beaten In a ten-inch tablet, but we found working with It to be comfortable.

Note, though, that the screen Is not made from protective Gorilla Glass. In the longterm this might mean it is prone to some damage. The tablet’s slightly recessed stance makes It a little less stylish than entirely flat screens as well. But that is admittedly being a little picky.

Archos has not left its media friendly roots behind completely. Of course the Archos 101 XS handles movies and sound efficiently, and the music and video apps have been tweaked to Include a carousel of album covers and movie thumbnails for you to sweep through. A wide range of movie formats are supported too.

In all, then, a decent package at a fair price. The design puts a different spin on a concept we've seen before and the performance Is acceptable If not ground-breaking. Users looking for a tablet to function as a real laptop alternative will still be better off looking at the various Asus models, but those seeking a to enhance a traditional tablet with a physical keyboard for more casual use might find some joy here.

Camera

There’s no back-facing camera, but a small front-facing one sits on the screen bezel which is good enough for video chat

Scratchy

The 101 XS looks great - arguably the best looking Archos device to date - but the sliver finish to the backplate is made of quite scratch-prone metal

Battery life

Good battery life, especially when compared to laptop computers

Performance

Pretty good all-round performer with acceptable battery life

Design

Looks good with the coverboard attached, but backplate is susceptible to scratches

Features

All the basics are covered and a Jelly Bean update is promised very soon

Value for money

Firmly in mid-range territory, the 101 is a reasonable value buy

Verdict

A good buy if you want a tablet and keyboard combo without the expensive Transformer price tag

Details

·         Price : $479.99

·         More information : www.archos.com

 

Technical specs

·         Operating system: Android 4.0

·         Processor: 1.5MHz dual-core

·         Memory.: 16GB storage

·         Dimensions: 273 x 170 x 8 mm (tablet) 273 x 170 x 5 mm (coverboard)

·         Weight: 600g (200g coverboard)

·         Display size: 10.1-inch

·         Display resolution: 1,280 x 800 pixels

·         Expansion slot: Micro SD

 

 

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