Posted by: patdavila | December 29, 2010

Archos 101 Internet Tablet Review: Part 2 – software

In my last post I mostly talked about the hardware side of the Archos 101. Today I’m going to talk about the software, primarily the custom version of Android that Archos has developed. For the most part it is stock Android. Unlike the Viewsonic gTablet which has a horrible customized version of Android, Archos has wisely chosen to keep it simple. As a Nexus One owner I was immediately comfortable using the Archos 101. Everything is pretty familiar. The biggest glaring omission is that the original Android marketplace is not installed by default. Instead Archos has installed the Appslib marketplace. This is pretty limiting as far as the applications you can install. My guess is that Archos only wants to make available applications they know will scale up to a bigger screen. This will hopefully go away as the upcoming Honeycomb release of Android will address the tablet experience directly. Not to fear, some of the great people over at the XDA Forums have created a package that will install the regular marketplace in under a minute. The tablet has shipped with Android 2.1 but upon connecting to the internet you will see a firmware upgrade is available that will bring you up to Android 2.2. As others have reported there were periodic lagginess when having multiple applications open at once. Someone recommended doing a factory wipe to alleviate the issue. I tried this and noticed the issue has disappeared. With the upgrade to Android 2.2 there’s even a CPU scaling option. By default Archos has the CPU set to 800 mhz even thought the processor is 1 ghz. They do this to improve battery life. I decided to increase this to the “overdrive” setting and haven’t noticed any negative effects on the battery life. Everything is pretty quick and responsive. So far I’m enjoying Android on such a large device. Ebook reading is an absolute joy with Aldiko and the Kindle applications. Comics purchased from Comixology look absolutely stunning in their Android application. The web browser is pretty nice and looks good in both landscape and portrait modes. While media playback is generally very good there is the annoyance of not being able to play mpeg2 video or AC-3 audio by default. Archos wants users to buy a codec pack for 15 Euros?! An easy work around to this is installing the Rockplayer application. It seems a bit petty that Archos wants to charge extra for the ability to play back commonly used codecs. Another glaring issue is that there’s no hardware specific version of flashplayer for Archos Android devices. You can install the default player from the marketplace but it’s not hardware accelerated. It’s usable but not optimal. Supposedly Archos is working with Adobe to get an official package released soon. Some day to day observations in my next post.

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Responses

  1. […] Android marketplace was gnawing at me for the longest time and last night, I came across a post that suggested that the XDA developers forum has a specific hack to address this. So, 10 […]


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