The Archos 70 claims first and foremost to be an ‘Internet Tablet’ with an ‘Android user interface’ -- but there are caveats to both of those descriptions.
Harley Ogier | Monday, August 01 2011
Product type: Tablet
RRP incl GST: $457
- Android-based user interface
- Not an Android certified device
- (no Market access)
- 7-inch, 800 x 480 pixel display
- 8GB onboard storage
A great portable media player, but falls short of an all-purpose tablet.
The Archos 70, from the French electronics corporation of the same name, claims first and foremost to be an ‘Internet Tablet’ with an ‘Android user interface’, both with a little footnote symbol – more on that in a moment.
Out of the box, the Archos 70 is beautifully slim, sleek and lightweight, with a big 7-inch screen and just enough room around the edge to get a good grip.
One particularly unique point is a little picture-frame stand at rear, allowing you to stand it up on a desk at the perfect angle for movie watching. It's a small thing, but it takes the Archos from ‘just another tablet’ to your best friend ever on long flights that lack the universal human right of infinite free movies.
The stand also turns the Archos 70 into a particularly modern bedside alarm clock or a digital photo frame, and even includes a nice app to accomplish the latter: drawing your photos automatically from your Flickr account, a network share, or a variety of other sources (or combination thereof).
The screen is decent quality with good brightness, contrast and colour reproduction, though the resolution is 800 x 480 pixels – mediocre for the 7-inch display size, which shows through in the tablet’s slightly blocky text rendering.
‘Internet Tablet’ is a label Archos use to define models specced higher than their ‘Home Tablet’ range, in terms of processing power, connectivity and such. It’s got faster Wi-Fi, can connect to your phone via Bluetooth, and supports a range of network-enabled apps. Despite all that, I found the internet experience to be slow and clunky.
An Adobe Flash app let me watch Zero Punctuation on The Escapist, but even that seemed a bit laggy – and those videos are essentially nothing more than slideshows with a voiceover. Watching full-motion video on YouTube didn’t work for me.
Similarly, the Archos 70 is an ‘Android tablet’ only if you squint at it the right way.
The Archos’s operating system is indeed built on the open-source Android 2.2 platform, but it’s not a certified Android device. That means that instead of Android Market you access ‘AppsLib’, which offers just under 39,000 applications. That can’t compare with the several-hundred-thousand apps in the Android Market, but I had no trouble finding productivity apps, utilities and games to meet my needs.
Where the Archos really shines is in its media functionality. Load up the Archos 70’s 8GB of flash memory, or slot in a micro-SDHC card, full of movies, music, TV shows, sports games... all legitimately obtained, of course. The Archos 70 will play smooth, enjoyable video at resolutions up to 720p, downscaled on the fly to fit its smaller screen. If you’re willing to put up with larger file sizes on the device, you can watch without needing to perform a lengthy and annoying transcode to a mobile format. One caveat: full-HD, 1080p movies from your Blu-ray collection will still need to be converted down to 720p on your PC before playback. If you’re going from DVD, no problem.
The Archos 70 has full, quick-and-easy support for file shares, so copying movies and music from your Windows 7 PC or NAS box is particularly easy; you don’t even need a cable.
Altogether, the Archos 70 Internet Tablet works well as a sleek, lightweight media player with some basic internet functionality thrown in. If you’re after an Android tablet for productivity or to fulfull all your web-browsing needs, look elsewhere. For entertainment on the go, it’s a winner in its price range.
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