Archos has been in the PMP (personal media player) business for the longest time so when they did an Android-powered tablet with the Archos 5, I thought the market will be pleased to see an affordable device coupled with a great mobile OS.
The Archos 5 comes in many flavors, from 8GB Flash to 500GB HDD, but for the purpose of this review, we looked at the Flash version. The device in impressively thin (close to a Nokia E71) and lightweight despite the combination of plastic and steel construction.
The power button is located on the top left side along with the volume toggle. The 3.5mm headphone jack is positioned on the bottom left side beside the micro-USB port. The micro-SD card slot is exposed at the bottom along with two ports that attaches it to the cradle (DVR Station).
The kickstand pops at the back to allow free-standing position both in landscape and portrait orientation (useful for when watching movies or during music playback).
The 4.8″ TFT display screen (800Ã—480 pixel resolution) is bright but not too crisp and does not work well under direct sunlight or against bright light sources. The drawback to the display is that it has a resistive touch screen instead of the more manageable capacitive one. As such, touch navigation isn’t very accurate or as responsive as one would expect.
The Archos 5 comes with a custom Android OS v1.6 so you get the Android Market and AppsLib Store to browse thru thousands of free apps. With WiFi 802.11 b/g connectivity, the device fulfills its function as an internet tablet on top of being a media player. The GPS receiver also comes in very handy when using Google Maps.
Archos added a couple of other software features like the TV Scheduler and Video Recorder that works once you pair the device with the DVR Station (captures video played on your TV much like how TiVo works).
Movie playback is great and is able to decode a lot of video formats so you’re able to play movies as soon as you downloaded them. The screen offers a lot of real estate for a nice viewing experience and though the built-in speakers aren’t very loud, you can always hook an earphone anytime.
Web browsing is a good experience due to the large screen size and resolution but not as great as compared to, say, an iPod Touch mainly because of the lack of multi-touch and the resistive touch screen. I’d still maintain though that, for devices in this category, bigger is better.
Performance-wise, the Archos 5 is pretty capable but you’d bump into some sluggishness here and there. I’d attribute this to the multi-tasking nature of the platform running on a measly 128MB RAM but once you cleared up the memory (I used Advanced Task Killer), it performs comparably good as the HTC Hero.
The Archos 5 with its 4.8″ screen beside the Sony-Ericsson Xperia X10 with a 4.0″ screen.
One issue I had with the Archos 5 is that the device seemed to uncomfortably heat up when used extensively, like watching movies. Battery life didn’t reach the 7 hours as claimed by Archos but I am able to watch two full movies and have a little power left to browse the web for under an hour. The sleep mode helps conserve power by hibernating the device on its current state.
The built-in FM Radio is a nice addition (and you don’t need to hook it up an audio jack to work) plus the FM Transmitter allows you to broadcast sound wirelessly to a more powerful FM stereo speakers.
With a suggested price of Php15,500, the Archos 5 is an affordable investment for an internet tablet. I’m thinking it’s a viable alternative to the iPod Touch which is also priced around that number. The real power of the Archos 5 is revealed when you pair it with the DVR Station and it becomes a portable media player, TV recorder and internet TV hub.