New Archos 7 Home Tablet: Seven-inch color screen, seven-hours video playback, Android OS, WiFi connectivity, all for only US$179.00.
Photo by Charbax (more here)
I can see the scoffing out there.
But there are these points to consider:
First, not everybody wants an iPhone and there are actually people out there who have bought audio players other than the iPod. Some of these same people won’t want to buy an iPad, either.
Second, Archos has been very, very aggressive in its Android push, releasing near-weekly firmware updates. They’ve shown a seriousness and determination that’s been lacking in all of their prior efforts.
Third, this will apparently be priced lower than all current eCrap ePub eInk devices out there. The Sony Pocket Edition is US$199.00. This will go for US$179.00. A full-color Internet-capable, video-playing, seven-inch screen for US$20.00 less than the lowest-priced eInk device? There is just no contest here. Even though it can’t do Adobe-DRMed ePub, there are still millions of DRM-free ePub eBooks out there it can read without people having to learn the arcane skill of DRM-stripping.
Fourth, what this offers over the iPad is the ability to play DiVX/XViD AVI video. The iPad (and iPhone/iPod Touch) restrict video to MP4, which burdens people with having to convert the most popular form of video file available via the Internet.
What does it lack?
An accelerometer! Ouch. I don’t know how many Android programs have the ability to reorient from landscape to portrait display via software control. And this also adds the complication of whether or not there are portrait on-screen keyboards that have to be hunted down and then installed separately too.
Probably no Bluetooth. I’m still awaiting confirmation of this, but I suspect it’s not in there. This means external keyboards will have to physically plug in via USB (annoyingly with a USB-to-mini-USB adapter!).
It also lacks the processing power of the Archos 5 Internet Tablet. Web pages will build slower — but possibly not annoyingly so.
It doesn’t have a capacitive screen. Its resistive screen might be good enough if it’s been made more sensitive than the current Archos 5 Internet Tablet.
One open question is YouTube playback capability. There’s an Android app for that, but can it run on this? And will playback be acceptable? I suspect if the app works, YouTube will be fine.
Another open question is Adobe’s upcoming Flash for Android. Does this have the processing power to deal with that? I suspect heavy Flash on web pages would quickly bog it down.
Yet, for only US$179.00, this is a bold move by Archos despite its technical shortcomings. It sets a new price point for mini tablets and also wipes out all of those weird mini-tablets from sketchy Chinese companies.
It also kills the Camangi WebStation d-e-a-d.
Here is the highly-enthusiastic Charbax of ArchosFans demonstrating some of it:
Note that while Charbax keeps repeating “$149,” he meant the price in Euros, not Dollars.
Is this a true alternative to the iPad? It is — in the way a Commodore-64 was an alternative to the original Apple II. Something cheaper and something very different. (For the record, I was one of those 64 owners, who could not afford the pricey Apple back then!)