Archos 80 and 101 G9 Tablets: The Fastest Tablets In The World?by Jason Inofuentes on July 18, 2011 10:18 PM EST
Archos is shedding its downmarket reputation while preserving its downmarket price with the release of the G9 series of tablets. Available in 8" and 10.1" form factors and starting at $299 and $369, respectively, these tablets aren't the sluggish, resistive touchscreen slates we've come to expect. In fact, Archos is calling these the 'Fastest Tablet[s] on Earth,' thanks to the premiere of the OMAP 4460 and its two 1.5 GHz Cortex A9 cores. It wins on the numbers but does it have the features and quality to best the likes of Motorola or Samsung?
TI's OMAP 44xO Makes Its Tablet Debut
Before we look more at the features of the Archos 80 and 101 G9, let's talk about processors. Honeycomb debuted with Tegra 2 as its SoC of choice. Unlike prior Android releases, the ports to other chipsets seemed to lag. It's only been since June that we've heard about Honeycomb tablets being released with alternate SoCs. First came Huawei's MediaPad with it's Qualcomm cores and now TI's OMAP 4 series is joining the party. This is exciting news not just because of increased clock speeds and varied features, but also because of the opportunity to see real competition between devices in performance, not just build quality.
So what can we expect out of the OMAP 4460? We've seen its little brother briefly in Brian's preview of the Droid 3, and performance was impressive. To give you some idea of the performance delta between Tegra 2 and OMAP 44xO, let's peek at the Droid 3's benchmarks versus the LG Optimus 2x, a Tegra 2 Froyo device. In SunSpider and BrowserMark there's a small but clear lead in the OMAP 4430's favor, so we can presume that turning up the dial to 1.5 Ghz should increase that lead. We'll know more about just what kind of lead when we get some hands-on time with these new entrants in the tablet race. And lest we forget, all indicators are that Kal-el, NVIDIA's quad-core ARM chip, is expected to start showing up in tablets this Fall, so Archos might not be king of the hill for too long.
The Archos G9 Line
Okay, with that past us, what do the Archos G9's offer to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack? In a word: girth. Archos has opted to outfit their new line with optional mechanical hard drives and advertise the thickness of their tablets as a feature thanks to the room to fit more into their cases. Weight obviously increases, but the option of carrying 250GB of media with you has its benefits on these WiFi-only devices. If you do want to roll 3G, the device’s software supposedly supports a wide variety of USB mobile broadband adapters, an unexpected treat we’d be glad to test out. Archos does advertize a 3G module that will be available that matches the G9 series’ aesthetics.
Aside from mechanical storage, the tablets sport pretty standard 1024 x 768 and 1280 x 800 resolutions on their 8" and 10.1" screens, respectively. MicroSD, MicroUSB, HDMI, 802.11 b/g/n, GPS and Bluetooth are old hat port-wise, along with Archos’ expected broad media support including OGG Vorbis, FLAC, and every imaginable video container. The slates lack rear-facing cameras but do sport 720p front-facing cameras for HD video chatting. The line features a fairly standard aesthetic with a black bezel and silver accent around the edge of the device. Without a review unit in hand we won't know just how well built Archos has made these units, but feel free to peep the gallery of press shots for a closer look.
And then there's the price. For $299, Archos will sell you their 8GB 80 G9, but for the bargain price you lose the clockspeed advantage of the OMAP 4460; this SKU nets you its little brother-- OMAP 4430 -- and its 1.0 GHz cores. An additional $30, though, nets you 16GB of flash storage and the full 1.5 GHz processor. Tack on another $40 and you've bought yourself that additional 250GB of mechanical storage. For the 101 G9, you've got to splurge for the $469 SKU to get the OMAP 4460, though relative to the Xoom it remains a bargain given the clockspeed and storage advantages. The 8GB and 16GB flash versions both get the 1.0 GHz processor at $369 and $399, respectively. Availability is unknown, but if you're in the market for an Android tablet later this year, your options just keep growing.
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Visual - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - linkIt is not the fastest, there have been faster x86 tablets for years.
Even the weakling Inspiron Duo matches this crap's 2x1.5GHz in x86 form and is very much old news now.
But say you don't want to count it and the myriad of other convertibles as true tablets, the 12-inch ep121 still fits the bill here, and has an actual core2 inside, way way faster. And hopefully sometime soon it is going to get a Sandy Bridge version and kick even more ass.
Even with a clarification that you mean 10-inch and under only, there's the the oak trail q550, or the brazos 110w. Perhaps it is a bit arguable if either is actually faster, at least if you blindly compare clock speed times the number of cores, but the fact is, the x86 ones can run real stuff and the arm ones can run cellphone stuff only.
I'm actually quite disappointed by AT and its lack of coverage of the x86 tablet options, I get the feeling that with some more pressure and attention from sites like yours, manufacturers would have rushed in the good stuff much faster, for example that SB ep121 update, etc.
flyingpants1 - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - linkI couldn't easily find a EP121 for sale. I found a Core i5 version for $1000.
You are right, x86 tablets should receive a ton more coverage, especially since every x86 tablet could run Windows/whatever for "real stuff" and an android-like splashtop alongside it for "cell phone stuff" or maybe even run Android apps in a VM.
JasonInofuentes - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - linkX86 tablets are a smaller market than even Android tablets and often involve compromises too great for most users, particularly battery life, screen quality, and OS. Perhaps with Windows 8 tablets this will change, but that's yet to be seen.
Visual - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - linkYou got one particular point of that completely in the reverse, ARM tablets are the ones compromising on OS - they barely get one.
Screen quality has nothing to do with the CPU architecture, so that's an invalid claim as well. If some particular product (*cough* TM2 *cough*) compromises on that to offset the price difference, that's just because of braindead designers.
The actual compromises that have to be made for x86 tablets are price, weight and battery life, but thankfully progress is being made and things are looking up now. We've reached a point where those compromises aren't too significant, and the great performance benefit is certainly worth it.
I am playing WoW, EVE Online, Dragon Age 2 on my ancient TM2, the newer devices we can expect soon will blow even that out of the water... how would fart apps and Angry Birds compete against that at all? Apple's magic marketing might have done good for a start, but eventually people will grow a brain.
ggathagan - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - linkJason never tied screen quality to the CPU, he simply mentioned that screen quality was one of the compromises that have kept the x86 tablet market so small.
JasonInofuentes - Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - linkI honestly would love to talk to you more about your gaming on your TM2, in particular the efforts to overcome the keyboard/mouse UI. We are open to adding content based on our readers interests, believe me when I say that we do this for you all, and, yes, as the Win7/8 tablet market grows we will devote more coverage to it. For now, we're a small team that do our best to keep up with what's out there and what we can get our hands on. I'm pretty sure the last time we reviewed a convertible was the Gateway E-155-C in 2007 (http://www.anandtech.com/show/2266/11), so maybe it is time we took a look at what else is out there.
Seriously, feel free to shoot me an e-mail and let's chat about your usage model and what models you want us to try and get our hands on. Thanks.
sakanagai - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - linkFrom the included pics, it looks like Archos is finally releasing an Android device with the official Market. I remember back in the days of the Archos 5 IMT when AppsLib was the integrated storefront with just a handful of apps and paid apps relying on a separate system. The unofficial support community did get a market hack out fairly quickly, though.
Of course, they could have just taken a stock Honeycomb screenshot and photoshopped it onto the screen of their tablet.
JasonInofuentes - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - linkPer their website, official Market support is included.
jdonnelly81 - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - linkIt could be pretty decent for a car entertainment/navigation system. It would certainly be cheaper than what auto manufacturers want for much less.
cterblan - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - linkHi Everyone - My name is Craig and work at ARCHOS - Just to be clear, both the 16GB and 250GB capacities on both the 80 and 101 will run dual-core up to 1.5 GHz.