We saw a preview build at ICS and now it's here. Archos announced today a worldwide rollout of its Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) update for the G9 line of tablets. We've been waiting expectantly for the Archos G9 Turbo editions, with their TI OMAP4460 SoC's tuned to 1.5GHz, since the line was first announced last fall. We still haven't seen one so tuned, but the current edition uses TI's OMAP4430 clocked at 1.2GHz, so performance should match the Galaxy Nexus, which also uses TI's OMAP44x0. Archos promises their build will leverage the GPU for excellent video output of their usual panoply of codecs and containers, and all at 1080p, with HDMI output. 

Much has been made about the slow roll-out of Ice Cream Sandwich to devices, and user's frustration is palpable. The developer community has worked tirelessly to squeeze Android 4.0 on to every manner of device, and yet only a few updates have been rolled out by big OEMs; and a seemingly shrinking list of updates is planned over the coming months. Archos, either through luck or foreknowledge, based their product on the development platform for ICS, giving them a slim advantage over competitors with tablets based on alternate SoCs. Possibly more crucial is that Archos applies all its development know-how to adding media functionality, versus designing and executing on a thorough UI reskin and layers of widgets and services. 

Compared to their competitors products, though, Archos doesn't have the prettiest chassis's, nor the highest quality screens. But with storage options up to 250GB and a history of providing excellent media playback their products become ever more compelling. Our biggest concern, though, is their ability to execute on hardware; it's been 8 months since the line was announced, and the 1.5GHz variants are still scarce. We'll try to get some phone time with Archos representatives to see if we can get more details, and maybe some hints at what's next. In the meanwhile, anyone looking for a speedy Android slate, running the most current software revision should seriously consider the G9 line, starting at just $269, it could be a real steal. 

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  • Hrel - Thursday, March 8, 2012 - link

    I really wish Archos made smart phones. Then, even if they did they'd have to be available on Virgin Mobile or it would do me no good.
  • Rick83 - Friday, March 9, 2012 - link

    and not just in European markets anymore.
    Even those run (at the moment) "only" on 512MB of RAM, but there's a rumor that a 1G version might spawn, to accompany pre-loaded with ICS retail versions.

    Also of note: the ICS builds include drivers for USB-LAN adapters and 3D-Video, so using the g9 tablets as HTPC replacements is becoming ever more viable.

    Also a note of caution: you will not get the same level of refinement as you will get from an iPad 2, from these devices. But you will get as good theoretical performance and (many) more features, for half the price. If you want to explore what is possible in the world of tablets, buying Archos is highly recommended. If you want something that "just works" and keeps on working, I would not commit to this. Also it doesn't give you that fuzzy "I helped Apple get filthy rich" feeling ;)
  • nismotigerwvu - Friday, March 9, 2012 - link

    Version 4.0.4 - March 8th, 2012

    Initial Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.3 firmware release
    MediaCenter Video: support for MKV3D on TV with automatic switch to best 3D mode
    MediaCenter Video: allow to disable system notifications in video player
    MediaCenter Video: collection of VOB files from DVD are now gathered into a single movie item
    MediaCenter Music: integrate Music control panel in Lock Screen
    MediaCenter info dialog: allow to edit the name used for performing the Movie and TVShow online search
    File Manager: display a notification when file copy continues in background
    File Manager: improved drag and drop support
    File Manager: new option to prevent indexing of some storage/sdcard folders by multimedia library
    Applications: more robust video conferencing support (Google talk, Skype etc.)
    USB file transfer: a samba server is now activated on the tablet when using USB network tethering for easier file transfer on non Windows based hosts
    Archos widgets: new USB network tether widget
    External Keyboard: french layout has been expanded to handle AtlGr keys for special symbols
    Accessories: Xbox gamepad support

    Xbox gamepad support you say? SWEET!
  • Camikazi - Friday, March 9, 2012 - link

    OMG Archos is not only updating their products but doing it ahead of many other companies? Have they changed so much form a few years ago?
  • Penti - Monday, March 12, 2012 - link

    Archos seems ok, but would love to see a device from them with a truly high-end IPS/PVA display. Like that they are Europeans with a slightly different take on things, view accessories slightly different and so on, and was a pioneer in the field. But they will never be a Kindle or iPad like business. They seem to have a pretty decent software and hardware platform to build on though. So they have to focus on hardware, software integration and external partners. They won't be the ones selling books, movies, apps and all to me, as the EU system won't really allow that, the ones owning movie rights in France aren't the same companies owning them in my country so it's hard to build services like that in Europe. Laws forbids us to do so even though all other services and goods move freely on the common market, some things are easier like apps, games and books, I can access 1 million books from the American Amazon site, but there is no such service serving the needs and languages of the many European states, things like Steam works fine without interference from local distributors or collective collection societies music and movies which are licensed on a regional/national level don't work well at all music is easier to pull together but it's still only on a national level, I wont even be able to use Google Play for anything but the apps. Amazon hasn't pulled it off, Lovefilm offer streaming of some just 6000 titles for example.

    Archos need to figure out their focus and they can be a productive player in the field. They seem to view them more like proper computing platforms but needs to do some own work to make that into at reality. ICS should help. I think they have MVA panels now with the G9-series, previously they where not WVA displays basically. €50 Euro 3G-"upgrade" with a stick and Linux kernel support is always a plus and helpful if one needs to add it when traveling or whatever, which can also be used with your laptop and so on. They styling seems to have become a little dated though. Would like them more minimalized and softer looking. They need to look over the software and content side of things, maybe also come with STB media playback solutions, or extend their tablets to properly function as that. Not just working a solution to play wares, but be a proper hub for multimedia, video etc and focus on quality and build of their products.

    They might be early with ICS also, but it is still 4 months since the source released on 16 th Nov. They seems to hit most marks in terms of specs for me now, the do have wider viewing angles, pretty standard and up to date firmware/OS, good media playback and SoC platform, but bad availability and so on. So I might go with one of two the mayor Chinese manufacturers here if not the Kindle or Nook still. Huawei Mediapad is pretty well priced here in Sweden for example. Does have fairly high-res IPS screen, fairly well supported SoC-platform, 3G, cameras, BT, GPS, dual-core 1.2GHz Scorpion with 1GB ram, microSD, light weight and pretty much what you would expect. Doesn't really gravitate towards 10" or large tablets, I thought Galaxy tab 7.7 Plus with Exynos and Honeycomb was pretty much hitting the target. At least as consumer devices, otherwise I do like it when they develop products like Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet, too bad on Tegra2 there though. Not too comfortable to go with players like Asus here.

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