We were wondering how fast the Nexus 7 would push the Android manufacturers to make a competing product, and Archos is now showing us that it didn't take that long. They are announcing a 9.7″ Android 4.0 tablet called the Archos 97 Carbon, with a 4:3 aspect ratio (like the iPad) that costs only $250. For that price you get a 1 Ghz processor, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, microSD expansion, and a 1024×768 resolution display.
So how does the Archos 97 Carbon tablet compare to the Nexus 7? Well first off, it's a 10″ tablet, so if you think that the 7″ size is too small, then you might prefer this tablet over the Nexus 7 right away. It has a 4:3 aspect ratio, which means it should be easier to hold in portrait mode for browsing, reading books and even using some apps, although Android apps are not usually made for this aspect ratio, hence they might look a little weird on it, even if they scale up.
This brings up another point, that most Android apps don't look so good on 10″ tablets, because many developers haven't taken the time to update their apps for that size yet. Google isn't doing a very good job at pushing to update their own apps for the tablet size either, while they keep saying that Android apps just scale up to any size. There's a difference between being able to scale up an app and making it look good, which hopefully Google will recognize sooner rather than later.
Even though the 97 Carbon is a 10″ tablet, it actually has a resolution that's lower than the Nexus 7′s 1280×800 resolution, and its pixel per inch density is almost half (132 vs 216), which should have a pretty significant impact on how crisp everything looks on this tablet. But at the end of the day, this is how the first iPad started, and it was very successful with that resolution, and for this price, it might not be that bad.
The RAM and the storage amount are the same as a similar priced Nexus 7 tablet, but perhaps the most disappointing thing about it, hardware wise, is the single core 1 Ghz processor, which when compared to the Nexus 7′s quad core 1.2 Ghz chip, looks very dated. The fact that it doesn't run Google's fastest OS yet, JellyBean, isn't helping.
Archos isn't talking about upgrade plans to JellyBean for its 97 Carbon tablet, and I wish all manufacturers gave a certain upgrade timeline for their Android 4.0 devices when they announce them. But seeing how it's stock Android 4.0, and the JellyBean changes are not that big under the hood, then technically it shouldn't be a problem for them to upgrade it very soon. However, it all depends on whether they want to do it or not.