Let the Budget Tablet War Begin: Archos Arnova 10.1″ Tablet for $199!

March 10, 2011
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Anyone who was reluctant to make a move on buying a tablet due to their expensive price or the question of whether you would use it enough to justify the purchase, Archos is your savior.

They just released their Arnova 10 and it is now for sale,  at the starting price of $199 for a 10.1″ Android tablet. At this time not much is known of the tech specs on this new offering but it appears to be the same chassis as the Archos 101 Internet Tablet. All that is known so far is that it appears to have the same 10.1″ 1024×600 resolution display, 4GB of Internal Memory, front facing VGA camera, WIFI b/g, USB Host/Slave, and a Micro SDHC slot. Currently, its not yet known what SoC (Solution on a Chip) drives this device, but if it is the same as the Archos 101 which sported the Texas Instruments OMAP3630 at 1GHZ with integrated PowerVR SGX530 GPU, then this will be a very powerful budget minded tablet. Something that is lacking from the tech description and might have been deleted from this model is the Mini HDMI output that was built in on the $299 Archos 101 8GB Internet Tablet. Charbax from ArmDevices.net, who you will see below is very passionate about it, claims its a Rockchip 2818, and it runs at 800Mhz. He also claims that the series will receive an upgrade very shortly, and will get an ARM A8 Rockchip 2919

At a Glance

  • HD Multimedia: Play HD Videos and view photos on the sharp 10.1 inch high resolution touch screen
  • Applications: Customize your device by downloading your favorite Android applications from the 2nd largest Android app market
  • Internet: Surf the web in full width just like on your PC, and stay in contact by using the integrated email and contacts applications
  • Video Chat: Chat with friends and family using the foward facing web cam
  • WiFi (802.11 b/g) connectivity

Things to Consider

As the owner of an Archos 101 8GB Internet Tablet, I can tell you their build quality is pretty top notch. It has a mostly plastic body with a metal non-removable battery cover. I haven’t had any issues yet on any breakage and I must say their design is very nice. The thickness of the Archos 101 and Arnova 10 is a very thin, at just 0.50″,  which is thicker than the newly announced iPad 2’s 0.34″ but identical to the original iPad’s thickness.

What About Apps?

There are a couple things to consider buying one of this generation of Archos Tablets. So far there has been no word of Honeycomb coming to this gen. My Archos 101 is running 2.2.1 and came from the factory with AppsLib a 3rd party Android Market which does not access the official Android Market. But this has been easily solved by the guys over at the Archosfans’ Forums. They have made an easily installable apk that adds all the official Google Apps; Gmail, Google Voice, Maps, Voice Search and Youtube. Other than that I couldn’t see a downside of the Archos 101 before purchasing it. I’ve really only encountered a couple other oddities since I purchased it shortly after Christmas.

Some applications are protected apps so even though the market is enabled, some applications are not able to be seen to be downloaded. There is a work around if you have the means. Using a rooted device download the application and manually extract the apk from the rooted device then transfer them to the Archos tablet and install the apk. It will work just fine, but you will not receive application updates on these applications. Another issue I’ve encountered was the inability to use alternative launchers due to the on screen buttons that aren’t normally in an Android 2.2.1 phone. Therefore the alternative launchers don’t format the icon layout correctly. Looking over the image provided by Archos the only noticeable difference in software is that there is no longer a row of on screen buttons along the side they are now integrated into the notification bar like in Honeycomb tablets. This may fix the problem of alternative launchers working correctly. The only issue with the hardware that I’ve seen is the screen, it has a small viewing angle, this is very noticeable but isn’t much of a problem, it is fully usable to the person using the device but your friends will have a hard time looking over your shoulder. The back-light is also not very strong but is still viewable outdoors. Neither of these hardware issues are enough to make the tablet considered bad in any way. When it comes to gaming on the device it works great. Angry Birds and 3d games run perfectly smooth at the higher 1024×600 resolution.

I must say if you don’t have a tablet yet, buy the Arnova 10. If 4GB isn’t enough, jump online and pick up a 8GB Micro SDHC card for $11. Then you’ll have a 10.1″ tablet with 12GB for only $211. Note that this is a WIFI only tablet so this does not require a data plan. It could easily be WIFI tethered to your cell phone, or you could get a MIFI device through any carrier to enable internet everywhere.

What do you think? Is $199 the sweet spot for Android Tablets?

Thanks to Charbax at ArmDevices.net for the great vid.

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