Archos announced its two upcoming ninth-generation tablets last week in Paris and the whole world was mesmerized by the Archos 80 G9 and the Archos 101 G9 prices, which are practically ultra-cheap. The more precise term would be “value for money.”

How does Archos manage to produce such high-performance devices and sell them at such low prices?

Archos founder and CEO Henri Crohas pointed at what seems to be the price-bloatening practice of other tablet manufacturers: trying to outdo the iPad (i.e., creating an “iPad killer”), which consequently often results not only in iPad-comparable hardware power but also iPad-comparable price ranges.

Archos, on the other hand, innovates and is always on the lookout for cost-effective solutions. For instance, the upcoming G9 tablets are packed into a gray plastic body rather than an alloy body produced by precision machines. The display screens don’t look as glossy as other tablets’ screens because Archos screens aren’t made of one sheet of glass. But, does that really matter as much as the beckoning glow of Android 3.1 Honeycomb under the screen?

According to the folks at Pocket-lint, who had the privilege of doing a hands-on examination of the new Archos tablets, the Archos 101 G9 felt “a little creaky” and the slot for the 3G USB dongle on the tablet’s underside felt “a little loose.”

In terms of processing power, Archos opted for the “less expensive” but still “more powerful” OMAP4 processor (1.5GHz) from Texas Instruments. For storage, Archos has teamed up with Seagate for the latter’s Momentus Thin hard disk drives, which are tablet-ready. While most tablets come equipped with very thin and lightweight solid state drives (SSD), the very convenience of thinness and lightness also creates the space limitations on SSD-based tablets (usually just 32 gigabytes at the most). Archos’ solution packs more storage space into Archos tablets, especially the hard-disk drive version of the Archos 101 G9. Such tablet may be slightly thicker and slightly heavier than SSD counterparts, but hey, I won’t complain if I get 250 gigabytes of storage.

Archos also didn’t throw in expensive 3G hardware into the mix. Instead, the company decided to make 3G completely optional via a 3G USB dongle sold separately. The new Archos tablets do have Wi-Fi capability built in. The logic behind this decision is supposed to be that of “Why let the customer pay for something that he or she may not need?” while still providing a solution just in case the customer will need 3G connectivity.

Such design decisions are just some of Archos’ solutions for keeping its tablet prices low and affordable.

Meanwhile, Pocket-lint reports that the gadgets were pretty much stock Honeycomb, with a handful of Archos-developed apps. Of particular note is the video player, which Archos claims to be capable of 1080p H.264 High Profile videos. With the mini HDMI port on the Archos G9 tablets, playing hi-definition videos on an HDTV should be nothing less than pleasurable.

Some of us who are so used to the solid frames, the sturdy designs, and the glossy finish of other high-end tablets and smartphones could easily get ourselves tempted to look down on these upcoming Archos tablets and hastily judge them as flimsy.

But, given the fact that there is a real market–a rather big one, in fact–for affordable tablets, Archos’ G9 tablets just may be able to reach out to that market more easily than their high-end, higher-priced counterparts can.

It remains to be seen whether the tablets can withstand the test of time and are durable enough for rugged daily use. Otherwise, a consumer might be wiser to save up for higher-end (read: pricier) tablets designed for rough use.

But, if, like me, you are the kind who takes good care of your electronic devices, are budget-conscious, and buy your gadgets never primarily basing on their look-and-feel, then ultra-cheap tablets such as the Archos 101 G9 and the Archos 80 G9 won’t surely escape our attention.

Are Archos’ new tablets severely cheap? You bet they are! But, before you condemn them as incapable and not worth wasting your money on, try thinking whether or not other tablets are just absurdly overpriced.

I have a strong feeling that Archos’ new tablets will be game changers (in terms of pricing) in the tablet scene. What do you think?

Image credit: Pocket-lint

  • 3dfreek

    Archos has been a favorite of mine since the first 1.8″ divx player I bought and still own… obviously a strange looking device but it traveled with me on many trips and collected my digital images and output to hotel tv’s for me so who could complain?

    I own the Archos 5IT 500GB… carring that much content around is insane! Having half of that in a honeycomb makes me want to take my acer iconia back and buy this one today… however, Archos hasn’t been the quickest to solve software issues in the past and although I bought my 5IT 5 months ago ($250) It still runs on android 1.6 =( not a big fan of the buggy software on the 5IT… price was right though.

  • warrenbzf

    I agree with all of your analysis.

  • The_Letter_M

    There’s nothing wrong with a cheaper tablet. When Apple unveiled the iPad, it was in response to all the netbooks (Cheap, Low Powered Laptops) and the rumours that Apple was developing a netbook. However, the iPad ended up costing twice or three times as much as a netbook and that sort of made it not worth it. I think tablet manufacturers should aim for pricing that’s more comparative to netbooks.

  • Lurker

    Ur analysis is too one sided…i feel tht as a cheaper device the tablets will have some inherent build quality issues. i guess a full review is in order to determine that!

  • axe

    as an owner of the archos 70 with the 250Gb HD, while the space is fantastic, the physical aspects of the HD make the device pokey. the Spin-up/spin-down of the HD really makes it slow. If it was rooted, I may be able to allocate more onboard memory to the display cache, but sadly it’s not, and it appears to be harder and harder to root with the new update so I’ve read.
    Very much on the fence about the HD… would like to try a non-HD version…

  • china factory can make its cheap

  • Marcus

    I’m too looking forward to the Archos G9 tablets. I think it’s not quite fair that you should shell out an amount of money for a tablet which would otherwise buy you a full fledged laptop computer. The equation ‘smaller form factor equals higher price’ does only equate for introductory prices or for compareable devices. So yes, tablets should in general be a lot cheaper and the availability of low end models might bring the overall market price structure down in the long run.

  • Spanker

    I owned an Archos 101Internet Tablet (running Froyo) and the viewing angle was so bad I had to send it back. You couldn’t see all of the screen at once, one side was always dimmer, whichever way you held it.

    If the screen is better on these I might think about it – even a cheapo Android tablet can compete with the ipad when it comes to features.

  • Dblevins

    I’m all about specs and price !! Seems Archos team has done it all — what’s the wait ’til Sept?? They need to get it out NOW and grab the market. By waiting they’ll run into many others, including Amazon which could make Archos an also-ran.

    I want a pockable table: 6″ width is pushing it but I’d try it if no other choice — 5″ or less overall would be great.

    • Amir

      hahaha dude im not trying to troll or anything but its called a smartphone. i think buying a dedicated device smaller then 7 inches defeat the purpose in both cost and versatility. u may as well find a good 4-5 in smartphone that the phone companies will subsidize the cost on with a 2 yr activation. plus u end up combining devices and having to carry less.

      • Blevinsd

        I have NO intention whatever in paying the exorbitant prices the “cell” companies charge for service. All I need is web and email over free WiFi. The cable cos are high enough for wideband.

  • William

    I hope they don’t cripple the capabilites by leaving out codecs and other features that have to be purchased as options as they have in the past with some of their products. If the package is complete they have a winner.

  • John

    Possible price NOW – about 400 – 450 USD. AUTUMN 2011 : Tegra 3 is comminng and device like this with Tegra 2 = PRICE DOWN. Sept. price about 250 – 300 USD.

  • Truenorthern

    FWIW, I have a Gen 8 Archos 70 for a year now, it is still like new, no build quality issues at all. From day 1 I did not feel it was “cheaper” feeling than any of the other tablets, ipad included. It is slower than an ipad but also half the price,…
    Fits easily in my pockets.
    Open architecture mean that you can load anything on it, Archos even provides a bootloader for other o/s’s

  • Gmail

    if you drop it wont the drive smash? and wont it be a bit you know … loud?

  • Anonymous

    “archos screens aren’t made of one sheet of glass.” are they not glass? are they made of more than one piece of glass?