Editor's note: As of April 2012, the Archos 80G is upgradable to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). For details on the advantages Android 4.0 offers over Honeycomb, check the Android 4.0 section of the Asus Transformer Prime TF201 review.
The tablet business is pretty cutthroat (just ask HP) and with the release of Amazon.com's Kindle Fire just weeks away, it's only going to get scarier out there for would-be iPad competitors.
The timing of a tablet release is crucial, but does rushing a tablet to market to beat the wave of upcoming competition do more harm than good? Here's how that balance played out with the Archos G9 80.
The Archos G9 80 has a medium-gray plastic chassis and its 1.08-pound body feels light and relatively thin. Holding the tablet in our hands, we noticed a number of distinct edges on the sides. For instance, on the bottom, where two pieces of the chassis meet to enclose the tablet's innards, is a rough and somewhat sharp unrefined edge. Not slice-your-hand-open sharp, but enough to be uncomfortable if you hold the tablet from that particular side for an extended amount of time.
On the Archos 80 G9's right side, near the bottom, sits the volume rocker. On the left edge is a Mini-HDMI port, followed by a headphone jack, a Micro-USB port, a microSD card port, and the lock/reset button. When the tablet is held in landscape mode, its button placement is obtrusive, and many, many more times than we'd like, we found ourselves accidentally turning the volume down or locking the tablet.
It's not that the 80 G9 feels fat by any means, but it's a little disappointing that it can't match the thinness of a tablet with a larger screen, like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9. Obviously, Archos isn't Samsung and the 80 G9 costs a few hundred dollars less than the Tab 8.9, but at the end of the day we'd prefer a thin tablet that feels comfortable to hold, regardless of who makes it. Overall, the 80 G9's sharp edges and ill-advised button placement make it a tablet we'd rather set down than hold.
For that reason, we do appreciate the inclusion of the kickstand, and the Mini-HDMI port is a useful addition, especially given the 80 G9's 1080p video capability.
In the middle of the front right side of the bezel is a "Webcam" (Archos doesn't divulge the megapixel spec) that records 720p video. The back houses a kickstand on the left that comes in handy when watching movies. Toward the middle of the back is a square assortment of pinholes that make up the speaker. Above that is the 3G stick slot, with a dummy stick currently in it. The $50 3G stick provides "anywhere" Internet access on either a per-use or subscription basis.
|Archos 80 G9||Apple iPad 2||Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1||T-Mobile G-Slate|
|Weight in pounds||1.08||1.34||1.24||1.38|
|Width in inches (landscape)||8.9||9.5||10.1||9.6|
|Height in inches||6.1||7.3||6.9||5.8|
|Depth in inches||0.5||0.34||0.34||0.49|
|Side bezel width in inches (landscape)||1.2||0.8||0.8||0.9|
The Archos 80 G9 includes Honeycomb tablet hardware mainstays like an accelerometer, gyroscope, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 EDR, and GPS. Instead of using an Nvidia Tegra 2 processor like previous Honeycomb tablets, the 80 G9 is the first Honeycomb tablet to use the 1GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 4 dual-core processor. The speaker delivers fairly high volume, albeit with tinny sound that lacks bass. Also, because of its placement on the back of the tablet, its sound gets muffled when the tablet is laid down flat.
The Archos 80 G9 ships with Android 3.2.46, the highest-numbered version of the OS we've seen up until now.
Under settings is a Repair and Formatting section, where you can calibrate the touch screen and accelerometer. There are also options that allow you to erase the multimedia databases and relaunch the media scanner, delete your tablet's settings and applications, or erase all music, video, and photos. Of course, you can format and return to factory settings as well.
Also, Archos has finally included the full Android Market and not the limited AppsLib app on previous Archos tablets.