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Archos 101 XS review: including keyboard

The OMAP4470 chip is fine, but the TN panel Archos chose for the 101 XS is subpar for today's standards

Archos 101 XS

 

Here's a review of the Archos 101 XS (review here)  an Android tablet. We miss some of the innovation that was present on the G9 last year, and the fact that the software is largely the same only reiterates this feeling. It makes the Archos 101 XS a dime-a-dozen tablet. It doesn't mean it's a bad product, but aside from the keyboard dock there isn't enough to tell this tablet apart from the competition.

When we reviewed the Archos G9 tablet last year we were quite impressed, giving it a Silver Award. Now the follow-up is in our hands, in the form of the Archos 101 XS. The Android tablet comes complete with a keyboard dock and is available for £275. See all tablet reviews.

The French manufacturer did change much in the design of its flagship tablet, as its largely identical to last year's Archos 101 G9. The material did change, however. The build quality of the G9 was one of our points of criticism, and that is much improved with the 101 XS. The plastic now has a rubber-like finish, and the back partially is made of an aluminium-like material (which is magnetic, so it's something else). The colour is almost completely white, and the weight is reasonable at 635 grams.

Connectors include on the left side microSD, Mini HDMI, Micro USB and a headphone jack. The USB port is of the OTG variety (On the go), which means that with an adapter you can connect USB sticks and external hard drives. The separately sold USB dongle in the G9 apparently wasn't such a success, because it's not available for the 101 XS. The internal storage is pretty decent with 16 GB, 14 GB of which is available.

On the right side you'll find the on/off button and the volume control. It's unfortunate that these are located on the bottom, the exact spot where you hold the tablet. When the tablet is laying flat on the table, you can't access these controls because they are slightly recessed in the sloping edge.

The 101 XS has one camera, a 1 MP front-facing one. The placement on the left side of the screen also isn't optimal. The 101 XS runs on Android 4.0, but Archos has indicated an update to version 4.1 will be made available at some point.

Texas Instruments recently announced it will no longer make SoCs for mobile devices. Nevertheless, the Archos 101 XS has an OMAP from them, the 4470. It's an SoC with two Cortex-A9 cores running at 1.5 GHz. These cores are active only when demanding applications call for it, for less demanding taks two 266 MHz Cortex-M3 cores are used to save energy. The GPU is a PowerVR SGX544, a model in the Series 5XT product line. The GPU on the new A6X-SoC in the iPad 4 belongs to the same family, but is much more powerful as you can expect. The 101 XS has 1 GB of RAM.

The tablets with IPS panels we mentioned are of course smaller than the Archos 101 XS, and 10.1-inch IPS panels still appear to be a costly endeavor. The Point of View Protab 3 XXL is the exception, but it had some quality issues you can read about in our review.

The display on the 101 XS looks a bit dull and underexposed, and the colorimeter confirms this. 170 candela per square meter is really low, most current tablets around 300 candela. The Archos 101 XS comes with a keyboard dock, which also serves as protective cover for the tablet. Together they weigh 905 grams. Connected the two parts goes smoothly, and the keyboard has a magnetic support for the tablet that firmly keeps it in place. The dock does not have any extra connectors or a battery.

The rest of the review you can read on Hardware.Info.

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