Note: this review is based on a pre-production sample of the Archos 101 XS. We were told the final build quality would be the same, but the plastic material used would be more resistant to scratches.
The 101 is the first Android tablet we've seen from Archos' new XS range. The 101 means it has a 10.1in screen, and other sizes will follow, including 8 and 11.6in. See all tablet reviews.
The tablet itself is attractive and one of the thinnest we've seen, measuring just 8mm thick. It comes with what Archos calls a 'Coverboard' - a keyboard stand which converts into a cover when you're not using the tablet.
It's held in place by stong magnets, although it doesn't snap into alignment like the iPad's Smart Cover. Magnets also hold the 101 XS firmly in place when docked onto the keyboard. A small stand flips up to support the back of the tablet and can be adjusted to change the tilt angle.
Push the stand down to get a comfortable viewing angle for typing, though, and the tablet will topple backwards. The only way around the problem is to type at arm's length which makes you look rather ridiculous and isn't even possible if you're on a train or plane.
Overall, the combo is only a millimetre or so thicker than the new iPad with a Smart Cover, but it weighs more at shade over 900g. (The iPad with a Smart Cover weighs just under 800g, since you ask.)
A more useful comparison, of course, is with the Asus Transformer Pad 300. This is much thicker (23mm) and heavier (1.15kg) but has a battery built into the keyboard dock which effectively doubles battery life.
In terms of specifications, the 101 XS is a match for the Transformer thanks to its TI OMAP 4470 CPU, which runs at 1.5GHz, and 1GB of RAM. The 10.1in screen has the same resolution as the Transformer's at 1280 x 800 pixels.
There's 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, a GPS receiver, a 720p front-facing camera (no rear camera) and a mono, front-facing speaker.
Currently, the 101 XS is available only in white, and with 16GB of storage. We hope to see a black model and 32GB capacity options, although the latter isn't a major issue thanks to the micro-SD card slot. You can add up to 64GB extra by slotting in a card.
Archos 101 XS: Build quality
Inevitably, there's some trade-off between thinness and rigidity. However, it's nothing which concerns us. The plastic chassis is bonded to paper-thin steel and feels solid in the hands.
The white, matte finish is a slight concern as our review model became noticeably grubby after just a few days. More of an issue, though is the power and volume buttons. These are flush with the edge of the case, making them hard to locate. They don't have a positive click, either, so you tend to press them harder than necessary.
Archos 101 XS: Ports
On the left-hand side are micro-SD, -USB and -HDMI ports, plus a headphone socket. At the bottom is an X-pin connector which creates the connection to the coverboard for typing. There are other accessories including a charging cradle which has USB and audio ports, and a Boombox - a speaker dock which holds the 101 XS at a sensible angle for watching videos, although it's primarily designed for listening to music.
Next page: Performance, screen, keyboard and software