When you look round the back you see what Archos has done: between the tablet's two halves is a slim aluminium stick that acts as a stand. This means you can pop the Archos 101 (or Archos 10-1, depending on how you interpret the typography of the logo) on a desk and view videos and photos in comfort. It's not a terribly well executed setup, but the thought is a good one and neatly addresses an issue common to almost all tablets - they're essentially screens with clever electronics inside.
Archos 101: Screen
Since the screen is the main selling point, we'd have been a lot more impressed if Archos fitted the 101 with a display that offered decent viewing angles and one where the diamond pattern used to make up the LCD cells was not quite so visible.
If you view the Archos 101 tablet straight on, it has a reasonable amount of colour saturation, but moved away at even a slight angle and the display quickly fades and those telltale diamonds appear. You get only three screen brightness options: semi-bright, bright and no backlighting. The screen resolution is nothing to write home about either. It has a creditable 1024 pixels horizontally and 600 vertically.
Oddly, Archos has given its tablet a 'live' wallpaper background in which the blades of grass along the bottom slowly wave in the breeze. We found the effect rather unsettling. More importantly, the lower portion of the screen is taken up by this screen candy, leaving only a strip around 4in deep on which app icons are shown. You can move things around, of course, but it's an odd priority choice, nonetheless.
Preinstalled apps on this Android 2.2 Froyo tablet run to Email, Contacts, Music, Camera, Video, Gallery and a Browser, plus a separate Photo Frame that displays floating tiles of shots taken on the device. In effect, it's photo wallpaper. There's also a Files folder that takes you to a Windows-like menu list. Android Market is not part of the setup, so you need to browse to it online or track down apps from a third-party app store. The spec list for this tablet suggests Fring, the Aldiko e-book reader and the Ragingthunder Lite app should all have been included too.
Multimedia is not a strength of this tablet. The music and video libraries are very basic and the camera is front-facing only, with a VGA resolution for both stills and video. Results were not good. We tried several online radio and video sites, but the Archos doesn't appear to support the main embedded players. We didn't expect Flash or HTML 5 playback, but AVI and QuickTime clips also failed to load. Given Archos' heritage in multi-format portable video players, we weren't very impressed with this aspect.
Like the Acer Iconia W500 tablet, the Archos comes with a full-size USB port, extending your connection options, plus HDMI-out. In the video menu there's a shortcut to switch to the TV display. A microSD card can be used to boost the 8GB of onboard storage.
Getting around the 101’s screens is slick enough. Just swipe to the left or right. The keyboard is fairly easy to type on as the display is so wide as to make even the least accurate typist generally select the intended key. We also found the touchscreen more responsive than some tablets’ with less pressure required too.