The Archos 80 Titanium is one of four new models which form the Titanium range. It starts with the 70 (a 7in screen), and goes up to the 101 (with a 10.1in screen). The 80 and 97 sit in the middle, and there are no prizes for guessing their screen sizes.
Archos 80 Titanium: design and screen
Even at a glance, the Archos 80 Titanium looks a lot like another popular tablet: the 10-inch iPad (see our review of the iPad 4). Thanks to its curved edges and thick-ish white bezel, only the off-centre front camera and big Archos logo give the game away.
Many will be comparing the Archos 80 Titanium with the iPad mini, though, since both have the same 8in screen.
Interestingly, they even share the same resolution (1024x768) and therefore 4:3 aspect ratio.
We criticised the iPad mini for its relatively low resolution, and the Archos' screen looks similarly blocky compared to screens with higher pixel densities. In this case, however, there's less cause for grumbling as the price is roughly half that of the iPad mini.
Unlike most budget tablets, the 80 Titanium's screen isn't a poor-quality TN panel, but rather a decent IPS display - just like the iPad's. This means viewing angles are wide in all directions and you don't get the frustrating inverting colours as you do on inferior screens.
It isn't the brightest screen around, though, and colours aren't quite as punchy as the iPad mini's.
Archos 80 Titanium: build and ports
At roughly 430g, the 80 Titanium feels lightweight but well built. It doesn't rattle or twist, mainly thanks to the aluminium rear shell.
When held in portrait orientation, you'll find a volume rocker on the left, and an usual physical home button above it. On top is a 3.5mm headphone jack, micro USB 2.0, mini HDMI, a charging jack and a microSD card slot. Although ugly, these extra connectors mean there are no adaptors to buy (and lose) as with an iPad mini.
The latter accepts up to 64GB cards, and the model we tested had 8GB of internal storage, but a 16GB model is also available from Carphone Warehouse for £150.
The right and bottom edges have no ports at all. There's a mono speaker on the back, along with a 2Mp camera - the front webcam is even lower resolution at 0.3Mp (640x480).
Archos 80 Titanium: performance
Those cameras aren't exactly great performers, as you might expect. This will be a disappointment if you wanted a tablet capable of capturing the odd moment when you don't have a proper camera to hand.
It isn't simply the low resolution - take a look at the quality in the photo below to see what we mean. (Note the lack of brick texture in the 100 pecent crop)
Videos are shot at 640x480 at a jerky 9 frames per second. That's unacceptable these days, even from a budget tablet. Sound quality is also poor. Note that there's no LED flash / video light either.
In our benchmarks, the 80 Titanium held its own, racking up decent scores in Geekbench 2 (1472) and SunSpider (1353ms). The only test in which it didn't beat the iPad mini was GLBenchmark where it managed 15fps (the mini ran at 24fps on average).
These scores put it on a par with pricier tablets such as the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD. In general use, we were impressed with the Titanium's speed. Apps launched without noticeable delay, there was no jerkiness when navigating around Jelly Bean and even scrolling around a planned route in Google Maps was fairly smooth.
On area in which the 80 Titanium can't compete with the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire is battery life. In our video looping test where we play a one-hour HD video repeatedly (at maximum brightness and with Wi-Fi on), the Archos managed a whisker over four hours. The Kindle Fire lasted almost six hours, and the Nexus 7 almost 10 hours.
However, turning Wi-Fi off and reducing brightness to 50 percent increased the time between charges to just over 5.5 hours. It's still not a great result, but remembering the price, it's hard to grumble too much.
Archos 80 Titanium: software
Archos has sensibly decided not to modify Android, so you get an unadulterated Jelly Bean experience, and full access to the Play store. As with previous Archos tablets, you'll find several handy apps installed, including Archos Video and Archos Music, both of which are better than the standard Android offerings.
As well as attempting to get a cover image and other metadata for your media from the internet, the Media Center apps also allow you to stream content across your home network with UPnP and Samba (for PC and Mac compatibility). You can also stream content from the tablet to a DLNA-compatible TV.
We particularly like the video player which has shortcuts to screen brightness, rotation lock, bookmarks and also lets you loop videos.
Since the browser supports Flash, virtually all websites will work properly.
Archos 80 Titanium: niggles
Good as it is, the 80 Titanium isn't the perfect budget tablet.
Although we're not complaining too much at this price, it's worth noting that it doesn't have some features you might want, such as Bluetooth, GPS and NFC. There's no 3G option either. For most people, none of these will be dealbreakers.
The Titanium tends to run quite warm, which is fine in the winter, but not what you want on a hot summer's commute. Also, it won't charge via its USB port, either, so you'll have to carry the proprietary charger around with you.
Finally - and this really is a minor qualm - the buttons are made from plastic and feel cheap. Metal versions would have lent a premium air to this otherwise well-built tablet.
Archos 80 Titanium: bottom line
If you're after an inexpensive Android tablet with a decent screen, the 80 Titanium is a real bargain. It's certainly the best Archos has produced to date. Unlike the similarly priced Kindle Fire (and other tablets with their own app stores), you can access Google Play and have free rein as you do with the Nexus 7.
Google's tablet has a better screen, but is more expensive and lacks the Archos' microSD slot for adding storage.
The 80 Titanium is a worthy candidate for a kids' tablet too. It's cheaper than the Nabi 2 and Kurio 7, but has a far superior screen. You'll have to invest in software and a case to protect it, mind.