About two weeks ago I decided that I would like to own a tablet PC (with Android). So after a view days of in-depth research and giving things a good thought, the Archos 7 Home Tablet v2 (8GB) caught my eye. Having a tight budget (I don’t want to spend that much on something that is just a play-thing), I figured that it was the right choice for me.
With a price of ~ € 150,- euros it’s not too expensive and it’s good value for money. It does what it has been designed to do; it plays movies, can do some simple web-browsing, allows you to read E-books, runs some simple games and it can play some music. There is a more expensive Archos 7 Internet Tablet available (~ € 249,- / € 299,-) which does the about same but has a more recent Android version (Android 2.2 “Froyo”), capacitive multitouch screen, better 3D support and a better CPU. Considering I just wanted to watch some movies when traveling and being able to grab a browser when I need one, it was not worth the extra € 100,- for me.
The Archos 7 Home Tablet v2 has a 7” TFT LCD resistive touch screen running at 800×480 pixels supporting up to 16 million colors. It is powered by a 800MHz CPU (ARM9 / Rockchip RK2818) (600 MHz in v1 of the tablet) and it runs on Android 2.1 “Eclair” (v1 runs Android 1.5 “Cupcake”). It also has an Accelerometer, something the v1 model of the tablet didn’t have. It has 8GB of internal storage and can be expanded by micro SDHC. I bought mine together with a class 4, 8GB micro SDHC card from Kingston, that means plenty of space for now.
Some of the other specs, worth mentioning, are:
- Video playback: H.264 up to 720p resolution – 30 fps / 2.5 Mbps. MPEG-4 – 30 fps / 2.5 Mbps and Realvideo up to 720p resolution – 30 fps / 2.5 Mbps
- Video playback time: up to 7 hours
- Audio playback: MP3, WMA (non protected), WAV3, APE, OGG, FLAC, AAC
- Music playback time: up to 42 hours
- WiFi (802.11 b/g)
- Dimensions: 203 mm x 107 mm x 12 mm – 388 g
It also has one USB port which can function as a host and slave port. This means that you cannot only connect your computer to your device to transfer files and stuff but that you also can connect an external source to it such as a keyboard, mouse or external storage. Archos sells a special converter (costs around € 10,- + € 14,- shipping) for this purpose. But there is an alternative too, after reading some inspiring pages about creating such cable yourself, I got eager to create one myself. Although, I didn’t want to cut op one of my micro USB cables for that. I went looking for pre-built cables and found out that a shop in the region sells a micro USB a to USB female converter, so I went to get one. Once playing, I found out that it works perfectly fine and it cost me only € 3,- + € 0,50 for parking. It was not a problem to connect a full-size keyboard or a mouse. The tablet recognized them out of the box. So now I only need to get me a USB hub so I can connect them at the same time.
The device in general feels like it’s well built. It’s heavier than for example the larger 101 Internet Tablet (which feels, well, kind of cheap – imho). Operation is just like any other Android touch-interface device except for the fact that the tablet doesn’t have any physical buttons. Which brings me immediately to an other point, it has no support for the Google Market. You have to rely on a market called “AppsLib“. Personally I don’t think it’s the best market around. The software feels kind clumsy and the apps aren’t that exciting as the ones in the Google Market. Luckily I found out about F-Droid, a FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) market for Android. It has fewer apps but then again, you cannot run that many apps anyway. I installed me a few (simple!) games, a decent E-book reader and a unit converter besides the video player, browser, music player and some other stuff which is installed by default.
Watching movies is a piece of cake, just load some (*.AVI) files onto your device and start the video player. I haven’t found anything in my (small) collection that couldn’t be played yet. Same for music, by the way. Internet uses the stock Android browser. You could install Opera or an other browser if you like. Flash is not supported, the Android version is too old. But in general, browsing works just fine and I haven’t had any problems with the sites that I visit.
- Good value for money
- Play movies and music just fine
- Regular web-browsing does it’s job
- Can be rooted (good to know for when the warranty expires)
- Not likely to receive any official updates to newer versions of Android (or any updates at all)
- It’s a resistive touch screen (motions detected by pressure) which means that it not always responds that good (capacitive screens respond to conduction which is way more accurate)
- Charging seems to take a while and I think the battery life isn’t as good as advertised. I’m only in my 3th cycle though, maybe it will improve (it can easily do 1.5 hour of movie time plus around 5 days of standby though)
Well, this is it for now. I hope that this can be of any use who is considering to buy a cheap tablet. This has been my first post since a long while, from now on I am planning on posting more and regularly about Fedora, Android, (F)OSS software and photography or a combination of them.
And last, but not least, some images:
- I used my HTC Desire for size reference in one of the pictures
- Box consists of 1 device, 3 different power plugs, in-ear headphones, micro USB cable and some booklets.
- The wallpaper I am using is “Photoshop Geek” by Derek Prospero.
- The micro USB connector I bought at a shop called Het Onderdelenhuis in Groningen.