Thursday, August 23, 2012

Meet the Archos 101 XS: a mid-range Android tablet just 7.8 mm thick

I don’t know how you guys feel about Archos as a tablet manufacturer, but I have to say that while the French manufacturer might not be the first company that pops in mind when talking about top-end tablets, the fact is that they’ve been making decent low budget devices for a few years now. As a matter of fact, they have actually released a couple of decent mid-range tablets as well, including the Archos 10.1 G9 Turbo 250 GB that Brandon reviewed earlier this year.
Fortunately, Archos doesn’t seem to have plans to stop building its fan base, as the company has just announced the imminent release of another line of mid-range tablets, this time one that will be all about slimness: the Archos Gen10 XS tablet series. We’ve heard bits and pieces about the Archos G10 XS line of tablets before, but fortunately now we have concrete official information regarding the series.

The first member of the Gen10 XS family is called the Acrhos 101 XS and is bound to be released in October, to be followed later in 2012 by the ARCHOS 97 XS and ARCHOS 80 XS. While Archos has yet to make any announcements regarding the last two devices, it has shared all the specs of the Archos 101 XS. Spoiler: I’m a little bit impressed!

Since the XS in the name stands for extra slim, what better way to start talking about this tab other than mentioning that at 7.8 millimeters, the Archos 101 XS is an impressively 15 percent thinner than the Apple iPad 3. Archos did not mention the exact dimensions, so we’re unable to tell exactly how much space it will take up on your desk, but we do know that the display measures 10.1 inches diagonally and works at a (meh) resolution of 1024 by 768 pixels.

On to the internal specs, the Archos 101 XS will use a Texas Instruments OMAP 4470 System On a Chip (SoC), basically an updated version of the TI OMAP 4460 SoC you’ll find inside the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. This translates into a 1.5 GHz dual-core A9 processor and a PowerVR SGX544 that, paired with 1GB of RAM, should provide decent performance if you don’t go on an “open app frenzy” of some sorts. Sure, it might not be the quad-core Exynos 4 processor you can find inside the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (and the Galaxy S3), but this is just a mid-range tablet.

Other specs include 16GB of internal storage space, a MicroSD slot (supports cards up to 64GB), MicroUSB slots, a Mini HDMI output, WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0.

The Archos 101 XS will run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on launch date, but an update to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is promised for Q4 2012. Judging on the fact that Archos has kept its word regarding OS updates in the past, I would be surprised if Jelly Bean will arrive later than November. Android purists will be very glad to know that Archos has opted for an unskinned version of the Android OS.

Now that you’ve got the specs figured out, you also need to know that the Archos 101 XS comes with a 5mm thick magnetic keyboard / cover, called the Coverboard. The official press release refers to the Coverboard as a unique magnetic keyboard, although I’m sure I’ve seen such a thing before (say… with Microsoft’s Surface). Nonetheless, the Coverboard also has a built-in magnetic kickstand and can act as a charging dock for the tablet when plugged into a power slot. The Coverboard comes bundled in every box, meaning there’s no additional fee to pay for it.

All this will set you back $399,99, not a bad price for such an interesting mid-range tab. The Archos 101 XS will become available online as well as in various North American retail channels starting this October.
The way I see it, the Archos 101 XS is one of the most interesting mid-range Android tablets you can find: ultra slim, decently specced, comes with a magnetic keyboard and runs a vanilla flavored Android OS. 

Feel free to agree or disagree in the comment section below and also see our Archos 101 XS full review in our next post.

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