Archos is shedding its downmarket reputation while preserving its downmarket price with the release of the G9 series of tablets. Available in 8" and 10.1" form factors and starting at $299 and $369, respectively, these tablets aren't the sluggish, resistive touchscreen slates we've come to expect. In fact, Archos is calling these the 'Fastest Tablet[s] on Earth,' thanks to the premiere of the OMAP 4460 and its two 1.5 GHz Cortex A9 cores. It wins on the numbers but does it have the features and quality to best the likes of Motorola or Samsung? 

TI's OMAP 44xO Makes Its Tablet Debut

 

Before we look more at the features of the Archos 80 and 101 G9, let's talk about processors. Honeycomb debuted with Tegra 2 as its SoC of choice. Unlike prior Android releases, the ports to other chipsets seemed to lag. It's only been since June that we've heard about Honeycomb tablets being released with alternate SoCs. First came Huawei's MediaPad with it's Qualcomm cores and now TI's OMAP 4 series is joining the party. This is exciting news not just because of increased clock speeds and varied features, but also because of the opportunity to see real competition between devices in performance, not just build quality. 

SunSpider Javascript Benchmark 0.9

Rightware BrowserMark

So what can we expect out of the OMAP 4460? We've seen its little brother briefly in Brian's preview of the Droid 3, and performance was impressive. To give you some idea of the performance delta between Tegra 2 and OMAP 44xO, let's peek at the Droid 3's benchmarks versus the LG Optimus 2x, a Tegra 2 Froyo device. In SunSpider and BrowserMark there's a small but clear lead in the OMAP 4430's favor, so we can presume that turning up the dial to 1.5 Ghz should increase that lead. We'll know more about just what kind of lead when we get some hands-on time with these new entrants in the tablet race. And lest we forget, all indicators are that Kal-el, NVIDIA's quad-core ARM chip, is expected to start showing up in tablets this Fall, so Archos might not be king of the hill for too long.

The Archos G9 Line

 

Okay, with that past us, what do the Archos G9's offer to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack? In a word: girth. Archos has opted to outfit their new line with optional mechanical hard drives and advertise the thickness of their tablets as a feature thanks to the room to fit more into their cases. Weight obviously increases, but the option of carrying 250GB of media with you has its benefits on these WiFi-only devices. If you do want to roll 3G, the device’s software supposedly supports a wide variety of USB mobile broadband adapters, an unexpected treat we’d be glad to test out. Archos does advertize a 3G module that will be available that matches the G9 series’ aesthetics. 

 

Aside from mechanical storage, the tablets sport pretty standard 1024 x 768 and 1280 x 800 resolutions on their 8" and 10.1" screens, respectively. MicroSD, MicroUSB, HDMI, 802.11 b/g/n, GPS and Bluetooth are old hat port-wise, along with Archos’ expected broad media support including OGG Vorbis, FLAC, and every imaginable video container. The slates lack rear-facing cameras but do sport 720p front-facing cameras for HD video chatting. The line features a fairly standard aesthetic with a black bezel and silver accent around the edge of the device. Without a review unit in hand we won't know just how well built Archos has made these units, but feel free to peep the gallery of press shots for a closer look.

And then there's the price. For $299, Archos will sell you their 8GB 80 G9, but for the bargain price you lose the clockspeed advantage of the OMAP 4460; this SKU nets you its little brother-- OMAP 4430 -- and its 1.0 GHz cores. An additional $30, though, nets you 16GB of flash storage and the full 1.5 GHz processor. Tack on another $40 and you've bought yourself that additional 250GB of mechanical storage. For the 101 G9, you've got to splurge for the $469 SKU to get the OMAP 4460, though relative to the Xoom it remains a bargain given the clockspeed and storage advantages. The 8GB and 16GB flash versions both get the 1.0 GHz processor at $369 and $399, respectively. Availability is unknown, but if you're in the market for an Android tablet later this year, your options just keep growing.

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  • steven75 - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    It must be strange living in your little alternate reality where the Xoom wasn't a complete and total flop. Reply
  • flyingpants1 - Monday, July 18, 2011 - link

    Let me make sure I understand the pricing here.

    Archos 80 G9 (8" model):
    $299 - 8GB flash, dual core 1GHz
    $329 - 16GB flash, dual core 1.5GHz
    $369 - 250GB HDD, dual core 1.5GHz

    Archos 101 G9 (10" model):
    $369 - 8GB flash, dual core 1GHz
    $399 - 16GB flash, dual core 1GHz
    $469 - 250GB HDD, dual core 1.5GHz

    $20-80 - Archos or other USB 3G adapter

    So if you want the speed benefit of the "fastest tablet in the world", and you want to avoid a mechanical hard drive, the 8" 16GB might be your best bet at only $329.
    Reply
  • Casper42 - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    Those numbers bother me for some reason.
    Based on the 80, the 16GB -> 250GB upgrade is $40
    Based on the 101, 8GB ->16GB upgrade is $30

    The 80 8GB + $30 (Flash upgrade) = 80 16GB
    Meanwhile your getting the faster processor for free.

    101 16GB to 101 250GB is $70, which we can see above $40 is the HDD upgrade.
    But essentially now the Processor costs $30 too.

    Screen size at base model seems to indicate the 10" is $70 more than the 8"
    But again the 80 16GB vs the 101 16GB seems to have the Processor upgrade free again while at 250GB the 101 user pays that $30 CPU premium again.

    Based on all that, the 16GB 80 seems like the best "deal", especially if you can find it on sale for like $300 in the not too distant future.
    Reply
  • Charbax - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    The Archos 101 G9 16GB is probably also a 1.5Ghz processor. To be confirmed. Reply
  • JasonInofuentes - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    Unless it is a typo in their system, this will be the pricing. I agree the pricing seems odd but for whatever price I can't imagine what sort of a bargain that SoC has to be. Of course it is possible the savings come in build quality but we can hope not. Reply
  • Lucian Armasu - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    Why is that surprising? Flash drives are a lot more expensive than HDD's. I wouldn't trade 8GB of flash for 250GB of HDD, not on a tablet at least. You don't want your tablet to slug around waiting for the HDD. Reply
  • oliwek - Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - link

    Maybe you do not have to trade the 16GB flash memory (I mean you'd get 16GB nand flash + 250 GB HDD)... let's hope so! So you just put big media files (flac, mkv...) on the HDD and keep your apps on fast built-in memory...

    When I see how my old android phone became sluggish with apps on a class4 microSD card, I'm sure hdd wouldn't improve anything on that matter.
    Reply
  • Hrel - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    WOOOOOH!!!! FINALLY!!!! I've lost track of how long I've been baggering you guys to start including Archos in these line-ups. This is a start, barely. Let's keep it going. Archos 4.3 and 5 and Archos 7 should be getting updates very soon. As far as I know they're waiting for the next Android to come out, the one that merges honecomb and hand held versions of the OS.

    In my case my next handheld tablet will either be the PSP Vita or an Archos 4.3. It would be TREMENDOUSLY helpful if there were reliable anandtech reviews for those up when the time comes. I mostly only care about wifi. If I REALLY need 3G/4G I will just get a Virgin Mobile phone with infinite wireless broadband for 25 bucks/month and since all Archos devices support bluetooth tethering just tether the Archos to the pay as you go phone. Since they only sell lower end smart phones, 3.2" and down. That's a major feature I hope the Vita will have that it probably won't; since they partnered with stupid ATT,.

    On another note, seriously people? Stop being ok with paying 100+/month for your freaking phone. I don't care how much you use it; go look at Virgin Mobile. That is the MAXIMUM a cell phone should cost. Capitalism can't work if people are indiscriminate with their money. Frakking Starbucks and Apple are proof of that. How does Starbucks have "regulars"? Seriously? That's 25 bucks/week, AT LEAST. In 2 weeks you bought a new video game. In 8 you bought an Xbox 360. After a year you bought a VERY VERY nice laptop, 1300 bucks. Sorry, Starbucks just pisses me off... 5 bucks for coffee... it's not even that good, compared to Dunkin it's bland.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    Smaller carriers like Virgin, and less powerful/current phones, aren't a viable alternative for everyone... Dunno why you keep railing about it on every phone/tablet review. I do agree that a lot of people overpay for mobile service, if you don't travel much you should be able to live with T-mobile or Sprint for $35 less per month...

    Likewise, not everyone wants a tablet they they have to tinker with in order to gain market access etc. Most of those that do enjoy that just got themselves a Nook. The rest of the frugal market is waiting for better budget options imo. I'm glad competitors like ASUS, Toshiba, and Archos are putting the phone manufacturers on notice over their tablet prices. These things shouldn't cost more than a netbook.
    Reply
  • fishman - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    Virgin Mobile is owned by Sprint, and uses the Sprint network, so they really aren't a "smaller carrier". Reply

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