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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  • Hrel - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    I keep "railing" about it cause stupid people are costing everyone money by paying absurd rates. If they simply refused the prices would drop. Like other guy said, Virgin isn't "smaller". You're simply wrong there. And it's not 35 less per month, it's closer to 100 less!!!!

    I want Archos 4.3 with a cell modem on Virgin, that'd be awesome! AND PSP Vita.
    Reply
  • TrackSmart - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Sure, lots of people overpay, but there are more factors at play than you acknowledge. I get 22% off my Verizon plan through my work affiliation. Many companies have deals like this. With that discount, my unlimited data plan is just $22/month. And I have coverage in all the places I regularly travel, which have no coverage by competing companies. That's worth something extra.

    Yes, Verizon would be more expensive if I needed unlimited voice or text messaging, but I don't. And yes, if you stay inside highly populated areas, any carrier will have decent coverage. But I don't. And that's my point. Many situations to consider, with 'best value' being relative to what you need.
    Reply
  • erikpurne - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    I could not agree more.
    Having spent most of my life in Europe, where there is actual competition thanks to government regulation, I am amazed at the prices people pay for their cellular phones and service, as well as internet and the rest. Not to mention the lack of choice. And the slow speeds. Or the fact that in the US, you pay for incoming calls. And incoming SMSs. INCOMING TEXTS, FOR GOD'S SAKE! My friends don't even believe me when I tell them.
    Why, people? There are better, cheaper options! Use them, and the juggernauts will have no choice but to bring their prices down. Don't buy into the bullshit, and the bullshit will disappear!
    Reply
  • erikpurne - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    OK, didn't intend to sound quite so "Vive la revolution!", it's just so frustrating to see everyone lining up to pay ridiculous prices for terrible service, thinking it's just the way it has to be. Reply
  • ET - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    Strange that anyone (except Apple) is going for a 4x3 resolution. Not saying it's bad, but I certainly don't think it's standard. Reply
  • JasonInofuentes - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    Expect to see more of it. Reply
  • Exodite - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    That's excellent news.

    With 4*3 on the table we need only a tablet big enough to tape onto my monitor stand and I can finally forget the last half-decade of the 1080p travesty.
    Reply
  • steven75 - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    Based on volume, 4:3 *is* the standard. Reply
  • jjj - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    the HDD versions are too bulky
    • ARCHOS 80 G9 Flash series: 226 mm x 155.3 mm x 11.7 mm (8.90 x 6.11 x 0.46 inch) - 465g (17 oz)
    • ARCHOS 80 G9 Hard Drive series: 226 mm x 155.3 mm x 14.7 mm (8.90 x 6.11 x 0.58 inch) - 599g (21.9 oz)

    • ARCHOS 101 G9 Flash series: 276 mm x 167.3 mm x 12.6 mm (10.86 x 6.59 x 0.50 inch) - 649g (23.8 oz)
    • ARCHOS 101 G9 Hard Drive series: 276 mm x 167.3 mm x 15.6 mm (10.86 x 6.59 x 0.61 inch) - 755g (27.7 oz)

    and ofc for now screen quality and battery life are unknown and could be problematic.
    Reply
  • Charbax - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    3mm more thickness and 106 grams more in weight is not too much for people who want a 250GB hard drive. Reply

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