Conclusion

The Archos G9 Turbos weren’t the easiest things to recommend. What made it somewhat easier were three factors: the software, the kickstand and the price. With the 101 G9 Turbo starting at just $329 MSRP, a stock and frequently updated Android build that provided more codec support than anything else we’d seen, and a kickstand to make that viewing ever easier, it was a no brainer for the video junkies. The new entrant, the Archos 101 XS, reaches a little further, at the expense of a few of its predecessors pluses. Gone is the optional HDD (making media storage effortless), and gone is the kickstand. The return on investment is vastly superior performance, and a much more stylish form factor. So, is the new contender worth it?

In a vacuum, the Archos 101 XS would be an easy recommendation over the last generation. Software support remains intact, and the loss of the HDD becomes less of an issue as more and more content is streamed, and the price of high capacity microSD cards continues to drop. Unfortunately for Archos, the tablet market is anything but a vacuum. Priced at $399, the 101 XS will top Archos’ new Gen10 XS tablet line, and faces stiff competition from similarly priced tablets like the ASUS TF300, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 and even the Snapdragon S4-based Lenovo IdeaPad S2110. Raw performance might favor the 101 XS in a lot of these tests, but the sacrifices to battery life may be too much for some. 

Archos has been in the tablet market longer than Apple’s been in the phone market. But in the consumer electronics space, first to market advantages can disappear in an instant. With performance that belies its last-gen SoC, the Archos 101 XS is a belting and attractive tablet. Easy to hold, slim, powerful and a perfect office or around the house companion. What it’s not is a road warrior. Battery life isn’t the whole competition, but its big enough that this contestant won’t win the all around. If you are a media junkie that wants a clean Android build and codec support to beat the band, and you’re not planning any long trips, the Archos 101 XS is a perfect fit. If longevity is a concern for you, then you’ll be better served looking elsewhere. 

All hope’s not lost for Archos and their fans though. The path they’ve begun to blaze with the G9s and now the XS is moving in exactly the right direction. I’m confident the 11th generation of Archos tablets will move them ever further along in battery life, display and build quality. Indeed, the fate of the 101 XS isn’t so bad either; the Archos team will continue to churn out software updates and improve on what is already a great tablet. 

Software and Battery Life
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  • Chaitanya - Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - link

    Like my previous comments about Lite-On and Plextor, Archos also seems to be exploring new technologies in order to sustain business. I am sure many of the previous archos users surely will miss the old video players when portable players meant either buying an iPod or other MP3 players which only played music and had tiny storage with grey scale displays. Reply
  • PubFiction - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    You forgot to mention that Archos and Rio pretty much invented the MP3 player that apple would copy. Thats kind how it works though, sadly they never had the advertising budget to both show off what they had before anyone else or to secure the supplies to put together the best hardware. Big companies like apple, MS and google just nab up the ideas of the real innovators and then get all the credit. Reply
  • tbutler - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    Nope, sorry. I had a Rio 500, a Nomad Jukebox, an Archos Jukebox, and a first-gen iPod, and this is dead wrong.

    The Rio was cute, and the interface wasn't a handicap given the capacity, but the capacity was simply anemic - with the largest-capacity SmartMedia card, you could store maybe 2-3 albums' worth of music on it, and you had to explicitly switch between internal and card storage.. a real pain. So not terribly useful.

    The Nomad Jukebox, which came out before the Archos and iPod, fixed the capacity issue... but the browsing interface was utterly atrocious, and the only way I found it usable was to build playlists on the computer and just run them from the Jukebox. It was also huge even at the time, larger and heavier than contemporary portable CD players, with a tiny and hard-to-read screen in the center.

    The Archos Jukebox was at least browsable on the device, but all music had to be user-managed through a user-created folder structure; no way to use ID3 tags to browse, no shuffle play across folders, and playlists limited to .M3U files stored in the folder hierarchy. The hardware was better than the Nomad, but still chunky, heavy, difficult to pocket (the plastic endcaps were a problem, see the pic accompanying my review at the time - http://www.tidbits.com/resources/592/archos-jukebo... and trying to swap the batteries was a nightmare.

    The iPod couldn't browse a user folder hierarchy, but in all other ways was immeasurably superior - easy and quick to ID3 browse with the scroll wheel, good display for the time, easily pocketable. No surprise why it ate everyone else's lunch.
    Reply
  • tbutler - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    Sigh, looks like the URL got messed up; try http://www.tidbits.com/resources/592/archos-jukebo... without the end parenthesis. Reply
  • Zak - Monday, August 27, 2012 - link

    Wasn't Creative Nomad before Archos and Rio? I had a small Nomad that used Smart Media memory cards. It was the coolest thing ever. And I'm pretty sure Archos and Rio came after. Reply
  • vishwa108 - Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - link

    It is sad that fanboys like these are allowed to roam amok within the hallowed halls of Anandatech. Archos is not only a pretender to the throne of The Emperor of The New Clothes, it is The One who has, in recent memory, left a trail of unrequiteness and whose genetics has morphed into this state of hypnotism. Witness and learn what a minor chosen one could do as it scales the Peak of Choseness with nary a conscience other than mutterings of the variable tongue to its hapless and mesmerised victims. Reply
  • StormyParis - Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - link

    Say what ? Reply
  • Namey - Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - link

    I agree Reply
  • mattmc61 - Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - link

    I didn't think LSD was still around. Reply
  • N4g4rok - Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - link

    I post like that raising the issue of over-embellishing. Interesting. Reply

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