Battery Life

No mobile device is anything without decent battery life. And with a focus on mobile media consumption you'd hope to get through a few movies before reaching for your cord? So how'd the G9s do?

Web Browsing Battery Life

First, our Web Browsing Battery Life test, which cycles through several web pages consecutively, with the screen set to 200 nits of brightness. Things don't look so good. The 101 fares worse than Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 on LTE, while the 80 fares a tick better than that, but a half hour worse than the Motorola Xyboard using its LTE radio. Maybe it'll do better with the WiFi turned off?

Video Playback - H.264 720p Base Profile (No B-Frames)

Sadly, longevity is just not their strong suit. The thickness of the tablet should be able to conceal a beefy battery, but that's not quite up to snuff with the current crop of tablets. How much this is a dealbreaker depends on the usage model. If you consider that there's still time on each of these to watch at least two-thirds of the Lord of The Ring Trilogy before recharging, that's plenty enough for traveling. However, that pretty much precludes using the tablets for much of anything else. It should also be noted, the addition of that 250GB HDD option would sap even more battery life away. 


It’s hard to stratify tablet manufacturers into market categories; they don’t distribute themselves neatly into bargain, mainstream and high-end. Certainly some have cemented their place; you won’t find us arguing that Coby’s products are high-end. And some are trying to be all things to all players (Samsung and Asus come to mind). Even hardware platforms transcend pricing, with the same chipsets being used in bargain and high-end devices. 
This lack of clarity between the high-end and low-end is Archos’s opportunity and its hurdle. With no clear way to stratify based on cost, simply pick a price and offer features of a particular flavor. The 80 and 101 G9 Turbo line are no better or worse than other dual-core Android tablets at being just that, Android tablets. But where they rise above is in targeting the media hungry user that’s not interested in signing up for another movie rental service, and knows their way around an SD card adaptor. Measured against the early class of Tegra 2 tablets, Archos puts up a good fight and hits the right price. Where things start to get fuzzy is when you look at the top of the line 101 G9 Turbo equipped with a 250GB HDD. At $369, this spec is just $30 short of the Transformer Pad 300, whose screen, battery life and performance outpace the G9 in key areas. 

In the end, if you're someone with a huge collection of videos that has been looking for a tablet to compliment their viewing habits, the Archos G9 line is just good enough to be worth your while. But not good enough to be easy to recommend. The build quality and screen aren't as refined as we'd like, and the battery life is crippling for long trips. But with a brave pursuit of performance and an exceptional focus on media consumption, Archos clearly has what it takes to put together a compelling tablet. Early signs point to big things for Archos's next tablet generation. Which isn't too surprising for the company that was in this space before anyone else. 
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  • hans007 - Thursday, May 24, 2012 - link

    the screen isnt TN. Its MVA. has much better viewing angles than the TN screen tablets like the acer ones.
  • Rick83 - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    there is a full size USB-port which works as such (once enabled by the "enable 3G port" button), besides allowing the use of the 3G sticks on (some?) GSM networks.
    You can plug external hard drives, USB hubs, USB HID devices and even some DACs into that port, and they will work as expected.
    That port is, next to the media playback and the high end CPU one of the key features of the device, and shouldn't be put aside erroneously.

    On the other hand, the test lacks the current problems of the device: WPA was broken for quite a while, GPS can be flaky and HDMI was also having issues in the last firmwares.

    Also, Archos positions itself as a "feature device" in my opinion. It doers a lot, but it doesn't do many things very well, and testing isn't as exhaustive as elsewhere.
  • Impulses - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    Most tablets without full sized USB ports still allow the same functionality thru a $15 adapter, at least Samsung and ASUS do.
  • JasonInofuentes - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    I tried to connect a device to the rear full-sized USB on each of the devices, and wasn't pleased with the fit. These ports are designed for one use and trying to squeeze a simple USB cable in was awkward at best. We try to return review devices unmarred, so I wasn't interested in testing that port much. I am confident that it and the microUSB port would be good for external storage.

    I didn't test earlier versions of the device and had no trouble with my WPA2 set-up. As for GPS, I dont consider it an integral part of the tablet experience and made no effort to use it. If readers want us to test GPS on every device I will give it a try. And I didn't encounter any issues with the HDMI testing, though it was limited to ensuring it worked on my TV.

    I have to disagree that Archos "doesn't do many things very well" because of two key things they are doing well. These tablets are the only ones I would even bother considering doing our Media Test Suite on; that's a big plus. Further, they're willing to push updates and respond to issues quickly. During testing we received two updates which primarily dealt with bugs and tweaking features. HDMI is one of the most difficult connectors to work with because HDCP handshake issues can be borked with the smallest changes. If there were issues in the most recent firmwares, I'm confident Archos will address them. If all this bug chasing is a result of inexhaustive testing, well, at least they're fixing problems as they come up.

    Thanks for the comments, keep them coming.
  • Rick83 - Thursday, May 24, 2012 - link

    Some other features, that are not common to all tablets and probably missing in the review are out of the box NTFS and CIFS support.
    Also the USB-DAC support is unique to the Archos tablets.

    I also explicitely added the "many" to that quote, because they do some things much better than others, but those are their defining features. On the wider front, their development is understandably rushed and falls short on testing (like the "bubble" issue on the first wave of hardware, where the back was not sufficiently tough to prevent stresses from holding the device to create screen artifacts. Also, it's great to have that awesome video codec support (also thanks to the OMAP 4460 and it's great decoding engine), but the HDMI issues (which are being fixed for the most part) are lessening the impact of being able to play 1080p30.

    I've followed the reception of the device for a while, (waiting for another 5 inch device to make it to market) and while the regular updates are helpful, oftentimes they have to fix grave issues introduced by the previous one.

    Owning an Archos is always a mixed bag, but it's probably the closest you can get to owning a PC in the tablet space, as the amount of features and the lack of custom "enhancements" to the UI give you a clean basic system, with a lot of freedom to tinker, and great support for ROM developers.

    This is refreshing, because all the other tablet vendors just strive to be the next Apple, dumbing the UIs down (eg. "simplifying") and going for maximum lock-in. On the other hand, testing is usually quite good, so that things work out of the box, and not a year after release and at 85%.

    Anyway, it's great to finally see a review of the "ultimate G9", even if it's a bit light no the "history" these devices have.
  • g00ey - Saturday, May 26, 2012 - link

    I've been wondering for a while how you can safely use you're home computer as a media server for your portable device with which you roam around freely around the country and cross-country while listening to music or watching a movie that is on your home-drive.

    I'm not sure if CIFS is such a good idea to share things over the internet. In a closed network? yes, in a more open network over the internet? Presumably no.

    If I were to share over the net I would prefer a secure connection which rules out the http and ftp protocols. I've tried to mount sftp and ssh volumes over the Internet but the performance is really bad.
  • Penti - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - link

    You probably already use it on your internal network on your NAS for your media though. Just load it over to your device for when not home or use like WebDAV or something. Or just use some DLNA-solution. You'd be fine as long as you connect to a VPN. If it's fast enough is another matter, but a DLNA-server can encode and stream it. Not supporting it (SMB/CIFS) is a pain when your home and want to access your media.
  • michael2k - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    A better screen would have made this an ideal in car entertainment center!

    Without the extra brightness and viewing angles, however, it just can't be used for such. Oh well.
  • npaladin2000 - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    I bought one of these. Nice media device, good for gaming. The 8 inch one is a nice size for eReading too, with the nook and Kindle apps. That's my primary use for it, that and some Tapatalk. it's unfortunate that some games don't take full advantage of the 4:3 screen, but the 16:9 stuff works well enough. And it's nice to be able to buy a STOCK ICS device.

    I do get wierded out by the viewing angles at times, but only when I'm holding it in my hands. The kickstand does a good job of keeping it at a viewable angle. And I can usually easily adjust my grip to get a viewable angle as well.
  • frozentundra123456 - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    I bought an Acer 7" Iconia tablet with no 3G option because I thought it would not matter. However, I have found it to be a major shortcoming and I would not purchase another tablet without some sort of 3G or 4G connectivity. The major advantage of a tablet is portability, but without some sort of data plan, when you are on a trip, travelling around, the tablet is worthless, when the portability should make it the ideal choice. (I dont really play games on it or watch videos, mainly use for e-mail, web browsing, GPS)

    I guess you would not necessarily expect 3G at these prices, but it is a critical function to me after living without it.

    And I know you can purchase a hot spot device, but who wants to carry around another device just to get connectivity.

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