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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  • flyingpants1 - Monday, July 18, 2011 - link

    Looks like a great choice. 8" for $299 is reasonable.

    "MicroSD, MicroUSB, HDMI, 802.11 b/g/n, GPS and Bluetooth are old hat port-wise"
    The mainstream $499 iPad and Galaxy Tab 10.1 are missing about half of those.
    Reply
  • hyperphysics - Monday, July 18, 2011 - link

    Exactly! Why are those ports referred to as "old had" when they are missing in other mainstream tablets. Lack of USB is a major reason for my passing on a tablet. Reply
  • jonup - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    These ports are "old had" for Archos tables. Reply
  • djc208 - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    They're fairly new to Archos too. They used to force you to use their proprietary connector for everything. You could buy adapters to use USB but it wasn't built in. Reply
  • rupaniii - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    About your ports. I am currently rocking the Acer Iconia 32gb from Costco last week at $429.99. 1USB, 1MicroUSB, 1MicroSD 1MicroHDMI 1 headphone jack. Its only oddity is that it uses a standard 1pin AC Jack connector and doesn't have a cable for it's included docking port. However, if i lose my ac cable, I can easily replace that, so, i'll only chalk that up to minorly wierd. It can charge over the dock port, so I am searching for a USB to Dock port cable for it. Very happy overall. It also has the other feature largely overlooked on these tablets. IT has great sound. Reply
  • Charbax - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    It's actually got 2 USB Host ports, one behind the device is designed only to fit the specially designed thin Archos 3G Stick that they will sell $49 unlocked, meaning that can support any HSDPA 3G SIM Card in the world. Though I think Archos will try to also have a CDMA version for any US carrier willing to do some kind of deal on that 3G stick, for example $19 with Virgin Mobile on pre-paid Data could be a good idea Reply
  • MonkeyPaw - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    I fear the LCD panel wont be very good. Reply
  • GotThumbs - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    My WiFI Xoom has all that. mini USB, mini HDMI, GPS, BlueTooth and WiFI. Will be interesting to see how the ADAM 2 does when it comes out. Notion Inks ADAM has full USB ports and a consumer replaceable battery. I would have purchased one, but my office was only able to purchase a Xoom or IPAD2. I chose the Xoom and loving the freedom. Our Asst Director chose the IPAD2 and I don't see her using it at all. I think she finally realized it does exactly what her iphone does....and nothing more. So her IPAD looks pretty with a pink cover...cut its been a waste of money so far. Reply
  • Wizzdo - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    GotThumbs, ever heard of Apple's App Store? She should check it out (and maybe you as well). TONS of more apps than Android and a far more versatile selection as well. Not to mention that iOS5 is "kick butt". Good luck upgrading the Xoom's OS (practically obsolete the day you bought it).

    Nothing more than the iPhone is hardly a negative in this respect.
    Reply
  • rupaniii - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Honeycomb Android 3.2 is coming forthwith. How's that official iOS 5 you don't have yet working out for you?

    When that happens, just know that the Notifications system you'll use on iPad was already improved upon when Honeycomb came out. See, Google knew 'ALERTS' weren't the main focus of a larger device, so they were moved to the side and easily hidden. However, porting it over to iOS from Android DIRECTLY works well for your phones. Now you can join us Android owners, like my old Samsung Moment and my new HTC Evo 3D, in actually knowing what's going on.

    While I feel for you in that you must still suffer not having sequential flipping thumbnails of indexed selections or email preview widgets right on your homescreen such as we do on our phones and tablets, I realize you are above such clutter and feel that merely having 1 quick view of all of your pertinent new data without having to even swipe a finger is beyond you and I understand your need to not be different. It's okay.
    In a year when you get those features, and Steve says it's OKAY for you to have those features, you won't even realize they were available before because Steve will tell you how new it is, just like your innovative new notification system.

    BTW, I love what you guys do with Copy and Paste, REVOLUTIONARY!
    Reply

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