Archos 5G Internet Media Tablet Review
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Archos 5G Internet Media Tablet Review

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Archos 5G Internet Media Tablet Review Archos 5G Internet Media Tablet Review Document Transcript

  • 23 October 2009 By: Alex Vochin, Gadgets Editor Archos 5G Internet Media Tablet Review An advanced PMP with 3G and web-browsing capabilities We live in an ultra-connected world, where the previously strictly-enforced boundaries The Archos 5G between various types of products are starting to slowly melt away. After all, we're seeing a Internet Media Tablet Archos lot of products endowed with all sorts of extra features and functions that push a lot further their levels of functionality being developed and launched, especially in the area of portable and communication devices. This applies especially well in the area of mobile phones in general and smartphones in particulars, these tiny handhelds now providing a very large number of Internet-related functions, starting from browsing capabilities and going up to e-mail support, widgets, content streaming and a lot more. But what if we wanted to get a cool, yet not "smart" phone, while also being able to remain constantly online and up-to-date, with a permanent Internet connection? Well, the answer is pretty simple - get an Internet tablet for all the Internet-related functions one might need while being on the go. Unfortunately, right now, the market for this brand of devices is not exactly very well-developed, as "the best is yet to come" in the near future. However, we've been able to pinpoint at least a couple of products that actually fit the profile of the device we were looking for, including here the one you'll read about as follows, namely the Archos 5G tablet. We've had the chance to actually test the Archos 5G Media Tablet (or Internet Media Tablet, as we prefer to call it) for a longer period of time, but, right from the start, we'll have to tell you that we're talking about the slightly older model, the one that managed to find its way in stores at the end of 2008/early 2009, rather than the new, Android-running version. However, even if we're talking about an older model, the 5G provided us with enough information to have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the Android-running version, at least in terms of hardware behavior. Plus, we've got to hand it to Archos, they can really build some mean, high-end PMPs, since the multimedia playback features of the 5G are equally if not more impressive than its Internet-related ones. [[BREAK=Aesthetics and Design]] Overall design features Right from the moment one takes the Archos 5G out of the box, the overall feeling is that they're handling a very elegant, well-finished product. The overall design of the tablet is quite classy (all-black, with a few small silvery spots here and there, for contrast), while the quality of the finishing is really worth admiring. As far as the functionality is concerned, it's nice to notice that the Archos 5G has been equipped with a built-in retractable stand, which allows it to stand in a semi-upright position, something that can really come in handy when users want to watch a movie or browse the Internet without having to worry about the tablet's stability. The stand is located on the rear side, and tucks neatly away within the tablet's body when not in use. Page 1 Copyright (c) 2001-2010 Softpedia. All rights reserved. Softpedia™ and Softpedia™ logo are registered trademarks of SoftNews NET SRL.
  • The only thing we really didn't like about the design of the Archos 5G was the lack of a suitable storage space for the stylus included in the package. Oh, and since we're on this issue, it's also worth mentioning that the stylus is actually manufactured from a fairly cheap plastic, which simply doesn't look good when used on the tablet. Size and portability The Archos 5G Internet Media Tablet has been designed with portability in mind, and, for this reason, it only measures 127.5 x 78.3 x 12.9 mm and weighs around 250 grams. However, the actual size is not the only element that comes to prove the fact that this thing is especially suitable for usage on the go. So, the product also sports a small opening for attaching a hand strap (located on the right side of the tablet, underneath the built-in speaker) in order to ensure the fact that users won't drop it on the ground when on the road. Also, the tablet has a fairly large base, which means that it can be easily placed on any surface even without help from the built-in stand, and is completely touchscreen operated, which makes access easier while on the go. Controls As mentioned above, the main control element of the Archos 5G tablet is represented by its touchscreen display. However, since this particular issue will be detailed a bit later, as follows we'll just talk about the other physical controls that can be found on the tablet/PMP. All of the other controls are located on the top side and include the power switch and the volume controls, whose functions are pretty much self-explanatory. However, it's important to mention that the power button also doubles as a reset button, when pressed for more than 10 seconds. Moreover, in the vicinity of the power switch we notice an activity LED, whose main purpose is to provide status information regarding the Archos 5G, whether we're talking about normal functioning or charging activities. Connectivity options and slots As far as the Archos 5G's connectivity options are concerned, we can divide them into two different categories: wired and wireless. The wired ones, quite obviously, require physical connectors, as well as some dedicated accessories, and the tablet from Archos has plenty of those. Now, what you'll have to understand is that ever since its PMPs the Archos company has had a rather strange approach to marketing. So, besides the devices themselves, it's offering all sorts of extra accessories and accompanying software, which can further increase their level of functionality. For example, via the two proprietary connectivity interfaces found on the bottom side of the tablet, users can transform the device into a GPS receiver, TV receiver, DVR and much more, by attaching some docks and other external accessories. [IMG=21][IMG=22] Of course, in order to tap into the functionality provided by these accessories, users will also have to download some additional software from Archos' own website (in some cases), which, as expected, costs a little extra. These ports can also be used for other purposes as well, including connecting the power Page 2 Copyright (c) 2001-2010 Softpedia. All rights reserved. Softpedia™ and Softpedia™ logo are registered trademarks of SoftNews NET SRL.
  • cable and the USB cable for transferring data from a computer. The device also sports a 3.5-mm headphone jack, placed on its left side, plus a slot for inserting a SIM card right on top, near the volume control. One feature that would have certainly come in handy would have been a memory card slot for expanding the built-in memory, since, let's face it, the 30GB HDD the Archos 5G comes equipped with is not exactly enough, especially as far as power users' needs are concerned. [IMG=23][IMG=24][IMG=26] Besides these wired interfaces, the Archos 5G tablet also incorporates a Wi-Fi module (902.11 b/g), plus a 3.5G HSDPA modem, which, quite obviously, requires a suitable SIM card in order to function. Notably, there's no native Bluetooth support, which is yet another minus, given just how many Bluetooth headphones and other accessories have made their way onto the market lately. Touch-screen display As mentioned above, the touch-screen display represents the main control solution for the Archos 5G, but, to tell you the truth, we've got some pretty mixed feelings regarding this one. So, in theory, everything sounds quite swell, since we're talking about a 4.8-inch diagonal size, 800 x 480 pixel resolution and 16-million colors. However, in practice, things are a bit different. Now, as far as image quality is concerned, the display behaves absolutely flawlessly, providing crisp, vivid colors, a very good level of contrast, as well as very good brightness, which makes it easily-viewable even in direct sunlight. So, watching video clips, photos, web pages and even text files (in PDF format) is quite a pleasure. However, in terms of the actual touch function, the display of the Archos 5G isn't exactly fantastic. While the manufacturer doesn't provide precise information regarding the nature of the touchscreen technology used, we're most likely talking about a capacitive display, which can be used either with a stylus or directly with the finger. While the stylus-control experience is a normal one (especially if you're used to such accessories), things get a bit strange when using one's fingers. So, while the touchscreen is quite responsive even in this case, it simply feels....strange, like the finger is going to sink within the display. It's a bit too soft for complete comfort, especially if you're used to resistive displays (some smartphones and, of course, the iPhone). Built-in speaker and headphones We were expecting a lot out of the Archos 5G in the field of multimedia playback, given the company's previous experience in the PMP segment, and the Internet Media Tablet did manage to do pretty well in the audio department, at least when using the headphones. In this case, the played audio was more than decent, even when listening to online radios or viewing streamed video clips. [IMG=25][IMG=27] The built-in speaker was somewhat of a disappointment, however, because, despite providing a pretty powerful sound (given the size), the level of clarity wasn't exactly what I had expected. However, it was good enough for sharing some music with friends while being on the go, just to provide a basic example. [[BREAK=Tech Facts]] Page 3 Copyright (c) 2001-2010 Softpedia. All rights reserved. Softpedia™ and Softpedia™ logo are registered trademarks of SoftNews NET SRL.
  • Now that we've gone through what we can expect from the Archos 5G in terms of design, it's about time to take a very quick look at the official list of technical specs. Display characteristics: High resolution screen, 800x480 pixels, 4.8'' TFT LCD, 16 million colors; [IMG=29][IMG=30][IMG=31][IMG=32] User interaction: Direct by touch screen, ON/OFF, vol+ and vol- buttons, retractable virtual keyboard; Processors: - Main processor: ARM Cortex-A8, 32 bit, In-order, dual-issue, superscalar core @ 600 MHz;                    - Additional processor: 32 bit DSP @ 430 MHz; RAM memory: 128 MB (Low-Power Double Data Rate SDRAM); Mass storage memory: 30GB HDD (stores up to 40 movies, 300,000 photos or 15,000 songs); [IMG=33][IMG=34][IMG=35][IMG=36] Operating system: Linux; Connectivity: On board WiFi (802.11 b/g), USB 2.0 host with optional accessories; Built-in: HSDPA (3.5G) modem; Video playback: MPEG-42 (ASP@L5 AVI, up to DVD resolution), WMV (MP@ML, up to DVD resolution) included WMV protected files, M-JPEG (in QVGA resolution); With optional software plug-in: HD support: MPEG-4 (ASP 720p) & WMV HD (MP 720p), MPEG-2 MP@ML up to 10 Mbps (up to DVD resolution) and AC3 stereo sound (5.1), H.264 up to DVD resolution with AAC; Audio playback: Stereo MP3 decoding @ 30-320 Kbits/s CBR & VBR, WMA, Protected WMA, WMA pro 5.1, WAV (PCM/ADPCM), AC3 stereo audio and 5.1 sound files (via SPDIF output of DVR Station), Flac and OGG Vorbis audio files; With optional software plug-in: AAC3 and AAC+ stereo audio files; Photo viewer:JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF; PDF viewer: Reads PDF documents (may not implement all PDF features); Video recording: Via the optional DVR Station or DVR Snap-on. Records NTSC/PAL/SECAM in MPEG-4 AVI format with stereo sound, VGA resolution (640 x 480) @ 30 or 25 f/s; Audio recording: Via the optional DVR Station or DVR Snap-on: Stereo line-in, WAV (IMA ADPCM or PCM) format; Voice recording via the optional FM remote and its built-in microphone in WAV format (IMA ADPCM); [IMG=37][IMG=38][IMG=39][IMG=40] Email client: Compatible with Email accounts supporting POP3 and IMAP services Import/export of vCard contacts; Page 4 Copyright (c) 2001-2010 Softpedia. All rights reserved. Softpedia™ and Softpedia™ logo are registered trademarks of SoftNews NET SRL.
  • Interfaces: USB 2.0 High-Speed Device (compatible USB 1.1 at a lower speed): Mass Storage Class (MSC) and Media Transport Protocol (MTP); USB 2.0 Host: Mass Storage Class (MSC) and Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP) with optional Mini Dock, Battery Dock and DVR station; Connections: WiFi (802.11 b/g) connection, HSDPA modem; Provides: Free Web Browser (Opera Web browser with Adobe Flash 9 video support) upon registration; Audio output: 3.5 mm mini jack for headphones; Built-in: Accessory connectors to connect to the DVR Station and other ARCHOS accessories; Miscellaneous: - Built-in speaker;                         - Built-in leg stand; Battery life: Music playback time: up to 22 hours; Video playback time: up to 7 hours; [IMG=41][IMG=42][IMG=43][IMG=44] Power source: Internal: Lithium Polymer battery; Device charges via computer USB port; External: Power adapter/charger (via optional accessories); Scalability: Device automatically downloads latest firmware updates when the WiFi connection is activated; Dimensions & weight: Approx 127,5 x 78,3 x 12,9 mm - 250gr; Minimum system requirements: Microsoft Windows Vista, XP, ME, 2000 or higher; MAC OS X and Linux (with Mass Storage Device Support). [[BREAK=Real-life performance]] Overall functionality Before going further into the numerous functions and features the Archos 5G has to offer, we'll talk a little about the overall experience one might have while using this Internet Media Tablet from Archos, in terms of menu navigation, functionality and so on. So, first of all, as you might notice from the photo, pretty much all of the available functions can be accessed from the main menu placed on the left side of the screen. Menu navigation is in fact pretty fast and seamless, the only thing that you'll have to constantly look for being the curved-arrow shaped back button, placed on the top side of the screen. Also, it's a good idea to click on the page menu button (the lines in the upper right corner) whenever you enter a new menu option, because, by doing so, you'll be offered access to a very large number of additional options you'd simply ignore otherwise. Page 5 Copyright (c) 2001-2010 Softpedia. All rights reserved. Softpedia™ and Softpedia™ logo are registered trademarks of SoftNews NET SRL.
  • [IMG=45][IMG=46][IMG=47][IMG=48] The hardware of the Archos 5G manages to rise up to the challenge most of the times, audio/video playback going just fine, all of the times. The same goes for web browsing and streaming, the only problems I've been able to notice being related either to reading PDF files or navigating to certain Flash-rich web pages the device has not been optimized for. Another important detail we'll have to talk about in this first segment regarding our real-life experience with the Archos 5G is the virtual on-screen keyboard, which, as far as we're concerned, is one of the best we've ever encountered. The keyboard pops up very fast when prompted, is easy to minimize when not in use, and is also extremely responsive and well-defined. In other words, one is sure to press the right key even when using one's thumb. Moreover, the keyboard provides access to pretty much any symbol one might need in a very fast and easy manner, by simply pressing a key, which prompts the appearance of the respective set of characters. Now, we do have a major problem with the Archos 5G as a whole, and that problem is that it simply feels....limited. Sure, users are offered a lot of functions and options (most of which we'll describe as follows), but just up to a certain extent. The one major issue is the level of freedom and customization usually provided by full-fledged operating systems (such as Android or Windows Mobile, albeit the latter's not a particularly good example, given its numerous problems), the custom-made Linux operating system allowing users to "fiddle" with the settings and features of the Archos 5G only so much. [IMG=49][IMG=50][IMG=51][IMG=52] Also, while some degree of folder browsing and navigation is possible, this function has not been particularly well developed, the interface bringing back some memories of that old, DOS-based Windows Commander software. So, if you're the type of tech-savvy power user who wants more tweaking and customization freedom, then you will really feel kind of disappointed by this Internet Tablet, because its very "closed" OS won't let it "bend to you will," so to say. However, if you're a mainstream user who wants something that works right out of the box as it is and manages to get the job done properly, then you probably won't have anything against the 5G. Something that we felt was missing was an accelerometer, which would allow the display's orientation to automatically switch from landscape to portrait positions and vice-versa. Although we don't know this for sure, it's very likely that the operating system probably doesn't support automatic re-orientation, and, for this reason, an accelerometer was not considered to be an useful addition. Anyway, that's it with the overall considerations, it's now about time to move to the actual functions this player is able to provide. Video playback - including Web video streaming Video playback is one of the most important functions supported by the Archos 5G. Now, when opening the Video option from the Play menu, you'll first be offered a choice of folders where the video you might want to play is located. More importantly, you'll also be able to look for content stored onto other uPnP devices connected to the same network as your own device (such as a NAS unit, for example), which is indeed a very useful and interesting feature. [IMG=53][IMG=54][IMG=55][IMG=56] Page 6 Copyright (c) 2001-2010 Softpedia. All rights reserved. Softpedia™ and Softpedia™ logo are registered trademarks of SoftNews NET SRL.
  • From the same menu, one will be able to search for content using the built-in virtual keyboard we've talked about earlier but also to flag certain videos as being either appropriate or inappropriate for viewing by everyone who uses the tablet (adult content, for example). As mentioned in the Tech Facts section, quality of the video playback is near DVD level, namely somewhere in the vicinity of 720x480 pixels. However, one can also enjoy 720p playback on the Archos 5G, as long as he/she purchases an additional software application. [IMG=57][IMG=58][IMG=59][IMG=60] Anyway, video playback is fast and seamless, especially if the clip you're watching has been specifically adapted for the 5G's native resolution. Moreover, you're also provided with a fairly large number of playback options, including the possibility to set the audio level, format the display size, set the playback speed or find out more info about the clip being played. [IMG=61][IMG=62][IMG=63][IMG=64] Additionally, one can also easily adjust the audio settings, as well as some of the more important settings of the video player, such as the Play Mode, Repeat and Shuffle options, LCD backlight, as well as Brightness and Contrast levels. Audio settings, on the other hand, include the selection of the audio output options, the possibility to adjust the sound balance and equalizer, as well as automatically adjust some of the sound features depending on the selected output option. [IMG=65][IMG=66][IMG=67][IMG=68] Now that we're done with the normal video viewing, it's time to move on to the video streaming issue, which can also be divided into two different categories: web-based TV and video clip streaming. The first category can be accessed from the TV menu, where users are able to either set certain TV recording parameters (most of the options from this particular menu can only be activated by using an external adapter), but also to browse through the available web TV stations. And, to tell you the truth, the amount of content that can be accessed via this particular option is absolutely staggering. [IMG=69][IMG=70][IMG=71][IMG=72] Practically, the Archos 5G allows users to browse the whole Internet for live broadcasting TV stations. There are loads of search options, including here such criteria as the country or region of origin and the genre. Plus, users are also provided with some brief tech information regarding the respective audio/video feed, including here the bandwidth and the level of reliability. [IMG=73][IMG=74][IMG=75][IMG=76] Within the same category of video content, the Internet Media Tablet also provides access to video podcasts, which are even more widespread than web TV stations, being divided into a larger number of genres available in pretty much all regions and countries of the world. Moreover, one can either download the video podcast in the tablet's memory or watch it instantly. However, that's not everything the device has to offer in terms of video streaming. So, for example, the "Media Club" button from the main menu offers access to some exclusive Archos content, including here videos posted on DailyMotion, Euronews and DeutscheWelle. Moreover, when browsing the web, users can easily log in to video sharing websites. [IMG=77][IMG=78][IMG=79][IMG=80] Regardless of the type of video streaming one might choose, the experience will be pretty much identical, since the video player offers the same level of functionality in most cases. Of course, there are certain minor differences (no playback speed settings changes are Page 7 Copyright (c) 2001-2010 Softpedia. All rights reserved. Softpedia™ and Softpedia™ logo are registered trademarks of SoftNews NET SRL.
  • possible for streaming, just to give an example), but, overall, the experience is more or less the same. Audio playback - including web radio streaming As we've mentioned above, to a certain degree, the Archos 5G can be described as a widescreen PMP with web-browsing capabilities. So, it should come as no surprise that the device offers extensive music playback capabilities, right from the moment one opens the Music option from the Play menu. [IMG=81][IMG=82][IMG=83][IMG=84] Similar to the case of video playback, users will first be able to search for the music they want to listen to, the available locations being either the 5G's own HDD or the uPnP devices from the network. However, several search options are also provided, such as Artist, Genre, Year, Album, Title, etc. (the stuff we find in most other PMPs available out there). [IMG=85][IMG=86][IMG=87][IMG=88] The audio player is very simple and straightforward, the built-in menu allowing users to obtain more info on a certain song, but also to set a bookmark within a certain song, grant the respective song a certain rating or lock the device (useful for when using the tablet as a PMP). Audio settings are pretty much the same as in the case of the video player, while the audio playback options are not exactly something worth talking about, since one can only choose the playback mode, repeat and shuffle modes and the intro duration. The same player is used when tuning into web stations, so we won't go into more details regarding this issue later. [IMG=89][IMG=90][IMG=91] It's also interesting to note that users are provided with some more extensive file management options here, since they can easily search for music or browse the contents of the HDD (or any other storage solution attached to the tablet via one of the available docking solutions), as well as delete files as they see fit. Plus, they can also create a shortcut to a certain album or location and place it directly on the "desktop" of the Archos 5G. [IMG=92][IMG=93][IMG=94] While audio playback per se is a useful feature, things get even more exciting when going to web audio streaming, or, to put it simple, tuning in to Internet-based radio stations (Play menu, Web radio button). Here, users are offered an absolutely huge number of choices, also categorized according to specific criteria, such as location, genre, popular stations or new stations, just to give an example. Plus, each genre has quite a few sub-genres, so you can imagine for yourselves just where this leads. [IMG=95][IMG=96] Similar to the case of web TV stations, the web radio stations' menu also provides users with information regarding the required bandwidth and the reliability rating. From the same menu, one can also access podcasts, which, as expected, are also divided into countless genres and sub-genres, not to mention regions and countries. Photo viewing As any serious PMP out there, the Archos 5G also allows users to view their favorite photos, a feature that really takes advantage of the 5G's very impressive display. So, one can either search uPnP devices for photos, cycle through all the available photos from the tablet's memory or choose the photos taken in certain date (year, month, etc.). Additionally, they can also easily set the slideshow options (including the type of transition and the transition interval), but also view detailed (EXIF) information pertaining to the photo they're currently viewing. [IMG=98][IMG=99][IMG=100][IMG=101] Page 8 Copyright (c) 2001-2010 Softpedia. All rights reserved. Softpedia™ and Softpedia™ logo are registered trademarks of SoftNews NET SRL.
  • Other options available while watching photos are the possibility to zoom into the photo or rotate it, and, if you really like it very much, you'll also be able to set it as a wallpaper. [IMG=102][IMG=103][IMG=104][IMG=105] Networking options - Wi-Fi vs. 3G Before going into the issue of web browsing and the numerous features available here, we'll have to say a few things about the networking options provided by the Archos 5G Internet Media Tablet, namely Wi-Fi and 3.5G (HSDPA). Those people who don't have a 3G subscription will most likely be interested in the Wi-Fi functionality, because that will be the only way they'll be able to go online. Plus, when in the vicinity of a Wi-Fi hotspot, that's the option to go even if you have a 3G connection available, because you'll cut down costs this way. [IMG=106][IMG=107][IMG=108][IMG=109] The good thing is that one can choose very easily the network one wants to connect to and do so even if we're talking about secured networks (WEP and WPA 2 security protocols are easily supported). Plus, when choosing the network, one will also be able to see exactly just what's the strength of each single network. Now, let's move on to 3.5G and start with the installation. Inserting the 3.5G card is done fairly easily, via the special slot located on the top side. However, getting the connection to work is, in fact, a lengthier process. So, while the tablet does manage to pick up the wireless signal fairly quickly (in a matter of seconds, to be precise), logging on to the 3.5G service can prove to be a little trickier. However, you don't have to worry, because the process is not that cumbersome as one might believe. By inserting the 3.5G SIM card, the Archos 5G automatically exits the "airplane mode" and enables the 3.5G (HSDPA module). However, in order to get the connection to work properly, one will have to fiddle a bit with the settings and provide the data for the APN, such as the server name, authentication method, proxy and port, or, in the case of PAP and CHAP authentication options, a user name and password as well. In most cases, such information is provided by the network carrier, so you'll have to choose for yourselves the correct settings. Luckily in our case, everything worked out pretty smoothly, since all we had to do was type in the name of the server and the device did the rest on its own. Another very important issue worth mentioning about the Archos 5G's network manager software is that it offers a couple of useful options, allowing users to enable/disable the Wi-Fi/3G networks, or even to manage the "Roaming connection" options, which is a particularly important feature, especially for those people who travel abroad a lot. Now, some of you may wonder about the speed of the 3G connection, and what it offers compared to Wi-Fi. Well, the first (and logical) answer is that it grants mobility, since it can be used just about wherever there's coverage for such a network. We've tested the Archos 5G tablet using both a 3.5G SIM card and the tablet's internal Wi-Fi module. And while we won't provide specific numbers here, we can really say that the 3G connection is clearly superior to Wi-Fi, in pretty much every single aspect, whether we're talking about browsing the web, checking e-mails, streaming videos, downloading files, or whatever else you might think of. And while in some cases the difference in load times is Page 9 Copyright (c) 2001-2010 Softpedia. All rights reserved. Softpedia™ and Softpedia™ logo are registered trademarks of SoftNews NET SRL.
  • merely a few seconds (as in the case of Internet browsing), things are actually a bit different as far as the audio/video streaming is concerned, where 3G manages to support smooth streaming in any situation. [IMG=110][IMG=111][IMG=112][IMG=113] However, there's also a downside to using the 3.5G module, and that difference is directly related to the battery life. In fact, this became quite obvious right up from the moment when we activated this interface, simply because the battery went down from around 3 lines (the mid-value) to zero in just a couple of minutes' time (under a quarter of an hour, to be precise). Web-browsing This is in fact a very important issue, since it's one of the features that really set the Archos 5G apart from most other widescreen PMPs available out there. [IMG=114][IMG=115][IMG=116][IMG=117] The most important feature available in the Internet segment is simply called "Web" and is, in fact, a full-fledged, Opera-powered web browser, which allows users to quickly and easily navigate to their desired web pages. In order to do so they'll either have to input the address manually or search for the page via one of the available search engines (Google and Yahoo!). Moreover, they can also choose one from the "Favorites" menu. Some pre-sets are already available here (such as Google, Wikipedia, Archos - obviously, DailyMotion, YouTube, Flickr, etc.), but users can also add their own favorite (by double tapping the screen when the desired page has been completely loaded). [IMG=118][IMG=119][IMG=120][IMG=121] Some navigation options are provided as well, users being able to easily go forward or back, choose the exact zoom level they want for their pages and reload pages. The one thing we really didn't like about the web browser was the tabbed navigation feature, which is rather difficult to get accustomed to (to tell you the truth, it took us a while to come across it in the first place). In fact, one can open new pages in new tabs, either when manually entering the address, searching for a certain website or choosing the page from the favorites menu. However, one cannot first open a new tab and then carry out a certain action, which kind of makes sense, but for those people who've used Mozilla Firefox, Safari or Internet Explorer up until now, this might really be somewhat of an issue. [IMG=122][IMG=123][IMG=124] As far as the actual browsing experience is concerned, the Archos 5G is quite an OK device, page loading being quite fast and seamless. The browser also supports Flash 9, so it's likely that users will be able to navigate to pretty much any website out there, including here the flash-based ones. Messaging options - SMS and e-Mail Besides browsing the web, Archos 5G users can also communicate to other people, either via SMS messages or e-mails. Of course, the first option is only available when the SIM card is inserted, but that's beside the point. [IMG=125][IMG=126][IMG=127][IMG=128] So, when writing a new SMS, users are provided access to the same virtual keyboard we've already grown so accustomed to, but they'll also have to choose the contact they want to send the short message to. Typically, the contact is available in the contact list, which can be either downloaded from the SIM card or created right on the tablet. Of course, one will also have to set the proper message center and validity period, but that's something that's done with mobile phones as well. [IMG=129][IMG=130][IMG=131][IMG=132] Page 10 Copyright (c) 2001-2010 Softpedia. All rights reserved. Softpedia™ and Softpedia™ logo are registered trademarks of SoftNews NET SRL.
  • The issue of e-mail is a bit more complex. Now, first of all, it's important to mention that we're not talking about some webmail service (which can be accessed via the web browser) but about an independent client supporting both POP3 and IMAP accounts. Registering new accounts is a fairly easy process, as long as you know the settings for the respective accounts. Also, one can register more than just one account, which is always a good thing, as well as set which of the accounts is considered the favorite one. [IMG=133][IMG=134][IMG=135][IMG=136] Writing and sending emails is fairly similar to writing and sending SMS messages, although the available options are exactly those found in the case of normal emails, including here the possibility of adding attachments to the messages (after browsing for them through the tablet's memory). The inbox is also fairly well organized, and the messages tend to load quite fast when selected. [IMG=137][IMG=138][IMG=139][IMG=140] Widgets Yeah, much to our surprise, the Archos 5G Internet Tablet also supports widgets, among other things, all of which are also powered by Opera (quite obviously). There are a number of built-in widgets (news reader was the one we found to be the most useful), which can easily be placed and accessed right from the tablet's "desktop." Moreover, if one desires to, one can easily download and install even more widgets from the dedicated (and fully integrated) Opera service. [IMG=141][IMG=142] Various other Archos integrated services As mentioned above, Archos has managed to create quite an interesting ecosystem for its products, including here its Internet tablets, via a string of partnerships with online content providers, but also by fully integrating its app and accessory store into its products. So, without any additional effort, users can either download certain plugins that will enhance the tablet's level of functionality (by allowing it to play 720p content for example), but also purchase various accessories, such as TV or GPS receivers, docking stations and much more. [IMG=143][IMG=144][IMG=145] Also, besides the music they can upload for themselves into the tablet's 30GB HDD, users will also be provided access to an online store called Jamendo, where they can easily shop for legal music (it's also worth mentioning that, upon purchasing the Archos 5G, one will be offered a coupon for some free music of their choice). Moreover, while the tablet doesn't come pre-loaded with any games or flash applications, it is powerful enough to run them. However, don't imagine that you'll be able to download just about any game you want, just two packs of compatible games being provided by Archos' partners, Playin TV and DTI. Another feature provided by the Archos 5G (albeit this is not what we'd call a "service" per se) is PDF support, the device being able to display the contents of such files. However, the experience of reading a PDF is not exactly grand, since the tablet is kind of slow in this particular area. [IMG=146][IMG=147] Last, but certainly not least, we'll also have to point out that the Archos 5G comes pre-loaded with a comprehensive set of "Help" features, contained both within the User's Manual in PDF format pre-loaded in the tablet's memory, but also within a couple of useful instructional videos (also pre-loaded on the HDD) that explain how to set up and access Page 11 Copyright (c) 2001-2010 Softpedia. All rights reserved. Softpedia™ and Softpedia™ logo are registered trademarks of SoftNews NET SRL.
  • some of the tablet's features and functions. Battery and functioning life As you've been able to see from our Tech Facts area, the Archos 5G comes equipped with an Internal, non-replaceable, rechargeable Li-Ion battery. While, in theory, audio playback time is rated at around 22 hours and video playback time at up to 7 hours, one should scratch around an hour or so from those values in order to get the actual, normal-use functioning times. Of course, things change radically when using the Internet in general and the 3G modem in particular. So, while Wi-Fi doesn't require that much power (I mean, one can go on for at least 5 hours of non-stop browsing), things get a lot worse when using 3G, with battery life dropping significantly (while we haven't fully tested this case, it emptied half the battery in around 1, 1.5 hours, so you do the math). Another rather nasty thing related to the battery is the fact that it generates quite a high level of temperature while charging and/or long usage periods (around 38-40 Celsius degrees on the rear side, especially in the area closest to the power charger). [[BREAK=Conclusions]] The Good Archos' background as a PMP manufacturer is quite clear right from the start, since most of the good things to say about the 5G are related to its multimedia playback and streaming capabilities. So, audio, video and photo playback are quite amazing (especially the latter), since they're able to fully take advantage of the display's overall very good quality. The fact that the Archos 5G incorporates both a 3.5G HSDPA modem and a WiFi module is another important plus, since it allows users to access the Internet pretty much wherever they might be, while also keeping costs down. Moreover, the device offers access to an absolutely huge number of web-based content sources, being able to stream audio and video feeds from online TV and radio stations (including both audio and video podcasts), but also access and download content from Archos' various partners. [IMG=148][IMG=149][IMG=150] Users can also easily set up and use their email accounts right on the device or even write and send SMS messages when a SIM card is inserted. Also, the Opera-powered Internet browser works quite well, allowing them to visit pretty much any website (including the flash-based ones), access video sharing services and much more. Widget support is also a plus, and the same goes for the file management system and desktop shortcut support. The Bad Without a doubt, the worst thing we could say about the Archos 5G Internet Media Tablet is the fact that it feels so limited, as it only allows users to customize its looks/behavior just to a point. Of course, that's not a problem for mainstream consumers, but if you're more tech savvy, you're certainly not going to like this. Another serious minus is related to the display, which feels very...soft to the touch, while the lack of a storage space for the stylus (which, by the way, also looks very cheap) is yet another major negative issue. We also disliked the use of proprietary connectors, which, while not necessarily a bad thing, was, however, kind of a nuisance, while the tabbed Page 12 Copyright (c) 2001-2010 Softpedia. All rights reserved. Softpedia™ and Softpedia™ logo are registered trademarks of SoftNews NET SRL.
  • browsing system was a bit difficult to come to terms with at first. The HDD offers a relatively low amount of storage space, at least according to today's requirements, while the battery is not exactly very impressive, at least while surfing the Internet or watching videos. Also, the battery tends to overheat a little, both while charging and during use. Overall impressions When it was first launched, the Archos 5G Internet Table was one of the few products of this type available on the market, especially as far as 3.5G HSDPA connectivity is concerned. However, since then, technology has evolved, with more and more Internet tablets hitting the shelves as of late, including an improved version from Archos itself, featuring the Android operating system (unfortunately, no 3.5G support has been announced thus far). So, for what it is worth, the Archos 5G manages to do its job pretty well, especially if you're not exactly the type of tech-savvy user who wants to be able to tweak every feature of their tiny tablet. So, if you're looking for something that won't give you too much of a headache and will work as expected right out of the box (exceptionally well as a PMP, I might add), then the Archos 5G might prove to be a good choice. Otherwise, it's perhaps for the best to wait for the Android-enabled solution, or one of the numerous other such Internet tablets that are sure to hit the shelves in the near future. [IMG=151][IMG=152][IMG=153] Sales package - ARCHOS 5; - Headphones; - ARCHOS USB cable; - DVR Station adapter; - Screen cleaning cloth; - Quick Start Guide (QSG); - Legal and safety notice.   Page 13 Copyright (c) 2001-2010 Softpedia. All rights reserved. Softpedia™ and Softpedia™ logo are registered trademarks of SoftNews NET SRL.