Archos 7 Home Tablet review

Full review: Android tablet and iPad rival?

Image 1 of 4 Archos 7 Home Tablet buttons
Archos 7 Home Tablet buttons
Image 2 of 4 Archos 7 Home Tablet kickstand
Archos 7 Home Tablet kickstand
Image 3 of 4 Archos 7 Home Tablet ports
Archos 7 Home Tablet ports
Image 4 of 4 Archos 7 Home Tablet main
Archos 7 Home Tablet main

Limited connectivity, but great video performance

Archos’ latest tablet is designed to reside at home – hence its name. Archos probably pictures you picking it up, having a quick browse over Wi-Fi then watching some video, possibly because it’s heard of this thing called the Apple iPad.

However, with no 3G, GPS or Bluetooth, it’s really more of a classic Archos video PMP, at a low enough price to make it alluring.

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Like its predecessor, the Archos 5 Internet Tablet, the 7 Home runs Android – specifically, Android 1.5. Archos doesn't have any plans to upgrade either.This seems at first glance like a missed opportunity with several phones now running 2.1 and up, but the newer features of those incarnations of Android wouldn’t be much use here anyway.

Archos 7 Home Tablet: Apps and power

Unlike its nearest rival the Dell Streak, the Archos 7 Home Tablet can’t access the Android Market, instead lumbering you with AppsLib, which has just 1,500 apps and an interface designed by a seven-year-old.

The 600MHz processor isn’t as powerful as the Dell Streak and it really shows: T.com loads in around 22 seconds – and that’s without any of the videos as, like the Streak and iPad, there’s no Flash support.

With an hour of browsing before switching Wi-Fi off to watch video, we got around 4.5 hours from the Archos 7 Home Tablet’s battery. That’s not very special.

Push email is simple to set up but some emails – particularly image-heavy ones – won’t download. There’s support for MSN, Yahoo and GMail but not Exchange.

Archos 7 Home Tablet: Video and screen

The 7 Home’s failings as a browser and app platform put more emphasis on its video capabilities. Unlike the Internet Tablet this one doesn’t work with the Archos Cinema plug-in but video support is still good out of the box, including H.264, MPEG-4 and Real Video codecs. Transfer via USB drag-’n’-drop is perfectly straightforward.

The seven-inch, 800x480-pixel screen is excellent for movies: cut-down 720p video is sharp with enough detail, although colours lack punch. Text is also easy to read on the browser, though virtual zoom controls at the bottom of the screen are no match for pinch-to-zoom. In fact the touchscreen controls in general are slow and often require a couple of jabs before you get a response.

The virtual keyboard is a goodly size, but you need to press keys firmly and in the centre. You get used to it in time, but typing anything more than a terse email isn’t much fun.

With wide file support and a very good screen, the Archos 7 Home Tablet is a decent portable video player. As a tablet, it’s barely in the game, but it is at least reasonably priced.

The Archos 7 Home Tablet is out now, find out more from Archos

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