Over the past few months we’ve seen a lot of talk about 5 to 10 inch tablets running Google Android and other mobile operating systems. That’s largely because you can’t run Windows XP or 7 on a tablet with a cheap and energy-efficient ARM-based processor. And it’s also because an OS designed for a smartphone actually makes a lot more sense on some touchscreen devices without keyboards than a full blown OS like Windows 7 that was really designed for navigation with a keyboard and mouse.

But the vast majority of Android tablets shown off at trade shows including CES and Mobile World Congress aren’t actually available to the public yet. Sure, they’re coming soon. But if you actually want to plunk down some cash and get a tablet style device running Android today, you can. Archos, a company best known for producing portable media players, offers a Google Android powered device called the Archos 5 Internet Tablet.

The Archos 5 features a 4.8 inch, 800 x 480 pixel display and an 800MHz ARM Cortex A8-based processor. It has 256MB of RAM and is available with 8GB to 500GB of storage.  It features 802.11b/g/n WiFi and has a USB 2.0 port. Like other Archos tablets, the Archos 5 Internet tablet excels at media playback. It can handle 720p HD H.264 and MPEG-4 video and there are optional docks that let you output video to a TV or even allow the tablet to function as a digital video recorder.

Out of the box, the Archos 5 Internet Tablet runs Android 1.6. But it can’t access the Android Market, which means you’ll have to use the Archos AppsLib utility to find and download third party applications. And while there are a fair number available, many of the apps that I’ve been able to download on the Google Nexus One smartphone simply aren’t available in the Archos AppsLib app store.

There are third party utilities floating around that do allow you full access to the Android Market, but you’ll need to have an earlier version of the Archos 5 Internet Tablet firmware in order for that hack to work.

I’ve only spent a few minutes with the Archos 5 so far, but so far I’m moderately impressed. With a starting price of just $250, the Archos 5 is one of the cheapest devices you can purchase if you want a tablet that will let you surf the web from your couch over WiFi without signing up for a 3G service plan. And it has a larger, higher resolution display than the iPod Touch.

On the other hand, the touchscreen seems to be designed more for stylus input than finger input, while Android is more of a finger-friendly platform. The lack of full Android Market support and Flash video is also disappointing, although it’s possible that both of these issues could be addressed in future firmware updates.

I’ll have a more detailed review soon, but in the meantime you can check out my unboxing and first impressions video after the break.

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16 replies on “Archos 5 Android tablet: Unboxing and first look”

  1. IT HAS A CAPACITIVE SCREEN, NOT RESISTIVE. i have this device, and upgraded to android 2.1… 😀

  2. The thing that will keep Archos in the game is that unlike all other Android devices, it has software to do *real* video — DiVX/XViD AVI — whereas standard Android can only do MP4/3GP. I really want to see the rumored Archos 7 Internet Tablet!

  3. you can tell when a person is used to a capacitive screen and encounters a resistive screen 😉

    1. Actually, that’s the funny thing. I’ve spent the last 10 years with Windows
      Mobile PDAs with resistive touchscreens. I just expected a capacitive
      touchscreen on an Android device, which has a much more finger-friendly UI.

  4. I just watched the video and it looks pretty much like a PSP with Android.

    I think i will stick to my (evul) plan of (takeover the world) getting a android phone (HTC Desire is a desirable choice) first and a bigger tablet (drolling for a Notion Ink) later.

    Just wonder the weight of the product…

  5. If this is 250, then the marvellous Dell Mini 5 should e less than 300 taking into consideration of the gsm element.

    Brad, you need to start doing what they did to see the real value of the ipad. Now we know Apple makes double in profit for each ipad. The recent article on the cost of each component price was revealing!!.

    Is there anyway to get the component breakdown of each netbook and tablet to see if we are being ripped off??

    1. First, that estimate for the iPad *only* looks at the cost of components,
      which can be misleading. It ignores the research, development, marketing,
      distribution and everything else that goes into selling a product. Apple’s
      still going to turn a tidy profit, but it’s not as high as it looks from
      those figures.

      As for the Dell Mini 5, it has a *lot* of features that are absent from the
      Archos 5. I really don’t see it selling for anywhere near this price. But
      it’s also not clear if you’ll even be able to buy it as as an unlocked
      tablet or only as a subsidized device from wireless carriers.

      1. True. I forgot abt R D cost etc. But then again, is there really R&D cost? Cause nearly everything is OEM.

        Like notebooks and netbooks. Its Compal and Quanta that spends on R&D. The manufacturers just slap their labels on it.

        The same with netbooks. There is no real R&D cause all the components are OEM and its the same old thing with specs.

        But I do appreciate companies like Notion Ink and its Adam device. That I know has some serious R&D spending involved

    2. of course we getting ripped of the companies have to make a profit and genrally a ig one of up to 50%

  6. I bought one of these around Christmas when they had a deal at Radio Shack. It was a pretty piece of hardware. Unfortunately I found the software to be very buggy; nothing much worked more than barely. The browser was constantly freezing. I took it back. I could tell that the particular one I had was previously returned so maybe it was defective. In any event I was seriously unimpressed.

    The 3GS iphone and the current ipod touch have a smaller screen, but they are more responsive and have tons of useful software.

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