iPad Alternatives – The Archos 9 PC Tablet

How does the Archos 9 tablet PC match up to its tablet rivals?

In today’s post on whattabletpc.com we look at the Archos 9 tablet PC as an alternative to buying an iPad.

What is the Archos 9?

Archos 9 PC tablet running various applications

Image courtesy of Archos

The Archos 9 is a tablet PC and is already available on the market. It weighs 1.8 pounds (800g) and runs Windows 7 Starter Edition. Effectively it’s a netbook/portable PC but in a tablet format so could effectively run any operating system and associated software you choose. It has an Atom Z Series microprocessor which is a relatively low spec processor for running an operating system such as Windows 7 so reports suggest this can make the device sluggish. 5 hour battery life is low but it is a removable battery so you can swap in another fully charged battery when you need it – although of course you do need to buy a second battery to do this.

What’s the Archos 9 screen like?

The screen is 8.9 inches and there’s a good resolution depth to the screen as 1024×600 pixels. It is a touchscreen device but reviews on how well the touchscreen functions aren’t as good as other devices.

What are the key features of the Archos 9?

The Archos 9 has WiFi so you can surf while you’re on the move as long as you have a WiFi connection. If you don’t then you can still connect to the web from anywhere that has a 3G signal. With 2 USB ports you can use one of them for a 3G USB stick or use the Internet connection of your 3G phone via Bluetooth.




A 60GB hard drive provides the storage space and given this is a Tablet PC running Windows 7 starter edition you can download and install any software that runs on Windows just as you would on your desktop, laptop or netbook PC. However bear in mind that this 60GB can be quickly eaten up by system restore/back up features and pre-installed software so be prepared to get your hands dirty changing some settings and uninstalling software if you want to get access to the majority of the 60GB.

What’s the Archos 9 audio like?

A Realtek ALC269 audio card with 2 built-in stereo speakers provide the audio output but just like any PC you can also plug in external speakers so basically the audio is really going to be as good as the speakers you buy to attach to the device unless you use the built in speakers.

How do I browse the internet on the Archos 9?

The Archos 9 is capable of running any web browser you may choose and you move around the screen using your finger tips on the touchscreen. The devices also has an optical trackpoint which is a little button-like feature to the right of the screen that you manipulate with your fingers for finer control of the cursor. There’s also left and right mouse buttons to the left of the screen which is a bit weird seeing this is a tablet but I can see why these have been included as a lot of windows based software requires the ability to right click to get extra features. I can’t help but feel though these features take you away from the simplicity of the iPad – although they work well the Archos 9 just isn’t a game changing device.

One advantage of the Archos 9 over the iPad is that that the Archos has the “Real” internet which basically means Adobe Flash runs on this device so the browsing experience is the same as on your desktop PC.

Archos 9 tablet PC demonstrating trackpoint and mouse button navigation

Image courtesy of Archos

How do I read my emails on the Archos 9?

With Windows Live Mail you can have multiple email accounts from all the major providers. This means you can configure Windows Live Mail so all your emails are in one place for viewing, reading and sending.

If you don’t want to go down this route, you can read emails on the Archos 9 just as you would on a PC, laptop or netbook. Go online and surf to your Gmail, Yahoo or other account and logon for your email. Alternatively configure Outlook or other email software.

You also get access to Microsoft SkyDrive with Windows Live. SkyDrive is a free online storage and with this you can store and share your files and photos – 25 GB of space is provided for free.

How do you type on the Archos 9?

This tablet PC has a virtual keyboard for typing that you can call up when you need it although this can take up a large proportion of the screen and makes this tricky.

Can I view Photos?

You can view Photos on the device again just as you would on a PC, laptop or netbook. The simplest way most people will know will be to go into Windows Explorer and view photos you’ve loaded onto the device via your camera or via the USB ports. You could also install any specialist software of your choice that performs this function and will also probably give you a bit more extra control.

What about watching movies and TV downloads on the Archos 9?

This device can store up to 80 movies and a media player already installed so if you load a movie via a USB port then double click on the file the programme will boot for you and start playing. The screen resolution (1024×600 pixels) and 16:9 aspect ratio allows you to watch high definition movies. You can also watch them on your HD TV if you buy the port replicator accessory.

Will the Archos 9 allow me to listen to my music?

There’s a pre-installed mp3 application (Deezer) and you can install any other mp3 player software that runs with Windows 7.

The device also comes with vTuner – a made-for-Archos application that also allows you to stream radio as long as you’re online.

Can I read e-books on the Archos 9?

You can read e-books on this device but you’ll need to get hold of specialist software for a decent experience. There are various options here such as free applications such as Microsoft Reader, Kindle for PC or Adobe Digital Editions. These are good but on this device they’re just not as slick and easy to use as an e-reader or the iPad. The screen is backlit so it can also be tiring on the eyes compared to e-ink used on stand-alone e-readers.

Other Archos 9 Applications?

Nothing else pre-installed but all software that runs on Windows also runs on this so you’ve got a huge number of options available. The only thing that restricts this is the low spec processor that limits what this device can do.

What other Archos 9 features are there?

USB ports – The Archos 9 has two USB Ports. You can plug in and use the same USB devices as you would on your desktop PC, laptop or notebook such as USB stick or external hard drives, printers, or your digital camera. Two ports are better than one as it means you can have 2 peripheral devices attached and you don’t have to unplug one to use another. Buy the port replicator accessory and you’ll also get more USB connectors, a headset connector and an Ethernet port for a wired network connection.

The Archos 9 comes with Lotus Symphony which is an application allowing you to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Lotus Symphony is also compatible with other Office applications so you can read Word and Excel documents.

Skype – for instant messaging or with a forward facing webcam and built in microphone for video conferencing.

The Archos 9 allows multitasking so you can work on multiple applications at the same time. However the low spec processor isn’t really up to the job and therefore the device can be sluggish, particularly with the pre-installed virus software running (Microsoft Security Essentials) in the background.

The Archos 9 also has a two-position leg-stand as shown in the image below. These are more for when you rest the device on a flat surface with upper position best for surfing, reading or viewing videos. The lower position is more for easing typing, it’s a nice idea but I’m not sure how functional this is if you browsing/typing and switching back and forth between the two.

Archos 9 PC Tablet showing how stand can be used to tilt the screen to improve watching movies or typing

Image courtesy of Archos

Where can I buy an Archos 9?

The Archos 9 is widely available. Check out Amazon.com for the latest US prices or Amazon.co.uk for latest UK prices

How much will an Archos 9 cost?

$500-550 in the US, £400-450 in the UK

Conclusion

The Archos 9 is an interesting piece of kit with plenty of functions and potential that’s let down by a sluggish processor. Great if you know what you’re doing e.g. you’re happy to uninstall the pre-installed applications and re-jig the settings to get it working to your requirements but other options already here and coming available imminently should be much more powerful.

For a more detailed technical review see the UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) site.


 

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Comments

  1. Wow this is a great resource.. I’m enjoying it.. good article

    • ted says:

      Thanks, really appreciate the complement. Please let us know if there’s anything else you want to know.

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