I had a very rare opportunity for a nano fondle of an Archos 101 Internet Tablet this morning. This device is hard to get and the fondle came up when a sales rep opened a box prepping it to be a demo model.
It’s incredibly thin and lighter than I expected. The feel of it is halfway between swank and cheap. On the whole, however, it looks good.
I got to play with only two things very quickly: Aldiko the eBook reading program and the photo viewing app.
Aldiko was a joy. It was very fast and seeing a screen that size, nearly rivaling that of the iPad, only heightened my disgust for the pageturn animation Apple insists on in iBooks. Aldiko pageturns are a sliding page and the transition speed really makes a difference in being able to concentrate on the text. Like the iPad screen, pixels are noticeable so don’t expect Retina Display-like resolution. The NookColor has the superior screen here.
The photo viewer I mainly dropped in to in order to play with pinch-in and -out. It has rather enthusiastic algorithms behind it, which tend to overshoot. There’s no smooth 1-to-1 movement with fingers as there is with the iPad. I’m not saying it’s terrible. It’s just not what the iPad has.
There have been reports of Archos 101 screens being problematic with viewing angles. I didn’t understand these reports until today.
Apparently Archos is using a typical netbook screen here. And it might be sourced from more than one manufacturer, which would account for some people experiencing problems and others not.
The unit I was looking at I would describe as defective, period.
I held it and the viewing angle fell off a cliff. I had to turn it upside-down to get the proper viewing angle. This might not seem like a big deal, except look:
The Archos 101 has a pull-out stand. And at that angle, you wouldn’t be seeing anything!
Putting it upside-down to get the proper viewing angle would do this:
WTF?! The stand is now useless!
I don’t know what went wrong here. One of the screen manufacturers really screwed up, possibly installing the screen upside-down. I don’t know what the guts of the 101 look like, but even so, I don’t think people should have to take this baby apart to reinstall the screen right-side-up! In fact, depending on where the screen connector is, that might not even be possible! Now I understand why Apple insists on using that IPS screen on the iPhone 4 and the iPad. Viewing angles do not drop off a cliff into blackness no matter how those devices are held.
This error makes the Archos 101 an unfortunate crapshoot. I don’t know what the exact odds are of getting a unit like this. But whatever they are, it doesn’t matter. To someone with a screen that’s been borked like this, the odds are 100%. Archos has to make some provision to correct this error without a buyer having to shell out even shipping costs.