I’ve really really really wanted to fondle the Archos 80 G9 tablet. Because it has an 8″ screen at 1024×768 and an aspect ratio of 4:3. Which is the resolution of the “classic” iPad and a screen size almost that of the iPad Mini.
But every time I went to the Staples I frequent, the demo model has been borked. Today, I happened to pass by another Staples and they had — gasp! — an actual working model!
OK, let me say up front that Archos has a reputation for quality — as in bad. If your name is not Charbax, you will admit that the Archos tablets are prone to crashing, that software updates can sometimes make things even worse, that the build quality feels cheap, and that you’re just inviting trouble when you buy anything with the Archos brand on it.
All that said, in an ideal world where the Archos brand name did not instill such fear in people parting with their money, the Archos 80 G9 is the one I might get if I couldn’t wait for the iPad Mini.
My fondle of the tablet was inconclusive. Swiping through Home screens was not the snappiest thing I’ve ever experienced. But other things I tried on it were otherwise acceptably mediocre. That is, while the tablet feels alive, it tends to lack pep. There is no WOW Factor other than the size and resolution of that screen.
However, let me kill one pernicious debating point some people raise about a smaller iPad Mini screen: Touch targets. I had zero trouble touching the much smaller Android icons, especially those that appear at the left bottom of the screen: Back, Home, and Tasks. Touches were registered just fine and I wasn’t being extra careful at all. As far as I’m concerned — and as far as the real world is concerned — that debating point is dead.
Let’s get to the photos:
While the screen lacks both the brightness and color pop of the iPad (or Samsung tablets), the 1024×768 resolution at 8″ is very, very nice. At normal viewing distance, I could not see any grid lines. And photos looked really good, not like they were being shown on a “computer screen.” Pinch-zoom was very smooth although not quite as precise as on an iPad. In that third photo, the mountain lion’s eye is a maximum pinch-out zoom of the photo. Really nice!
The model at Staples was not running Android 4.0:
So that might account for the lack of pep. I’ve heard others say that upgrading to 4.0 makes a significant difference. And the 80 G9 is being sold with Android 4.0 already installed. It’s just that Staples seem to have gotten stuck with an inventory with an older version of Android on it. Which is why they keep discounting it to just US$199.99. I don’t know if having to upgrade the software yourself to 4.0 is worth that discount. YMMV.
Size comparisons to the iPad Mini:
It’s a bit narrower and taller than the iPad Mini.
The screen is a bit wider than the iPad Mini (look close):
Surprisingly, it looks to be the same size in portrait length.
And text on this screen looks very good. Some of that won’t be apparent in these photos due to camera sensor interference. Also, I’m reallll close to the screen with this first shot, closer than any human being would realistically be with their naked eyes:
These photos are from the installed User Manual, an HTML document that seems to use some part of the browser (double-tap would zoom into the text but in a weird way that ignored text regions and there was no word wrapping):
Everything was sharp and crisp. And here’s a snippet that’s full-size from the above photo. Click on it for ginormity:
If I could liberate the money from the cats, I’d be tempted to buy this. But I’d really need to first see how it handles one of the Google Books PDFs I use for testing. So if there’s an Archos 80 G9 owner out there with Android 4.0 on it, you might want to try my standard test PDF: Success: A Novel [or Google Docs link]. I’d be interested to see how that works in Adobe Reader X or whatever the popular PDF app is for Android. Leave a Comment or post a YouTube video and I’ll post that.
So, anyway, all of you naysayers about the size of the iPad Mini screen not being sharp enough and touch targets not being large enough, hop over to Staples and see if they have a working demo model of the Archos 80 G9. You’ll be getting a glimpse of the iPad Mini’s screen. I really think it will make you excited for what’s ahead from Apple.