Archos 101 G9 Turbo ICS review

5 Apr 2012

A powerful Ice Cream Sandwich tablet for under £300, but plasticky build and an average screen sour the deal

Price when reviewed: 
280(£280 inc VAT)
4

Tablets with the glamour of Apple’s new iPad or Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7.7 will set anyone’s credit card twitching, but the quality of more affordable alternatives is steadily rising. The Archos 101 G9 Turbo ICS is a prime example. It’s a 10.1in tablet with the latest “Ice Cream Sandwich” version of the Android OS on seriously quick hardware, but only costs a tempting £280.

Scan down the specifications, and the 101 G9 Turbo looks an absolute steal. OMAP’s fourth-generation 4460 system-on-a-chip takes centre stage, combining a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU with PowerVR SGX540 graphics. It’s the next model up from the chip that powered the BlackBerry PlayBook and Amazon Kindle Fire, so on paper it’s no slouch.

Archos sent us the 16GB model – we’re not tempted by the 8GB version for only £20 less – but in a departure from the flash-storage norm, there’s also a 250GB HDD model for £300. Whichever you choose, the core components are the same.

The chassis has some nice design touches. Rather than provide a dedicated 3G version of the tablet, Archos offers a separate 3G dongle (£35 from Amazon). Remove the blanking plate hiding the USB port on the tablet’s underside, and the 3G dongle slots in to rest flush with the 101 G9 Turbo’s body. Another neat, if simple, idea is the integrated stand, which holds the tablet upright for watching movies. Around the sides you’ll also find a mini-HDMI port, a microSD slot (which supports up to 16GB cards) and a micro-USB port for charging the device’s lithium polymer battery.

Archos 101 G9 Turbo

With the ARM CPU running at 1.5GHz, the Archos has plenty of power to meet the demands of Ice Cream Sandwich. Apart from an annoying tendency for the lock screen not to respond when first switched on, it’s surprisingly nippy in use. Demanding games such as Shadowrun and Reckless Racing ran smoothly, and the fluidity of the updated OS really shines.

Put through our usual suite of benchmarks, the OMAP hardware demonstrates its prowess. It scored 2770 in the Quadrant benchmark, and finished the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark in 1,603ms. That’s significantly quicker than any of the Tegra 2-powered Android tablets we’ve seen. It even edges ahead of the Tegra 3-powered Asus Transformer Prime, although we tested that using Honeycomb, so the results aren’t directly comparable.

Detail

Price ex VAT £233
Price inc VAT £280
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Overall rating 4
Performance 6
Features & Design 3
Value for Money 3

Physical

Dimensions 276 x 167 x 13mm (WDH)
Weight 649g

Display

Primary keyboard N/A
Screen size 10.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,280
Resolution screen vertical 800
Display type LED TFT
Panel technology TN

Core specifications

CPU frequency, MHz 1,500MHz
Integrated memory 16.0GB
RAM capacity 512MB

Camera

Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
Focus type Autofocus
Built-in flash? no
Built-in flash type N/A
Front-facing camera? yes
Video capture? yes

Other

WiFi standard 802.11n
Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes
Accessories supplied N/A
Upstream USB ports 0
HDMI output? yes
Video/TV output? no

Software

Mobile operating system Android 4

Contract details

Contract period N/A
Contract provider N/A