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Archos 101 G9 Turbo ICS review

Verdict

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

Review Date: 5 Apr 2012

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £233 (£280 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
3 stars out of 6

Value for Money
3 stars out of 6

Performance
6 stars out of 6

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.

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User comments

Camera

The lack of the rear camera isn't really a problem, I'd prefer a tablet without a camer anyway.

It is never going to match my Canon EOS, so why bother?

Shame about the screen quality.

It is mildly tempting, but I still have no idea why I would use one for... I keep looking at tablets and thinking they are nice and I want one, but then I think about how I work, all day at a desk, at home on the laptop in my home office, which only gets moved when I'm ill and stuck in bed.

My smartphone is ok for the times when I find myself between desktop and laptop. I just don't see myself using one on a regular basis.

I think I'll save the money and spend it on a decent Macro lens for my camera instead.

By big_D on 5 Apr 2012

Not enough RAM

It's only got 180MB of RAM free after ICS loads so it'll be forever loading/unloading Apps and this eats battery power.

My phone has 1GB and that I'd consider a minimum as Android OS consumes 300MB of that on boot up!

Quite frankly don't buy a cheap tablet if you want Apps to support its unique graphic chip.

Heaven help it when Android 5.0 comes out...

By quatermass on 5 Apr 2012

Rear camera

Yeah, i've no idea why a rear camera on a tablet is a must have. I've never used the one on mine and the front is only used for quick Skype calls so quality isnt such a big deal either.

Although having said all that, I rarely use my tablet anyway. No matter what i'm doing I always find myself grabbing my 12" laptop instead.

By JStairmand on 5 Apr 2012

Owner's* Review

@quatermass have you ever used one?

I own the Archos G9 80, the identical spec 8 inch version, see blogs. And love it. It is amazingly fast, In fact when next to a Samsung Tab 10 it runs its ICS pages smoother than The Tab on honeycomb, and the same on ICS.

The screen is average, but that's a payoff I will have. it can easily run many MANY applications without slowing down. I started closing apps after minor speed changes when I had 14 apps on, including 4 games (2 angry birds, Shadowgun, and Asphalt). Don't make comments on specs alone.

And with the G9 80 for £200 inc VAT, beat that.

(I'm not from Archos haha, just satisfied with my tablet and am fed up of people making assumptins without experience)

By AfCurtis on 5 Apr 2012

G80?

Just wondering if you've had a chance to look at it's smaller cousin the G80 with a 8" screen? I know someone who has his eyes on one, but I told him to hold off for the moment. Would the screen be any better I wonder?

By bronven on 5 Apr 2012

Typical

You post a question, & someone posts another with the answer before you get there!

Thanks for that AfCurtis, did it come with ICS or did you have to update it yourself?

By bronven on 5 Apr 2012

How much

...would the Sony be if it was not end of line spec and had 250gb hard drive on board. More to the point who else offers such storage at this price or any level. Shame about the build/screen but its not the end of the world at this price level.

By davidk1962 on 5 Apr 2012

What about generic Chinese tablets?

Hi,

I hate to bring it up, but I have to say I always see these tablets and wonder how bad can the generic Chinese ones be?

An examlpe is: http://dx.com/9-7-capacitive-screen-android-4-0-ta
blet-w-dual-camera-hdmi-g-sensor-tf-cortex-a8-16gb
-122436

At USD230 it sounds like a bargain!

Just looking at the specs, it seems to tick most of the boxes.. so if you're willing to accept less than premium build quality then how bad are they??

I know you may get clobbered for import duty + VAT, but even so - looking around the web you can find some seriously cheap ICS tablets, especially in the 7" form factor... so, PC-Pro - how about a review - Cheap generic brand vs Cheap main brand??

Cheers,
Rob.

By rob_stanbridge on 6 Apr 2012

Followup.

@Bronven, a few things to note.

It comes with honeycomb, but ICS is an official "over the air" update (straight through the tablet) which is 4.0.3 and smooth as!

The great advantage of the G80 is the screen is roughy the same height but less wide, ideal for reading books and pdfs.

If you're more interested about the G80, check the blog about it which I believe is on the second page now.

By AfCurtis on 8 Apr 2012

@ quatermass

if i have got hold of the right end of your comment, you seem to think it has only has half gig of memory. The unit ships with honeycomb and only reports 512mb memory. On the automatic upgrade to ICS the memory is then correctly reported as 1gb. So you should be fine.....

By davidk1962 on 8 Apr 2012

I have the 10inch 250GB HDD (1GB RAM) model and i've clocked Quadrant Benchmark scores of 2888, 2742, and 2462. I've also ran a couple Vellamo 1.0.6 tests and received scores of 1356 and 1349. Overall i'm pretty impressed with this tablet given it's bare bones appearance, it's a pretty solid machine spec wise given the price point. $389.00 plus tax for a 250GB dual core 1.5Ghz ICS tablet is a steal in my opinion.

I have experienced the occasional freeze up and random reboot, but after running a system repair located in the settings menu,no more problems...I know there are better build quality and higher screen resolution tablets on the market, but that 250GB hard drive allows me to store Studio software on my tablet that I use during live shows and the processor is strong enough for me to apply real time effects into my set without any latency.

By ArsunFist on 9 Apr 2012

Best 10" tablet ?

I made a lot of research for a tablet, including buying an Android TV BOX ( which was returned ). I need the tablet to test some apps, as remote for the TV, play flash movies and stream to my TV etc. It will NOT be a replacement for my Notebook. This Archos 101 G9 Turbo is packed with features, especially the kick-stand is brilliant, HDMI connector, the 3G option is very nice and flexible in case I need it one day I dont have to buy a new, USB charging, stock ICS + full Google support, 1.5GHz raw processing power, front-camera for Skype calls, GPS - in fact I cant think of a feature not included, and I wont discover in two months that I should have bought tablet Y instead because feature/connection Z is missing. I don´t mind the design, I will not use it as a "statement", but focus on performance, flexibility and features. No problem camera is not top-notch, no problem its not an OLED screen. I cant see any other tablet match this set of features, flexibility, connectivity and performance. For the price of 250 euro, I think this is a bargain. Having a little less smooth scroll, or a plastic case instead of aluminium, are a small "sacrifice" to get the full pack of features. I have seen about all the reviews, many have focused at insignificant issues such as tiny differences in smoothnes in scrolling, design etc - forgetting the rest, forgetting their own tablet miss; kick-stand, HDMI, GPS, 1.5GHz, 1GB RAM, USB charging, stock ICS, stock Google apps - or even can not play flash movies. This tablet is for me the first ( except the brilliant Acer C104 Windows tablet I bought 8 years ago - NO, Apple didnt invent the tablet ), and is to fill a small gap for now - later I will go for a i5 x86 Tablet-slade with Windows 8, which I´m willing to pay for.

By gaudi on 4 Jun 2012

@davidk1962 Thanks for Clarifying

@davidk1962 You may have just answered a puzzling question that had been troubling me. I've just received this item (still boxed). After I'd ordered I noticed that the Description said 512k RAM. I thought that seemed a poor amount for a new item with that kind of hardware, and on looking everywhere on the net couldn't confirm whether it comes with 512k or 1Gb. Hopefully I've got 1Gb and your comment above explains the reason for the confusion over this. Many thanks. :)

By BrenUK on 29 Sep 2012

@gaudi - Damn well said!

You're absolutely right! All the cons are trifling matters and the list of pros is as long as your arm. Reviewers focus too much on Jones'ing! In practical terms and for versatility nothing out there seems to come close to this. Archos obviously realise there are discerning customers out there who value such things over cosmetics, vanity and trying to impress! And that's obviously the philosophy that drives their product design.

By BrenUK on 29 Sep 2012

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