Saturday, June 02, 2012

Tablets, Part 1: The Archos 5

Kindle Fire, Archos 101 G9 and Archos 5 G6
Tablets are the trend, and some people think they're the future. The Late Steve Jobs said that we were in a 'post-PC', world. Maybe he said post-desktop, but I think he was taking stabs at Microsoft and Windows anyway. I don't think that's true and I don't think it will ever be true because having a nice hardware keyboard and mouse is more or less heaven. Also, modularity is also a very nice thing. I'd like to be able to buy more RAM or install a new hard drive etc etc. Also, high end Video editing and 3d Modeling aren't things of the past, so desktop computers aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

I do like tablets though. I might even say that I love them. I've owned at least four, and while my collection isn't growing anytime soon, I do think they're part of the future.

A bit dusty
The first tablet I owned, not the first I ever used but the first I owned, is the Archos 5 (from Archos's 6th generation). For its time it wasn't a bad product. Hell, before tablets got off the ground it was probably the best portable media tablet around. The iPhone was just getting popular and the iPod Touch was just getting off the ground and finding its place. The Archos 5 has a five inch screen that's laughable by today's standards with a low resolution of 800x480, but it was actually very high for its time. As high, if not higher, than pretty much any other portable device. It also has a flash enabled web browser. Although it might not preform as well as the iPhone web browser today, it still has that leg up on it. It could also play flash games and had a specific menu dedicated to flash apps, so long as the app didn't need a keyboard.

The Archos 5 never had the chance to have the kind of ecosystems Android and iOS have today, but it came with what we'd consider modern essentials. It can play a wide array of media formats and the touchscreen is actually pretty nice, despite being old and resistive (so no pinch to zoom or multi touch of any sort). It's capable of watching pretty high definition video too. With all of those things, it also came packed with a 250GB hard drive. Which is just insane. Even today you'll only find Archos products with such large hard drives, or hard drives at all. That's probably the most impressive part about it.

The Archos 5 could keep up a good charge, but it takes forever to charge. Archos sold a 'DVR Station' you could use to record TV onto the device (something I don't think I've seen before or since) that allowed fast charging, but I never dropped the $100 or so to buy it. The Archos 5 is also pretty hefty and wide. That's mostly because of the hard drive. I know they sold smaller capacity versions that were lighter and thinner. There was a version of the Archos 5 that was WiMax ready, so this shit was even 3G before that was a thing too.

Unfortunately I don't really use this tablet any more. It's not because it's not a great tablet. It actually still preforms as well as some high end phones and tablets today when it comes to web browsing and media play. The Archos 5 actually out preforms my phone by a pretty good margin. I just don't really need it. The high capacity is really awesome and if I ever needed a solid 12 hours worth of TV or whatever to watch, this is the tablet I would go to first, and it even has a goddamn kick stand. However, it's just not as capable as an Android tablet and the screen size is pretty small and it's hard to hold because of how thick it is.

I want to say that the Archos 5 hasn't aged well, but besides how long it takes to charge, it's actually still an impressive product. No, it doesn't have an App store or the type of ecosystem you can get with an Android or iOS device, but it can do most things most everyone does normally. It doesn't have a camera or g-sensor, so it can't rotate it's screen (a feature it could really use) but it can browse the web impressively well, it can do email and play just about every type of media you throw at it without so much as a flinch. It was and still is a great device that just doesn't have a place in the stream today.

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