Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Tablets, Part 2: The Archos 28

Still Standing
With the Archos 5, I had gained an interest in Archos as a company. I made sure I kept up with each new generation. The Archos 5 is a sixth generation tablet and Archos is in their 9th Gen now. Gen 7 was an odd place because Archos took it as a chance to get into Android. As early Android Tablets go, they weren't great. They had resistive touch screens and didn't preform as well as phones at the time. Hell, they didn't even preform as well as Generation 6 did. So, I skipped over it.

I didn't skip over Gen 8, though, and that's where the A28 comes in.

The A28, all the way at the top

To start off with, the A28 is small. It has a 2.8" screen and it weighs almost nothing. It's almost as thin as an 1/8th inch jack (a standard headphone jack). The iPhone, for example, has a 3.5" screen. My phone has a 3.2" screen and the A28 is just barely larger than that. The A28 is obviously the smallest of the five (or six, at this point) tablets from gen 8.

The size, although amazing, comes with a pretty high price. While the tablet is only $100 (probably about twice the price it should have been to begin with), it doesn't really give you too much. It can only hold 4GB, enough for some and certainly more than enough when I used it, and has 128MB of RAM. The RAM is what holds it back. The worst part, however, is the screen. It's a resistive touch screen, but unlike the Archos 5 which has a very good touch screen, this one suffers from its minuscule size. There isn't much room for error while using the A28 and it isn't as accurate as it could be.

The capacitive buttons don't light up, which is a problem because they're flush with the screen. It doesn't help that the buttons are in different places than the buttons on my phone. It doesn't have a speaker, but it does have a rather impressive mic. I have used it for several Skype calls and I was never unimpressed by its quality.

Web browsing is almost impossible. If you can install the Android Market (which it doesn't come with by standard), you can get the Opera Mini Browser, something that it should have come packaged with, honestly. Archos worked with Opera before with the Gen 6 web browser, I don't know why they used the horrible stock browser. The issue is that most any web page will crash the browser. There just isn't enough RAM. Mobile pages are always fine, but not ever site has a mobile web page. The Opera Mini Browser does fix this, but it's also a little ugly. Also, say good-bye to YouTube.

Surprisingly, the A28 actually does a very good job of being a media player. It can play most media formats and Archos did (and continues to do) a good job with the Video and Music applications. They're easy to use and navigate and the A28 doesn't really skip a beat. You probably can't watch HD video, but you might not want to watch video at all given the small screen size. Also, the screen has such a low resolution, I can't imagine HD video looking much different from SD. If all you need the A28 to do is listen to music or Podcasts, you're in luck because that's what it does best.

I loved the A28 when I used it, but its age shows. It's an early Android tablet, back when Android wasn't meant to be on tablets. It's slow and the screen isn't great. Although the CPU is actually up to speed to do some impressive things, like Skype and some complicated games, it doesn't have the RAM. The Screen is way too sensitive and the keyboard is hard to use. Gen 8 was an overall success for Archos, they actually made the progressive step, with their larger tablets anyway, to get rid of physical and capacitive buttons to make way for on screen buttons, but the A28 isn't even supported by modders.

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