Android Tablet: Archos Arnova 10 G2 10.1" tablet review

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Arnova-10-G2Introduction:

Tablets as a market are gradually coming down in the price, especially with the release of faster dual-core processors and novel iterations of the iPad.  In response to this, the cost of entry-level tablets are plummeting, and many brands are additionally releasing tablets with reasonable specifications for a cut down price.  These new low cost tablets obviously don't sport the features of the more expensive tablets but are more than capable of handling the more regular activities that users want to undertake.

Specifications:

Capacity • Flash memory: 8 GB* or 4 GB*
• Extendable via micro SDHC Slot
Operating system • ANDROID™ 2.3 “Gingerbread”
Processor • ARM Cortex A8 1 GHz
Display characteristics • 10.1” capacitive multitouch screen, TFT LCD, 16 million colors
• screen resolution : 1024 x 600
Video Playback1 • H.264 up to 1080p resolution – 30 fps / 5 Mbps.
• MPEG-42 – 30 fps / 2.5 Mbps.
• Realvideo™ up to 720p resolution – 30 fps / 2.5 Mbps.
With the above codecs, the device can play video files with the following extensions: .avi .mp4,mkv, .mov, and .flv
Audio Playback1 • MP3, WAV, APE, OGG, FLAC
Photo viewer3 • JPEG, BMP, GIF, PNG
Interfaces • Micro USB slave 2.0: Mass Storage Class (MSC)
• Micro SD slot (SDHC compatible)
Communication protocols • WiFi (802.11 b/g)
Miscellaneous • 720p camera
• Built-in speaker
• Microphone
• G-sensor
Power source • Internal: Lithium Polymer battery
• USB Power adapter/charger
Dimensions & weight • 270 mm x 150 mm x 12 mm (10.6” x 5.9” x 0.47”) – 540 g / 19 oz.
Compatibility • Microsoft® Windows® XP, Vista, 7 or higher, Mac OS or Linux in mass storage mode
Computer Interface • USB 2.0 interface
Package includes • ARNOVA 10 G2, USB cable, Power adapter, Quick Start Guide (QSG), legal and safety notice

Review:

The Arnova 10 G2 sports the same body design as the Archos 101 which provides a strong, thin and lightweight surround for the 10.1 inch multitouch capacitive screen.  In contrast to the Archos 101, the Arnova 10 G2 has cut out a few features including the HDMI and bluetooth, however in our opinion, the average user won't be overly disappointed with this - after all most of us don't often use bluetooth to transfer files and with the advent of internet TVs the HDMI isn't that necessary.

With the inbuilt 1GHz ARM Cortex processor, the Gingerbread (Android 2.3) operating system is fluid and responsive handling the majority of games happily, although it is worth checking compatibility before buying (as with a lot of tablets!).  The screen is nice and responsive and responds well to touch, making typing an easy affair.  As a media plater, the speakers are actually really quite impressive compared to some we have heard (or should I say tried to hear!) and the video playback is great.  The Arnova 10 G2 also works fine as an ebook reader using either the installed software or alternatives, and PDFs are easily fitted onto the screen as full pages.

Arnova-10-G2-music-photo

File transfer to the tablet is best through the USB connection and on the unit we tested (the 8GB version), there was plenty of room for storage, with another microSD port for expansion of memory up to a further 32GB.  It must be noted that the android build we used didn't really offer much room for a lot of additional apps, however there are a number of alternative firmwares for the device that rectify this problem (with a bit of tinkering) and also give root accesibility to the device which allows far better control over system management (see the end of the review for links).  In addition, the standard firmware doesn't offer access to the Android Market, instead offering "appslib" - an alternative, slightly cut down version of the Android Market provided by Archos (Again this can be remedied by downloading a set of base APKs and installing them manually to the device or using "Arctools" that somewhat automates the process).  The tablet can also support flash, but only to version 10.3 which is sufficient to seamlessly browse any websites we tried.

Battery life is sufficient, although not awe-inspiring, and certainly not comparable with the top tablet models (iPads and similar) but happily giving around 6 hours with fairly heavy use.  Once the battery has depleted, charging has to be done using the provided wall plug charger, which is a slight disappointment as it would have been great to have been able to charge from USB.

Price:

£138 (available from HMV)

Verdict:

4/5 - For the price, the Arnova 10 G2 provides a excellent and solid entry-level android tablet for everything from video playback to web browsing and ebook reading. The savings that have been made to offer this specification at this price will not really be missed by most users and with the availibility of custom firmwares, those with a need to tweak will be able to get everything they want from the tablet.

Custom firmware links:

http://www.arctablet.com/blog/forum/arnova-10-g2-general/arnova-10-g2-improved-custom-firmware-update/