Although most of our attention was on Archos' new Android device, we couldn't pass up the opportunity for a quick fondle of the company's Windows 7-powered Archos 9 PC Tablet. Where the Archos 5 is a mobile device aspiring to desktop-style usage, the Archos 9 is a full Intel Atom Z515 1.1GHz PC packed into a 8.9-inch touchscreen form-factor.
It's certainly thin, measuring just 16mm deep, but it's not exactly light. We were surprised when we first picked up the Archos 9, as it's a hefty device; while holding it in one hand and tapping at the screen with the other is certainly possible, it's a not something you'll want to do for extended periods. Instead the tablet works better snugly held in the crook of your arm.
Alternatively you can hold with both hands, ignore the touchscreen (and the pull-out stylus) and instead use the optical mouse on the right-hand side and the two mouse buttons on the left. We've had mixed experiences with optical mice on smartphones, and we're not 100-percent convinced by that of the Archos 9 either; we reckon it will take some fiddling with the sensitivity settings in order to get a balance of responsiveness without jerkiness.
Since there was no WiFi connection at the launch venue, we didn't have the chance to try out the Archos 9 as a web-surfing device. Still, given it runs Windows 7 and offers you the same choice of browsers as you'd have on your desktop, we can't imagine the experience being surprising. Build quality is generally high, though the two flip-out antennas - for digital TV reception - seem likely to be early casualties if anything is going to suffer damage. Their hinges are small and stiff, and they didn't take kindly to the sort of twisting and folding movement needed to lock the antenna back into their niche.
Nonetheless, we're looking forward to a longer-term play with the Archos 9 PC Tablet, just to see whether it can replace the trusty netbook as a simple go-to internet access device. It's expected to hit the market this fall.