Though Archos’ larger internet tablets grabbed our attention first, we spent some time playing with the French company’s three smaller models too: the Archos 28, 32 and 43. Ranging in size from 2.8-inches QVGA, through 3.2-inches WQVGA, to 4.3-inches FWVGA, the three palm-sized tablets are Archos’ attempt at hybrid PMP/MIDs, hitting price points from $99.99 to $149.99 to $199.
All three support a broad range of video codecs (AVI, MP4, MOV, 3GP, MPG, PS, TS, VOB, MKV, FLV, RM, RMVB, ASF, WMV) and will run Android 2.2 Froyo when they launch in the next couple of months (Archos’ demo units were loaded with a 2.1 test build). The Archos 28 and 32 both use an 800MHz ARM Cortex A8 processor and the 43 gets a 1GHz version; all have WiFi b/g/n plus USB Host and Bluetooth 2.1. None have Android Market access, instead using Archos’ own AppsLib download store.
The baby of the bunch, the Archos 28, has 4GB or 8GB of flash storage, and feels a lot like a cheap Android smartphone. The display is pixelated and, despite the long list of codecs, the PMP lends itself more to audio playback. Responsiveness is fair, and Archos’ new media app looks good, but we can’t see buyers picking this over a comparably priced iPod.
As for the Archos 32, that’s got 8GB of storage as standard and comes with a 720p-capable camera. The bigger display is low-resolution for its size, however, which undermines browsing and video playback, and makes for a tricky typing experience with the onscreen keyboard.
Archos 43 hands-on:
Of the three, the Archos 43 is the most successful, though the company’s choice of a resistive rather than capacitive touchscreen may lose them sales in comparison to the iPod touch. Still, you get a bigger display than the iPod, larger than most smartphones in fact, and the functionality is packed in too: 720p video recording and playback (with a camera on the back), an HDMI output, up to 16GB of storage (with a microSD slot) and the same processor as in the bigger Archos 70 and 101. That keeps things moving swiftly, and it’s actually a decent browsing experience (and will be improved with Froyo and its Flash Player 10.1 support).