Archos 5 Android IT First Impressions

index_5it_1 New arrival to Gadget Harem teased you about my latest acquisition: Archos 5 IT (Internet Tablet). Here are my first impressions of my first Android device. Being a teacher, I gave grades.


Credit

steve2_bigger I bought the Archos 5 IT primarily on the advice of Steve “Chippy” Paine, who’s pictured. Don’t worry, he’s not a Borg; the picture is his Twitter avatar. Chippy runs UMPCPortal, MeetMobility, CarryPad, MidMoves and probably a few other sites. Chippy is very knowledgeable, and has written an extensive review of the Archos 5 IT. He’s also a nice guy, in particular tolerating my incessant questions on Twitter.

SSD vs. HDD

The Archos 5 IT comes with either a SSD or a hard drive. I purchased the 32 GB SSD. I could have spent less money with a larger capacity hard drive. But on MIDs, I believe an SSD is almost a must have for performance and durability. If I need more capacity, the Archos 5 IT has a MicroSDHC slot.

Pocketability

The Archos 5 IT is what I wish I was; thin and light. Here’s a comparison with my Viliv S5:

  Archos 5 Viliv S5
Weight 182 gm / 6.4 oz 395 gm / 13.9 oz
Width 143 mm/5.6” 154 mm/ 6.1”
Height 79 mm/ 3.1” 84 mm/ 3.3”
Thickness 10mm/ .4” 24 mm/ .9”

*Specs from UMPC Portal Product Database

Both devices have the same screen size: 4.8”. The Archos 5 IT is slightly less high and wide. However, the Archos 5 IT is over twice as thin, and weighs only half as much!

These differences make a difference. The Archos 5 IT is comfortably pocketable. By contrast, the Viliv S5 is barely pocketable.

These measurements are with the Archos 5 IT “naked.” However, I didn’t want to risk carrying around an almost $400 device unprotected. Accordingly, I bought this Noreve leather case. The case of course adds some bulk as well as protection. Even so, the Archos 5 IT in its Noreve case is still pocketable. And thinner (though less protective) silicone cases, already available for the HDD models, should be available soon for the SSD models.

The thin and light Archos 5 IT, in addition to being pocketable, also is holdable. That is, while “sofa-surfing”, my hands don’t get tired holding it while surfing the web, reading my feeds or Twitter, watching YouTube videos, etc.

Grade: A. The Archos’ thin and light form factor is a major plus.

Responsiveness

Responsiveness (for me) covers 3 separate issues:

-Screen’s sensitivity to touch
-Speed of starting and running applications
-Time to boot and enter and return from standby

The screen is resistive, not capacitive. Nevertheless, the screen is responsive to touch. Not quite the experience of a capacitive screen. But better than most resistive screens.

The screen’s responsiveness extends to its soft keyboard (there is no hardware keyboard). The soft keyboard doesn’t have haptic feedback. However, the keys are large enough, even for my fat fingers, for comfortable typing.

The processor is quick. I haven’t experienced lag so far with browser or email. I haven’t tried video yet. That may be a better test.

Boot time (cold) was about 50 seconds. Entering and returning from standby is almost instant.

Grade: B+. Hard for me to give an A to a resistive screen.

OS version

The Android OS on the Archos 5 IT is not (currently) the so-called “Google Experience” version, which includes Google Maps and other Google apps and widgets. However, there is a hack to enable this Google functionality.

1.4.16 was the firmware version available from Archos support when I received the Archos 5 IT. The version on my device was older. I updated the firmware. It was an easy and painless process.

1.6.08 (Donut) became available from Archos support briefly while I was writing this post, and then was pulled due to an apparent web browser bug. I installed Donut during the brief period of its availability. Archos promises a fixed Donut upgrade in the next few days.

The Donut upgrade breaks the aforementioned a hack to enable Google functionality. Though I anticipate that another hack will become available soon.

The scuttlebutt is that a 2.x version will be released in January or February. From early reports of version 2.1, the OS upgrade likely will result in a substantial improvement in the device’s functionality. One will be Exchange Server support. At the current OS version, email is limited to IMAP and POP3, absent third party apps.

Grade: B-. But room for quick improvement as firmware upgrades are released.

Connectivity

The Archos 5 IT has WiFi and Bluetooth. WiFi connectivity has been good so far. In contrast to the weak WiFi in the Viliv S5 and X70. I haven’t tried Bluetooth yet.

The Archos 5 IT doesn’t have 3G. But this is no problem, at least for me. When WiFi isn’t available, I use my Verizon MiFi.

Grade: ?. I just haven’t tested this enough. But so far, so good.

Battery Life

I haven’t done any structured testing. But the battery lasts me the whole day with WiFi on. Also, the ability to go into and out of standby almost instantly is a great battery saver.

Grade: B. Sorry, but the battery isn’t removable.

Applications

Android devices usually have access to the of the Android Market, which has literally thousands of interesting applications. Many are free, including Google apps such as Google Maps, GMail, etc.

Unfortunately, the Archos 5 IT doesn’t – at least out of the box. I installed this hack to access Android Marketplace and enable Google functionality such as Google Maps. However, this hack only works (currently) in firmware 1.4.x. Not yet in Donut, though probably soon. Hopefully firmware 2.x will natively support Android Marketplace and Google functionality so no hack will be necessary.

But in the meantime, you’re stuck with Archos’ app store, AppsLib. It’s hard to navigate, and hardly worth the effort given the few useful applications there.

Additionally, the Archos 5 IT’s combination of  (i) 800×480 screen resolution and lack of dedicated Home and Back hardware buttons and (ii) older OS version may create compatibility issues with a number existing applications. Again, this should be solved by 2.x firmware.

Grade: C-. But this should change when the 2.x firmware is released.

I need help

Many have said this. But this time we’re not talking about psychiatrists. Rather, I need to figure out how to use and make the most of my first Android OS device.

The Archos 5 IT comes only with a rather sketchy Quick Start Guide. However, you can download the product manual, and view this Wiki and an enthusiast’s “A-Files.”

Manuals and wikis are helpful, but for interactivity and advice, forums are the best. I’m GenghisKhent on Archos Fans, and I’ve already asked a lot of questions and received helpful answers.

UMPCPortal forums (on which I’m ElJeffe) includes an Archos forum. There aren’t too many posts there yet. However, Chippy has posts on testing and apps that are very helpful.

Conclusion so far

The Archos 5 IT is promising but still a work in process. That is, its OS is a work in process. I suspect an upgrade to 2.x firmware will significantly improve this device’s potential.

I’ll write further about the Archos 5 IT as I play with it … as well as compare it to my Viliv S5.

3 Responses to “Archos 5 Android IT First Impressions”


  • I also have the Archos 5IT, purchased while I waited for my N900 to be delivered. In the 6 weeks I’ve had it my conclusions have largely been like yours, great form factor, much improved functionality since the more recent FW updates, poor availability of truly useful apps, middling battery life, intriguing OS.
    It’s become my iPod for now, carried on trips for vids and music. I don’t have a MiFi, yet, so no 3G is often very frustrating.
    Good review.
    I look forward to your updates

    • Thanks lichmd. I think you summed it up in one sentence. If I had to use one word, it would be “potential.”

      The MiFi is a lifesaver. Otherwise, when no WiFi, this “Internet Tablet” can’t access the internet.

  • Namaste, Your post made sense and will help me in my business. thanks

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