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Archos 9 PCtablet review

Archos 9 PCtablet - The French Connection

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Features, Build & Usability

Features, Build & Usability

Much like most Archos devices of recent times, the Archos 9 PCtablet is a handsome looking device. With a large 8.9-inch screen, it's almost equivalent of a netbook without the keyboard. To the sides of the screen, you'll find all manners of ports, buttons and even a 1.3 megapixel camera for web chat purposes and an optical trackpoint. And at 800 grams, it does feel a little weighty, but it shouldn't be too big of a concern.

As detailed in our specifications table, the Archos 9 PCtablet has all the connectivity options you'd expect, such as WiFi (802.11b/g) and Bluetooth. The device also has a single USB port. Pretty basic, but it should suffice for most users.

If this level of connectivity isn't enough, Archos has an optional dock-like device that they call a "port replicator" for the Archos 9 PCtablet. This gives it an additional two more USB 2.0 ports, an additional 3.5mm stereo jack, microphone input, a RJ45 Ethernet jack and VGA output.

In terms of bundled software, the Archos 9 PCtablet comes with Windows 7 Starter Edition, Lotus Symphony, Skype and DEEZER (a free music streaming service), as well as vTuner, an application that gives you access to over 11,000 Internet TV and radio stations. Note that with only a paltry 60GB hard drive, all of these software in addition to the backup partition, there's not much room left to store a lot of media or applications. So you might want to be aware of this limitation.

Earlier Archos PMPs were well received because of their beautiful screens, and the Archos 9 PCTablet doesn't disappoint. The Archos 9 PCTablet's LED backlit screen runs at a native resolution of 1024 x 600 (16:9), which is a tad low for our liking, but videos looked absolutely crisp and lovely. Furthermore, the movie-watching experience is complemented by its authoritative sounding speakers (for a tablet, at least).

The only thing we didn't like about the screen is its poor viewing angle. Stray even slightly to the sides of the screen and you'll find yourself looking at a washed out image. Perhaps it doubles up as a privacy feature when you're using it in public, but it's also a downside if you intend to share the screen with close friends huddling around you.

Entertainment aside, the Archos also aspires to be a mobile workstation and the 8.9-inch screen certainly allows for this. We're however perplexed as to why Windows 7 Starter edition was chosen instead of the more capable Home Premium edition, since the latter offers better support for tablet PCs thanks to its additional touchscreen-friendly features such as handwriting recognition. Costs could be one of the reasons, but the Archos 9 PCTablet could have been so much more capable with a better OS. Even so, icons were large and easy to click on, and text was easily readable. However, the resistive screen is not the most responsive and accurate that we've come across and the trackpoint wasn't helping it much either. You really are better off using the provided stylus.

To compound matters, the Archos 9 PCTablet isn't the speediest of devices (more on this in the next page). Hence, working on this Archos 9 PCTablet will take some getting used to.