At 2.8-inches, the Archos 28 Android tablet really is pushing the definition of what a tablet actually is. The French media player peddler seems to be of the mind that it’s anything running Android that isn’t a phone.
Is an iPod nano a tablet then? Because this is one of our favourite Android flavoured, low price rivals to it yet. Read on and find out why in our full Archos 28 Android tablet review.
When it comes to design, the Archos 28 Android tablet barely differs from 2009′s Archos 3 Vision. At 100x54x9mm, it’s around the same dinky dimensions, and tips the scales at just 68 grams. The lock button is placed on the bottom left hand corner, which takes some getting used to, but the capacitive buttons below the display are pretty responsive.
Visually, the smooth front face looks mesmerising, and we love the feel of the smooth plastic backing. However, Archos hasn’t fixed a few outstanding practical issues we flagged up back with the Vision.
The lack of a volume rocker for one, is a major pain, as you can’t adjust volume or change tracks without unlocking the Archos 28 Android tablet’s screen. And adjusting the volume while watching a video also pauses the video (and in one instance crashed the video player).
The 2.8-inch 320×240 resolution screen is also rather poor: it’s grainy, washy and because it’s resistive, very difficult to type with – the letter L in particular is almost impossible to register. We actually found it easier just to use the end of our headphone jack to tap, since no stylus is included – we don’t think this was Archos’ intention.
It’s also worth noting that the Archos 28 Android tablet lacks a loudspeaker – all sound comes through the 3.5mm audio jack on the bottom. No choons on the back of the bus please, we’re French.
Truth be told, you won’t be using many of the features of Android, since the screen is so frustrating. But if you want, you can check your email in Wi-Fi areas, browse the internet or record sound clips, as well as install any apps you can find the APK files for online and support QVGA resolution devices. What you don’t get however are the core Google apps, like Gmail, Google Maps, and the Android Market for downloading thousands more apps.
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Actually that’s not quite true: if you upgrade the Archos 28 Android tablet to Android 2.2 (it comes preloaded with 2.1 but it’s the work of minutes to upgrade from the prompts), you can quite easily find illicit Android Market install files. We’ve checked and they work, albeit while forcing to use landscape mode only.
But that won’t be looked upon kindly in the warranty, and more importantly, the screen will put you off doing much anyway.
Of course, none of this makes a great deal of difference if you just want to listen to music. The Archos 28 Android tablet plays MP3s, WMA, WAV, AAC, OGG Vorbis and lossless FLAC files, and it does so with the minimum of fuss. The music player is easy to use, you can sideload from any computer (or sync with doubleTwist) and sound quality was impressive for something so puny. But we’d expect nothing less from Archos.
Unfortunately, the Archos 28 Android tablet isn’t quite capable of the video feats of its bigger brothers: we could only play AVI files up to 640×480 resolution. While in theory it can open MKV files at the same resolution, frankly you’d struggle to find any on the internet so you’ll need to encode them yourself. Still, the clips we did manage to open did indeed run smoothly.
Spotify oh my
We were going to give the Archos 28 Android tablet a much lower score until we had a thought – sure, it may not have legitimate Android Market access, but what if we installed Spotify? The Spotify Android app is available as an APK from Spotify’s mobile site, and Archos’ handy on board file manager means you can quickly sideload it and install it.
To our delight, Spotify runs flawlessly on the Archos 28 Android tablet. There’s no issue with the low screen resolution, and music streamed through over Wi-Fi sounds fantastic. You can also jump to whatever’s playing through the notification bar, as you can on any Android phone running the incredible app. This alone makes it worthwhile.
To be clear, the Archos 28 Android tablet isn’t worth your time if you have no intention of subscribing to Spotify Premium. The screen is just too much of a headache to be dealing with.
But as a way to listen to all the songs you like on the go – don’t forget you can sync offline playlists too – at £79, the 4GB Archos 28 Android tablet is money well spent for music fans without a smartphone.