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Archos 32 Media Tablet

Last Updated
September 28, 2010

Editor's Rating
3 Out of 5

Pros
  • Great music/video interface
  • Android 2.2 "Froyo" installed
  • No contracts/monthly bills

Cons
  • Low-quality display
  • No multitouch
  • No access to Google Marketplace

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Review

The Archos 32 is a 3.2-inch touch screen tablet computing device that comes without the burden of a monthly cellular bill or contract. It runs the Google Android mobile operating system and has a solid construction all with an amazingly cheap price tag.

The Archos 32 tablet measures 2.1 x 4.1 x 0.3-inches (whd) and weighs 2.5 ounces, which is incredibly portable and compact. The body of the device is made from aluminum and hardened plastic, which really give it a sturdy and solid construction.

On the front sits the 3.2-inch touch screen with 4 touch-sensitive controls beneath the screen: back, menu, home, and search. There are also volume controls on the front as well as a physical volume control on the side. The bottom of the Archos 32 is where the headphone jack, battery status, a microphone, and a microUSB port. The back is where the camera is, which can shoot both video (non-HD) and still images. There is no flash for the camera, so low-light shooting is mostly out of the question, but it does well with lit environments. Don't expect too great of a quality, however, from the camera as it is only a VGA camera.

While the touch screen is decently sized, it isn't large enough to display a keyboard that is adequately sized to use comfortably and with accuracy. There's also no predictive/corrective text suggestions while you type either, so typing long e-mails or documents can be a struggle at times. The lack of multitouch means you have to type slightly slower to ensure your keypresses are registered, which isn't the case of multitouch devices like the iPod Touch. Because the screen is made of plastic and not glass, it tends to feel "mushy" when pressed. It also has a much lower resolution compared to the iPod Touch at only 400 x 240-pixels. The screen is also extremely glossy, so it has a hard time being clearly viewed in sunlight.

Some of the specifications of this device include an Arm Cortex A8 CPU running at 800MHz, 8GB of flash memory, an OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics system, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and n accelerometer for orientation and specific applications that utilize it. It's definitely worth mentioning what is missing from the Archos 32, which includes GPS, a gyroscope, memory expansion, and a big one, multitouch. That's right, the 3.2-inch touch screen supports only a single touch point at a time, meaning those cool gestures on multitouch screens, like pinch to zoom, aren't available on this unit.

This unit runs the latest version of Google Android OS (Froyo 2.2) and has all of the great features of the OS, including the E-Mail & Web browsing applications, but no access to the Google Marketplace app store. Archos also provides its own application directory called AppsLib, but it is extremely limited in depth with only a fraction of the applications the Google Marketplace has. The reason there's no access to the Android Marketplace app store is because Google restricts the store to devices with cellular capabilities only. There are still many mainstream applications available from AppsLib, including the New York Times, Amazon Kindle eBook reader, and The Weather Channel.

Music playback is well-supported with this device, as it can play files in MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC, OGG, and a few other formats. It does a good job of organizing and displaying your music content in a way that is user-friendly. You may create playlists for content and view media organized by artist, song title, etc.

The Archos 32 supports the playback of videos in several file formats, including MPEG4, H.264, MOV, AVI, and XviD. Playback of 720p HD videos are also supported, but it doesn't matter because the screen's resolution isn't anywhere near the resolution to play it in a true HD quality. You may not output HD quality video either as only VGA output is allowed via an optional, separate adapter.

This device has a neat feature that supports Samba and UPnP streaming protocols, which let you stream your movies, videos, and photos to your Archos from a computer on your network. Internet tethering is also supported by just plugging in a mobile phone with tethering enabled into the USB port (or wirelessly via Bluetooth) and you'll get Internet connectivity on your Archos 32 wherever you go.

Archos rates the battery life to be around a whole day's worth of music playback, 8 hours of Internet browsing, and 6 hours of video.


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