Archos Expands Android Tablet Selection

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Denver - Archos will dramatically expand its portfolio of Android-based tablet devices with the launch of five Android 2.1-based models, including a 10.1-inch model and the industry's first Android tablet at less than $100.


The new Wi-Fi-equipped models, four of which will be available in two memory capacities, will ship in September and October to join two current Android-based Archos tablets.

All new Android tablets are the company's first that can be upgraded to Android 2.2 to support Adobe's full Flash Internet-video player. Three are also the company's first with 1GHz processor, two are the first to use a capacitive multi-touch touchscreen in lieu of resistive touchscreen, and one is the company's first to store HD video in 1080i format. Two are also the company's first with integrated webcam for video web chats, and one is the company's first Android device with a video camera, which captures 720p.

The new products also expand the company's selection of models with 720p HD video storage, which is available on the current two Android tablets.

All models access Archos' App Library, which currently features 3,500 free and paid apps and will expand to offer 5,000 apps by year's end, said Ron Ferguson, senior VP/GM for Archos North America. Archos teamed with Android developers to offer its own library of apps because Google has not yet created certification standards for Android-based tablets as it has for Android-based cellphones, Ferguson explained. Without certification, a device can't access the Android Store, he noted.

The new models are priced from a suggested $99.99 for a model with 2.8-inch resistive touchscreen, 600MHz processor and 4GB of embedded memory to $349 for a 16GB model with 10.1-inch touchscreen and 1GHz processor. Most models also feature a MicroSD memory slot for additional memory, and all feature USB Host to add media stored on a USB stick. One model is available in a version with embedded 250GB hard drive.

All also feature accelerometer, graphics accelerator, built-in microphone for Internet calling and Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n. Kindle and Nook apps for e-reading will be available for the new devices, but it's not certain yet whether they will be preloaded, Ferguson said.

The use of a high tensile-strength stainless-steel plate over-molded with plastic enables the company to deliver thin profiles, ranging from 0.3 inches to 0.5 inches, as well as a rigid structure to prevent large screens from twisting, Ferguson said.

The company's Android expansion will be accompanied by an expanded number of retail accounts as the company emerges from a recession-induced period of retrenchment in which it scaled back staff, distribution, and its selection of tablets priced at more than $400 while expanding its selection of less-than-$100 portable media players (PMPs), Ferguson noted.

New retailers offering select Archos tablets for the first time will include Sears and others. Other current retailers planning to carry select models from the new lineup include Best Buy's website and stores, Amazon, InMotion stores, CompUSA and TigerDirect.

Here's what each new tablet offers:

The Archos 28 is available in a 4GB version at $99.99 and an 8GB version whose price was unavailable. It comes with 2.8-inch 320 by 240 TFT LCD resistive touchscreen, 800MHz ARM Cortex A9 processor, graphics accelerator, built-in mic, USB Host, and multiple audio and video codecs including WMA Pro 5.1, AAC 5.1 and - via a plug-in - Dolby Digital 5.1. The device measures 3.9 inches by 2.1 inches by 0.37 inches and weighs 2.5 ounces. It stores video in resolutions up to 480p at 30 fps. Video can be output to a TV in composite-video form via an adapter cable consisting of a 3.5mm jack on one side and three RCA connectors (two audio and one video) on the other.

The step-up Archos 32 comes in an 8GB version at a suggested $149 and adds 3.2-inch resistive 400 by 240 TFT LCD touchscreen, 720p HD video storage up to 30 fps, rear-facing VGA camera/camcorder and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR in a 2.5-ounce chassis measuring 4.1 inches by 2.1 inches by 0.3 inches.

The Archos 43 with 4.3-inch resistive touchscreen will be available in an 8GB version at a suggested $199 and in a 16GB version whose price was unavailable. It adds UPnP to stream content from a wireless-networked PC, MicroSD slot, 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 processor, built-in speaker, rear-facing 2-megapixel 720p HD video camera and mini-HDMI output. It also has a built-in kickstand that provides two viewing angles: one for movie watching and one for typing on the virtual keyboard. The 4.6-ounce device measures 5.3 inches by 2.6 inches by 0.4 inches.

The Archos 70 steps up to a 7-inch 800 by 480 screen with capacitive multi-touch capability. The 8GB version retails for a suggested $275 and the version with 250GB hard drive will be $349. It adds stereo speakers and front-facing VGA camera/camcorder for webcam use but lacks an HD video camcorder. The 11-ounce flash-memory version measures 7.91 inches by 4.49 inches by 0.43 inches. The 14-ounce HDD version measures 7.91 inches by 4.49 inches by 0.55 inches.

At the top of the line, the Archos 101 adds 10.1-inch 1,024 by 600 capacitive multi-touch touchscreen, webcam, front-facing VGA camera/webcam and USB Slave as well as USB Host. It lacks an HD video camcorder. The 8GB version will retail for a suggested $299, and the 16GB version will be $349. Both versions weigh 15.87 ounces and measure 10.6 inches by 5.9 inches by 0.5 inches, making it about a third lighter and $150 to $200 less expensive than comparable iPad models while offering functions not available on the iPad, including USB Host and Slave, MicroSD slot, HDMI output, full Flash, webcam and a kickstand, Ferguson said.

Archos also offers a Windows-based tablet in the U.S. along with multiple portable media players. It also offers laptops in foreign markets.


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