Archos Readies $199 Tablet

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Greenwood Village, Colo. - Archos expects to be the first entrant in a category of what it calls family-priced tablet-style portable digital devices intended mainly for entertainment and communications applications.

The supplier of MP3 players, portable media players (PMPs), Internet media tablets and tablet PCs plans June 1 shipments of the $199-suggested Archos 7, an Android-based tablet-style device equipped with Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, 7-inch capacitive touchscreen, virtual keyboard, and no hard buttons but an on/off button.

Dubbed a "home tablet," the Archos 7 is designed for portable use in and out of the house by multiple family members, and it's positioned as an affordable bridge between small-screen smartphones and larger-screen tablet PCs and laptops, said Ron Ferguson, the company's North America senior VP/GM. "We're going to make a statement in affordable tablets," he told TWICE. "Archos will play broad and deep in this space."

The Archos 7 is also significantly lower in price than the $499 starting price of the more fully featured Apple iPad, enabling it to appeal to a broader market segment of families that would share the device with young children, he noted. "We're not in direct competition with the iPad," he said.

The Archos 7 is more convenient to use than tablet PCs and laptops because of its light weight, 0.47-inch depth, "very quick boot-up" time, and long battery life, Ferguson said. A full charge delivers 42 hours of music playback, seven hours of video playback or seven hours of active Web browsing.

The multitasking device will deliver "very simple connectivity to the Internet" to check news and email, browse the Web with Flash support, and communicate via social-network sites, he explained. For entertainment, the device functions as a portable media player, e-book reader supporting the EPUB format and game player.

At launch, about 1,000 free downloadable Android apps designed specifically for optimum operation on the Archos 7 will be available through a site created by Archos for third-party Android apps intended for Archos tablet-style devices. The company might also open up the site to non-cellular devices offered by other suppliers, he added.

The tablet, already available for preorder at Amazon, features Android 1.5 OS, 8GB of embedded flash memory, MicroSDHC slot supporting 32GB memory cards, 720p high-definition video playback, TV output, three customizable home screens, built-in stereo speakers, mini USB port and headphone jack. For email, it connects to POP3 and IMAP 4 email services and accesses Outlook Web Access for corporate email.

To achieve the $199 price point, Archos eliminated some of the advanced features of its more expensive Archos 5 Internet media tablet, which features 5-inch touchscreen and 800MHz processor. The Archos 5 ranges in price from $250 to $500 with capacities ranging from 8GB to 500GB. The Archos 5 uses the Android OS as well as Archos's proprietary OS for advanced media features, such as the ability to wirelessly download protected CinemaNow movies via Wi-Fi or play protected video content side-loaded from a PC.

Compared to the Archos 5, the Archos 7 dispenses with GPS, playback of protected movie downloads, accelerometer and optional DVR dock to record TV shows. Compared to other touchscreen devices, it lacks multitouch capability. Because it lacks an accelerometer, it can be used only in landscape mode.

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