Dec 21, 2011
The Android tablet market has had a massive divide so far: on one side, the tablets with the latest Android software optimized for tablets and larger screens; these tablets have been more expensive, costing around $400 at the minimum. On the flip side are cheaper Android tablets with smaller 7-inch screens; these usually boast Android 2.x, which was not optimized for tablets, or feature custom UIs built on top of Android. There really hasn’t been a tablet to this point that has been an entry-level device with a vanilla tablet-optimized version of Android. Until now, that is.
Archos has announced their newest Android tablet: the ARCHOS 70b Internet Tablet. It is a 7-inch tablet, with a 1024×600 rsolution screen. It runs Android 3.2 Honeycomb, and has Android Market access, making it about as legitimate an Android device as possible. It comes with a 1.2 Ghz processor, 512 MB of RAM, an HDMI output, microSD slot, and 8 GB of storage built-in. This tablet will cost $199 at retail starting in January.
There are two obvious drawbacks here: first, it’s not in stores for the lucrative holiday season, especially with the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet trying to snatch up the budget tablet market. Second, while it is using a true version of Android, it is still behind the current version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich. Obviously, being an OS designed for tablets, it’s less antiquated than Android 2.x tablets are at this point, but it’s still a budget device being released behind the latest OS. Still, considering how Honeycomb’s true Android tablet experience has been limited to only a certain subset of devices, and how lower-priced options have been excluded from that subset, it seems useful to see a low-cost device providing this experience to potential Android tablet users. As well, this is one of the few budget devices to actually provide Android Market access, which devices like the Kindle Fire notably eschew.