Archos have long been a company that you'd associate with budget tablets but, not for the same reason as other brands. Archos have always made tablets that, whilst not the best built or best looking they certainly deliver on speed as well as the most welcome addition of near stock Android. Which doesn't always make for a best-in-class tablet but, it's go a long way to providing a decent tablet at an attractive price. This was, of course, until the Nexus 7 came along earlier in the year and changed everything, no tablet can realistically stack up to what you get for the price when you buy a Nexus 7.
This isn't to say that Archos tablets have been bad in the past but, they surely need to step up their game when it comes to budget tablets. My first tablet was the Archos A101 from their 8th Generation and to be fair, it was a very capable 10 inch tablet. I soon grew out of the mediocre build quality offered by the Archos but, I never had a problem with the touch screen, speed or responsiveness during my time with the tablet. Archos released a G9 series of tablets with the same design language last year, which launched with Honeycomb and were promptly updated to Ice Cream Sandwich. Back then, the prices of the A101 G9 and the A80 G9 were affordable, without any trade offs in performance. However, the game has changed, the Nexus 7 is a serious tablet at just $199.
Enter the 101XS, what Archos hope to change the way their brand is perceived, with a new design, a focus on prompt updates and a smart keyboard come cover. The latest tablet from Archos - that'll be on sale next month - comes with the same processor that the Galaxy Nexus, a dual-core Texas Instruments clocked at 1.5Ghz, 1GB of RAM and the standard 1290x800 10.1" display. Android 4.0 comes pre-installed with the tablet but an update to Jelly Bean is on its way. As well as this there's an innovative keyboard cover as well that doubles as a sort of case/cover as well as a keyboard dock. All of this full $399.99. When you think about it that's not all that bad but, at twice the price of Nexus 7 are you really getting the twice the tablet? Well, that's a tricky question, there's no doubting the gaming prowess of the Nexus 7 but, when it comes down to anything practical it can be hard to get anything done on a small screen. The 101Xs and its keyboard dock however, could be just what you were looking for, add this to the fact that Android supports Bluetooth mice and you could have a fairly good productive tablet here.
This is all fine and well, however, Archos haven't been known for stellar build quality. There are already reports that the screen is suffering from build issues, as well as some issues with the power button however, these may well be problems isolated to review units but, Archos have yet to say anything on the subject. I'd really like Archos to sort these issues out and deliver a solid, affordable tablet that you could realistically get some work done with.