ARCHOS has never been shy bringing its new offerings to IFA and this year is no different. The French brought a slew of slates including some, like the ChefPad and 80 Xenon, that were announced early on in the spring.
The new Gen11 ARCHOS 101 XS 2 comes to replace the 101 XS we saw at last year's IFA and sports a pretty similar design. It also includes a keyboard dock accessory (much like its predecessor), which acts as a protective screen cover and favors desktop use. It attaches to the ARCHOS 101 XS 2 with magnetic hinges - the same proven design from last year.
The 101 XS 2 comes with a 10.1 IPS HD display, a 1.6GHz quad-core processor with 2 gigs of RAM and has stereo speakers on the front. The slate runs on an un-skinned version of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
The ChefPad is a 9.7" Android Jelly Bean (4.1) slate with a 2MP snapper, 8 gigs of on-board storage and a dual-core 1.6 GHz processor.
The ChefPad comes with its very own bendable kickstand and a rubbery red silicone case. If you slip it out of the case though it features an aluminum back.
Also unveiled back in spring, the ARCHOS 80 Xenon is an eight-incher with a resolution of 1024 x 768, a quad-core Snapdragon chip clocked at 1.2 GHz, 1GB of RAM and a 2MP camera. It runs Android Jelly Bean 4.1.
The ARCHOS 101 XS 2 has quality written all over it. The subtle aluminum back nestled underneath plastic edges oozes quality.
The screen mounted on the ARCHOS 101 XS 2 is good although far from the best. It outputs good colors, brightness and viewing angles are impressive. However the glass on top of the display is extremely reflective and gets smudgy in a matter of seconds.
The ARCHOS 101 XS 2 is light for its size and quite thin too. The keyboard dock has pleasant keys with good feedback and is generally comfortable to hold. However ARCHOS seem to have wasted a lot of space on the hinges, which in our minds could've been used wiser and with typing in mind.
We come to the smaller 80 Xenon. The screen on it is a smaller 8-inch panel, which can brag about the same color reproduction, brightness and viewing angles as the bigger 101 XS 2 but is also let down by the highly reflective glass.
It feels higher quality in the hand compared to the bigger 10-inch slate. Overall we quite like the materials used and the nice solid construction.
There are two speakers on one side of the slate while on the other sits the power key along with a two piece volume button, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a little cover for the SIM card and microSD card slots.
The glass topping of the screen ends with silvery accented aluminum that folds over the entire side edges. The back is finished in quality-feeling glossy plastic.
The ARCHOS ChefPad feels like the 101 XS 2 in its build. It features an all-aluminum back and glass front. The protective case wraps nicely around the device and definitely gives it a safer feel but without it, the ChefPad becomes immediately higher end.
The screen on the ChefPad is great but rather awkward at this aspect ratio for an Android slate. It's still a little better for browsing in landscape mode, though.
All ARCHOS slates we covered so far run well on their respective hardware and we think ARCHOS made the right call by not skinning the UI with their own custom theme. On the positive side, they’ve pre-installed a number of proprietary apps such as the cooking-related apps for the ChefPad.
It's nice to see ARCHOS showing such dedication to quality finish each and every year but it would be nicer if we got to see its products more widely available.