Last few years we’ve seen an avalanche of Android tablets. Customers have everything at their disposal – from low end devices of questionable quality to the most expensive models of leading manufacturers. Two types of tablets are the most common in lot of markets: cheap, mass-market tablets and the newest technological gems for those that can pay. Still, if you try hard enough, you can still find a rare gem – a good device at an affordable price.
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ARCHOS 97 Titanium HD

We’re presenting you an interesting tablet that shows promising upgrades in the most troublesome part of the tablet – the screen. Since all interaction with the tablet is done over the screen, and especially enjoying the multimedia, it’s actually surprising how screens have weak characteristics or resolutions that netbook computers had ten years ago. Archos is a manufacturer with a long-standing tradition, especially in the area of mobile devices. They’ve always had devices with excellent video reproduction quality. Let’s start with the exterior. The package doesn’t come with much additional equipment – there are only the charger and microUSB cable. The tablet itself is a complete opposite and looks rather impressive. The back is modeled after iPad; metallic sheen and slightly rough surface feel great in hand, while fingerprints are so hard to notice that it’s safe to say that there are none. On the back side, in the upper right corner, there’s the main camera with 5 MP and with auto-focus. On the opposite side, there are the speaker openings, one in the upper and the other in the lower corner of the tablet. Since tablet can be rotated in every direction, we’ll say that upper edge is where ARCHOS logo is located. That way, all connectors are located on the side edge: microUSB, headphones out, microSD slot, power button, microphone, LED notification and reset button. Connectors don’t jut out from the body, so they don’t interfere with holding the tablet. The sides of the tablet are slightly slanted towards the back, which feels better while holding it, and on the left side there are three buttons – power (on/off/standby) and volume rocker (volume up/down). Front of the surface is covered with glass, and between the edge and the screen there’s a white frame. Front side, unlike the back side, is easily marred by fingerprints, but while the screen is on, it’s not noticeable. In the upper left corner, there’s the front camera with 2 MP resolution, for video-calls.

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What’s underneath the armor?

The processor is dual-core A9 (ARM v7 architecture) with 1,6 GHz, and graphic chip is quad-core Mali400. 1 GB of RAM of internal storage is quite enough for comfortable work in standard mode (without HD display). For multimedia storage you can use microSD port, which accepts cards up to 64 GB. Capacitive IPS multi-touch screen of 24,64 cm (9,7 inches) has two resolutions – the base 1464x1152 and HD resolution 2048x1536, and ratio is 4:3. Android 4.1 Jelly Bean comes pre-installed on this tablet. The battery is under the chassis, it’s not replaceable, and its capacity isn’t specified. In practice, the battery is enough for one day of average use.

Archos 97 Titanium HD
Processor Dual-Core Cortex A9 @ 1600 MHz
Memory RAM 1G, 8 GB storage, MicroSD card slot
Display 9.7" IPS capacitive Multi-touch, 2048 x 1536 pix
OS Android 4.1.1
Camera Front 5MP, back  2 MP
Interfaces WiFi b/g/n; MicroUSB, 3.5mm audio
Dimensions 240x184x9 mm
Weight 640 g
Price US $ 250
Contact www.archos.com

HD

Important marketing aspect of this device is HD. What’s exactly HD from the name “Archos 97 Titanium HD“? The screen of this tablet can display the standard resolution of 1152x1464 pixels, when it’s set vertically. In display settings, HD mode can be chosen, which is 1536x2048 pixels, or rather 2048x1536 when it’s set vertically. This is the resolution of iPad Retina’s screen, so it’s clear that their intention was to compete with iPad. When HD mode is turned on, the device has to be restarted first. Higher resolution is noticeable during reading documents, in browser and while watching multimedia. We have to admit that image is great, when support exists for it. Still, some Android applications can’t cope with this resolution, so there can be some screen flickering. That’s not Archos’s fault, but it’s a problem that users will have. Another downside to HD mode is this tablet’s speed; it’s slower in HD mode. HD mode gives significantly better display of web pages, if they are optimized for higher resolutions, but that’s not yet the case with most content. We particularly missed one functionality, and that’s Auto Brightness. Screen brightness is good enough in most cases, but you have to manually set it. In daylight, outside, screen reflection is noticeable, but acceptable, and completely comparable to iPad.
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Daily dose of titanium

The tablet has Android operating system with accompanying Google applications, so you don’t have to worry about software. Cameras are there so you could take some photos (with the back one) or to communicate with people (the front one), and they don’t offer the professional level of image quality. We’ve grown accustomed to the fact that tablets aren’t practical for taking photos, but for taking casual photos, in condition of good lighting, the results will be on par with cheaper digital cameras. As for networks, it has Wi-Fi that supports 802.11b/g/n. It glitched a few times after recovering from sleep mode, but turning it off and on solved the problem. During use at home there were no problems, without any interference. MicroUSB port supports OTG, so it’s possible to connect an external USB drive. Unfortunately, the corresponding OTG cable doesn’t come with the packaging. With standard USB cable that does come with the packaging, tablet can be connected to a PC, when it acts as an external drive, and it’s possible to transfer data both ways. For everyday use, or rather standard tablet activities are performed without any problems in the standard mode. After long periods of gaming, the chassis is prone to increased heating above the processor, but it’s nothing to worry about. The heating wasn’t noticeable in less-demanding applications, such as reading emails and browsing the web.

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Two things are crucial when deciding whether this device suits you or not. Working in HD mode is slow, and we can only recommend it for web browsing, if you’re not in a hurry. The other flaw is common for Archos. Tablet isn’t charged over standard USB, but rather over its special charger. Taking into account that it’s less than half the price of iPad, Archos 97 Titanium HD will certainly find its place on the market, especially for those appreciate good design.