The Archos Slate in Daily Use

Well, I finally have it. In fact, it arrived last week. I wanted to try it out before giving my opinion on it. It’s not an Apple iPad, but it’s more than that too.

I suppose one way to value a new gadget in your life is to use it for a while and then imagine if you didn’t have it anymore. Would you miss it? Does it provide an ability that you value?

The Archos 9 Internet Tablet ( is has more of a widescreen look than an Apple iPad. It’s a little heavier and it produces more heat when in use. But, it also has more buttons and features. The webcam is useful for taking pictures and using Skype. The usb port is incredibly useful – allowing connectivity to printers, flash drives, 3G cellular modems – all things USB. There is a dedicated button to turn on the onscreen keyboard. And there is a small trackpad on the right side as an alternative to using the built-in stylus or your finger to move the mouse around the screen.

But, what you don’t see is also important when judging the usefulness of this device. It runs Windows 7 Starter. That means that any Windows program you have can run on it, including Microsoft Office. The speed is similar to today’s netbooks – running on the Intel Atom processor. So, it’s no speed demon. But, it does have a 60Gb hard drive built-in. It has wifi AND bluetooth. So, I can get on the Internet and use a bluetooth wireless keyboard, mouse or printer.

Windows 7 Starter is missing some of the oooh’s and aaah’s of Windows 7 Home or Professional. But, it has to run on 1Gb of RAM – not upgradeable. This is ok, but then I found out I’m also missing the tablet extensions  – not available in Windows 7 Starter edition. This includes screen rotation utilities, hand writing recognition and more. However, I was able to find a rotation utility free that runs on Windows 7. The screen doesn’t rotate automatically when you tilt it.

The Archos is a replacement for your laptop – sort of. For touch typists like me, I miss a real keyboard. I could carry around a small bluetooth wireless keyboard, but then I lose the advantages of the portability of the slate. And it’s not as fast.

But is it better than an iPad? Again – the answer is sort of. I find it is more useful. I have more options. I can plug in a small portable docking station that gives me a vga port to use with a projector. I can attach anything USB. I can run any Windows program that’s not a memory hog. I can multitask – run more than one program at a time. I can access websites with flash content. But, the battery life is brief compared to an iPad. I can get 3-4 hours. That’s less than the 10-12 hours from an iPad. And, it doesn’t have the instant-on ability that gives a slate it’s own true category.

I’ll keep using the Archos until something better comes out. It was only $549. That makes it a real value compared to a laptop or an Apple iPad. And something better is coming out – the HP Slate. But, there’s no ETA yet.

If you have questions about the Archos 9 Internet Tablet – feel free to leave a comment.

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