Spell it trouble for the smaller players. Several makers of premium Android tablets—notably, Asus, Acer, and Samsung—have recently released lower-cost, entry-level versions of their higher-priced, top-of-the-line products. Some of them, such as the $399.99 Asus Transformer Pad TF300, which comes with 16GB of onboard storage and runs on the latest Tegra 3 quad-core processor, are not only impressive tablets in their own right but also great bargains.
All this, of course, puts tremendous pressure on companies that specialize in bargain-priced tablets, such as Archos. Typically, these manufacturers create slates that attain their lower prices by compromising on components. In them, you’ll typically see less-expensive, older CPUs, smaller complements of storage, and cheaper materials, such as inexpensive plastic, used in their construction.
Case in point is the $249.99 Archos 101 G9 that we reviewed back in January 2012. A 10-inch-screen slate, it came with Android 3.2 (a.k.a. Honeycomb), only 8GB of storage, and 512MB of system memory, and it ran on a 1.2GHz Texas Instruments dual-core processor. While the 101 G9 was a merely middling slate in a big-picture sense, we found it acceptable considering its under-$250 price. We really didn’t like the cheap-looking plastic body, though.
Archos has recently released an upgraded version of the 101 G9, the 101 G9 Turbo. On the outside, this is essentially the same tablet, with the same-size screen, but the innards—the CPU and operating system—have seen upgrades. Instead of the 1.2GHz TI processor, the new Turbo version runs on a souped-up 1.5GHz version of the same CPU and uses the Android 4.0 (a.k.a. Ice Cream Sandwich, or ICS) operating system.
Archos also tweaked the pricing. A new 101 G9 Turbo version with 8GB of flash memory (the same amount of storage as in the earlier model we reviewed) now costs $299.99. We tested the 101 G9 Turbo (250GB) version, which comes with a 250GB hard drive inside; it sells direct from Archos for $369.99. In addition, the company has eliminated its slightly higher-priced 16GB model, but it does still offer 8-inch-screened versions of both the 8GB and 250GB units; they sell for $249.99 and $349.99, respectively, and have the same 1.5GHz TI processor.
The Turbo model of the 101 G9 is indeed an upgrade, though—at least performance-wise, as the name suggests. The Turbo version turned in much higher scores on most of our tests than its predecessor, and it has the same good-looking screen as the previous 101 G9. Unfortunately, it also has the same cheap-looking case and poor-performing camera that we complained about on the previous model. Still, it comes with both micro-USB and full-size HDMI ports, which you’ll usually find only on slates that cost considerably more. This slate also has a 3G port for connecting to cellular networks—a feature not found on most tablets, period.
Most impressive, though, is the 250GB hard drive, which provides the roomiest tablet-storage option that we know of, though this also makes for a very thick and heavy slate. At the same time, all this storage makes it a great slate specifically for storing and displaying video. Overall, we were lukewarm about this new 101 G9, but we believe that certain tablet users—especially those heavily into mobile movie watching—might find it attractive.
See the review at Computer Shopper.