Archos just released its Archos 7 Home Tablet, an Android-running, low-cost Wi-Fi slab that can put the Internet in your hands for a mere $199. The price seems way too low, especially given the apparent quality of this attractive handheld device. However, it has one fatal flaw, turning our opinion of it from love at first sight to sheer loathing with the mere touch of a finger.
In this high-tech world of Internet-connected devices, the key to users' affection is not specifically high tech, but high touch. With that in mind, as we held the Archos 7 Home Tablet in our hands, we were impressed with its sturdy yet lightweight (0.8 lb) quality. When we flipped it on, its home screen booted up surprisingly quickly. But our hearts sank as soon we touched it. Oh, no! It's a resistive touchscreen, and it's awful.
That's a shame, because the Archos 7 has an excellent media player on board. It sips power, runs cooler than its hot-running predecessors, and is reported to have a seven-hour battery life. Unfortunately, it's running an old version of Android (1.5), but there's still access to a subset of the Android Market where you can get a variety of tablet-friendly apps. We like the way this unit gives you the benefit of a refined operating system rather than some thrown-together kludge created by Archos. And, we love that little Archos innovation that appears again in this model, the useful pop-out kickstand that lets you prop it up for your viewing convenience.
But all that doesn't matter. If you have to use this resistive screen, sacrificing the smooth utility of a more-expensive capacitive touchscreen (such as that exquisitely sensitive display on the iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch), it's an exercise in futility. The Archos resistive screen doesn't work as well, because it's reacting to the pressure of your touch, rather than a capacitive screen, which is a lot better, responding to your finger barely touching the screen. Maybe we've been spoiled by the iPad, but its capacitive tech gives you the kind of quality a touchscreen needs to be user friendly. For us, anything less than that is frustrating.
We don't even need to tell you anything else about the Archos 7, because we just don't think you'd be willing to cope with the annoyance of its often-unresponsive screen. Until Archos figures out a way to toss the whole resistive touchscreen idea out the window and substitute a capacitive touchscreen for this low price, we'd say avoid the Archos 7. It's often true that you get what you pay for, but in this case, you don't. Even at $200, it's just not worth it.