It seems that Lenovo is trying to have a product that fills every need and price point. Some companies try to come up with a single product that fits everyone’s needs and ultimately is not right for anyone. Lenovo on the other hand creates products for every price point. On the high end is the Lenovo Yoga (a future review), and on the low end are the Miix products. The one we will look at today is the Miix 3 10.1″ tablet.
The Archos 70 Internet tablet is yet another Android Tablet that was rushed out the door before Android was “officially” ready to be put on a tablet device. Thus I have been very hesitant to really look at these tablets. However, unlike many of the unfinished, unpolished and usually unresponsive tablets that came before it, this little device is actually functional.
Despite what Apple leader Steve Jobs thinks, there is certainly a market that is ripe for 7″ tablets. Now, whether the Archos 70 is the device for you, really depends on what you want to do with it. This one was a Xmas present for my daughter who initially asked for an iPod Touch. Since we are an Apple free household (sans one stupid 2nd Gen iPod Nano I haven’t gotten my wife to give up), I needed an alternative, and in this mode… a game device that is bigger than the Touch, but still allows her to play games, play music and do other such things, the device has been a winner. As a book reader that also does a couple of other “tricks” (like play backgammon, which my wife seems to be addicted to on this device), and thanks to its light weight is up to the task without you having to work out to strengthen you arms.
At around $329 the Archos 70 (for the 8GB Flash Drive model that I have, there is also a 250GB hard drive version available that runs about $339) is certainly not bottom of the barrel cheap, and was more expensive than the iPod touch, but that is because it sports a fantastic 800 x 600 capacitive display that is responsive to the touch, smooth to operate, and light enough that you are not going to develop carpal tunnel trying to hold it up. Also worth noting, the Archos 70 supports MicroSD cards, so you can expand your storage later by popping in an inexpensive MicroSD.
The device came with Android 2.1 out of the box, but upon setup upgraded to 2.2, providing it with Flash capabilities when browsing the web (something you will NEVER get from an iPad). The web is still a little cramped at this resolution and size, but it is still far better an experience than you would get with a phone. Browsing the web over the wi-fi connection was a bit slower than a desktop computer, but equal to or faster than any phone browser, and while you still needed to scroll a bit to see some web pages, it was still a satisfactory browsing experience. Checking e-mail, Twitter and Facebook were all relatively easy and painless as well, but Google Docs and Spreadsheets was finicky.
Archos also included a front facing (VGA) camera and built in microphone, so you can Skype, use Video Chat with GTalk or Yahoo!IM and other Chat and IM programs. The VGA camera doesn’t provide the best display,but is satisfactory for a quick messaging chat or letting GrandMa see and talk to the kids.
Another nice feature built in (that I doubt anyone will use) is the HD output. You can run HD video and display it on any HD television (additional cable not included of course). I have this ability on my Droid phone as well, but at least my Droid can RECORD HD content. The Archos can’t, so you are (presumably) going to copy HD content onto this device, to show it on another? I guess I see what they are trying to do, I just can’t see it being used in this way.
So, I guess the question remains… is this tablet for me? If you want it to read a book, play a game, keep lists on, light web browsing and playing games, they this might be worth taking a look. If you are looking for something better than an iPod Touch but not a full blown tablet, then yes this a good device to put in the running.
Many parents may consider the $329 price steep for a “toy” but most kids would get far more out of this than a Nintendo DS or PlayStation Portable or even an iPod Touch. It may not be an “iPad killer” but is certainly kinder on your wallet, and much more portable as well.
If however, you want it for heaving browsing, document editing, or laptop replacement, then this is certainly NOT the device you want. In reality, in these cases, you will need to wait for a device like the Motorola Xoom or LG G-Slate or other Android 3.0 (aka Honeycomb) devices. For heavy use, the better stuff is on the way, and hold your purchasing power until they arrive.
Much to my utter surprise, I have to eat some crow this year and admit that tablets (and yet most notably the Apple iPad) took off in a way that I never really expected. Of course, it is well known by anybody that reads this or anything I write, that the chances of owning an Apple product is less than zero, so I have been anxiously awaiting a worthy competitor built on either Windows (or some variation of it), or Android.
Despite much fanfare almost a lifetime ago (Consumer Electronics Show in January of 2010), virtually nothing has a appeared in the way of a Windows tablet. There have been a number of Android tablet that have come out, most of which have been complete and utter junk and not even worth mentioning, and only recently did some that were even worth looking at began to appear.
The first one that I finally decided to break down and drop some money on was the Viewsonic G Tablet. At around $400, the specs on the G Tablet looked almost too good to be true. A Nvidia Tegra 2 (Dual Core) processor, a 10.1″ multi-touch capacitive display (quick shortcut and hint… if it has a resistive display, no matter how good the price, in my opinion, it simply isn’t worth looking at as viable option). 1080p playback enabled, wi-fi, 16GB of internal storage and microSD slot to expand that storage further.
I knew there would be some limitations going in that I was willing to overlook as an early adopter, but would be sticking points for mainstream consumers like the fact that Google really doesn’t not consider Android a “Tablet Ready” OS their specs make it impossible for any tablet that does not have 3G built in to get the Google apps or official Android Market. If you are not comfortable side-loading or getting apps from other locations you might as well stop here. Sure Viewsonic does now include a store (which in a bizarre twist had to be added in one of the G Tablet’s updates, since it did not include a link to this store in the initially shipping version of the tablet). But for those of you still willing to forge ahead, the problems do not stop there.
For a monitor company, I am baffled at the fact that Viewsonic would release a tablet with viewing angles as poor as what comes in the G Tablet. You must view this thing head on or the picture immediately becomes useless. Yes it is true you are generally looking at the tablet when using it, but angles are necessary for typing and resting the unit comfortably while using, and those angles immediately cause degradation of viewing experience.
For some reason only knows to the people involved with the cash dealings, partnerships and greased palms can actually tell you why, but the G Tablet ships with a skinned interface called Tap-n-Tap. Now I understand the general premise that this was supposed to be a consumer friendly UI that took better advantage of the bigger screen real estate on this tablet, but it is simply terrible. It is slow, causes stuttering and basically turns this powerful tablet into a glorified (and overpriced) digital picture frame.
Despite the tablet touting in initially advertising and on the box support for Adobe Flash, the shipping unit did not come with Flash installed, and most mention of it (except for one icon left behind) has been eradicated (that had a post stating that Flash would be available December 19th, but I guess that isn’t happening now).
The G Tablet has a front facing camera (that is actually a good thing), but for some odd reason doesn’t have a back camera and even more importantly, doesn’t ship with any software that actually makes use of the front camera. This is a very disconcerting omission, and so far, I have yet to find an app that uses the camera well.
OK, so by this point, you are probably wondering, why the heck anybody in their right mind would buy the G Tablet. I have to admit, that there is a very finite audience for this tablet, and there is as I see it, only two specific use cases where I could honestly say that this is a good tablet for you to consider. The first being you only intent to use the tablet as a glorified Picture Frame/Weather Station device. Sort of like a large flat screen Chumby. With its Android underpinnings and larger screen, if you did want a “station” like that, then the G Tablet may fit that use case.
The second is if you are the type of person that isn’t adverse to “jailbreaking” or “Rooting” you device. Some Developers over at XDA have done a nice job of creating a ROM that functions well, provides access to the Android Market, Google Apps and Flash. If you are comfortable flashing your device (or know somebody you can trust to do it for you), adding custom ROMS and generally spending some time tweaking your device, then the G Tablet is perfectly servicable and will give you a head start and/or glimpse of what is most likely in store for Android tablets. If you don’t mind rolling up your sleeves and digging in like this, the experience can be rewarding and give you bragging rights to a device that stands out now.
If however words like “ROMS”, “Rooting” or “Jailbreaking” mean nothing to you (or cause you to break out in a cold sweat), then this is most likely NOT the device for you. You may wish to consider the 7″ Samsung Tab (review forthcoming) or waiting to see what is announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January.
It is possible that the Tap-n-Tap interface will be fixed and that this device will become more useful in the future, but if you are going to wait for that to happen, I’d say unless you want to get a head start (i.e. a programmer or designer looking to do something before all the good devices are released) and are willing to hack it, keep the $400 in your pocket until something better comes along or until this tablet is given an update that allows it to live up to its potential.
Their name has been dragged through the mud for many years (and arguably they deserved it), but even before they were acquired by Acer in late 2007, Gateway had started back building machines that were worth owning again. After years of selling low end junk that was closer to the eMachines brand they acquired than to their powerhouse machines of the 90’s, Gateway started selling some good machines again.
I have always had good luck with Gateway computers when I have owned them, and decided to give them another try when I found the NV5922u. Priced under $650 in most locations, I picked my up for $629 at TigerDirect.com, which I thought was an excellent price for a machine of this caliber.
For that price it boasts an Intel Core i3-330M 2.13GHz processor, has 4GB of DDR3 memory, a slightly stingy 320GB Hard Drive, a 15.6 widescreen (16:9) display, and comes with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. More surprisingly (to me) it also has an HDMI port, so you can hook this baby up to your flatscreen and watch Streaming videos on that big screen sitting in the living room rather than on a laptop monitor.
This machine is in a word… fast. I rarely, if every have to wait for anything, no matter how many apps or Browser tabs I have open. The multi-touch track pad is a nice little toy that is available on most if not all Gateway (and probably Acer) laptops. I like it for the novelty factor, but actually found it annoying in day to day use, and turned off the multi-touch features.
The display is crisp and sharp. The keys are responsive, the webcam is serviceable but certainly nothing to write home about. It support 802.11 b/g/n so it will work with just about any wireless router out there right now. Battery life is decent. I haven’t gotten the 4 hours 30 minutes claimed, but that isn’t really surprising, I have gotten over 3 hours use in conferences and such when I am constantly typing and note taking, but not much streessing in the way of video to get that much life.
As I mentioned the keys are quite responsive. They are quiet and soft, but not too mushy to touch. However, the keys are very large, and thus very close together with virtually no “fall off” area between keys. This has made for a very needed adjustment period in getting used to this keyboard.
Since it uses Intel’s GMA integrated graphics, one thing this machine is not is a “gaming rig.” But the graphics are good enough for the vast majority of people out there, just not the hardcore gamer types. It also ships with some crapware (Office 2007 Trial Edition, Norton Anti-Virus trial, and some games), but it is far less than you find on some laptops these days. So yes, you may need to uninstall a few items, but it is not an all day affair with of junk.
If you are looking for a decent mid-range machine, that can play some games, handle with web with ease while muti-tasking that post you are trying to write and listen to Pandora, this machine can handle it quite easily. And for a machine this powerful for under $650, it definitely is worth a look.