Hands-On With the Archos 10 Netbook
These days it seems no matter what type of consumer electronics you manufacture you’ve bound to bring a netbook to market. Just take Archos, maker of portable media players like the Archos 5, who announced today its largest device ever with its first 10-inch netbook (that is right, Archos maintains that this isn’t the last netbook you will see from them, they plan to release more mini-notebooks in the coming months). Weighing 2.8 pounds, the starting at $399 Archos 10 features just about all the specs you’ve come to expect from a 10 inch netbook, including a 160GB hard drive, 1GB RAM of memory, an Intel Atom N270 processor and Microsoft Windows XP. It also boasts 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and a 1.3 megapixel webcam. By leveraging its multimedia partnerships, Archos may just stand out in the netbook crowd with its preloaded software stack which will include $100 worth of multimedia and productivity applications. We got some hands-on time with the Archos 10 while we were in Vegas; check out our impressions and video below. Standard Hardware The black matte chassis of the Archos 10 isn’t going to win any design awards, but it is reassuringly simple. Its lid adorns the Archos emblem and that is about it. In fact, we are fairly certain that Archos is the ECS G10IL or Hasee MJ125 (and since ECS is an ODM it would make complete sense if Archos decided to go with their design). Under the lid is a fairly decent-sized keyboard. And as we noted with the ECS G10IL, the keys are wider and flatter than most netbook keys. While we like the interesting font on the keys, our one peeve is the placement of the small sized shift key to the right of the up arrow button. The trackpad is decent sized with dedicated right and left mouse buttons.The 10.2 inch 1024 x 600 resolution, matte display is surrounded by a black bezel and should be plenty bright.
While the Archos 10′s hardware is nothing to write home about the software stack on the netbook is a different than you’ll find on its competitors. The 10 comes loaded with $100 worth of applications including Lotus Symphony Working Suite (which includes word processor and spreadsheet applications), XnView photo editor, Vtuner Web Radio & TV Player as well as BitDefender Antivirus 2009 and Parental Filter. Leveraging its multimedia roots, the Archos 10 comes with $50 credit towards Archos Media Club which gives users a head start on downloading movies and television shows through Archos’s Media Club Website. To boot there are options for the non-paying multimedia fan with Archos’ Free V-Tuner player (usually $29.95) which allows for streaming of thousands of Web TV channels, over 10,000 radio stations and podcasts. We got a look at the program and while the UI wasn’t complete we were able to click on the different tabs – TV, radio – and see some listings of Internet stations. Lastly, for the music lover, Archos packages the system with 50 free songs (though you have to sign up and provide a credit card) through eMusic. This is not particularly unique as any Internet user can get 25 free downloads from eMusic when signing up for a trail subscription. More to Come The Archos 10 will be available from select retailers and the Archos Web site in February for $399 with a 3 cell battery and $449 with a 6 cell. While many won’t see the benefit of choosing Archos’ hardware over netbooks made by leading notebook manufacturers like HP or Dell, its software perks make the Archos 10 somewhat more enticing for the netbook buyer. With a $50 coupon to its Media Club store and preloaded software like its V-Tuner, the Archos 10 may be the first netbook that hits the market that really takes aim at the multimedia maven, or more pessimistically, the bloatware lover.