Bought Archos 80 G9 Turbo tablet

During last Linaro Connect I bought myself an Android tablet. After checking what is on market decided to buy Archos 80 G9 Turbo. According to Amazon product page it had to have 1.5GHz OMAP4460 cpu and 1GB of memory. But it did not…

Marketing droids from Archos company should be … and … then … and again … — after that … or … and finally … (put any ways of doing deadly harm into … and repeat any amount of times). Why? There is no such thing as “Archos 80 G9 Turbo” — nevermind that I have one of them on my desk. So far there are at least three models with this name:

  • OMAP4430 1.2GHz 512MB ram
  • OMAP4460 1.5GHz 512MB ram
  • OMAP4460 1.5GHz 1GB ram

You can easily buy first model. Best Buy has it, Adorama has it, J&R has it, Amazon sells it. Second model was expected to land on shelves in December 2011. According to XDA developers forum few of them were even sold as people have them. Last model is listed on Amazon (but first one is what you get) and according to one sources it will be released in March 2012, other says that there will not be such thing. Marketing mess is lightest description which I can write without swearing.

So I got first one. First though was “WTF?!?!!?!?!?!!!” as I got slowest option. Even started returning procedure but as all US shops had only this version I gave up and decided that even with this technical specification it is better tablet then I had before (which was Hannspad SN10T1). Fast cpu, 4:3 screen with 1024×768 resolution, quite good build quality, video output.

Tablet runs Android 3.2 ‘honeycomb’ and does it nicely. Upgrade to 4.0 ‘ice cream sandwich’ was announced to be done in this month. So from software perspective it is done properly. I had some problems with rooting procedure from XDA developers but once you do it in order (and take files from other thread to get 3.2.80 firmware) device will work just fine. Have to admit that system layout on device looks overcomplicated (175MB squashfs as / for example) but it works. Anyway I am waiting for developer firmware (I was told that they will be available ‘soon’ (for any definition of ‘soon’)).

During first days of using I noticed that some applications refuse to work properly on XGA screen, some are resized/rescaled but problems usually are with games or poorly written apps (like Facebook one). But it is visible that keeping Honeycomb under stone (aka ‘closed source’) resulted in many applications not ready to be used on tablets. Even Google+ looks like it does on a phone…

I am slowly moving to use Archos as a morning news device (Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Google Reader) — it is perfect for it. Reading webpages in landscape or portrait modes is pleasure as device is easy to hold and screen is wide enough in any of them (which was my main complain with Hannspad).

Had to order miniHDMI -> HDMI adapter (normal size connector would even fit but it is too big for this form factor) cause they do not add it in a box. When it will arrive I will check how good movies are played after connecting to 42″ plasma capable of 1080p. OMAP4 cpu should decode any video at this resolution without problems but I wonder how device deals with 4:3 internal screen and 16:9 external one. Would be nice to watch Youtube videos fullscreen.

Playing games is fun. Fieldrunners finally does not need scrolling, Great Little War Game is also better than on my Nexus S. From “racing” games so far I tried Asphalt6 (available at XDA developers forum), Shine Runner and Reckless Getaway — all run and look cute but accelerometr based steering is not comfortable with tablet size. Also games like Mahjongg or Solitaire are possible (I consider such games unplayable on phone).

Battery life is better than on my Nexus S. Partially because lack of GSM and bigger battery, but I think that due to power management done better.

I will not tell how good it is when it comes to read e-books because I have Kindle for it already.

Back to hardware. There is USB socket for optional 3G stick. Plugged dongle from wireless keyboard/trackball combo there — not recognized due to not be USB 2.0 device. Plugged thumbdrive and got it recognized (first time I got some kernel oops and no access to storage, had to reboot tablet). Did not tried other devices.

There is just one speaker at back of device. Definitelly too small and lonely. Nokia N800 which was released 5 years ago had stereo speakers… So for gaming I strongly suggest headphones.

Ugly thing is that when you push back of case with left hand fingers screen will react to it — looks like something is pushing screen. It does not look professional…

Ending summary: so far I am satisfied. Maybe one day will try one of those crazy builds like Ubuntu ;D

9 thoughts on “Bought Archos 80 G9 Turbo tablet

  1. Marius Gedminas

    I’ve got an Archos 101 G9 Turbo. Same thing, bigger screen. Tried using it as my morning news thing (Google Reader), was disappointed by Android’s multitasking implementation (switch from the browser to some other app, switch back — quite often you now have to wait while it reloads the page. And if the page uses JavaScript extensively to implement, say, infinite scrolling or expanding/collapsing comment trees, good luck finding the spot where you stopped reading). 512 MB of RAM is Not Enough.

    A couple of times it started registering phantom clicks in the bottom left corner, triggering the Back button. Took me a while to realize it wasn’t a software bug in Google Reader. Recalibrating the touchscreen fixed the issue both times, but navigating to the right place of the settings app to recalibrate was difficult when the Back button kept pressing itself.

    The construction feels shoddy. The screen is not perfectly aligned with the front bevel (it seems to be skewed, or perhaps rotated a couple of degrees counterclockwise). A few pixels on the top left corner are under the bevel, making it difficult to read text in a terminal (in ConnectBot) unless you lean right and look closely. Or turn the tablet upside down to rotate it.

  2. Anon

    What about Archos 80 G9 tablet Ubuntu or for LOW RAM “Lubuntu – desktop or netbook” version that will boot with about 100MB of RAM and runs very well on less than 512MB RAM – mutiple windows and tasks running? It looks like prices are starting to get aggressive on this lower end G9 unit? Is there an Ubuntu Linux for that, again with Xrandr –scaling used to get the lower hardware resolution, software scaled on the device’s screen to show a much higher resolution than was intended by the device maker (that works except for a little bug that needs a patch) feature:

    https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=118999

    And, since Android is LINUX, with a merge of the Android fork of LInux with the main tree, now announced by Linus, can folks modify the LINUX under Andriod, to turn many devices from lower hardware intended resolutions, into xrandr scaled higher appearning resolution devices (and get also better battery life as you are not using more pixels that need more power to do this).

    Aside – Would be interesting to try with a Pixel Qi screen for 7 inch and 10.1 inch Pixel Qi screens (changing 1024×600 into 1280×800 using Pixel Qi’s basic screens)? Might make mod of some netbook and tablet devices with this 1024×600 Pixel Qi screen, higher value mods, justifiying the Pixel Qi mod costs (vs buying 1280×800 hardware screen devices).

    1. Marcin Juszkiewicz Post author

      Dear anonymous lover of Pixel Qi screens. No one blocks you from installing Ubuntu or other Linux distribution on Archos tablet. XDA Developers forum is full of details on how to alter boot sequence on those devices.

      Scaling of screen with XRandr is not a thing which I would consider sane. LCD display should be used only with native resolution otherwise it may look like shit with lot of blur effects applied.

      I am not a fan of 16:9 panoramic displays in tablets. Archos 80 has 4:3 XGA resolution and this was one of main reasons for me to buy it. Better screen would be lovely but this would bump price up which I wanted to avoid.

      And yes, I know that Pixel Qi screens are awesome. Too bad that they are also too expensive to be used in normal devices.

      1. Anon

        Have you read the URL provided in the post, and/or tried the Xrandr — scaling and tested it yourself. I have tested this xrandr scaling tactic on an old HP Mini 1000 and the resolution, when scaled to 1280×80 (on a 1024×600 device), was actually very good. With the only problem out of the gate being that the mouse cursor jail issue is a show stopper (bugs filed, but not much attention it seems to fix, so a patch must be applied to fix it yourself).

        Normal is in the eye of the beholder…. for many users and budgets, I agree that Pixel Qi cost is hard to justify. Their market right now, that is keeping them afloat, is mobile use for OEM devices intended for out side, and out door used POS devices (pool side bars, hot dog stands, etc) Businesses that maybe Ubuntu should be targeting. Also, emergency services (police and fire) devices in vehicles or carried needing outside use, and military drives where screens need to be used out in direct sunlight. For these uses, the cost can be justified by the end user as nothing compares. If you are working for Shuttleworth, and want a target OEM device that will sell into those markets. Find a LINUX POS, or html5 coded application for the above markets, add and test Pixel Qi… and sell em (kits sell).

        PS- Along the lines of Shuttleworths minions ignoring business users (money/income). When is Ubuntu going to get the LibreOffice Wizard (address data source option) to allow Thunderbird Contact List to be selected from the Wizard – where then the email client’s contact list can be used as LibreOffice datasource with Ubuntu? AND/or get KDE Akonadi to also be able to work as datasource for LibreOffice too? Missing with UbuntuOne is encrypted sync of contact/calander data located up at the Ubuntu Cloud (backed up and/or sync stored) … then allowed to sync between various Ubuntu devices running either Thunderbird or KDE’s Akonadi (where their is a version of Thunderbird’s GUI running with Akonadi, vs the lesser attractive KDE mail clients that are way to cluttered). Anyway, allowing full email client sync between desktop, mobile devices, where it all is fully encrypted at the storage location. In some cases, US federal and state laws REQUIRE encryption of off site stored data, including contact data if it contains a CUSTOMER ID number. Again, is it intentional to not want to support business users with these types of needs?

        1. Marcin Juszkiewicz Post author

          Last time I tried XRandr scaling on my laptop it crashed X11 session.

          And please do not call me “Shuttleworth’s minion” ok? Canonical hired me to do job for Linaro project. If you have problems with Ubuntu then complaining in comment on random blog does not change anything because it is not proper channel for that. Report bugs, complain on mailing lists.

          1. Anon

            Xrandr, then maybe it should have more bug fix interest (your point is well taken). From the point of view of power saving on mobile devices, if scaling were “perfect” then, due to the need to power fewer pixels, battery life would benefit. As you know bugs get attention for what reasons? Some of these “bugs” have been reported on the mailing lists, and refiled with new distro release cycles, in some cases again and again, for over 2 years, with seemingly not any attention (where at the same time, we see how many OS GUI changes)? I know you are not “a minion”, was refering to “you know who” … Am aware of what your interests are, and am glad that they did hire you for the project. Wish you the best with the project.

            As an FYI – there is an interesting hardware piece that could be worked with that is x86 compatible – from Norhtec (system on a chip like design). This http://www.deviceonchip.com/ ..would be a darling of GEEKS if properly open, paired with Ubuntu (or LXDE for speed), mixed with options for power saving screens (pixel qi), along with a user replaceable rechargeable AA battery option, and then, cross platform with the ability to then run Windows in VMs on same devices, could have an interesting market attaction with the right attention. http://www.norhtec.com/ They have a tablet reference design that they are looking for folks to expand, or will sell compents for OEM devices. Interesting stuff, but not something that established players are running to, as it is outside of the the logic of their marketing directions (thus product directions). Email a guy named Michael Barnes mbarnes found at norhtec.com for custom OEM directions using this tech. http://www.youtube.com/user/norhloudspeaker — Small enough to be mobile, just need to add and subtract to get devices that at least the geeks of the world would love to have (as a start).

          2. Marcin Juszkiewicz Post author

            Dear ‘I am afraid to give name while using admin@ type of email’. Please use full name for next comment or it will be removed instead of being approved.

            Norhtec devices use Vortex86 lines of CPU. I played with Vortex86sx in past (there is a post about it on blog) and even if new cores (Vortex86mx, XCore86, XCore86+) are faster they are still i486 based, require special kernels etc. If something got changed then bonus for them. Too bad that there is no public available documentation/datasheets for those processors.

            For me this discussion has ended. If you want to add something then use full name and real email address – anonymous posts will be dropped.

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