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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 9:37 pm 
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As someone who will be heading to college soon I am interested in the MID, UMPC, and Netbook market. I am skeptical about netbooks because I don't believe that they are all that portable so I am looking at MID tablets such as the Archos 9 for mobile use, and I would use of the iGo Stowaway ultra-Slim keyboard for extended typing which will still make it more portable then a netbook. After countless hours of research and repairing and building computers by trade I have some thoughts on the Archos 9 that I hope you all find interesting.

First I would like to discuss the simple existence of the Archos 9. From what I see, Archos is trying to go after the Netbook market rather than the MID market. An 8.9" screen makes it quite a bit larger than most MIDs out there, but still smaller than a folded netbook and certainly smaller than an open one. However, with an 8.9" screen the device is still quite large and may not fit into the netbook category or the MID category very well because of that. Also, a device this large is certainly not pocketable, or even close, and so it would likely need to be carried in a bag which in some ways lessens the Archos 9's size advantage over a similar netbook. Also with the lack of a built in keyboard this small size difference may force customers to go for a more conventional and less expensive netbook. I'm not sure how much sense a MID tablet with an 8.9" screen actually makes.

With all that aside there really is only one thing that makes any computer stand out, the hardware.

From the specifications we know now the Archos 9 is supposed to utilize an Intel Atom Z515 processor, the US15w chipset with the Intel GMA 500 IGP, 1GB of RAM, and an 80GB HDD or a possible 120GB HDD.

Before even getting into the specific parts, it may be best to talk about the actual backbone on the PC, the chipset. The US15w is a chipset that supports Intel's Silverthorne CPUs, or the Z5xx series, which are specifically made for MIDs. The US15w supports a maximum of 1GB of DDR2 RAM, though there is an MID out with this chipset that may support up to 2GB of DDR2 but this is may just be an error by the manufacturer. And finally, the US15w uses the GMA 500 IGP.

Now the processor is an interesting one. The Atom Z515 uses a burst system that is, from what I understand, much like Intel Speedstep. The Z515 usually runs at 800 MHz, but under load will increase it's clockspeed to 1.2 GHz. Note that the direct competitor to the Archos 9 will likely be the Viliv S5, S7, and X70EX which all use the Atom Z520 which runs at a constant 1333 MHz. While the Z515 has a lower TPD than the Z520 (1.4w vs 2w) I would REALLY like to see a faster processor in the Archos 9, or atleast an option, especially with the higher native resolution, such as the Atom Z530 which has a TPD of 2w, runs at 1600 MHz, and only costs $40 more (about $35 vs $70) than the Z515 at retail prices. To me the major hindrance of the Archos 9, hardware wise, is the processor, while not slow it is not exactly fast either. Again, Archos needs to give us options about these things.

For all of you who do not know, the GMA 500 is actually pretty decent for an MID. While gaming is out of the question, the GMA 500 runs 720p movies smoothly and, after some format modifications, even 1080p movies run smoothly with it. Also, while not faster, the GMA 500 is more advanced than the GMA 950 which DirectX 10.1 and OpenGL 2.0. (opposed to DirectX 9.0c and OpenGL 1.4) The IGP in the Archos 9, while no nvidia ION, is quite good. Also if you still want a nvidia ION do note that the ION requires more power and, more importantly, produces a lot more heat.

As for the RAM and HDD, I am a bit confused. The RAM is fine since it is limited to 1GB of DDR2 like all other MIDs, but then the HDD space of only 80GB or possibly 120GB is quite odd since the form factor for these harddrives should be similar to that of the Archos 5/7 in that they will likely be 1.8" models. The only reason why Archos would go with lower capacity is if they feel that Windows 7 requires a faster harddrive that spins at 7200 RPMs instead of the mediocre 5400 RPMs of the 1.8" HDDs in the Archos 5/7. Even here, there are HDDs that operate at 7200 RPMs in the 1.8" form factor that have higher capacities, and definitely in the possible 2.5" form factor. What ever their reason, I am fairly certain that the Archos 9 will not be limited to just 80GB, but how much more space and how much more will the higher capacity models cost is the question.

Now I must come back to the screen. The 8.9" screen would be great if it runs off of an 8-bit panel like earlier Archos 5/7s, but not so great if it runs off of the 6+2-bit TN panel that the newer versions are stuck with. Also multi-touch functionality would go a long way to making the Archos 9 truly great, especially with the functions that Windows 7 is supposed to add for it. However, I still feel that 8.9" might be a bit too large, and it would be better if it had a 7" screen instead. However until we have more solid specifications, and moreover non-conflicting reports of the dimensions we can not truly tell whether Archos will be able to pull off the 8.9" screen or not. If the device is thin, which it may be, and does take up too much more space outside of the screen which it appears not to, Archos might be able to pull this off. As for competition, I am not sure whether the Viliv S5 with it's 4.8" screen or the Viliv S7/X7EX with their 7" screens will be direct competitors to the Archos 9, or if the Archos 9 will hold a separate segment of that market all together.

On a final note, I am very excited about some of the features of the Archos 9. I love the assured WWAN connectivity with a built in SIM card slot which will allow true mobile web browsing, something the Archos 5/7 should have always had. Also the built in stylus slot (simple yes, but really useful) will make me quite happy instead of losing all my styluses (spelling?) from dropping out of my various storage cases or pockets. Finally, I am actually perfectly happy with the price. Anywhere from $500-$650 is what I have seen and that is a great deal since the Archos 9's only real competitors are the Viliv models that cost $599 and are only sold from a singe store :evil: so price drops are very unlikely.

Please feel free to share your opinions, all and all I am excited about the Archos 9 and can't wait for some more solid facts.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 10:09 pm 
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I've read your complete post, and understand most of the points you made.

Consider Archos a normal, healthy company. With the current economic crisis archos is forced to differ from the path they've been walking the last 10 years. Normally they would release a new generation anually/bi-annualy. Right now there's only one way to keep you afloat, and that is making as many products as fast as possible, to spread your chances. There's the Archos Clipper (iPod shuffle-ish), and follow ups of each other, like 2, 3, 5 and 7. Then there's the netbook market, at which they're trying to lure every customer with a suited netbook like the archos 9, 10, 10s, 13 (and the student/child laptop thingie, but that one's out of the question).
Both markets are penetrated in the most forward way with flagship models Archos 7 for MID market, and Archos 9 for the netbook market. This is where it starts to get interesting.

Most people see a flagship model as the model with the most options, fastest and biggest of all. Archos is aiming at a different portion of potential buyers in the netbook market with the Archos 9, namely the part of the market that is looking for a slick, cool device, that you can easily store away in a small leather case, and carry with you, or another part, like people that like to have a laptop-ish machine lying on their coffee table, to look at sports results, TV Program guide, favourite websites and view their e-mail on it.

For these uses Archos has Researched all available processors on the market. They can go with a less expensive, less power consuming CPU, or the best CPU they can fit in. For viewing mail and basically doing everything you do 90% of the time you use a PC, 800MHZ is more then enough. 1GB will never be filled with internet explorer tasks and GMA500 is very capable of delivering all these tasks in the right amount of time.

Let's just consider Archos would put in a bigger hard disk, a better CPU, more capable GPU and more memory. This would easily add up to a price more in the range of Ôé¼800,-, and frankly, that price point is already taken by products offering more, and offering a 'completer' package, with keyboard, touchpad and numeric keys even.

About screen dimensions. You say you want a complete windows OS, with multitouch features and a keyboard layout on screen? Because to me you sound like you want a PDA... Foldable to about all sizes. Have you already measured 9 inches / 22.6cm? Searched for 1024x600 pictures and scaled them to be 19.47cm x 11.45cm? You'd be surprised how compact that is. It certainly looks bigger in the youtube video. If you look at 1024x600, you wouldn't want a smaller resolution for these uses. Have you thought about the 12inch version comping out next year?

After all, I'm glad finally someone has taking the pen and wrote a piece like you did. This will be read by Archos employees, and our ideas will be talked about.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 10:39 pm 
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Hellfury I agree with you in many ways. The only thing I somewhat disagree with is the "800 MHz will be plenty" statement which is true for web browsing, but what about word processing, video playback, or music editing / management? I don't know the answer to these, 1.2 Ghz might be fine for those while 800 MHz will do great for web browsing but that all depends on how well the Atom's architecture scales to increased clockspeed. I just feel that atleast having the option of a different CPU would be nice. That said, I like the Z515 for what it is, very low TPD but can do well enough when it needs to. Again, all this is academic since I don't have the thing in my hands to try.

You are absolutely right, I have no idea whether 8.9" is too big or too small because I have not handled it yet.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:12 am 
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I have a 12" tablet PC and it is big enough, almost too big. It starts becomming a laptop form factor, even without the keyboard. The 9" size is interesting and may be the ideal size. I would like to see Archos consider:

1) Wide-viewing angle screen
2) 2.5" User upgradeable SATA drive and use a lower cost drive. That keeps the price low for those who favor price but still gives the option for those who want to utilize a larger drive.
3) Processor fast enough to power HD quality video.
4) Four hours of video viewing.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 4:34 am 
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Archos5Fan wrote:
I have a 12" tablet PC and it is big enough, almost too big. It starts becomming a laptop form factor, even without the keyboard. The 9" size is interesting and may be the ideal size. I would like to see Archos consider:

1) Wide-viewing angle screen
2) 2.5" User upgradeable SATA drive and use a lower cost drive. That keeps the price low for those who favor price but still gives the option for those who want to utilize a larger drive.
3) Processor fast enough to power HD quality video.
4) Four hours of video viewing.


1) this is all up in the air at this point.
2) I agree
3) It will do 720p fine, though 1080p might require some manipulating
4) I can't see why not, it should use slightly less power than a Viliv X70 which is rated at 5.5 hours.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:43 am 
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A interchangable 2.5" HDD is a very good idea indeed. Don't get your hopes up, though, since i've seen pictures of the Archos 9's backside and saw only one exchange port, for battery exchange.

After another look at the beauty the Archos 9 is, I have some remarks about the product:

- The screen: The screen is fluently integrated in the designed, as in, the screen is not protruded as the screen of the Archos 5 is. This has it's upsides, but also its downside. The upside is that - with the shiny surface - you won't have a distracting break in the light reflections on the device. Also, a very asthetic one, is that it looks more like a gadget with the screen set-up like this. Downside of this design choice is that a screen protector will always show as a heightened surface. My Archos 5's screen protector fills the gap perfectly, and thus, doesn't look like a screen WITH potector.

- Case Design: The screen and the border around the screen are glossy. De sides are matte. A glossy finish makes the device look more like a slick gadget. Matte (as by the way, the back of the device) doesn't show distracting finger prints or scratches as present as on a glossy finish. In the end, I guess the Archos 9 looks better, slicker with a matte back and a completely glossy front. Although I know research and development have broken this 'gadget-look' for the fingerprint issue.

- Hardware: In the end everything will come down to the hardware. I've worked with windows 7 from the first beta on, and am currently working with Windows 7. Almost all of the slight problems I've had were solved, and the ones not solved will probably be solved in the final release. All in all, I'm very confident this is a solid Windows release, as was XP and - although a lot of bashing - was Vista.
The great change will be the multi touch experience. I'm really hoping Windows 7 will be changing the market, in the sense that multi touch is becoming more of a standard and more and more programs start having multi touch GUI.
CPU / GPU - power: A LOT of discussion on this subject, but all in all, I think you must look at the market this product is penetrating. I've written a bit about this in a former post, bottom line is: PDA/MID-market is taken and already penetrated by products like Archos5 and 7. The netbook market is still young, but Archos is attacking this fiercely with the Archos10 and 13. Archos 9 will, therefore, need to penetrate markets between these markets, the TabletPC market, which comes down to salespersons and home use (and the sporadic student). Now, I know Archos is a company mainly focused on the 15 - 30 year old buyers, with colorfull viral marketing, so I know a lot of students are going to be dissatisfied with the power/price choice Archos have made.
Price Point: This is probably one of the biggest point as there are a lot of fish being thrown in the Archos 9 market; the TabletPC market. What power is needed for salespersons and home use? And with that in mind, what price point would be perfect? Comparable products are, on average, a Ôé¼100,- more expensive, so the hardware is lower then you'd might hope.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:24 pm 
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The problem I have with matte finishes is that they start out matte but with usage the finish wears to become glossy in spots resulting in an uneven glossy/matte finish that really looks ugly.

Have a look at any keyboard that started out matte. I bet there are now a glossy spots on the space bar and certain keys like "E", "S", "T", etc.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:34 pm 
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Archos5Fan wrote:
The problem I have with matte finishes is that they start out matte but with usage the finish wears to become glossy in spots resulting in an uneven glossy/matte finish that really looks ugly.

Have a look at any keyboard that started out matte. I bet there are now a glossy spots on the space bar and certain keys like "E", "S", "T", etc.


Spot on! I happen to have this with the "W", "A", "S" and "D" keys ;)

While glossy isn't perfect, matte certainly isn't either...


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 4:21 pm 
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Yeah! Any gamer keyboard -- really subject to "worn to glossy" keys while the others still look matte. So, make the devices glossy and put up with the fingerprints. It'll end up glossy in the most used spots anyway and still show fingerprints.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 3:34 am 
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I have also had this problem. I bought the Archos holder (sold by Archos) for the 120/250 GB Archos 5 and because of daily use, my Archos now has almost perfectly glossy corners which makes the once uniform material look like patchwork.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 2:32 pm 
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It happens to all of them I'm afraid, but as long as it is working I'm happy.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 5:22 pm 
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Well, I'd like to refer to the iPhone/iPod Touch, when comparing it to other devices since you'd expect the same thing (except for specs etc.)

I've never heard any complaints on paint damage or anyhing. The only thing is that the backside is chrome-ish and you see scratches and such very good. I really think the paintwork of the A5 is too cheap for the ambition Archos has with it...


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