I used to work in the back of A320s for a charter airline... Brings back memories. Crazy what happened to that Quantas A380 recently.
We had a scare when an engine cowl came off one of our B757s on take-off. Apparently one of the latches experienced structural failure. The engineer who serviced the aircraft almost had a heart attack, because initial speculation was that it wasn't secured properly.
On to your questions:Can it be used as an eBook Reader?
I purchased the Archos 9 to use as a handheld web-browing device in wifi connected areas, as well as a reader for pdf manuals and such. I find the 8.9" 1024x600 widescreen the right size when used in portrait full-page layout in Adobe Reader
for novellas. I rotate the document inside Adobe to avoid any mouse tracking issues (using screen rotation on the graphics driver seems to throw the mouse driver for a loop). Adobe can be set to use left/right key to next/previous page, and that his how I navigate.Kindle for PC
does not have a portrait setting that I can find. I do not like reading documents/books in standard widescreen layout, as it requires too much scrolling. I would not advise using it in this fashion.
The screen resolution/quality is okay for a backlit lcd device. The resistive touch screen layer in front does make things a appear a little less sharp. It will not resemble in any way an actual ebook like the Kindle or other eInk device. When reading, I usually turn the screen brightness down to reduce eye-strain. This can be easily done using the 'keyboard' key and the left/right mouse keys.
At 800 grams, it is a bit heavy to hold one handed for any length of time. I have found it awkward to hold in it's normal widescreen position. Because I am left handed, I grip it on the top right corner. This tends to place my thumb right over the power button! If I am simply reading, I tend to hold it in the middle of the bottom of the unit, thumb in front, the A9 resting on my palm and outstretched fingers behind. Holding it in portrait mode is a little easier.
Right-handed users that hold the device with their left hand have commented that the area in the top left gets quite warm. The A9 uses passive cooling only. I appreciate how silent it is, and how slim the device is, but the heat can be uncomfortable. Don't ever lay it flat on a blanket or such: You might overheat the device!Can I zoom in and out using fingers?
No. The touchscreen is single input resistive only. Because it is single-touch, pinching does not work.
Resistive technology is better suited for stylus (or fingernail) input, and trying to finger input like one does on a capacitive screen (like the iphone) tends to confuse the device because the finger tip has activated a very large area of the screen. Resistive screens prefer to get a single point of data (resolution can be as good as one pixel!). Resistive screens shine for handwriting recognition. Unfortunately, Windows 7 Starter does not have handwriting recognition. You would have to upgrade the Windows license to get this feature.
If you have ever used an older Pocket PC (I used to have an HP Jornada). You will get an idea of what you can do. Touch to select. Double-tap to activate. Press and hold for 'right-mouse button'.
If you do decide to upgrade the Windows license, you can also enable a feature called 'flicks', which can be used to navigate (swipe up and screen will scroll, etc.).How does office work on it?
Because it runs a full Windows OS, you will have as much functionality as your home PC.
However, because it was specced almost two years ago, the processor is slower than what is currently available in comparably priced laptops/netbooks, and the 1GB memory is physically limited (cannot upgrade, as it is soldered into the mainboard). If you have ever used an Intel Centrino laptop, that is what it feels like to me. Start up of any application is agonizingly slow because of all the background processes Windows loads, but once everything is in place, it is as responsive as a PC would be given the hardware specifications.
I need to send my unit in to have the screen looked at (http://forum.archosfans.com/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=40244
). After it has been returned to me, I plan to experiment with a high speed USB key (class 6 flash device) to see if it will improve loading performance (reference: readyboost).
Elsewhere in this forum, someone has replaced their HD with an SSD (basically, a really large flash device). While it greatly improves the speed of the device, in my opinion, at the cost of the SSD, it sort of defeats the low cost aspect of purchasing the A9.
Do not expect near instantaneous response to input like on an iphone.
Hope this helps.