(Makes one wonder how involved Archos has been in the design and manufacturing process.)
Very involved. If you don't think so look at the number of FW updates the Gen8s have received compared to the Home Tablets.
I don't see how firmware updates has anything to do with design and manufacture. My father and I maintained, created software and tested the F-16 sims for the US Air force. We had nothing to do with design or man. But we did everything else.
XDA has created custom firmware and they update but they have nothing to do with how the hardware was made.
Read the submission letters. Archos referred all questions to the Chinese manufacturer. This leads me to believe they went shopping for tablets and may not have played much, if any role, in the design. This may explain why the frequent FW updates recently may have created more problems for some users--Archos software engineers may not be that familiar with the hardware if Archos didn't design it, and some of their coding is causing issues on some units. The internal photos also show more of the parts than the end-user tear down photos that have been posted. Such photos may be helpful in trouble shooting.