So here is—the last of the three Archos G9 tablets to make its way into our test lab, announced all the way back in June 2011. It's an Android tablet with a 1.5 GHz dual-core Texas Instruments OMAP 4460 processor and 1 GB of RAM (compared with a 1 GHz or 1.2 GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 and 512 MB of RAM for the non-Turbo models).
Otherwise, this Turbo version uses the same capacitive TN-type touchscreen as the other G9s, with resolution at 1280 x 800 pixels.
Connections comprise a micro-USB port, a microSD card slot, a 3.5 mm headphones jack, a mini-HDMI output and a port for connecting a specific optional 3G key (the Archos 3G Stick) which doubles up as a USB 2.0 Host port for a flash drive or external hard drive.
The 101 G9 Turbo runs on Android 4.0.3 (Archos firmware version 4.0.5) and comes with Archos' custom media player with its very nicely designed interface.
The 16 GB Archos 101 G9 Turbo sells for around £250. A model with a 250 GB hard drive is also available for nearer £300.
Weighing in at 649 g, the 101 G9 Turbo feels its weight but is, at least, well balanced. Once again, it's nice to see a little flip-out stand on the back of the tablet so you can prop it up. The only downside is that this looks quite fragile as it's made from flimsy, low-grade plastic.
In fact, the whole tablet feels like a homage to plastic. Joins in the casing aren't particularly sleek or flattering, and the borders to the left and right of the screen are way too big. Plus, volume buttons on the right-hand edge of the tablet are too low down to fall conveniently under your fingers.
Note that some Archos G9 tablets have had screen issues, causing a rippling effect on the display. During the manufacturing process, Archos moulds the plastic used for components within the tablet's structure to keep the G9 as slim as possible. The result is that when pressure is applied to certain parts of the tablet, a bubbly, wave-effect can be seen onscreen, depending on where your fingers happen to be placed. It's not a problem that affects all users and it seems to occur to varying degrees in different tablets, but it's still a shame to see this kind of negative feedback from users!
A TN screen generally means tight viewing angles, with an onscreen image that looks black or like a kind of dark negative when viewed from below. Here, Archos has managed to keep this problem in check, even if screen contrast does drop the more you tilt the tablet. Speaking of contrast, this is just the first of the 101 G9 Turbo's screen woes, at 300:1, Archos has clearly only bothered updated the processor and RAM compared with the 101 G9.
The average Delta E, which measures colour fidelity (the closer to zero the better) is 9.8 in the Turbo model compared with 9.6 in the standard 101 G9. In other words, onscreen colours aren't particularly natural or accurate.
Plus, maximum brightness has dropped from 260 cd/m2 to 197 cd/m2 in the Turbo version. Add to all that a ghosting time of 27 ms and you get, quite frankly, a very poor-quality tablet screen that won't lend itself well to outdoor use.
Interface and Navigation
There's not much point in us detailing the interface, widgets and apps available in the 101 G9 Turbo, as everything is exactly the same as in the 80 G9 and the standard 101 G9. Basically, you get pure, unadulterated Android 4.0.5 with extra music and video players, a Remote app for controlling the tablet with an Android smartphone, a fun Photo Frame app, an app for managing the UPnP media server function and an app for managing 3G connectivity via the optional Archos 3G Stick.
Both the music and video players have been treated to an effective and well-designed set of widgets in a handy carousel-type menu.
Thankfully, this tablet doesn't have the same stability issues as the other two versions. For once, Archos has managed to load its tablet with all the components required for smooth operation, making the 101 G9 Turbo the first G9-series model that continuously responds to commands in a smooth, fluid manner, no matter how long you happen to use it for.
It doesn't give the same impression that the RAM is getting clogged up and slowed down, and it doesn't splutter and hang as you flick between Android homescreens or when using the multitasking bar.
There are faster tablets out there for web browsing, and the 101 G9 Turbo is far behind the likes of the Apple iPad or the Asus Transformer Pad Prime. However, online content is displayed trouble-free—including Flash—and everything remains easy to read in both portrait and landscape modes.
Do we really have to tell you again how good the Archos media player is? Like in Samsung's Galaxy Tabs, file support is so comprehensive that you can simply transfer your media files onto the 101 G9 Turbo's internal memory then sit back and enjoy. It's so much nicer than the basic and limited standard Android media player in similar tablets (which means you have to download a third-party app for boosted file support). This is still a pretty rare feature in the tablet market and it really makes Archos stand out from the crowd.
For games, the 101 G9 Turbo can handle all kinds of titles, even 3D games. However, Texas Instruments hasn't had the same excellent idea for its OMAP processors as Nvidia has in creating the TegraZone for its Tegra chips. TegraZone is a special online store where developers offer games specifically adapter to run with Nvidia's CPU, with extra effects and improved graphics. So seeing as there's no "OMAP-zone" you'll have to make do with a meagre selection of little-known 3D games. We can only hope that Texas Instruments does something about this soon, as the OMAP 4460 has plenty of potential that's just waiting to be put to use.
Audio quality isn't up to much. Sound from the speakers soon becomes hard to decipher and lacks detail. It'd be nice if the headphones out was a bit more powerful too.
With its new-found stability and no doubt slightly optimised hardware, the 101 G9 Turbo manages around six hours' battery life for mixed use (web, e-mail, games, etc.). For video playback you lose around 30 to 45 minutes depending how much you hammer the Wi-Fi. This Turbo tablet therefore does a little better than the standard 101 G9, although it doesn't exactly change the game.
Note that this tablet has a very effective sleep mode, unlike certain other tablets in the range.