I’ve been looking at Android tablets for some time now as I can see the real benefit of not having to carry a bulky netbook around with me to clients. However, the cost of the good ones with 10″ screens seems prohibitive and the smaller ones, despite being quite affordable, have screens that encourage lots of scrolling around to see web pages – hardly the environment to demonstrate my web sites to prospectful clients.

I stumbled across the Archos 101 Internet Tablet at my local Staples store yesterday and was immediately impressed by the build quality, professional looks and compact size, despite having a screen resolution that is wide enough to demonstrate web sites on. So the deal was done on the basis that I could return it within seven days for a full refund if it wasn’t for me.

To be honest, initial impressions weren’t too great. Don’t get me wrong, everything worked fine but it just didn’t feel right. The letter box shape makes the device difficult to use hand-held and the screen doesn’t look like it’s working at it’s native resolution. Then there was the discovery that you can’t access the Android apps store from the device, rather you have to use the clumsy AppsLib which has a few apps (OK, it might have a few thousand apps, but there’s nowhere near the number that are available through the proper Android Market) and the fact that I couldn’t find anything on it.

Initial investigations showed that you can install Android Market, but it seemed a drawn out process that was a bit hit and miss. Then I stumbled across ArcTools in AppLibs and the whole experience of owning an Archos was lifted from the doldrums – within minutes I had Android Market installed on my device and was adding the apps that I had grown to love on my Android phone. Simples, why couldn’t Archos have done this. They claim it’s because of compatibilty, but only Opera Mobile has failed to run out of all the apps I’ge installed.

I’ve also solved the hand-held issue. Featured in the rear of the device is a small stand which places the Archos 101 at exactly the right angle on a desk. The excellent keyboard, used in combination with this stand enables you to type at quite quick speeds using the on-screen keyboard. The buttons are plenty big enough, resulting in fewer typos.

Initial impressions weren’t good, but I think that the Archos 101 Internet Tablet is worth serious consideration now that I’ve stuck with it.

Oh, and did I mention the excellent media handling? It’s very impressive – but then that’s what you expect of Archos devices.

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