Apple iPad vs Archos 7 Home Tablet

Not really a feasible possibility but let’s set aside CPU, touch and accelerometer for a moment and look at the top 13 uses for the iPad as prescribed for users by Apple. On their site that have play list of 13 videos toting "some of key things" that the iPad can do. When you consider what these key things are, you realize they are pretty basic for such a powerful device. In fact because they are basic, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Archos 7 HT could very well fulfill all of them. What I want to do is make a list of these things and see how well the A7HT does them. Now, since I don’t yet have one in my hands I can’t get a full idea of how well they do these things but I’m open to contributions and would like to update this list accordingly. This is mainly something I feel like doing because I want to pass the time till my HT gets here but I think it will be helpful to prospective buyers. I’m marking each of these key things as "superb," "adequate" and "needs improvement."

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Here we go:

Safari-Android’s stock browser has been criticized a bit it still pretty speedy and reliable. Besides this it also has Opera Mini 5, Skyfire Beta and Dolphin. Speed always has many variables, CPU, connection etc. but all these are nice browsers in their own right. I’ve actually found that I use them all. (Confirm that these are all the browsers and they all are 1.5 compatible) If they are are all fully functional then I’d say this is a superb category.

Mail-I have not tried the stock mail app on the A5IT and imagine it’s similar or the same stock app on the A7HT. I’m looking forward to the possibility of Gmail being hacked on the A7HT. For Gmail users there is no better app than a Gmail app. For the time being I’m keeping this at adequate with possibility of being superb.

Photos-I don’t know about you but I really like the layout. It doesn’t have stacks like the iPad but it still does a good job. I’m glad that they make it pretty simple but it’s almost too simple. It would be nice to have some metadata in there. i.e. dates, captions, photographed by that sort of thing. I’d say that it’s adequate. If there is a third party app for photo viewing that works for 1.5 and does a better job the I’m all ears.

Videos-This is Archos’ field, don’t mess with it, they no their PMP’s. Few to no other Android devices or iPhone OS devices offer this many codecs and containers out of the box. In fact, there are only 3rd party work around for certain containers and codecs on the iPhone OS. Ones like .avi and .mkv. The only thing I’d like to see is an interface to match the awesomeness of Archos’ video ability. The iPad’s movie art, meta data and chapter selection is a win for viewing experience. Despite this, the most important thing is that it be a solid player with good support. So, Adequate/Superb. It’s on the fence for the UI.

YouTube-Would love to see this hacked on to the A7HT. Hulu will be a tough bargain to run but I think the A7HT might be able to handle YouTube. My phone is 400mhz QVGA and can still do the job without lag. Right now, it’s uncertain if the A7HT will handle it.

iPod-Again, Archos is awesome at PMP. Everything I’ve seen from their music player tells that it’s pretty basic but nice. Just like the video, it covers a lot of great codecs and containers. Including FLAC! Yes! I feel like music doesn’t need as advanced a UI as the video player but being filmmaker there’s some bias in that statement. I’d say it’s superb.

iTunes-Someone want to weigh in on an equivalent and how good it is? I don’t get my music from online stores or downloads so I don’t have a good perspective on this.

App Store-Once more we don’t have the Android Market. However from the videos I’ve seen, AppLib appears to be more stable on the A7HT. On the A5IT it is near unusable in my experience. It’s never something people like to highlight in any review I’ve seen. It ought to be improved. If the Android Market gets hacked then I probably wouldn’t even acknowledge the Apps lib.

Maps-One more thing that I hope will be hacked on with a google software install. If you can’t wait for that, the .apk is available for download too. A great app. Some of those Apple features would be nice but google is very good at making this app nice for its own platform. Hey it’s google maps, you can’t go wrong. I’m putting this as adequate as it sucks that we don’t get the turn by turn that Android 2.1 users get. Since it’s wifi there isn’t a whole lot you can do with this except play with it. I’d be interested in bumping it up to superb depending on how well it renders, especially the street view.

iBooks-We couldn’t ask for anything better than Aldiko, Well, we could but it’s still a damn good app. It compensates for the fact that there is no accelerometer by defaulting to portrait mode, it has a nice mahogany looking book shelf and just like iBooks it’s epub. You can choose from a large library of public domain titles, original titles by users and you can import epub books from your PC. By the way, I’d recommend using Calibre. It’s a free ebook management software. It formats books to fit your device. Android compatible and should work just fine with A7HT. Aldiko is superb.

Keynote, Pages and Numbers-The question I have is, will the full version of documentstogo run on 1.5? I know it runs on the A5IT but that now runs 1.6. Also, I haven’t used this app but from my research it’s the only one that gets favorable reviews. Can you edit spreadsheets, word docs and slideshows? How good are the tools and options? It’s nice on the iPhone OS and I hope the same is true for Android. This one I’m going to leave unmarked.

Things That Archos 7 Home Tablet Can do that the iPad Can’t:

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USB Connectivity!-One of the things so many iPad users wished they had and were anticipating but didn’t get. We have it!:-) We’re can connect a keyboard like the iPad but unlike the iPad we can also add a mouse and it will be aided by a cursor! We can even connect external hard drives too!

While Archos is going to come out with devices that more directly address iPad’s market it’s safe to say that the Archos still crosses paths with the Apple tablet. Steve Jobs said that a device like this needs to be good at some key things. I think with some patience and research, the Archos 7 Home Tablet can meet these 13 key things, albeit without some Apple’s bells and whistles.

Please feel free to contest, challenge or commend these findings. I’m just laying down the template for the community to manipulate. I want this to serve as a way for future buyers to see what they get and for owners to feel good about their purchase. Perhaps even iPad users to concede and give the Archos some props! UI
The UI on the iPad is much more polished than Android/Archos. I read that the Android UI will be much discussed by developers at this week’s Google conference. I expect the young Android UI to mature very quickly and match or exceed the iPad UI within the next 12 to 18 months.

OS Development Cycle
The OS Development Cycle has been much faster for Android, which has been a mixed blessing. We have 4 or 5 Android OSes: 1.5, 1.6 and the 2s – 2.0, 2.1 and maybe this week 2.2 officially. Additional features have come with each OS upgrade, and Android runs on a greater number of different devices with varied HW. Such as the Archos 5IT and 7HT.

App Development
Google Android phones lead Apple iPhone sales for the first time this year. More Android devices mean more App Developers and Development. We’ve already seen Android Apps on the Archos which were specifically developed for the 5IT – Aldiko epub reader and the Archos Media Center. I suggest this trend will continue until more HW variations come in stock Android.

Because Android has exceeded iPhones in sales, I also suggest Android will quickly exceed iPad/iPhone in total number of Apps. Android already exceeds in the number of App outlets.

Aldiko eReader
I love Aldiko and Calibre. But it needs two things which WordPlayer already has:
1. The ability to make an audio book out of any epub formatted file.
2. The ability to use Calibre as an ePublication server.

Screen Size
The iPad is 10 inches and I want one that size but in HD aspect ratio not SD like the iPad. So I will be getting another Android tablet, in addition to the 7HT, this summer/fall.

I see the iPad vs 7HT as mostly an apples to archos (oranges) comparison. The iPad is so deficient in so many respects, and so is the 7HT. But from the videos and comments by owners I’m quite satisfied with the 7HT’s responsiveness. For the money I can have two+ 7HTs or one iPad.

Since I regard 7 inch tablets like reference books, I do plan to have and use multiple 7 inch tablets at the same time. Just like I’ve done with reference books. I also plan to have and use a 10 inch Android tablet at the same time, like a magazine.

I hope Steve Jobs is saving his company’s money because Android may well do to the iPad what Wintel Boxes have done to Macs – radically reduce Apple’s market share.

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