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Archive for the ‘Archos 101’ Category

Archos A101it on the road!

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I am just back from a two week business trip and working two big shows: SHOT in Vegas (Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trades…the largest show for gunshops and outdoor retailers in the world) and the Space Coast Birding and Nature Festival in Titusville, Florida.

Of course I took my Archos along. You might remember that one of the primary reasons I bought the Archos tablet was to be able to quickly show folks images and video taken with our ZEISS products (in real life, I am the Birding and Observation Product Specialist for Carl Zeiss Sports Optics). I showed hundreds of people who were interested in photography through the spotting scopes, examples of stills and video at both shows, using Quickpic (which I highly recommend). Quickpic catalogs folders containing both stills and video. It displays thumbnails of the folders with example pics on them, and then, when you open a folder, a index of thumbnails for the contents. Touching one opens it in full screen, with tap to zoom for detailed looks. And it is fast! without the clutter (and, in my experience, instability) of the stock gallery app. It creates thumbnails for all your videos too, and, when you touch one, calls the video player to play it. All very slick. (Quickpics has had several updates, each of which has added new functionality, since I downloaded the first version…it just keeps getting better!)  And the screen on the Archos is high enough resolution and of high enough quality to make an impression. I was just careful to make sure the screen was angled correctly for the audience. The Archos made demonstrating the photo capabilities of the spotting scopes both easy and fun!

The trip also gave me a chance to test the wifi capabilities of the A101it in the wild, away from my home router. It connected easily to any network I encountered, and worked amazingly well with my Virgin Mobile Mifi. The only difficulty I encountered was that, while it connected properly to the wifi routers at both hotels I stayed at, and showed a strong signal, neither Dolphin or the stock browser could resolve a url after connection. They called the authorization page, and allowed me to log in…then nothing. Strangely, while in this state, my email and twitter apps occasionally updated, and random web pages would resolve and partially load, so I know there was at least some internet access. I came to the conclusion that the name server the hotels were using was not Android friendly, and was somehow blocking or generating an error when an android device tried to access it. It is especially odd, since airport wifi, which uses a similar authorization scheme, worked just fine. [Ed Note: after another trip, it becomes ever more likely that the issue is the nameservers some hotels use. I was able to connect and browse in two different hotels in VA this past week, and had no problems with airport wifi at several different airports as well.]

I might mention that Archos released a firmware upgrade while I was traveling, and I had great adventures trying to install it over my Virgin Mobile Mifi…but eventually got it to work. Unfortunately I am among the as yet unknown minority who suffered USB host failure as a result of the upgrade. I have reinstalled the firmware, reset Android, and completely reformatted the A101 and installed firmware from scratch…but nothing has revived the USB host. I am waiting to hear from Archos as to whether they think this is a firmware issue or a hardware issue. Personally, I suspect the USB driver gets corrupted during the upgrade, and that it is not stored where a reformat wipes it (it could not be, since you need USB to reinstall your firmware after a reformat). At any rate, I am hoping Archos finds a fix for this asap…I don’t use my USB host port much, but I want it to work. [Ed Note: they issued an RMA for my A101 but I am reluctant to send it in as everything but the USB Host is working better than ever before.] Other than that the new firmware seems a genuine improvement, with the whole machine just seeming smoother and more responsive. (The upgrade broke downloads in Dolphin but Archos rushed out a new Firmware version, 2.1.04, released 1/2/2011 that fixes Dolphin and a handful of other apps that had problems under 2.1.03.)

My NewMP3Tech case with my stand modification, by the way, worked great. Of course I never dropped the Archos, but I felt safe and secure, and a touch elegant…and that’s half the battle!

After several weeks of intense use now, I am finding that I prefer to do social media stuff on the tablet over the iPhone, even when it means digging out my MiFi and booting it. TweetCaster Premium is an exceptionally fine Twitter client, and allows posting to Facebook as well, and I use the web interface in Dolphin for Facebook. And there is, of course, no comparison when browsing the web or googling essential info…with Dolphin HD as a browser, set to Desktop mode, the web becomes as accessible on the tablet as it is on my laptop…and flipping open the Archos in an airport is way easier than booting up the laptop! (And somehow more fun too.)

And yes, if I had a $ for everyone who asked if it was an iPad, I could buy another Archos 101 🙂

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Written by singraham

February 1, 2011 at 11:48 am

Accessorizing the Archos A101it

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 Lexerd Anti-Glare Screen Protector

I ordered a Lexerd True-View Anti-glare Screen Protector for my Archos 101 directly from Lexerd through Amazon.com. It is one of the more expensive screen protectors out there ($30), and I was, admittedly, hesitant to order it…but it was the only one that I could find (at the time) that claimed anti-glare properties. If you own, or have tried, an Archos 101 you know why that might be attractive.

The protector came in due course and I installed it. It was easy (especially compared to some iPhone protectors I have wrestled with). Lexerd provides two little finger tip thingies (a bit like uninflected balloons) that go over the first finger and thumb of the hand you handle the protector with, and it appears to adhere mostly by surface tension. It is slightly smaller than the screen of the 101, which actually makes it a lot easier to get on. And, since there is no adhesive, you can pick up the leading edge to work bubbles out from under until you have it just about perfect. You can even lift the whole thing off to start over if you have to.

antiglareOnce installed, you will see an immediate difference. While the screen is still slightly reflective, reflections are definitely muted to the point where they are unlikely to be distracting in most lights. Once the 101 is fired up, the protector disappears, except for a noticeable increase in apparent contrast. The difference is somewhat apparent looking at the home screen, but it does wonders when viewing photos or videos. It does add some graininess to large areas of solid color, like the blue sky, and it is possible that smaller text sizes are not quite as sharp. You will have to decide if it is worth it for the overall improvement in the view.

It does not interfere with touch at all. It is silky smooth under the fingers. It still picks up its share of finger grease and smudge, but perhaps a bit less than the naked screen. It is easy to clean with a static free wipe or a lens cloth.

textagSo far it seems quite durable. I am careful with my toys, errr, tools…so I have not put it to the scratch test, but it is showing no signs of wear after two weeks of use now.

Since ordering the Lexerd, I have found another source of “anti-glare” protectors, at NewMp3Technology.com. NewMp3Technology seems to be an excellent early adopter source for Archos accessories. They have, as of this writing, the only custom fitted folio case for the A101it that I have been able to find. More on that below. They also list an anti-glare screen protector for about 1/3 of what the Lexerd sells for…and certainly when the Lexard wears out I may try one from NewMp3Tech.

NewMp3Technology Genuine Leather case for Archos A101it with Stand.

I have looked around for possible carrying solutions for the Archos, and even made my own little sleeve, but I am totally spoiled by the Leather Case for the Kindle. The Kindle case is both elegant and functional. I love carrying it.

The only thing remotely like it I have been able to find is the NewMp3Tech leather case. At $40, it is, as such things go, actually reasonable (same price as the Kindle case), and after much debate, with an extensive trip afield coming up fast, I went ahead and ordered one. It came in due course and I have been using it for a few days now.

It pretty much meets my expectations, though it could be improved greatly with just a bit more effort.

Plus: 1) well made, elegant looking and feeling, 2) when closed offers adequate protection for the back and screen during transport, 3) only adds reasonable bulk and substance to what is, or can be, a somewhat fragile feeling machine. This is good.

Minus: 1) stand function is lame. Wrong angle for any imaginable use and not totally secure in use. There is no way to adjust for optimum viewing angle much less for comfortable typing. 2) Little or no protection for the edges of the A101. A drop would not be recommended. When carrying outside my laptop backpack, I will still need some kind of protective case for the occasional bump…or, heaven forbid…actual drop. (Fortunately I snagged one of those $5.99 Neoprene ViewSonic G cases from Sears while they had them).

Needed improvements. 1) Simply extending the leather covers 1/4 inch on all sides (like the Kindle cover) so the leather would take the impact of a bump or drop instead of the edge of the machine, would make this a much more functional and secure case. 2) if you bend the cover the “wrong way” behind the machine, it has the makings of an excellent stand. I will work on a modification and take some pics when it is ready.

So, the NewMp3Tech case is a good enough for now solution, but I expect (hope) to see better.

USB Charging Cable (NewMp3Tech)

One of the drawbacks of the A101it (and 70it), when compared to the other gen8 models, is the need for a separate charger to provide the extra amps needed to for a reasonably quick charge of the large batteries. It is the same situation new iPad owners faced when that machine came out. Standard USB is only 1.1 amps. The A101it requires 2 amps for a decent charge (the iPad likes 2.1), and the folks at Archos must have figured, “why confuse people and have them plugging into standard USB and taking forever to charge”. Therefore the separate adapter and power port. Still, carrying an extra adapter these days, especially one with blades that do not fold or retract, is less than ideal. I already have a bag of adapters and chargers that takes up a fairly large corner of my luggage.

So, when I saw the USB Charging Cable for the A101it on the NewMp3Tech site while ordering my case, of course I had to have one. It was only $10. This little guy has a standard USB plug at one end and a plug to match the Archos power port on the other. Simple. Well…almost. Standard USB is still only 1.1 amps, and it would take a long time to fully charge the Archos while plugged into a USB port or standard wall charger. powrblkOvernight with the Archos powered down and plugged into a live USB block, the charge came up from less than 50% to more than 70%, so it is charging…just not very fast. On the other hand, several companies make USB chargers specifically designed for the higher demands of the iPad (the Griffin PowerBlock seems to be among the best). Plug your Archos USB Charging Cable into one of those, and it should charge just as well, and just as fast, as the supplied charger. I will let you know as soon as I can locate a Griffin PowerBlock 🙂

[Ed. Note: Having found a Griffin PowerBlock at our local Best Buy last night I can now testify that it does indeed charge the A101it, but that for some reason, it does not bring the charge above 75% even on an overnight charge with the A101it powered off. I would say you could expect similar performance from any USB charger that is designed for the iPad! So, I will carrying the Archos charger for the duration 😦 and using the NewMp3Tech cable strictly for emergencies.]

Written by singraham

December 27, 2010 at 4:50 pm