Archos 5 Android struggles to coexist with iPhone 3GS


Did you ever have a gadget that you felt you were supposed to really like but, try as you might, you could only just kind of like? That's how I feel about my Archos 5 Android Internet Tablet.

It's a significant improvement over last year's Archos 5 IMT, offers faster web browsing speeds than other ARM Cortex A8-powered devices, has a large high-resolution touchscreen, and runs on an operating system compatible with a growing catalog of third-party applications . . . yet the iPhone 3GS is still my go-to device for nearly everything I should be using the Archos 5 Android for.

Anything made by Archos is always my first choice for portable video and my music needs are still being met by the Sony X Series Walkman, so the iPhone is never tasked with any multimedia duties. I didn't get the Archos 5 Android for media playback either (I still use the Archos 5 IMT for video because of its 250GB hard drive), so there's no potential overlap for me there. No, what drew me to the device were the web browsing experience and the OS.

Unfortunately, neither has offered enough for me to keep the Android tablet within arm's reach at all times. Most of my mobile computing devices are relegated to my gadget closet except on size comparison days, but they usually aren't sent there so soon after they're delivered, especially if I was really looking forward to their arrival.

I didn't buy the Archos to replace my 3GS entirely (it's not a phone, after all), but I did expect it to at least act as a supplementary device since it's more robust/capable. Instead, it spends most of its time in the closet.

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Why? Because the 3GS, while far from perfect, is simply more enjoyable for me to use. I've already gone over web browsing on both Archos 5 tablets in detail, so I won't rehash my issues with it here. Instead, I'll sum it up by saying that navigation in Safari is more intuitive and streamlined, the iPhone's capacitive touchscreen is more responsive and makes kinetic scrolling better, and the on-screen keyboard is more accurate and easier for me to type on. Simply put, these features and other browser niceties (e.g., being able to tap the top taskbar to return to the top of a webpage and having an always accessible search box next to the URL bar) make the iPhone web experience better to me than the Archos 5 Android one.

So even though the tablet's screen is bigger, the resolution is higher, and load times are slightly faster, I still reach for the 3GS for all of my quick web bites and internet consumption.


Likewise, I prefer the iPhone OS to Archos' implementation of Android. Maybe I'd feel differently if the Google experience and Android Market were included, but since they aren't, I can really only compare Archos' AppsLib with Apple's App Store. And if you've used both, then you know that there's really no comparison. Other Android marketplaces (e.g., AndAppStore, SlideME) and apps not available in AppsLib are compatible with the Archos tablet, but having to find and test them all yourself is obviously not as easy as having everything listed and categorized for you in one place.

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I also haven't found any killer Android apps or even any really good casual games that make me want to use the Archos 5 instead of the iPhone 3GS. I wouldn't say that the iPhone is the ultimate gaming platform, but the catalog is extensive and includes a lot of high-quality titles from big-name companies.


So even when I don't need web access, I still have plenty of reasons to pick up the 3GS. I don't think the iPhone 3GS is universally better than the Archos 5 Android (they really shouldn't even be compared), but I do know that it's a better casual mobile computing device for me.

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Jenn K. Lee

Jenn K. Lee is the founder of Pocketables. She loves gadgets the way most women love shoes and purses. The pieces in her tech wardrobe that go with everything are currently the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Sony Tablet P, and Nexus 7, but there are still a couple of vintage UMPCs/MIDs in the back of her closet.

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