A major issue affecting all Android devices that don't match Google's smartphone hardware requirements for the OS is the lack of the full Google Experience. This basically prevents a whole range of devices, including all non-phone Android tablets/MIDs, from including access to Android Market, Gmail, Google Maps, and more. One of the devices hit hard by this is the Archos 5 Android, with Jenn comparing the OS without Google issue to "an ice cream cone without the ice cream: incomplete and almost not worth having."
Previously, users have had the option of installing an unofficial hack to gain access to the Google services but it's never been the perfect solution with the notable omission of paid apps. The rest of us hoped that Archos and Google would eventually fully integrate the missing pieces of the puzzle, not to mention provide an upgrade to Android 2.x, in a firmware update. Lo and behold, the company has recently released the latest firmware, version 1.7.99, which isn't the much wanted upgrade to Eclair but still does partly address some of the major issues.
Users on the ArchosFans.com forums have found that the new firmware in unison with the market access hack now not only enables access to Android Market like before, but also allows access to the previously omitted paid apps. Although it's still not the ideal solution, it is definitely a significant step in the right direction with rumors that the next firmware update may be the big one, bringing Eclair and the full Google Experience to the Archos 5 Android, in advance of Archos' next generation tablets likely launching with a newer version of Android.
Other fixes in the 1.7.99 update include improvements to WiFi and USB connection issues and various fixes for video playback, tethering, and the FM radio. Any Archos 5 Android owners like to chip in with their thoughts on the new firmware and improved access to Android Market?[Liliputing]