Friday, September 17, 2010

Archos 32 first impressions

My son started saving his money during the summer after setting his sights on an iPod Touch. While we went through chore lists, used video game sales, and near mint Pokemon cards, I introduced him to an alternative I had come across, the Archos 32. He was interested mostly in the reduced price and as long as it had some games, he was in. Yesterday we received the unit and he couldn't wait to turn it on.

My impression of the device are overall positive. It is smaller than I thought being 3.2 inches compared to the 4.4 of an iPod touch. It seemed perfectly sized though for my son's smaller hands. The screen was responsive without having to do much double tapping or pushing harder to illicit a response. I did notice a bit of font "jagginess" when scrolling or even reading the screen. Maybe this is normal for Android devices, but that remains to be seen. The device itself was very responsive and seemed to have plenty of horsepower to do what was needed.

The included racing game demonstration worked wonderfully with sharp, snappy graphics and play and great use of the accelerometer. What was a disappointment is the lack of the Google Marketplace. The included Appslib is fine and has a selection of programs to choose from but none seem near the polish of what is now appearing in the marketplace. I had no problem sideloading some apps, though including the SlideME alternative marketplace. Unfortunately, Angry Birds Lite failed to run (it would install and load but crash back to the desktop) which I thought would be a great test of the device. It seems my first order of business is going to be to figure out how to get the Google Marketplace to install like had been done on other versions of Archos devices.

The basic functions worked as expected with WiFi being easy to set up. I was able to easily synchronize his iTunes music playlist with the device using doubletwist. Music and video playback worked fine and the camera seemed to be acceptable. We should have more time to play with the multimedia this weekend as he's already asking about loading videos on it from our home library. It would have been nice if the device had included a MicroSD slot for additional expansion.

Overall, he is very pleased with it upon inital inspection. I'm happy with the purchase as well, but from a techie standpoint, the app selection and loading process is going to be a pain for the forseeable future unless the alternative app marketplaces start to show the same selection we see, but can't access, in the Google Marketplace.