Following the launch of the $200 Nexus 7, and with a cheap iPad Mini sounding like a very real possibility for the fall, budget-priced tablets are all the rage right now. Archos is looking to get in on some of that action, and today announced its entry-level Elements tablet series, along with the first model from it, the 97 Carbon.
Elements will consist of 7, 8, and 9.7-inch models, with the 9.7-inch 97 Carbon leading the pack. Archos will start selling the 97 Carbon later this month for just $250; that’s pretty cheap, but what corners did it have to cut to offer the tablet at that price?
A 9.7-inch screen is nice, big size, but it won’t have the sort of raw pixel count we’d like to see, with only a 1024 x 768 resolution. That also gives it a 4:3 aspect ratio, meaning you’ll be wasting a good number of those already sparse pixels when viewing any widescreen content.
Then there’s the processor, which Archos describes only as a 1GHz Cortex-A8 component; we’re probably looking at an OMAP 3, and any way you slice it, that’s not a very powerful chip anymore.
On-board storage is a decent-enough 16GB, with microSD available for expansion, and the tablet arrives running Ice Cream Sandwich.
The problem with low-end Android tablets right now is that the Nexus 7 is just too formidable a model to be compared against, especially when trying to balance features and price. While Archos probably thinks that users will gladly pay a little extra for a larger screen, the compromises it’s had to make are just really tough to swallow, and it’s difficult to recommend any OMAP 3 device over one running a Tegra 3.