Summary


This miniature tablet sports Youtube, video and audio streaming access, alongide a cute mp3 player, but is constrained by its small and frustrating 2.8 inch touchscreen. Oh, and don't forget to turn off HD in Youtube.

Our rating


5 wow stars out of five

Once set up with favourite mobile sites, mp3s, stations and a limited range of basic apps, the Archos 28 is not a bad little player.

Where to buy


You can buy the Archos (4GB version) from Amazon. They also have it in an 8GB version.

You can also buy the larger, 3.2 inch screen Archos 32, with 8GB internal memory and volume rocker.

Archos 28 internet tablet review

You might normally reach for your laptop or wi-fi radio when you want a music fix or to catch up with what's happening around the world via your favourite radio stations. There is, of course, another way in the form of a mobile 'phone or internet tablet.

Step forward the Archos 28: a device that fits in your pocket and streams internet radio stations via freely-available dedicated apps. It's not a phone, but a small tablet running Android OS: Google's very own operating system.
display
The connected music player (Sennheiser's not included)

The Archos 28 internet tablet is a small, eminently pocketable device powered by the Android 2.2 (Froyo) operating system, with Flash support and access to a limited range of apps via its own AppsLib interface. Other features include a built-in browser, with e-mail app, video player and sound recorder.



Want a mobile phone instead?


Huawei Ascend 300 mobile phoneThe Huawei Ascend 300 is a £100 pay-as-you-go Android mobile with rave reviews, access to thousands of apps (including tunein, music players and games) and a 4 inch capacitive (multi-touch) screen with a proper, toughened glass screen.
Buy it and read reviews here.

It's not a new player, but now that it's available at a reduced price, is it worth a punt?

The device is somewhat constrained by its small on-screen keyboard, the physical size of the resistive screen (2.8 inches diagonally) - which can make searching and scrolling a frustrating experience - and average battery performance.

In its favour, though, are its portability, sound quality, support for Windows Media files (including .asx-wrapped radio streams) and a neat mp3 player with a coverflow-type interface, which allows you to scroll through your collection with ease. The device will charge from a micro USB hub as you listen, too.

Provided you don't go overboard with apps (there's just 38MB left alongside the Android OS in the device's rather mean 128MB built-in memory), the '28 offers a reliable way of getting your radio fix.

If you accept its limitations and put aside some time for first set-up and charging, the '28 with its 4GB (or 8GB) internal memory isn't a bad little device.
Base view of Archos 28
The Archos sports headphone socket (no built-in speaker), microphone, charging LED and micro USB. The power button is at the lower-left corner.

Whatever size fingers you have, you'll struggle to make any sense of the tiny virtual keyboard unless you grab a stylus. Without something small to prod the screen with, initial set-up will have you boxing up the '28 and sending it back in no time.

A wi-fi only tablet, the Archos 28 connects to the web via your broadband internet router. Wi-fi range isn't great (you'll struggle to get 7 metres away from the router before you lose signal), but certainly no worse than Android 'phones such as the Orange San Francisco.
Archos and San Francisco
One's an Archos internet tablet with a QVGA 320 x 240 TFT LCD screen, the other's a mobile 'phone with WVGA 480 x 800 OLED screen. When you're listening to radio stations, it doesn't really matter, but the Orange San Francisco's (discontinued) OLED screen is far superior.

The 28 automatically upgrades the firmware from out-of-the-box Android 2.1 to 2.2 via your internet connection. Point the browser to the latest AppsLib web page and you can download an app to give access to a basic market - not the full Android Market or Google Play experience, by any stretch.

Once in the "market" you'll want to search out and install tunein radio, a brilliant app that gives you access to thousands of streaming stations.

tunein radio works exactly as you would expect and it's here that the screen proves its worth. That stylus will come in handy for entering and storing presets. You'll find a huge range of stations organised by location, genre and language. Scrolling is a little tricky on the 320 x 240 resolution screen and you'll almost certainly find yourself selecting stations rather than scrolling as you intended. The '28 is quick to connect, thanks to the speed of the tunein app.
Archos 28 screen
tunein app screen on the Archos 28

Despite running Flash, the Archos 28 doesn't work with Flash-based Radioplayer, the website that collates UK radio stations in one place, though a dedicated app is due out soon. In fact, the web player crashes the browser altogether.

The inclusion of Flash, which technically allows you to run the mobile version of Youtube, is a bit of a hit-and-miss affair. Once the penny drops and you've turned off HD (you won't need it at this resolution), the player actually streams without break-ups, the TFT LCD screen more than adequate for the job. Annoyingly, it seems to switch back to HD by itself at times, crashing the browser, which is frustrating.

You'll find Radio 1's Live Lounge sessions and dinky-sized music videos, so this connectivity is worth having. The sound quality - through decent quality Sennheiser cans, not the cheap supplied in-ear buds - is up to the usual excellent Archos standards.

The downside is the lack of a physical volume control; to turn things up you have to reach for the touch controls. Security options abound, this may mean unlocking the screen, or entering a password. If you've hooked the unit up to a hi-fi system, this won't be so much of a problem, however.

As a music player and radio streamer, with the added bonus of sessions via Youtube, the Archos is hard to beat. Once you've cleared the hurdles of waiting for the first zap of charge to wake the unit and setting the thing up, things begin to improve. Avoid games, buy a stylus, visit www.appslib.com/latest in your browser to download the new market gateway, keep a few key apps like tunein, be selective of your music collection by swapping a handful of mp3s over to the '28 and you'll probably find you actually begin to like the device!

Have a look in the left-hand column above to find out where to get the device.
Archos 28 virtual keyboard
Grab a stylus to avoid frustrations with the Archos 28's screen

Archos 28 screen
Archos 28 shown streaming Nation Radio

Archos 28 controls
The device's touch controls