Review Archos Arnova 10b G2 Tablet/MID

Manuel Christa (translated by Liala Stiegitz), 06/10/2012

Budget tablet? Archos is not a newcomer on the tablet market. The French manufacturer offers tablets in all sizes from 7 to 10 inches and price ranges. While high quality devices are released under the company name, the label "Arnova" is to satisfy the competitive budget sector. The Arnova 10b G2 has the biggest screen among economy tablets. But what can you expect for less than EUR 200?

There is no doubt that tablets are still en vogue. Apple, the founder of this category, proved this with its recently launched iPad 3. Android tablets however cover all price and quality ranges. At the other end, where focus is placed on a low price, Archos' tablets govern under the name Arnova. Devices of the G2 series, such as the Arnova 7e G2, are already available for just under EUR 100 (125 USD)). The Arnova 10B G2 introduced here is still an entry-level Android tablet although roughly twice as expensive. Nevertheless, it is also likely the cheapest among 10 inch tablets. It is available with both a 4 GB and 8 GB flash memory. The processor core is Rockchip's RK2918 ARM CPU with 1 gigahertz and a 512 MB RAM. A modified Android 2.3 Gingerbread is the operating system. The Arnova G3 series successor tablets are already waiting in the wings – they offer a dual-core chip with the latest Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

Case

"Designed by Archos" emblazons the rear of the tablet. The German understanding of "designed" applies to devices with attractive looks. However, when correctly translated, it rather means plain in design, which better describes the Arnova 10b G2. The design really cannot be called attractive – it makes a quite basic and functional impression. The tablet's plastic case is glossy and only the inside of the display's frame is roughened and provides a bit of grip. Although the material makes a rather low-end impression, the device is quite stable against pressure and twisting. Four small feet jut out of the rear to give the tablet a bit of grip. Nevertheless, its center has contact to surfaces and the feet do not prevent scratches, which became obvious during our test period. The glossy rear is not only susceptible to fingerprints but also to minor scratches that are very evident when looking closer. This flaw mars the initial good impression of the case.

We can confirm the manufacturer's weight specification of 680 grams (1.5 pounds). Thus the device is on the average of 10 inchers. The slightly older Archos 101 precursor is approximately 140 grams (5 ounces) lighter and the aluminum Asus Transformer Prime even 100 grams (3.5 ounces). Other, better equipped tablets, such as Acer's Iconia Tab A200 or the iPad 3, are insignificantly heavier by around 700 grams (1.54 pounds). With a build height of 12 millimeters, it is comparatively thick and seems a bit bulky – more elegant tablets are thinner with less than 10 millimeters. Nevertheless, the Arnova 10b G2 is pleasant to hold and its weight also does not feel too heavy even after longer use.

Connectivity

All ports and controls are on the tablet's right. In addition to the power button and a tiny hole for resetting the device, there is also a rocker for volume. The micro USB 2.0 socket assists cabled mass memory accessing via PC. Should the 4 or 8 GB memory get too tight, it can be expanded using the micro SD card slot, which is also SDHC compatible. The audio jack is directly beside the power socket. Both have roughly the same diameter and can be confused when not looking closer while inserting the plug. The thin power adapter fits in the jack, but at least it does not cause damage. The audio jack has a gray ring. Since the tablet has a dedicated power socket, it cannot be charged via USB.

Right: Power button, reset, volume, USB 2.0, audio, AC-in
Right: Power button, reset, volume, USB 2.0, audio, AC-in
Hardly suitable for snapshots
Hardly suitable for snapshots
Webcam in Archos' Arnova
Webcam in Archos' Arnova

Camera

The manufacturer's website specifies a "720p camera" in the tablet. But we cannot confirm this: Both pictures and videos are shot in a fixed resolution of 640 x 480 pixels. Therefore, it can at most be called a 0.3 megapixel camera. The face camera is not suitable for taking pictures anyway – it is better suited for video calls, e.g. via Skype. It also worked perfectly during the test call, but it only supplied a poor picture in this resolution. The internal microphone also only transmits a rather dull sounding quality to the called party.

Software

Android 2.3 Gingerbread is pre-installed on the Arnova tablet. Since the device does not have any mechanical menu controls, the manufacturer fades in a permanent bar on the screen's upper edge. The bar's design is similar to the latest Android 4.0 and also offers the same buttons. If you are accustomed to higher quality tablets or smartphones, scrolling will seem not quite as smooth and a bit jagged, but it nevertheless works without problems.

Another thing that we noticed adversely is that Google's Play Store (formerly Android Market) is not available. Archos relies on a proprietary solution called "AppsLib" which is not as extensive as Google's reference. Therefore, users have created numerous apps for Archos devices that are rooted in the operating system and enable installing Google apps afterward. We could install an older, yet still just as well-functioning version of Android Market following these instructions (German) without rooting the system. Thus, the full range of apps is also available on the Arnova 10b G2.

Scope of Delivery

In addition to the printed quick start guide, there is a micro USB data cable and the power adapter for the tablet included. Additional plugs for UK and USA outlets make the tablet vacation-friendly. Optionally, there are also various covers and the "Archos G9 3g" 3G/UMTS stick available for the 10 inch Arnovas. Archos G9 tablets feature an extra slot for 3G and allow the stick to be integrated into the case seamlessly. The Arnova 10b G2 needs an additional USB host cable for the stick, which is not included in the scope of delivery.

Warranty

The manufacturer gives a one year warranty on the tablet. In cases of damage, the device can be sent back to the manufacturer for repairs. Contact is made via an online form on the website and requires a user account.

Input Devices

Keyboard

Archos only installs the standard Android keyboard. It uses the screen's lower third in landscape mode – keyboard layouts of other devices need more than the half and lets the keys look very stretched on the Arnova tablet. Typing with both hands is possible after a bit of practice, even if it is not touch-typing. The tablet's virtual keyboard is quite convenient to use with both thumbs in portrait mode. Swyping or speech inputs are not available in state of delivery.

Sensors

Our test device features a capacitive multi-touch screen that responds accurately to finger inputs. The screen detects up to two finger tips and thus enables pinch-to-zoom and other finger gestures. These functions and simple scrolling are accomplished quite smoothly in a browser on an opened website. According to the manufacturer's homepage, the Arnova 10b G2 is also available with a resistive screen that requires a stylus. You will probably prefer this version if you would like to use the tablet for entering notes or sketches via a pen.

Probably like every Android device, the Arnova tablet is equipped with a gravitation sensor that, for example, rotates the screen from landscape to portrait mode. This is achieved with an acceptable delay of one second, which is also seen in higher quality models. The tablet does not have a brightness sensor often found in lower-priced devices. The brightness can be virtually set in the same system settings; at least a widget for the regulation provides three different levels.

 

Display

The display diagonal specification is 10.1 inches. We measured a maximum visible diagonal of approximately 25.4 cm, which is exactly 10.0 inches. Thus, the display has quite a large screen – only exotic devices are bigger. For comparison: The Android leader, Asus' Transformer Prime TF201, has the same size and the iPad 3 is only insignificantly smaller with 9.3 inches. The Arnova 10b G2's resolution of 1024x600 pixels is also quite good. Nevertheless, the pixels are very evident in contrast to higher quality tablets like the aforementioned. This is not very visible on the pictures shown here, though.

168
cd/m²
172
cd/m²
173
cd/m²
174
cd/m²
192
cd/m²
177
cd/m²
172
cd/m²
186
cd/m²
179
cd/m²
Information
Gossen Mavo-Monitor
Maximum: 192 cd/m²
Average: 177 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 88 %
Center on Battery: 192 cd/m²
Black: 0.47 cd/m²
Contrast: 409:1
Distribution of brightness

The lab values are only middling, as expected from a budget tablet. With an average brightness of 177 cd/m2 and a reflective screen, the tablet is hardly suitable for outdoor use. However, we have to point out that many notebooks below the EUR 1000 (1256 USD) range do not exhibit a higher brightness. The contrast ratio of 409:1 is at least acceptable – the non-plus-ultra tablets have a twice as high rate but there are devices in the lower price range that only achieve half of that. This contrast ratio ensures a quite saturated black value of 0.47 cd/m2.

Viewing angles: Archos Arnova 10b G2
Viewing angles: Archos Arnova 10b G2

The viewing angle of the Arnova tablet cannot be called stable. Screen colors quickly invert and fade when the device is tilted. This is no surprise for a 10 inch tablet of this price range and is only a drawback when several people look at the screen, for example when watching a video. Only higher priced top devices (IPS screen) offer virtually full viewing angle stability – their manufacturers like to state a stable angle of over 179 degrees.

Performance

The Arnova 10b G2 harbors Rockchip's RK2918 application processor. The "system on a chip" (SoC) sports an ARMv7 architecture based Cortex A8 core with a clock of 1 GHz and NEON SIMD engine as well as the integrated Vivante GC800 graphics. The chip is built-in a 55 nm technology. Moreover, the graphics unit offers hardware acceleration for Adobe Flash Player 10.1. There is also a 512 MB RAM in the Arnova 10b G2. Nowadays, the Cortex A8 is only used in low-end devices. Dual-core processors based on Cortex A9 dominate the middle price range in the meantime.

As expected, the Android benchmarks show that the Arnova, featuring an outdated single core CPU, cannot keep up with other tablets in terms of performance. In Smartbench 2012's productivity index, the Arnova lags far behind with 459 points. The Cortex A8 can compete with the Nvidia Tegra 250 dual-core, installed in Acer's Iconia Tab, according to the gaming index. At least the pre-installed game "Angry Birds" runs fairly smoothly on the Arnova. Nevertheless, more sophisticated games should run better on tablets with an Nvidia chip.

A similar chip is built into Coby's 7 inch Kyros MID7022 tablet: Telechip's TC8803 with a Cortex A8 single core processor and an ARM MALI 200 GPU. With 931 points in the productivity index, the Kyros manages a slightly better score than the Arnova 10b G2 that only achieves a score of 708. The Arnova achieves 762 points in the gaming index, while the Kyros scored 1306, nearly twice as high. The Kyros only has a slight advantage on our Arnova in Linpack's Android benchmark.

The same Rockchip RK2918 is used in Prestigio's MultiPad PMP5080B – an 8 inch tablet that is a bit cheaper than our Arnova 10b G2. The MultiPad only has a slightly better score of 742 points in Smartbench 2011. It only achieves 598 points in the gaming index despite the same CPU and is outperformed by the Arnova here.

Smartbench 2012
default
Archos Arnova 10b G2
GC800, RK2918
459 points ∼4%
Motorola Xoom 2 MZ616
PowerVR SGX540, OMAP 4430, 16 GB SSD
2564 points ∼25% +459%
Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), Tegra 3, 16 GB SSD
3476 points ∼33% +657%
Acer Iconia Tab A200
GeForce ULP (Tegra 2), Tegra 250, 16 GB SSD
2068 points ∼20% +351%
Archos Arnova 10b G2
GC800, RK2918
1254 points ∼28%
Motorola Xoom 2 MZ616
PowerVR SGX540, OMAP 4430, 16 GB SSD
1825 points ∼41% +46%
Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), Tegra 3, 16 GB SSD
2371 points ∼53% +89%
Acer Iconia Tab A200
GeForce ULP (Tegra 2), Tegra 250, 16 GB SSD
1225 points ∼28% -2%
Linpack for Android
Archos Arnova 10b G2
GC800, RK2918
12.803 MFLOPS ∼2%
Motorola Xoom 2 MZ616
PowerVR SGX540, OMAP 4430, 16 GB SSD
43.28 MFLOPS ∼6% +238%
Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), Tegra 3, 16 GB SSD
47.5 MFLOPS ∼7% +271%
Acer Iconia Tab A200
GeForce ULP (Tegra 2), Tegra 250, 16 GB SSD
37.763 MFLOPS ∼6% +195%
Archos Arnova 10b G2
GC800, RK2918
12.946 MFLOPS ∼1%
Motorola Xoom 2 MZ616
PowerVR SGX540, OMAP 4430, 16 GB SSD
71.87 MFLOPS ∼7% +455%
Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), Tegra 3, 16 GB SSD
101 MFLOPS ∼9% +680%
Acer Iconia Tab A200
GeForce ULP (Tegra 2), Tegra 250, 16 GB SSD
61.851 MFLOPS ∼6% +378%

Browser Performance

Most users will likely consider the browser to be the most important application in a tablet. Using browser-based benchmarks, a cross-system browser comparison is possible. The Arnova finishes the Sunspider benchmark in over 7 seconds (the lower the rate the better). Other tablets manage this in less than 2 seconds. In return, the tablet with Google V8 Ver 6 achieves a surprisingly good rate of 1363 points. This figure even surpasses devices such as Motorola's Xoom MZ616 or Acer's Iconia Tab A200 and comes quite close to Asus' Transformer Prime with 1649 points. It should also be mentioned is that the browser can cope with flash-based Full HD videos – the video player renders H.264 coded files just as smoothly.

Sunspider
Archos Arnova 10b G2
GC800, RK2918
7004.2 ms * ∼66%
Motorola Xoom 2 MZ616
PowerVR SGX540, OMAP 4430, 16 GB SSD
1761.2 ms * ∼17% +75%
Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), Tegra 3, 16 GB SSD
1870 ms * ∼18% +73%
Acer Iconia Tab A200
GeForce ULP (Tegra 2), Tegra 250, 16 GB SSD
2175.5 ms * ∼21% +69%
Apple iPad 1 3G 64GB
PowerVR SGX535, A4
2876.8 ms * ∼27% +59%
Apple iPad 3. Gen 2012-03
PowerVR SGX543MP4, A5x, 64 GB SSD
1860 ms * ∼18% +73%
Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), Tegra 3, 16 GB SSD
1257 ms * ∼31%

* ... smaller is better

Browsermark 1.0
Archos Arnova 10b G2
GC800, RK2918
26386 points ∼5%
Motorola Xoom 2 MZ616
PowerVR SGX540, OMAP 4430, 16 GB SSD
98343 points ∼18% +273%
Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), Tegra 3, 16 GB SSD
119777 points ∼22% +354%
Acer Iconia Tab A200
GeForce ULP (Tegra 2), Tegra 250, 16 GB SSD
93901 points ∼17% +256%
Apple iPad 1 3G 64GB
PowerVR SGX535, A4
65269 points ∼12% +147%
Apple iPad 3. Gen 2012-03
PowerVR SGX543MP4, A5x, 64 GB SSD
126324 points ∼23% +379%
Google V8 Ver. 6
Archos Arnova 10b G2
GC800, RK2918
1363 points ∼12%
Motorola Xoom 2 MZ616
PowerVR SGX540, OMAP 4430, 16 GB SSD
712 points ∼6% -48%
Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), Tegra 3, 16 GB SSD
1649 points ∼14% +21%
Acer Iconia Tab A200
GeForce ULP (Tegra 2), Tegra 250, 16 GB SSD
1104 points ∼9% -19%
Apple iPad 3. Gen 2012-03
PowerVR SGX543MP4, A5x, 64 GB SSD
866 points ∼7% -36%

Emissions

System Noise

Being an Android device the Arnova 10b G2 manages without mechanical cooling, there is no fan and the tablet is consequently absolutely noiseless.

Temperature

The visualization shows a clear temperature increase on the tablet's left. This is noticeable when holding it for a while. Right-handed users will hold the tablet in their left hand – exactly in the area that heats up. Although you will not scorch your fingers, you will have to reposition the tablet a bit when using higher performance applications, e.g. playing "Angry Birds", because the measured 38 degrees Celsius can get quite uncomfortable. Lighter performance applications are quite tolerable as the temperature is only felt slightly when reading an eBook or surfing a bit on the Internet.

Max. Load
 27.5 °C23.5 °C22.2 °C 
 28.6 °C25.4 °C23.1 °C 
 30.7 °C26.3 °C23.6 °C 
 
33.3 °C25.2 °C22.6 °C
38 °C25.5 °C22.9 °C
33.4 °C25.8 °C23.3 °C
Maximum: 30.7 °C
Average: 25.7 °C
 Maximum: 38 °C
Average: 27.8 °C
Power Supply (max.)  37.3 °C | Room Temperature 18.3 °C | Voltcraft IR-360

Speakers

In terms of sound quality, most mobile devices are only adequate? – thus expectations on a tablet from the lower price range have to be reduced accordingly. The speaker on the right edge lacks basses for a full sound. However, the volume is sufficient for watching a video without restrictions. Active speakers or headphones are also recommended for the Arnova 10b G2 if you put value on better sound.

Battery Life

Power Consumption

Regarding power consumption, the tablet is within the same range as stronger devices. With a minimum consumption of only almost 2 watts, the device is quite energy-efficient. The maximum rate reaches up to 7 watts, though. High-end tablets only surpass this by 2 to 3 watts. The included power adapter supplies up to 10 watts and is thus absolutely sufficient.

Power consumption

Off / Standby 0.8 / 1.6 Watt
Idle 1.8 / 4.1 / 4.2 Watt
Load 5.5 / 7.7 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

The battery life was recorded with the simple app "Battery Logger". To determine the maximum battery runtime, a script is run in the browser that opens a text document. The screen brightness is set to the minimum level and Wi-Fi is disabled. The Arnova nearly lasted for exactly 6 hours here. We could surf on the Internet for about an hour less with 5 hours and 3 minutes. A script that opens differently sized websites is run for this. The minimum runtime is determined by using the app "Stability Test" that generates as much load as possible using a 3D application. The tablet lasted for 3 hours and 46 minutes here.

Other tablets might achieve longer runtimes, but we do not have many comparison devices from the EUR 200 (250 USD) range. We tested Amazon's Kindle Fire, but it is only a 7 incher and uses a proprietary operating system. It is possible to surf an hour longer with Amazon's tablet just like with Motorola's Xoom 2 MZ616 – it lasted for 6 hours and 17 minutes in the surf test.

Batteries with higher capacities are used in high-end tablets. A 42.5 Wh battery is installed in the new iPad 3 and roughly has the capacity of a notebook battery. It lasted for a whole 9 hours and 30 minutes in the Wi-Fi surf test. The Android counterpart Asus Transformer Prime can serve with an additional battery in the keyboard dock. The tablet's 25 Wh battery managed almost 10 hours without it.

Battery runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
6h 07min
WiFi Surfing
5h 03min
Load (maximum brightness)
3h 46min

Verdict

The Arnova 10b G2 makes a solid overall impression for an entry-level device. While the dual and quad-core "arms race" keeps the prices of high-quality tablets soaring in the high-end range, Archos closes a gap in the price war sector by making the 10 incher's price of EUR 200 (250 USD) unrivaled low. The battery life is not exactly long, but long life cannot really be expected from a budget device anyway. The model diversity is also pleasing – the tablet is available with a 4 or 8 GB internal memory as well as with a capacitive or resistive screen.

Nevertheless, the tablet has a few minor flaws. The glossy plastic case looks quite stable, but is not resistant against smaller scratches. Even if they are only seen when looking closer, they are unavoidable on a tablet that you stuff in your bag on the fly or lay on a table. The display also looks quite pixellated – even in the acceptable resolution for a 10 inch tablet and you must look at it from the front because the stable viewing angle is rather narrow. Another flaw is Google's omitted Play Store (formerly Android Market) at first. It has to be awkwardly retrofitted when needed and thus reduces the advantage of the widely used Android operating system.

Not every user needs a tablet with smooth 3D gaming performance or a screen resolution that is even higher than Full HD. Many are satisfied with a device for simply surfing, reading, listening to music or watching videos. Rockchip's RK2918 with a single core processor is enough for this even if it no longer belongs to the newest chips for mobile devices. Overall, the Arnova 10b G2 satisfies simple needs quite well and does not have any major weaknesses that would prevent us from giving it a purchase recommendation.

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In Review:  Archos Arnova 10b G2

Specifications

Archos Arnova 10b G2

:: Processor
:: Memory
512 MB
:: Graphics adapter
Vivante GC800
:: Display
10.1 inch 16:9, 1024x600 pixel, capacitive multi-touch TFT
:: Harddisk
, GB 4 GB flash
:: Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: audio jack, Card Reader: microSD card slot,
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 12.5 x 270 x 150
:: Weight
0.68 kg
:: Battery
Lithium-Ion, lithium polymer battery
:: Price
199 Euro
:: Operating System
Android 2.3
:: Additional features
Webcam: 0,3 Megapixel

 

Arnova 10b G2 with Android 2.3 Gingerbread.
Arnova 10b G2 with Android 2.3 Gingerbread.
The 10 inch screen is glossy.
The 10 inch screen is glossy.
The black plastic case is just as glossy.
The black plastic case is just as glossy.
The speaker is on the tablet's right.
The speaker is on the tablet's right.
A 1 GHz Cortex A8 processor is installed in the tablet.
A 1 GHz Cortex A8 processor is installed in the tablet.
Four of these plastic feet keep the tablet stable.
Four of these plastic feet keep the tablet stable.
The case is very scratch susceptible.
The case is very scratch susceptible.
There are no controls on the case.
There are no controls on the case.
Audio and power socket can be confused easily.
Audio and power socket can be confused easily.
The camera's maximum resolution is 640 x 480 pixels.
The camera's maximum resolution is 640 x 480 pixels.
All interfaces are on the case's left.
All interfaces are on the case's left.
The tablet is comfortable to hold.
The tablet is comfortable to hold.
Smartbench 2011
Smartbench 2011
Smartbench 2012
Smartbench 2012
Quadrant Standard
Quadrant Standard
Vellamo
Vellamo

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Pro

+Unbeatable low price
+Stable case
+High contrast screen
 

Contra

-Poor camera
-Pixelated screen
-Quickly scratched high gloss surface
-Poor heat dissipation

Shortcut

What we like

The virtually unrivaled priced tablet does not have any major flaws.

What we'd like to see

A UMTS module would of course be useful in every tablet, but not possible in this price range.

What surprises us

Even if it is pixelated, the screen is quite useable – we expected worse.

The competition

The Arnova 10b G2 actually does not have any contenders – there is hardly a 10 incher available for EUR 200. Nevertheless we compared it with more expensive tablets, e.g. Acer's Iconia Tab A100, Motorola's Xoom 2 MZ616, Asus' Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201 or Apple's iPad 3.

Rating

Archos Arnova 10b G2
05/29/2012 v2
Manuel Christa

Chassis
75%
Keyboard
35%
Pointing Device
75%
Connectivity
27%
Weight
97%
Battery
91%
Display
81%
Games Performance
10%
Application Performance
15%
Temperature
89%
Noise
100%
Add Points
75%
Average
64%
80%
Tablet *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Archos Arnova 10b G2 Tablet/MID
Author: Manuel Christa, 2012-06-10 (Update: 2012-06-10)