Third-party wireless keyboards are
popular accessories for touchscreen tablet computers, for obvious
reasons. A few manufacturers have long been putting out 'hybrid
tablets' bundled with custom-designed keyboard docks that also add
things like extra battery life or more input/output ports. At long
last, French company Archos is preparing to bring their own spin on
that formula to the market.
XS, as the device is dubbed, ships with a device called the
Coverboard, which is, essentially, a full QWERTY-layout chiclet
keyboard that doubles as a screen cover. The 101 XS slots into the
top of the Coverboard using magnetic guides, and a kickstand built
into the keyboard props the tablet up like a laptop. A power input on
the Coverboard also allows one to charge the tablet while docked.
When one wants to transport the machine, the Coverboard simply snaps
onto the front of the 101 XS, again with magnets, and serves to
protect the screen. Unfortunately, the Coverboard doesn't offer any
other extras; spare USB ports for example.
As far as general specifications go, a
Texas Instruments OMAP 4470 SoC (containing two 1.5Ghz CPU cores and
PowerVR SGX544 graphics), 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal flash memory,
a MicroSDXC slot for up to an extra 64GB of storage, a Micro USB
port, a Mini HDMI video output, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, 720p front
camera and the 1280x800-pixel 10.1” display are all crammed inside
the 101 XS's 8mm-thick shell. The whole thing weighs 1.3lbs, and with
the Coverboard attached, add an extra 5mm and 0.44lbs to those
On the software side, Archos will load
Android 4.0.3 and all of the usual Google apps onto the first bunch
of 101 XS tablets. The company is promising a free upgrade to 4.1
sometime during the last quarter of this year. Meanwhile, Archos' own
apps, including Media Center, are included, alongside OfficeSuite Pro
6. Battery life weighs in at ten hours for internet browsing
and seven for video, while the company also plans to bring out
a speaker dock and a 'proper' docking station for the device.
A $399.99 suggested price is what
Archos is asking for its 101 XS hybrid tablet. The company names both
the middle of September and November as release dates in its press
release, so expect the latter for best results.
Postscript: Find it at Amazon and other retailers.