Friday, 3 December 2010

Froyo'd Up

Well my 101 is upgraded to Froyo and I've re-installed Gapps4archos2 to get the market and installed Flash. Have to admit she's not running as smooth as I hoped. That is until I installed z4root and SetCPU. It's a bit of a pain to have to run each reboot but the performance improvement is well worth it. Flash is actually smooth! YouTube plays without jerkiness. All I have to say is - Why the hell do I have to run a frig to get this thing to run full speed, ie 1Ghz? The specs don't mention 800Mhz? Archos you should fix this. YOU CLAIM 1GHZ SO BLOODY WELL GIVE US 1GHZ STANDARD, NO FRIG REQUIRED.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Archos 101 The Story So Far

Well I've owned the Archos for less than a week but so far things are looking promising. Initially I had a fairly major issue with the screen - no, not the viewing angle, which, as has been highlighted by many, is poor but I only look at it straight on so it's not a problem to me. No, the problem I had was with the actual touch recognition. It didn't seem to register touch properly. I couldn't drag icons around the entire home screen. Some parts of the screen just didn't seem to allow dragging and parts of the virtual keypad where unresponsive. Happily there was a simple cure. I just ran the calibration commands from the 'repair & formatting' settings page. After that it's been well behaved. It's nice and responsive and all my presses register at the right points.

Probably the biggest disappointment is the low RAM. I couldn't find any detail before purchase as to how much it had and now I own one I can report it ain't a lot. My Desire on bootup has 240Mb free. The Archos, with even fewer startup programs, has just over 100Mb. That said, it doesn't seem to be causing me too much problem. The apps seem to run smoothly. Browsing is responsive - I use Xscope 1.5. The lack of flash is annoying but hopefully, as stated in a previous post, that'll be resolved in a week or two and for now I can just about cope.

The first thing I installed was GApps4Archos to get the real deal market. No problems encountered, GMail etc are installed and running happily.

The second problem I have encountered is WiFi sleeping on screen blank. This is a tad annoying and there doesn't seem to be the sleep policy from the WiFi Advanced options settings page. I've tried a couple of the market apps to try and keep it active to no avail. Again, I'm hoping the Froyo upgrade will resolve this one too. Fingers crossed.

Those issues aside, in use, the 101 is working well. I'm still working my way through the market to find the best apps for the things I want to use it for - namely; browsing, facebook, twitter, rss, newspapers and the odd blog post - the large keyboard is surprisingly accurate to use and I can actually get a reasonable typing speed going.

All in all I'm pleased with the purchase. I'm not going to claim it's as finished as the iPad and the wide screen aspect ratio, in my opinion, is not the ideal format for this type of device but it works surprisingly well in both portrait and landscape. I really thought that portrait would be too narrow for book reading and rss but it's actually fine and as yet I haven't come across any issues that I can put down to the larger size screen. For me the much cheaper price and the promise of Flash outweigh the polish of the iPad.

As to the battery life, I've been giving it a hammering today and used 35% in six hours fairly continuous use and I don't think that's bad at all. At the moment I give it the Mad Tech Report thumbs up. Mind you, if Froyo isn't just around the corner that's going to change...

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Archos 101 Froyo Upgrade

I've finally stumped up the cash and got myself an Android tablet. The last few months have seen me edge closer and closer to buying the Satan Device that is the iPad. Fortunately sense prevailed. The lack of Flash is too much to bare.

Instead I opted for the Archos 101. This ain't a review - that might follow shortly - but it's really light weight and it's size makes it easy to use while sat on the sofa watching the TV. It's not quite as responsive as I thought it would be - and then I realised it's not got Flash. Disaster! Although it mentions 'Android 2.2' throughout the product spec' it actually runs 2.1 out of the box - noooooooo! Feeling more than a little cheated I re-read product spec' to see how I was duped. And then it all becomes clear, '2.2 Technology enabled' - ie, it's got the capability to run 2.2 but Archos chose to give set it free before it really should have in its mad rush to market - and that meant 2.1.

Now I'd read that the early version ran 2.1 but I'd also read that the release version in November would run 2.2. As it's now late November I just assumed, I guess. I'm a little disappointed but the device itself is nice to use. Eager for 2.2 I emailed Archos in the Uk and this is the response I got:-

Head Office have advised that this week be available as a firmware update on our website from the end of next week [that's the 5th Dec]

Although a bit garbled - OK, a lot garbled - it does sound like the upgrade will be out by the end of next week. Whether this materialises I have my doubts - I'm a pessimistic bastard these days - but I hope it does because then the device will be a little cracker. If not? Well, I don't want to think about that, but a turkey springs to mind...

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The Dawning Of A New Tablet Age

Is it really happening? Are we facing a wave of Android Tablets. Proper tablets. Not the under powered, out of date units currently available but real, proper tablets - like the iPad only better.

Why has it taken so long? Heaven only knows. Is it all true? Only time will tell. The IFA Trade Show should reveal some if not all. OK, lets not get ahead of the game, it'll reveal some. But when the show is over how much will be hot air? How much pure vapour? At least we have the big players finally starting show signs of life - LG, Samsung, Acer, Asus - and then of course, there's the mavericks - Notion Ink, Viewsonic. There's almost going to be too much choice, right? Who am I kidding?

I have to say my current favourite is the Notion Ink Adam with its pixelQ screen - but then am I really going to be wandering the streets with it - probably not. Mind you, might be nice to use out on the patio with a mug of black coffee watching the clouds roll away...

Do I need a more powerful Tegra 2 based device or do I stick with the lesser Arm. What do I want to use it for? Is it an all singing netbook replacement? Will it mainly be browsing and reading? Will I watch much video? Flash? But of course - else I'd already be using the iPad. Before I commit the cash I need to sort out what I want it for.

Right now Archos' new 101, a ten incher - ooh er misses - looks nice. I could browse and read with that and only splash $300 (that's £235 in proper money). A nice proposition.

For now I guess it's a game of wait and see, read the reviews when these devices finally do hit the street - and here in blighty that'll no doubt be the late Spring with its new increased VAT rate.

Me? I'm counting the days (and hoping it's not years)...

Sunday, 22 August 2010

If Flash Is So Rubbish

Why do so many websites use it?

Sure, everyone is saying HTML5 this, HTML5 that, HTML5 it's the future but at the end of the day Flash is out there now, running on millions of sites. Mr Jobs says Flash is buggy, subject to attack and going to be replaced by HTML5 so there's no point in putting it on the iPad, iPhone or iPod. That maybe so but that isn't going to happen in a one or two year period so why spoil the web experience on the iPad now. I'm sure over time HTML5 will replace Flash on many sites but Flash is still going to be with us for many years to come. Giving users both Flash ans HTML5 allows developers the time and choice to use which is best for there particular application. No, for me, the only reason to not provide Flash support - and Adobe have even got it ready to rumble on the iPad - is that Apple would lose revenue. I've no problem with the iPad not supporting Flash and limiting the device - it puts it off the menu for me personally, but that's my choice - but I'd like to see the honesty from Apple to come out and give the real reason, 'We don't support Flash so you have to buy the Apps from us'.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Is Google Really A Friend Of The People?

We all think of Google as the Anti-Microsoft - or is that just me?. They're a friend of the people aren't they? Giving us all loads of useful stuff for free. But really, are they worthy? Are we right to trust them without question? I sort of think they are - but cracks are beginning to form in my opinion of them. Are they becoming too big? Too powerful? At some point in the future are we going to be in for a shock? Once everyone on the planet has a GMail account are we going to be held to ransom? A scary thought.

So why am I starting to doubt the sanctity of the holy Google? Well, it has to do with Android and the fact that they won't license the Google Apps - including the App Market - for use on tablets. They only license to devices with a Sim. Why is that? What's wrong with tablets? OK, some of their proprietary apps aren't suited to a non-mobile device, ie Navigator, but some, including the App Market, certainly are. When so much is open source why the lock down? I'm far from an expert, more an interested user but I find it odd and slightly concerning. I want a Tablet with Apps - and I don't want to have to jumps through the hoops to manually download, transfer and install when it could all be so easy. Google, why make it so difficult?

It almost pushes me to the iPad - after-all, it's available now AND has downloadable Apps from its store - but that would really go against the grain...

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Why can't someone make an Android tablet?

Why is it that no one saw the iPad coming? It wasn't exactly the worlds best kept secret - there were rumours for six months or more before it finally launched. Why is it then, that as of yet no one has got to market with a decent Android tablet to take it on? Yes, there are a few crappy, low powered ones running Cupcake (1.5) or maybe Donut (1.6) - Eclair (2.1) is the minimum. Who the hell would waste their time (and money) on those? Certainly not anyone outside of the asylum.

Ok, so we saw a few at CES and various other shows but as yet nothing has launched - unless you count the Dell Streak but then again, what the hell is that all about? First off why the hell launch with Donut? - that's just plain nobber. Secondly the Streak just seems to be a comedy sized mobile phone. Too big for your pocket - I suppose those with a man bag.... Too small to be a tablet. Utterly pointless. I'll stick with my Desire thank you - for now at least, but I really want a decent tablet.

The Notion Ink Adam - stupid name - looks good on paper... and in the video - but why's it going to take so long to market? November? I'll wager it'll be next year before it sees the light of day - if ever.

The WePad? Again, looks good but why not use Android? And anyway, will it launch this year? Probably not.

What of the big players? Acer, Asus, MSI, HP - ok, we'll forget HP and the money they wasted on WebOS - what the hell was that all about? Why can't they get to market? It's not like tech hardware isn't there - think Tegra.

I want to be able to browse and tinker in comfort on a multi-touch tablet. I want Android with Eclair as a minimum with a quoted upgrade path to Froyo (2.2) and beyond. Donut simply is not acceptable.

Now the iPad - and I've never been a fan of Rip-off Apple - does look bloody nice. They've got themselves a tasty bit of kit and I'm mighty tempted. It's got what I want - well hold it right there, not quite. Only the lack of Flash prevents me breaking my sacred bond to never buy Apple.

I guess I'll be waiting till 2011...

Friday, 16 April 2010

More on Lucid

Well I've been running Ubuntu 10.4 - aka Lucid - for a number of weeks now. I've upgrade a few times and I'm now up to beta 2. First, I have to say that it continues to impress. Booting quickly but perhaps lacking the 'clean lines' I'm expecting with all the talk of the Plymouth Brethren and it's graphical boot. Still, it does boot quick so I'm not overly bothered.

Everything still seems to be working well. I've moved across to the Google Chrome variant of the browser from Chromium on account of it including Adobe's Flash built in and a later version (10.1) than that which comes with Lucid.

Surfing - my primary use for the netbook - is sharp. Quick to load pages and video is continuing to be lag free - well, most of the time, and certainly more lag free than any of the rest of the OSes I've run on the Acer One. I should say I haven't actually run XP on this thing but can't see it being quicker.

Signing off, and continuing to be suitably impressed with Ubuntu Lucid. Keep up the good work...

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Lucky Lucid and the Browser Of Bliss

After a short foray into the world of ChromeOs in the form of Hexxeh's Flow I have moved back to Ubuntu. After a brief flirt with the latest Beta of EasyPeasy I have settled back down with Ubuntu 10.04 alpha 3 and too be honest it's not a lot different from EasyPeasy (which is also based on Lucid Alpha).

First off, I have to say I found EasyPeasy quick. If anything it performed quicker than ChromeOS. Which isn't that surprising really I guess, considering the pre-release, pre-alpha nature of ChromeOS. Fair play to Hexxeh though, he has put together a fair decent OS which boots quicker than anything that's gone before.

After finding a few missing packages in Easy, namely VPN based stuff, I quickly reverted to Ubuntu Netbook version, installing from a USB Sticked ISO. It installed in a jiffy and after an initial hiccup on bringing up X - it seemed to hang but after a quick flip to the text login, it flicked into life. Subsequent boots have been without incident. A word on the boot front. It is quick - not the quickest I've seen - that honour goes to ChromeOS Flow - but still 18 seconds is quick in my book.

First off, I installed Chromium Browser and VPN bits I couldn't get from Easy Peasy, namely openvpn and pptp and Flash - can't live without a bit of flshing - so it'll never be an apple a day for me sadly because I really liked the look the iPad - oh well, maybe next year...

In use the browsing is quick and for the first time on my lowly Acer Aspire One, video plays without much judder - result. Generally I'm finding far less pauses and short hangs while surfing. I've had a few app crashes - which is to be expected on an Alpha but so far - and we're only talking four hours in - I'm finding Lucid Netbook to be a very able and rapid system. I think I'll stick with this for a while...

Monday, 11 January 2010

Chrome OS Quickie

I thought I'd wade into the Chrome OS debate with a very quick review of build by Hexxeh (visit his site, for details of how to download and create a bootable usb disk).  At the time of this post, January 11th 2010 his 'ChromeOS Zero' is the latest build.

Amongst the things said to be improved from his end of year build is more support for a greater range of wifi, oh yeah, and speed. Not sure about things on the wifi front but I can attest to it being much sharper in use on my Acer Aspire One. It boots in about 6s from the USB stick and closes down almost instantly - nice work.

There are details on the wiki ( amongst other things, as to how to install to your harddisk should you wish to - I tried that on an older machine with the year end build and it worked as detailed. Running from the harddisk did improve the speed of things - as to be expected.

The first item on my agenda was to get the British keyboard layout selected. A quick 'CTRL+ALT+T' to bring up the terminal. Followed by 'setxkbmap gb' from the prompt to set the layout to British and then 'exit' - good to go.

For the record the version of Chomium it runs is which is good news if you want to run extensions. All my usual suspects seemed to work, Adthwart, Flashblock etc.

Summing up. I am very impressed, even at this early stage, as to the future prospects of Chrome OS. It boots quicker than anything I've ever used, beating Moblin v2.1 (my prefered netbook OS of choice - at the moment) by miles- not surprising really, considering it's basically just a browser. As you would expect - and pretty much required since it's all it does - Web browsing is as quick as it gets - and Flash works (most of the time).

Now it's true the screen update does lag from time to time, which I guess is understandable because I'm guessing the hardware drivers aren't bang on the money at this early stage and it doesn't come with any bells or whistles. There's no office here but as long as all you want to do is access your online life quick and easy, it appears to fit the bill.

I'm not sure if it will replace my netbook OS anytime soon - there are still a few too many custom apps I use that don't have suitable online equivalents - but in a year or two I reckon the gap will have narrowed and then the decision won't be so clear cut.

A very promising start...