Archos 79 Xenon
You eyes don’t deceive you: while it might look like an iPad mini and it even has the almost exact same dimensions as Apple’s tiny titan, the Archos 79 Xenon is a similarly-sized Android slate that comes with an Apple-beating price-tag of £169.99. It may be cheaper and it runs Google’s mobile OS, but can this copycat keep up with its inspiration at all? Let’s find out.
Just like the Apple slate that inspired it, Archos has crafted a well constructed tablet that has a solid weight (320g) to it in the hands, and comes complete with thin bezels and firm aluminium shell. It measures up at 8mm deep , making it slightly thicker than Apple’s miniature marvel, but you can still pack it into many aftermarket iPad mini cases - and even the rear camera lens will line up too.
Although Archos has included only Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, instead of the latest and greatest 4.4 KitKat, its installation is as close to stock Android as you can get, making it free for you to customise to your liking with only a few pre-installed Archos apps on board. And as Archos has only armed it with 8GB of storage onboard (thankfully upgradable with a microSD card), we’re happy that it doesn’t come with an excessive amount of bloat, although we do wish it had more storage space to boot.
The 79 Xenon is a speedy slate, thanks to its 1.2GHz A7 quad-core processor, and it zips through apps and makes quick work of some of the more intensive games on the Play store, but it only comes with a modest 1GB of RAM, making multi-tasking rather tedious, especially if you have dozens of apps open. Archos has also armed it with the usual Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS, while woad warriors will be happy to find that it also comes with 3G powers thanks to a mobile data SIM slot, and you can even use it as a phone if you desire, although it’s not 4G capable which may prove to be a shame. You’ll also find built-in speakers and a microphone, along with a standard 3.5mm jack for your headphones.
The Archos 79 Xenon might look like an iPad mini clone, but it just simply doesn’t match up to the latest premium slate from Apple. The 7.85-inch display packs a modest 1024 x 768 resolution - exactly the same as the first-gen iPad mini, and after being spoiled by the Retina display on Apple’s latest tiny titan, it just doesn’t match up - not to mention the Nexus 7’s 1080p display can be yours for only £30 more. That said, the display does feel spacious when in use, thanks to its 4:3 aspect ratio which has proven to be a winner on Apple’s iPads and makes a change from many 16:10 slates on the market - it makes using the Xenon in portrait mode feel much more reasonable.
Despite its solid aluminium build, the 79 Xenon still feels inferior to Apple’s top-notch slate. The bezels lack the premium finish found on the iPad mini, and the top plastic section on the rear peels off to reveal the microSD and SIM slots - it simply screams cheap, as do the mushy power and volume buttons. There’s also only 8GB of storage onboard, which has been strangely partitioned into two separate instances and leaves you with hardly any room for your apps or media. Luckily, you’re able to slot in your own microSD card up to 64GB, but with barely any storage to begin with, you’ll be forking out more than its £170 price-tag.
Tablet cameras have never been the highlight of any slate, and the trend continues on Archos’ effort: on the back is a lowly two-Megapixel snapper, while you’ll be greeted to a 0.3-Megapixel front-facing camera up front - both produce muddy and unclear images and you won’t want to be sharing them to any of your favourite social networks.