Archos 50 Oxygen Plus: Taking the ‘smart’ out of the smartphone?

archos-50-oxygen-plus-front

Archos, the French multinational producer of tablets, phones and other electronic devices, has extended its range with the 50 Oxygen Plus. Okay, so its name might sound more like a medical device designed to help people breathe than a smartphone, but that doesn’t mean to say it’s not worth bothering about.

On the contrary, according to Archos, the 50 Oxygen Plus combines an ergonomic design with performance and power for an affordable price. Well they would say that, but what we ask is what do the critics think?

Tech Radar: stifled by the ‘big shots’

After a hands on review of the Archos 50 Oxygen Plus, Tech Radar came to the conclusion that whilst it’s a decent affordable smartphone, it will be difficult for the 50 Oxygen Plus to stand out amongst the ‘bigger names’ in the market.

With a SIM-free retail price of just £149.99, Tech Radar is quick to point out that the 50 Oxygen Plus offers value for money – on paper at least.

While the current model is available on 3G, Tech Radar advise to hold out until June when 4G variant with Android Lollipop makes an appearance for just £30 or so more than the current model.

Asides its low cost and incoming 4G with Lollipop, Tech Radar praise the 50 Oxygen Plus for its “strong spec.”

The key features of this “strong spec” include a 5-inch 720p display, 1GB of RAM, 1.4GHz octa-core processor, 8MP and 5MP cameras, 16GB of internal storage with a microSD slot for expansion, dual SIM support and a 2000mAh battery.

On the downside, Tech Radar thinks the 50 Oxygen Plus looks awful and a “bit like the iPhone 6” but with a cheap look and feel. As well as limited availability another weakness of the low-cost French smartphone is that its performance is a “little lacking.”

Digital Versus: Uncanny iPhone 6 resemblance

Deeming the 50 Oxygen Plus as an “extremely thin mid-range smartphone with an undeniably Apple-inspired design”, Digital Versus doesn’t seem too impressed with Archos’ new smartphone.

The review places the phone’s spec as “pretty traditional” but quick to point out the fact the handset is available in two versions.

Mobile Tech

Mobile Tech Review seem a little more forthcoming of the 50 Oxygen Plus, claiming that because the phone is powered by an Octo-Core 3G processor and a powerful GPU, users have the ability to “enjoy games, video and applications without lagging.”

Mobile Tech Review also seems pretty impressed with the handset’s 8MP rear camera with LED flash and a 5MP front camera with multiple picture-taking modes to apparently capture “crystal clear memories”.

All in all, the Archos 50 Oxygen Plus is a cheap smartphone and, as we all know, cheap can often come at the expense of quality.

That said, it’s not a total thumbs down for the 50 Oxygen Plus and to regard the handset as taking the ‘smart’ out of the smartphone would be a little unfair.

archos-50oxygen-plus-side

If you’re looking a smartphone that doesn’t break the bank and with its iPhone 6 resemblance certainly “looks the part”, then the Archos 50 Oxygen Plus could certainly be one to consider.

For more information visit Archos.

Archos 80 Helium 4G: review roundup

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According to figures from research company IDC the demand for tablets in mature markets is slowing down. No wonder then that manufacturers are adding more features in an effort to boost sales.

With faster 4G connectivity becoming more widely available offering download speeds of up to 150Mbps on the move, that seems like an obvious feature to make tablets more attractive. Even so a 4G tablet for under £200, sounds too good to be true, right?

French brand Archos has other ideas with its latest offering, first announced at this year’s Mobile World Congress, now on sale in the UK for just £199. The Archos 80 Helium 4G comes with a 1.2GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, along with 2MP front and 5MP rear cameras. It has an 8-inch 1024 x 768 screen and weighs in at 430 grammes thanks to its aluminium casing, but can it really compete with more expensive alternatives?

The first bad news is that it only runs Android Jelly Bean rather than the latest KitKat. Plus as TechRadar notes, “At 430g the 80 Helium 4G isn’t exactly light, the LG G Pad 8.3weighs in at 338g and the original iPad Minitips the scales at 312g – meaning this could be a bit of a beast to lug around.”

DigitalSpy is concerned about the how heavy the tablet is too, “Weighing in at 430g, the Archos 80 Helium 4G is heavier than most tablets in its size band, with the iPad Mini tipping the scales at 312g.”

As CNET says, “Internal storage is low at 8GB, however, Archos tries to make up for it with a microSD card expansion slot.” It also points out that the Archos, “lacks the premium specs and sleek designs,” of similar models from Lenovo and Samsung.

But of course the Helium is really about 4G. As Android Community says, “The tablet doesn’t offer the fastest of anything under its hood, but what it does offer is one of the lowest priced tablets with 4G connectivity on the market.”

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The £199 price is attractive but, TechRadar points out that you’ll have to factor in the cost of a 4G SIM and tariff too which will push price of ownership up a bit.

Whether the Archos is for you is really down to your priorities. If you want sleek design and the latest technical and OS specs then you’re probably best looking elsewhere. If, on the other hand, you want a low-cost way into high-speed 4G access then the Helium 80 is worth a look.

Super-slim, super-speedy Archos tablets – just what the doctor ordered?

Back for another bite of the cherry, or perhaps more likely the Granny Smith, French electronics force Archos is making its third assault on the tablet market, this time with a range of super-slim devices and a whole new look.

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The Archos Gen10 XS tablet line has been designed for super-fast web browsing via its extra-slim form and comes bundled with a unique magnetic “Coverboard”, a clever 5mm-wide keyboard that affixes to the front of the tablet for protection when not in use, with a magnetic kickstand to plant it propped up when watching movies or sharing photos and which docks the tablet for easy typing. Although the keys are not at full size, it’s a decent enough accessory and the fact it comes bundled with the original hardware is a real plus.

The first of the Gen10 range to market, the Archos 101 XS is a 10.1-inch tablet weighing 21 ounces and just 8mm slim and will hit the shops in the middle of September. It certainly ticks all the boxes; it is Google Certified, powered by Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and is upgradeable to 4.1 Jelly Bean when it launches later this year. Under the bonnet, it runs a 1.5GHz multi-core processor and packs in 1GB of RAM. It also provides 5GB free cloud storage via Google Drive.

So how does this slimline device measure up in a rapidly populating marketplace? Looks-wise it’s already being compared to the Microsoft Surface (price and launch TBC) – you can’t deny the aesthetic similarity – and it will be the first to market. This Archos is also 15 per cent thinner than the new iPad 3 with a pretty standard 1280 x 800 display resolution. But the quality of this multi-touch screen could (literally) be a sticking point. Whereas most new tablets feature a clear glass display, the plastic one of this Archos could well hamper the pinch, flick and tap-happy tablet user.

All in all, this sub-£300 tablet has a lot going for it. Archos has poured its long-game market expertise into shrinking its core device yet packing it fuller than ever with fixtures and features. But whether or not it will be able to carve out a decent niche ahead of its big-gun competitors, this smooth little tablet will surely be a bitter pill for some players in the marketplace.

SRP: £299.99

Archos Elements line of entry-level tablets

Electronics firm Archos has added a new member to the tablet club as they release the Archos 97 Carbon this month.

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The model is the first in a range called “Elements”. Designed as an entry-level device, the tablets are affordable, stylish and portable. The 97 Carbon is available in three different sizes: 7, 8 and 9.7 inches. Each tablet has full access to Google Play and comes pre-loaded with a full suite of Google apps, including Office Suite Viewer, which lets you view office documents on the go.

“We wanted to introduce a new series that not only combines affordability with a new slim design, but features the best that Google has to offer. With the ELEMENTS series we have done just that. It’s the perfect balance of hardware, software optimization and content through the Google Play ecosystem.”

Henri Crohas, ARCHOS Founder and CEO

Features and Specifications

Weighing in at only 618 grams, with a thickness of just 11.4mm and a premium aluminum finish, the Archos 97 Carbon is designed for ease of use. Front and back cameras give users the flexibility to take photos and make video calls.

The Archos 97 Carbon is powered with a 1GHz processor and comes with 1GB of RAM. With a 5x iPS multi-touch screen, users get wide viewing angles and a sharp, vivid picture. The device comes with 16GB of internal flash memory, which users can increase using the microSD slot, or via a USB flash drive.

Software

Running on Ice Cream Sandwich, the 97 Carbon comes with the latest Android operating system. Using Google Play, users can access over 600,000 apps and games, the world’s largest collection of eBooks, and thousands of movies, directly through the device. Users also get up to 5GB of storage for free with Google’s cloud storage service, Google Drive.

As well as Office Suite Viewer, the device comes with popular puzzle game World of Goo, News Republic, and personal organizer Brief Me, which manages users’ world news and customised social media feeds.

The Archos 97 Carbon is available in July and has an RRP of £219.99.

Make Mum’s day with a gadget gift

Okay people, here’s the deal when it comes to Mothers’ Day. Little kids can get away with a hand drawn card and a clay candle holder made at school, but bigger people need to put some effort in.

So, if you’re a husband or partner, or a son or daughter who’s earning their own way in the world, get your mum something decent this Mother’s Day.

Here’s a few ideas for mums who like to get a bit technical…

Concrete-Hook-Case

Concrete Hook Case

Only just launched are these stylish Concrete Hook cases, to protect her laptop. Made from finest Italian leather with a padded suede lining, there are are four colourways to choose from. Forest Green Grey with purple blue lining; Antelope Brown with Cobalt blue lining; Red Brown with black lining, and Charcoal black with orange lining. They feature chrome and aluminium fasteners and offer a choice of three types of handles in various lengths. The handles are attached to the chrome corners using specially manufactured carbine hooks.

Price: £149

Stockists: www.concretecases.com

Opus

Opus Luxury Aroma Diffusing Clock

Mum’s bedroom fills with calming soft light, and the sounds of nature soothe her as she inhales the aroma of fresh coffee. Now that makes a change from the alarm clock clanging, the dogs barking to be fed and the whiff of sports socks from the laundry basket. Home fragrance brand MadeByZen has come up with the Opus, a diffuser and alarm clock, which uses light, sound and fragrance for a really different wake-up experience. According to sleep specialists, being woken by a loud alarm clock can cause undue stress on the body. The best way to wake up is to be gently roused using natural light and sounds. The Opus combines the ancient practice of aromatherapy with modern technology, mimicking a natural wake-up pattern incorporating ‘sunrise’ and natural sounds, as well as subtle fragrance options. It also acts as a mini humidifier, ioniser and air purifier, enhancing the air quality of your home.

The Opus comes in black or white with a large choice fragrance oils at £3.99 each.

Price: £79.99

Stockists: www.madebyzen.com

Folding-Plug

Mu Folding Plug connector

Mums may seem like Mary Poppins sometimes, with bags that just keep on giving – ask a mum for biscuits, drinks, tissues, plasters – you name it, it’s probably in her handbag somewhere. But there comes a point when those bags can just not stretch any more. So if mum needs to plug in her phone when she’s at work, or on holiday, there’s a rather clever folding plug that has just come onto the market. The MU Folding Plug takes up 70% less space than your average plug and the recent launch is a USB adaptor for smartphones. The other clever thing is that the plug pins are folded away so are less likely to scratch your phone’s screen or anything else you have in your bag.

We’ve tried one out and it’s a terribly clever design, plus it comes in a very attractive box that will look good for a gift – our only gripe is that it comes in the now ubiquitous white, which we find shows up the dirt.

A tablet optimized plug and a power cord are to launch later this year.

Price: £25

Stockist: www.themu.co.uk

RoboD

RoboStir

Does your mum always complain she needs more hands? Then give her some for Mothers Day! The RoboStir is a nifty gizmo that can stir stews, soups and sauces for you, while you’re chopping, kneading, or sitting down with the paper.

I am notorious for burning pans, because I put the dinner on and then wander off and carry on working (the pitfalls of working at home), so this little gadget seemed to be just what I needed to save myself yet more burned pans.

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Just a point – you’re not to leave it unattended, so you should stay in the kitchen while it’s stirring – it’s simple to use, and fits over most average-size pans. It will cope with reasonably light sauces, such as baked beans and a light cheese sauce, but don’t expect to use it on anything too heavy.

If your mum cooks a lot and seems to do a lot of juggling, it might be worth the £14-odd quid for a novelty present.

Price: £14.95

Stockist: www.gizoo.co.uk

Roku

Roku XS streaming platform

If your mum doesn’t have a PC (or more likely can never get near one) how about treating her to the Roku, a streaming platform that provides 80 channels of online entertainment content including on-demand films from Netflix and BBC iPlayer to almost any TV without the need for a PC. A Netflix subscription will give access to unlimited films. If she’s feeling generous, she might even use it to keep the kids entertained over the holidays (while she gets a bit of ‘me’ time!).

Price: £99.99

Stockist: www.amazon.co.uk

Archos

Archos 70d eReader

I’m a bit of a luddite when it comes to eReaders and books. I like a nice book, with proper paper pages and printed with ink. BUT after a particularly dull journey on the District Line last week, I was wishing I had one, as I’d finished my book on the way into London. With an eReader, you’ve always got another book at your fingertips, so I decided to put the latest Archos 70d eReader to the test to see if busy mums might fancy one for Mother’s Day.

It’s really light, at 280g, which is good in some ways, but it does feel a tad flimsy – and you’ll need to buy a cover for it if it’s going to get flung in a bag (which is pretty likely). You should get around eight hours out of a full charge, which is not bad either.

At a tad under 60 quid, it’s pretty cheap – 30 pounds less than a Kindle, so if you can’t afford one of those, and your mum isn’t too demanding about her gadgets this could be a good choice. It’s simple to use, has a 7in TFT colour screen, and can also be used for playing video, music and viewing photos players and the 4GB of onboard memory is expandable by up to 16GB thanks to the microSD slots.

Price: £59.99

Stockist: http://www.archos.com/

Archos G9 tablet hands on: Cheaper, faster alternative to iPad 2

A £200 tablet more that’s powerful than the iPad 2? Madness, you say? Lies? A cunning French deception? No, the Archos G9 is none of those things. It’s real, it’s quick, it’s got a 1.5GHz processor and it’s coming with a 250GB harddrive (with a nine-hour battery-life). Excited? Read on.

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Alright – we stretched the truth a little. The £200 tablet is only 16GB with an 8-inch screen, but it’s still got the internals to out-run the iPad 2. In fact, the 1.5GHz processor (an ARM A9, but developed by Texas Instruments) is rumoured to be 50% faster than the nVidia Tegra found in other Android devices and the iPad’s brain.

The 8″ model – 1.7-inches smaller than the iPad – boasts a 1024 x 766 display, a resolution almost identical to that of the iPad but in a smaller form. The colours, contrast and viewing angle are by no means as beautiful as Apple’s IPS screen technology, and pushing too hard on the plastic front distorts the screen, but it is certainly most impressive form a £200 device.

The 10.1″ model, available for £279, has a Macbook-equalling 1280×800 resolution, which means it actually pulls ahead of the iPad quite significantly despite a much lower price-point. Watch out for other articles claiming it’s £249 – a mistake in the press release has widely circulated this incorrect rumour (we spoke to Archos’ CEO himself).

The 250GB harddrive version – which uses a combination of 4GB Flash memory and 246GB of the traditional computer kind – gives the G9 exceptional storage capacity for £400. Operating system files (Android Honeycomb 3.1) are stored on the Flash memory for instant access, better durability and lower battery-life costs. Other stored media hangs about on the huge hard disk.

We questioned Archos whether sticking a giant hard drive in a tablet kills battery-life, and were pleased to hear that the regular battery-life (10 hours) only drops by one hour on the 250GB model. Whether they did this through voodoo or science, it’s exciting and definitely innovative.

The other major innovation is the 3G dongle. While the standard tablet comes with wifi built-in, 3G is available through a plug-in USB stick, so instead of having to decide on your 3G demands before buying your device, you can choose to update at a later time.

It also means that you can pull out the 3G dongle and use it for 3G surfing on your computer, so you’ll only need one 3G account for both your tablet and your laptop.

Add a video conferencing 720p webcam, a light body (under 500g from the 8-inch) and full Android Market support and there’s a lot to love about these machines.

Our only downer was the chassis – it felt like it costs half that of the iPad or Samsung Galaxy. We’d also like to know how much RAM is inside the body – if it’s 512MB or 1GB, it’s a great little machine – otherwise we might see halting or stuttering as more apps open up (when we went hands-on, it seemed perfect.)

HD video played without a problem, and the 1080p HDMI output to a screen worked flawlessly. For us, it was the seamless tablet experience that users have previously only got with the iPad – we thank the big-ass processor.

All-in, we’re very excited for the September launch. Very excited indeed.

Summer’s must-have cycling gadgets

With summer well and truly here, it’s the perfect time to dust off your bike and get back in the saddle with these awesome accessories.

Cycling-Gadgets
Image courtesy of skippyjon from Flickr

Garmin Edge 305 GPS Bike Computer – R.R.P £259.99

A nifty little device that doubles as a GPS system and personal trainer, the Garmin Edge 305 is easy to use and comes with its own bike mount. The computer measures a variety of stats, including distance, speed, time, altitude, heart rate and calories burned. With a personal trainer function, it doubles as a virtual cycling partner and will map specific ‘courses’ to let you race against your best time. Able to detect your location even in challenging terrain, you’ll never have to take a map break again.

Archos Helmet Cam – R.R.P £169.99

Complete with built-in remote and microphone, the Archos Helmet Cam is the perfect way to record extreme stunts and journeys. The compact, light-weight camera fits onto the top of your helmet and comes with its own head band. For cyclists on a budget, cheaper models include the Actioncam Action Video Camera (R.R.P £39.99) and the OregonScientific ATC3K Action Camera Extreme (R.R.P £99.99).

Oakley RAZRWIRE Bluetooth enabled sunglasses – R.R.P around £150

Oakley are famous for making classy eyewear but now they’ve gone one step further and produced these Bluetooth enabled sunglasses, meaning you can answer calls with the press of a button and chat while you ride. The headset works up to 33 feet away from your mobile and, if your handset has voice-activated dialling, you can call someone on the go without having to look for your phone. The wireless technology promotes freedom of movement and the glasses are also available with prescription lenses.

Winkku Cycle Safety Mirror and Indicator Light – R.R.P £20

Every cyclist knows the perils of the right-hand turn. Holding your arm out in the path of an oncoming car and hoping any vehicles behind have noticed you is not an appealing prospect. Thankfully, the days of wobbling all over the middle of the road are over with Winkku’s indicator lights. Designed to fit onto the end of your handlebars, the lights serve as a rear view mirror and indicator so you can see who’s behind you and let them know where you’re going while maintaining your balance (and dignity).