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Archive for October 15th, 2009

My source at Archos provides more information on the new stable Firmware

Posted by Charbax on 15th October 2009

According to forum reports (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), the new firmware update 1.1.01 that Archos released this past monday (changelog) fixes a lot of the bugs that were present in the early firmwares. Those early firmware bugs probably also caused that temporary freeze of orders on Amazon has been reported by some blogs since my guess is early users complained to Amazon about the bugs, but those should now be mostly fixed.

I asked one of my sources at Archos a bunch of questions about the new firmware and overall the status of the Archos 5 Internet Tablet with Android, questions that most of us Archos Fans have been discussing in the http://forum.archosfans.com This source of mine at Archos has started to reply to some of these questions, so hereby I quote snippets of those responses on the status with this latest firmware:

H.264 & MKV Container:
- The new fimware 1.1.01 allows the user to read the H264HD & MKV container in a better quality because this firmware optimizes the playback of both formats.
- The End-User has to be registered to get the free plug-in H264
- Concerning the MKV files playback problem : most of MKV files contain H.264 or HD264HD format combined with AC3 sound (in 90% of cases). This explains why these files (MKV) cannot be played with audio tracks even after the online registration (which offers you the free pack plug-in). In fact, the consumer has to purchase the HD cinema plug-in to read these files.

I will be testing MKV 720p High Profile H264 playback in the next few days and report if I can get most of my “scene releases” to work. Such as those 4.7GB 720p Movies and 720p TV shows that people can find on the Internet.

There has been some tests in the forum, though not many using the new firmware that improves on H264HD playback, and not many specifically testing “scene releases” of High Profile 720p contents.

Also, I will report soon back about how good the Youtube HD playback performs! If it can stream most Youtube HD contents smoothly on an HDTV, this will be fantastic and the first time this has been achieved on a consumer electronics device!

WiFi:
- The new firmware 1.1.01 optimizes the connection and stability while improving WiFi scanning and Bluetooth stability

Early reports in the forum are confirming that WiFi-N connections are stable now. I will be testing to see which options there are for WiFi switch on/off widgets to put on the Android desktop for quick WiFi connection management. I will see if FON Maps, FON connector and other automatic WiFi hotspot connection Android apps are working to provide a super quick and automatic way to connect to the Internet.

I will also test WiFi-N transfer speeds and range.

Tethering:
- This function is working with most of 3G phones & smartphones like Samsung, LG, Nokia. The iPhone, the Android Phones, Blackberry phones & Windows phones have not included the thethering function. The non compatibility with iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Windows phones is therefore not a problem from ARCHOS but from the manufacturer itself.

In the forum http://forum.archosfans.com/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=26482, we are trying to come up with lists of specific phones models that are tested to provide compatible bluetooth tethering support.

I’m looking forward to test if there is support for some really cheap Bluetooth tethering phones (such as some cheap Motorola, Nokia, LG and Samsung ones) to act as the 3G modem to use on the Archos, using Data-centric HSDPA sim cards only, with no need to actually use that phone for Voice and SMS. My plan is to use my Archos as a VOIP and IM terminal instead of having a normal mobile phone. And I would like to use those Data SIM cards that cost around $20 per month without contract, just pre-paid each month, and that provide up to 10GB or 20GB of bandwidth. At least here in Denmark and in some other European countries, such Data-only HSDPA sim cards are available. It will be interesting to test if those block VOIP packets or if VOIP works fine (once more VOIP apps are available for Android).

I believe any better Bluetooth Tethering support on the Archos 5 Internet Tablet with Android will have to come from Google to provide such more features in future Android updates. For example, hopefully that Android 2.0 could support these other types of “priprietary” Bluetooth tethering from such devices as the Windows Mobile 6 devices, Iphones, Androids and Blackberries. Discuss Bluetooth Tethering in the forum: http://forum.archosfans.com/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=26482

Flash:
- The ARCHOS 5 supports Flash Lite through the ARCHOS AVOS (Games à Flash…)
- The ARCHOS 5 can play videos from website such as Youtube (via their mobile website) or Dailymotion via the pre installed applications
- The ARCHOS 5 does not support flash animations (web ads for instance)

Previously, Archos has confirmed that Flash 10.1 support will be added to this device once Adobe releases it. According to this video, the Flash 10.1 player for Android should be available within the next few months: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pee3nT4bPw4

Archos has previously supported Flash 9 Lite in the Opera browser of the last 2 generations of devices. Though the Webkit based browser in Android does not support Flash 9 Lite for now. So Archos is I think probably waiting for the official Flash 10.1 release, before adding support for it, probably not before Android 2.0. Also, if rumors of Firefox Fennec, Opera and the full Google Chrome browsers developped using the Android Native SDK are true, then Archos could support Flash in those as well.

Donut – New android firmware :
- Donut (Android 1.6) should be available for the ARCHOS 5 before end of 2009. For your information, there is currently no device that is running Donut at the moment. All manufacturers are developping and adapting their devices to do so.

In a previous video, Archos representative Steve Martin said that the Android 1.6 update would be available for the Archos later in October, though my source at Archos tells me that Android 1.6 firmware might be about 5 weeks away from today. Though before the end of 2009 is probably the more conservative estimate.

Regarding the support for the Google applications on Archos, what I have been asking in the android-discuss newsgroup is to ask if anyone else had seen any pre-release of the Google Android apps such as the Gmail client, Contacts, Google Maps, Google Listen, Google Voice, Latitude, Talk and other of these Google Android apps. But nobody has yet answered if they have seen anything.

Hopefully since Android 1.6 adds support for WVGA 800×480 screens, now Google will soon release all the Google apps to use on the Archos 5 Internet Tablet and other of the many Android devices with Android 1.6 that are coming out.

My contact at Archos is telling me that Archos is in talks with Google to get those apps for when Archos releases the Donut update. My guess is that Google will release the “Google Experience” across more Android devices including Archos in the coming weeks while Android 1.6 is being spread around and while more Android devices are being announced and released by dozens more manufacturers.

I also expect that the Google Marketplace app will eventually work on the Archos since Google has announced that they now provide resolution, manufacturer and carrier specific filtering for the Google Marketplace.

- APK problem :
On some ARCHOS 5 with Flash Memory the pre-installed applications are not on the desktop of the device. To reinstall the Third-Party Android applications : download the file on http://www.archos.com/support/support_tech/updates.html?country=fr&lang=fr (choose ARCHOS 5 Internet Tablet), and copy it to the root of your ARCHOS 5. Unplug your ARCHOS device, and double click on the file you just copied. Launch the Installation Wizard (from Menu>Settings>About my Product>Repair and Format tools). The wizard will automatically launch at the next reboot of your ARCHOS 5 internet tablet. Follow the steps of the Wizard.

That .apk problem is a small one previously resolved quickly in the forum. One can just download AppsLib from here to get the Archos applications library back up.

According to reports on http://www.archoslounge.net/AppsLib-ca-se-remplit-vite,9068.html , there are now more than 1087 Android applications available in the Archos http://appslib.com applications library.

gunnar-medial has posted a “HOWTO: ADB support on Ubuntu Linux (on-device debugging!)” since this latest Archos 5 Internet Tablet firmware update (1.1.01) enables ADB (Android Debug Bridge). This is a major step forward in efficient development of apps for this tablet device! http://forum.archosfans.com/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=26483

You can discuss this post and suggest other questions to ask in the forum: http://forum.archosfans.com/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=26490

The Archos 5 Internet Tablet with Android (500GB) has been shipping for a couple of days from Amazon.com for $489

The 32GB has been shipping for about 2 weeks from Amazon.com for $369

Posted in Exclusives, Firmwares, Rumors | View Comments