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Speculations: What will Archos show at CES?

Posted by Charbax on December 22nd, 2009

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I am going to CES in Las Vegas on January 4th to 11th to film an extensive HD quality video coverage for my new site http://armdevices.net. I expect this CES to be an awesome one with many new ARM Powered Laptops, Tablets and Phones to be unveiled. But I am also, of course, very much looking forward to film for you some videos of the new Archos products that will be shown at the show.

While I am looking forward to see new Archos products unveiled officially at the CES, I would like to post here some of my speculations on what I expect we could see demonstrated and announced by Europe’s best consumer electronics company, Archos, during this CES event, that I would recommend them to show if they want to be again the Best of CES which Archos was several times since back in 2003 with the AV100. I would like to emphasize that those speculations are only based on my common sense and logical thinking, I have not been informed by any Archos insiders on these matters, I have followed every piece of news and rumors on Archos during the past months and years though, which helps me to formulate following speculations:

OMAP3640 and OMAP4?
Archos may announce products based on Texas Instruments 1ghz OMAP3640 or even Texas Instruments OMAP4 ARM Cortex A9 platforms. That is, if OMAP3640 is as I would speculate it to be, the next compatible Texas Instruments processor that Archos could easily implement in next generation of products without having to change the software, to thus achieve the 1ghz that Archos has previously announced would be shown in a new product at CES.

The advantages of the OMAP3640 are as far as I understand it not only the faster clock speed at 1ghz versus 800mhz, it is also the finer processor processed at 45 nanometer instead of 65 nanometer. Which means that this new Texas Instruments processor may be slightly smaller and consume less energy even though it would be more powerful. Which means Archos devices may achieve longer battery time and produce less heat with this processor.

If Archos decides to pre-announce the next generation based on ARM Cortex A9 processors of Texas Instruments OMAP4 platform, that could be a strategical decision of Archos to announce products that may not be available for 6 to 9 months. But in case Apple also announces a Tablet, this early Cortex A9 based announcement by Archos may be appropriate to continue to lead in terms of announcements.

A built-in mini-HDMI port would be nice. A custom design of a foldable keyboard to cover the screen would be cool to transform it as well into a Laptop form factor and if well designed the thin foldable keyboard could double as a screen protector instead of a leather case.

Pixel Qi screen?
While it would be unlikely that Archos will anounce any new product with the Pixel Qi screen, I would absolutely recommend Archos to consider contacting Pixel Qi to have their sunlight readable low power ereader LCD screen technology integrated in all Archos tablet products as soon as possible. Pixel Qi will only provide 10.1″ screen sizes for a start, but 4.8″ and 7″ sizes may be coming soon as well. I filmed Pixel Qi technology at Computex: http://armdevices.net/2009/06/07/pixel-qi-vs-kindle-vs-toshiba-r600-vs-regular-lcd-tablet/. In my opinion the perfect Archos 5 Android Tablet would use a Pixel Qi screen, this way transforming it into a Kindle as well, enabling one to read books and read blogs, emails and websites comfortably for hours on a battery, and have better use of it outdoors. Together with the Pixel Qi, capacitative touch screen technology would probably be required for optimal quality of the screen.

Built-in 3G, Compass and Camera
I would like to see Archos announce a version of the Archos 5 Internet Tablet, not only with the new 1ghz processor, but also with it having a built-in HSDPA sim card reader like on last year’s Archos 5G model which was only released to few consumers in France and the UK. The announcement of Archos of this 3G model also having a built-in compass and camera would be really nice and would thus make it totally compatible with most Android applications. I would really like to have Augmented Reality applications, Youtube uploading and live video broadcasting working on it.

Less screen bezel
Although the current Archos 5 Internet Tablet with Android I think has a pretty awesome design already, the flash based model is amazingly thin and light, I would still like it to have even less bezel around the screen. It would be nice if Archos could keep the same sized screen but somehow make the device even more compact. The goal would be for the whole device keeping the same awesome 4.8″ 800×480 screen size yet to have a total device size closer to the size of all the existing 3.5″ and 3.7″ phones.

7″ Android Tablet
My guess is that it should not require too much work for Archos to provide all the Archos Android features in a 7″ sized tablet. Just as Archos has been able to do it every year since 2005 with the AV700, AV704, Archos 705 and Archos 7. Basically the 7″ Archos Android tablet should include all the same features as the 4.8″ version, just with a larger screen, usually more storage and a larger battery. Perhaps Archos would manage to include a higher resolution screen, perhaps 1024×600 or something like that which may be really awesome for web browsing. I would expect the 1ghz processor in this one, an amazingly thin form factor keeping enough battery for 10 hours of web browsing. For Archos to announce a 7″ Android tablet would provide Archos with huge attention from the press and media so it would be worth it just from a marketing perspective even if the launch of such 7″ Android tablet may not actually happen until March or so. A built-in full sized HDMI port would be nice. A custom design of a foldable keyboard to cover the screen would be cool to transform it as well into a Laptop form factor and if well designed could double as a screen protector instead of a leather case.

4.3″ Android Tablet instead of the Archos Phone
The Archos Phone might still be shown, though I would much prefer a basic Archos Android Tablet version with a 4.3″ screen. Thus it would be very compact, Flash memory based only and I think it could be announced for a very very cheap price. Perhaps as little as $150 or $200. Then I think Archos should be able to provide a 3G HSDPA version as well.

I prefer Archos VOIP to Archos Phone
Although it may very well happen that Archos will launch an Archos Phone in partnership with several international telecom carriers, where you pay some unreasonably huge amount of money over a 2-year contract to use it. I would though much much prefer if somehow Archos decided to instead focus on what it does best, focus on the Tablet aspect and instead make a really big splash and announce that Archos will optimize all the firmwares to support the best possible Android VOIP applications and support those in the best possible way. Supporting VOIP perfectly is not a small and easy task. I for example have not yet really been able to experience suitable Android VOIP experience on my Archos 5 Internet Tablet with Android. The way Archos should implement VOIP is by supporting VOIP standby by hardware and firmware. Meaning, using very little battery, the Archos should be able to constantly be available on a VOIP version of Google Voice, on Skype, on SIP networks and on Google Talk and other voice-enabled Instant Messaging platforms. Sure, the VOIP part are all done in Android applications that some are available and others probably will be available soon for Android. On the other side though, Archos would really need to implement very optimized power management to be able to go into deep but connected standby and be able to *ring* on incoming phone calls.

My hope is that Archos can announce more than 20 hours of connected standby in this mode. What this would mean is that one can save tons of $$$ by using Archos for VOIP instead of using a regular phone with very expensive phone subscriptions. I think Archos would profit much more from disrupting the telecom industry than by simply playing the same game as all the other phone manufacturers. If some telecoms try to block VOIP usage on their 3G networks, then that should not be Archos problem, that should quickly become the telecom’s own problem because Archos should then help to point out which telecoms are behaving badly and public pressure maybe even Government intervention through Net Neutrality regulations would prevent VOIP drop-outs and bandwidth throttling from happening.

Android 1.6 firmware release
My expectation is that Archos will soon be able to release the Android 1.6 firmware update. With it, Google will hopefully allow Archos to include the Google Marketplace by default. Really, I find that there would be absolutely no reason for Google not to authorize it at that point. Android 1.6 and 2.0 officially provide the support for 800×480 screen resolutions.

Android 2.0 firmware announcement
Perhaps only a few weeks or so after the Android 1.6 firmware update, I expect Archos may already have a 2.0 firmware update available. This Android 2.0 firmware update would also come with full Flash 10.1 support, that is if Adobe manages to make it available by then.

Archos 9 pctablet broad release
Something may have delayed the full release of the Intel powered Archos 9 pctablet. My guess is that the issue may have been related to a BIOS bug related to the way Archos is implementing the Intel Atom processor for the first time in this exact type of form factor. Also, perhaps that Microsoft has contributed a few software fixes to the Archos 9 tablet experience over the past few weeks. For example, perhaps that Microsoft is contemplating to include cheaper access to the Windows 7 Tablet features to the Windows 7 Starter Edition that Archos includes on the tablet to save costs. In either way, if Windows 7 Tablet features only come on the more expensive Ultimate edition (or however it’s called), perhaps Archos could announce that consumers may have an official way to upgrade for a specific fee to a different version of Windows 7 if they so choose to. Releasing the Archos 9 broadly worldwide should provide Archos with plenty of good and enthusiastic press coverage and enthusiasm from fans of Intel based tablets.

I think Archos should announce ARM Powered laptops
Archos has done some Intel powered netbooks. Now I think would be the appropriate time for Archos to announce that they will also design and release some ARM Cortex powered laptops as well! Although for Archos the timing may be a bit early to announce any ARM Cortex powered Laptops, I am sure Archos will do it eventually. I am really going to be looking forward to all the ARM Powered laptops that will be shown at CES and follow all my videos of those that I will post to my new site http://armdevices.net

Archos to unveil cheaper Android devices
I think Archos may show a new generation of the Archos 3, 4, 5 and 7 Vision which may all use Android and WiFi, yet they may not come with GPS, Bluetooth and only be PMP centric and provide provide only basic WiFi functions. Thus the Archos 3 Vision Android would be sold at $80, Archos 4 Vision Android at $100, Archos 5 Vision Android $125 and Archos 7 Vision Android $150. Those may all come with 8GB built-in storage and a SD card memory slot for storage expansion.

You can discuss these speculations in the forum: http://forum.archosfans.com/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=28779

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  • Major C

    I wonder if Archos will have Android 1.6 running before CES opens. Trust you will tell us if they get their act together.

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