April 28, 2014.
Archos 5 Internet Tablet
Created Sunday 09 January 2011
Last updated on Towel Day, 2011.
This page concerns the Archos 5 Internet Tablet, specifically the 16GB tablet running Android 1.6. My tablet says "Model Number: 750J" on the back. Let me know if you find this guide useful, can answer my questions, erred on something, or think I should update the page.
Other Archos 5 tablet owners
Others? Who knows.
The Archos 5 is an "internet tablet" - essentially, a smartphone without phone capabilities that uses wifi for all its network functions. It has some problems, but if those aren't dealbreakers, it's a great device for browsing the web, reading email, reading ebooks, listening to internet radio, using Twitter, and watching video.
The Archos 5 is so named because the screen measures 4.8 inches diagonally. Almost 5 inches, get it? Finding information about it can be confusing because Archos has other (older) devices named Archos 5, with different hardware, more disk space, running a different operating system. If you're searching for something about the device, make sure you see "Internet Tablet" or "IT" in the description.
I bought the Archos 5 because I wanted the smartphone experience without having to pay $60/month to a telephone company. In Ames, Iowa, a person is never too far away from an internet connection. Things the Archos does pretty well, if it doesn't crash first:
- Web Browsing
- Text Messaging
- Listening to Podcasts
- Watching Videos
- Reading Ebooks
- FM Radio, sometimes.
- Alarm Clock
- Voice Recording
See? It replaces a lot of other, larger devices. I would like it if I could get to the point where I can use a tablet to replace most of my laptop usage, without feeling like this is a pain in the butt.
All of the problems here relate to firmware version 2.0.45. Some of them might be fixed by a firmware update in the future.
Screen: it's a resistive touch screen. If you're used to iphones or other fancy touchscreen devices ("capacitative"), you might find the screen takes some getting used to.
Reliability: I don't take much pleasure in showing off the Archos's features. It has performance anxiety, or perhaps just doesn't handle task-switching very well. If I am trying to show a friend how the radio works, or demo the GPS, or watch a video from YouTube, I expect to it crash so that I'm not disappointed. Their iphone, or Droid, or whatever they use, is much more reliable. But they are paying a lot of money for a phone+data plan. You are not.
Archos, the Company: It's impossible to contact them without registering as a customer. I bought a returned item, which somebody else had already registered, meaning I have no way to contact Archos. They publish no email address on their website. Their website is okay if you are trying to find something to order, but shitty if you're trying to find out information. They are not on Twitter. They don't have a blog. I have no idea whether they're planning to update the Archos 5 to a newer version of Android, or fix the GPS. There's no way to know.
Battery: Built-in, irreplaceable. Does Archos, or any other company, replace the battery or swap a device at the end of its battery life for another? Electronic waste is bad for the environment and irresponsible. It is possible to buy a battery dock, to provide more battery life on the go. Of course that adds some bulk...
Android Market: Archos 5 does not come with access to the Android Market. I do not know why. It does come with something called AppsLib, which lets you find and install some apps. There are other market apps you can install (TODO: make list). You'll probably want to apply the hack to let you install the Google Market along with the other Google apps (e.g. GMail, Calendar, Voice, Maps). It's a pain to apply (for instance, I think applying it requires XP). Search if you want more details.
GPS: I am talking about the built-in GPS, not the external attachment available for purchase. Built-in GPS works okay once you get a satellite fix. Getting this fix may take up to 30 minutes! I was able to use one app to see my approximate location, and another to tell me my speed and show my approximate location on the map (it showed me driving 30 feet parallel to the highway). If you hit the power button to turn off the screen (to attempt to save battery), it also turns off the GPS, and you have to start over again. "Compass" apps will not work. Fortunately, some apps can handle setting your location based on the wireless network you're using.
FM Radio: Has worked pretty well in the past. Currently I'm finding the display kind of weird: it will play a station (Say, 106 FM, where it also displays the station ID), but until you add it to the presets, it is showing 87.5 as the station. This is wrong, as it's playing 106 FM. So kind of screwy. Also, in Europe, I've heard stations go in .05 increments instead of .1 as the USA does it. So you can have a station like 104.45 FM. The Archos will skip from 104.4 to 104.5.
Internal Microphone: It is right next to the internal speaker. Meaning, if you are trying to use a VOIP app, your conversation partner will hear an echo as their voice comes out the external speaker and goes back into the microphone. Some conversation partners tolerate this better than others.
Speaker: Does not get very loud. Sound can probably fill a small room, if there are no other sounds.
Codecs: The Archos 5 will not play all audio and video formats. For some of them (such as H.264) you will need to purchase codecs. I have not purchased the codecs. Most of the things I've wanted to watch and hear have worked fine.
Firmware version 2.0.45, Android 1.6. When I bought my Archos in December 2009, it came with Android 1.5 and according to a number of people on the internet, it crashed a lot. But voices on the internet expected that Archos would be good about publishing firmware updates which would make the device more stable, add features, etc. There used to be an update every few weeks. They made the device more stable, introduced Android 1.6, and brought new features. The firmware updates have been much less frequent lately.
Other operating systems that run on the Archos 5 internet tablet:
- Angstrom Linux - from Archos, "only for advanced developers"
- Android 2.2 - from ??? (unofficial). Not as stable on Archos as 1.6, many problems, but many new features available. Possible to dual-boot this with Android 1.6. Is it possible to set up triple-booting between 1.6, 2.2 and Angstrom?
- (Meego/Maemo)? Saw a screenshot of one of these in action. Don't think they released it for the use of others.
- Buy a USB wall charger or use a cell phone charger, or charge the Archos while you're on the computer at work. Just don't turn on a computer for the sole purpose of charging the Archos!
To make your Archos 5 useful, you'll probably want to apply the hack that lets you use the Android Market to get new apps.
Some of the stuff I list under Apps Lib might be available on the Android Market, and vice versa. Takes too much time to keep that straight...
- Aldiko - a good ebook reader, despite its occasional weird formatting issues. http://slideme.org/en/application/aldiko Download tons of free ebooks from www.gutenberg.org
- Aldiko - a good ebook reader, despite its occasional weird formatting issues. Download tons of free ebooks from www.gutenberg.org
Android Market (requires hack):
I'm only listing free apps. Given one has to hack the device to even get these apps in the first place, purchasing them sounds like a bad idea. If Google wants me to purchase apps, they can 1) allow Archos 5 users to access the Android Market without jumping through hoops, and 2) Allow more than 15 minutes to return an app. 15 minutes is not enough!
- Aldiko - a good ebook reader, despite its occasional weird formatting issues. I prefer FBReader. Download tons of free ebooks from www.gutenberg.org
- Amazon Kindle - purchase ebooks, get some free public domain ebooks. See also: Aldiko, my preferred ebook reader.
- Amazon MP3 - legally purchase DRM-free MP3s. When I changed the Archos locale from English (USA) to German (Deutschland), the "Daily Free MP3" suddenly was no longer free. Might want to stick with using this app in English, or switch to English to grab the free MP3s. Or, rip your own CDs using a patent-free codec such as FLAC or OGG!
- Bejeweled - Huge time waster game
- Dolphin Browser - much better than default Android browser
- Dropbox - cloud storage
- duckduckgo - Change default search engine to duckduckgo.com
- ebuddy - Chat app. Not as pretty as Meebo IM or Google Talk.
- 8pen - Input method. I prefer this muchly to the default Android on-creen keyboard. Has nice auto-complete. See the video or their website for more details.
- Flickr Free - Flickr app. Some Flickr apps do dubious things with you data, gotta watch out! This one looked safe.
- Fring - Chat/VOIP. Works nicely for chatting with people on several IM networks. VOIP test call was low quality and crackly, otherwise might be a good app for cheap telephony
- GMail - Nice email client, handles being offline well. If you have non-GMail accounts, use K9 instead/also.
- Google Voice - Free text messages within the USA!
- Hootsuite - Decent Twitter app.
- K9 - Email app. Open source. Great!
- Last.fm - Share musical discoveries with friends. Listen to streaming music.
- LED Scroller - Use your tablet as an LED sign.
- Mapdroyd - Download map for area you'll be in. Voila, you've got a slightly ugly Google Maps for offline usage. Finding your current location might be rather awkward, but after that, it's not too bad!
- Mint.com - Nice overview of your money in some financial institutions. However, Mint pairs up with a number of big, scummy corporations and chain stores to offer deals. Stay away from them. Stick with mom-and-pops and stay local. It was recently revealed that Mint did not use a secure connection for transmitting certain data. Maybe they've fixed this, but maybe it's safer to stick with their website.
- Flixster ("Movies") - Find out which movies are playing in your area. View trailers. Etc.
- Newsrob - Nice offline news reader, syncs with Google Reader.
- NPR News - Read/listen to news on National Public Radio
- NPR Podcasts - Slick interface for downloading your favorite NPR shows.
- Opera Mini - great mobile web browser
- Scanner Radio - listen to police scanners over the internet
- Seesmic - Was my favorite Twitter app, currently unfortunately broken (Jan 2011)
- Shazam - identify songs by artist/album! Requires wifi for usage.
- Sipdroid - VOIP. Works well (except for echo, see "Big Problems" and "Questions" sections). You'll want to tweek the settings so wifi (and your call!) doesn't die when the screen times out. Still, Sipdroid is great in conjunction with Google Voice and a VOIP provider (I recommend sipgate.com or sipgate.de) to see if you're getting a call.
- Teachimer - Set alarms for a certain number of minutes in the future when your tea/french press/etc. will be done brewing. (HELP: are there any similar apps out there where I can say, sound alarm in X minutes?) Teachimer makes you create a new semi-permanent alarm for each time increment you want to use. Teachimer's best when you're sorta paying attention. Would not be a good app to wake you from a 20 minute nap.
- Tweetdeck - Twitter/Facebook/etc. client. Multi-platform. If you have an account, Android client apparently syncs with desktop clients, etc.
- VLC Remote - Use Archos tablet to control VLC Media Player (the best video player there is, open source, and decent for playing audio too!)
- Wandroid - fun puzzle game
- (The) Weather Channel - Get weather alerts for the area in which you set it up.
Download (from a website somewhere):
Most of the stuff in here will probably be open source, which is preferable to closed source in many instances.
- NPR News - See above. (Is available on web, right? TODO: link). Open source!
- Sipdroid - See above. (TODO: link). Open source!
Apps to Remove after Firmware Upgrades:
There's a limited amount of space on the Archos for installing apps (TODO: how limited?). If you're an app junkie, you'll might want to remove the following apps:
- Apps Lib. Not as good as Google Market. Getting there, hopefully.
- craigsphone. 400kb, crashy.
- Daily Motion. 184kb, I don't use it.
- DroidIn-Lite. 308kb, I'd rather use Web interface for this.
- Deezer. 700kb, only useful in France.
- Ebuddy IM. (TODO: get size), not as pretty as Meebo IM.
- GPS. 9mb - takes up lots of space! I don't use it.
- MewBox?? don't know if Archos installed it or another app did ?? (3.61mb, apparently for the Brits)
- Twidroid. 2mb, not as good as other Twitter clients - slightly ugly UI.
Ways to Connect:
Mass Storage Device
Supported Input/Output/Storage Devices:
- Archos 5 has a micro-SD slot. It's worked fine for me. Your card will wind up with extra directories called _arcthumb (TODO: VERIFY THIS)
- Worked fine with the one Bluetooth mouse I tried it with (Apple hardware).
- Tried two Bluetooth keyboards (Apple, Logitech), neither of those worked.
- Archos sells a dock with a USB slot. Has anybody used in combination with a thumb drive, mouse, keyboard, or printer? Would love some details if you have.
I will share your answers and give you credit for them, if you like.
- Is it possible to use a combination headphones/microphone with the Archos?
- Have you used Archos 5 for VOIP? Which app are you using? What others have you tried? Which service? Which others have you tried?
- Is there any way to contact Archos, the company? Not having a device that's registered to me, I couldn't find any way to do this.
- Have you tethered another device to the Archos, or the Archos to another device for network sharing?
- Do you have a screen cover? If so, what's it called, where did you get it, how much did it cost? If not: how has your screen been holding up? Does it scratch easily?
- Does charging Archos 5 with a small solar-powered charger make sense? Has anybody tried it?
- What hardware do you use with the device?
- Which software do you use on your computer to manage Archos?
- What are your favorite apps?
- Why do app developers who make free apps only release their apps on Android Market, when it's possible to put a download link on their site? Why are most of the popular, useful, fun apps not available in AppsLib?
Page last updated: April 28, 2014.