Archos isn’t a name that you’ll hear in the tech world much anymore. The French company was doing some interesting things once upon a time, but it’s been trying to corner the budget end of the market in more recent years. And on paper, an Archos tablet doesn’t sound like a bad proposition. The company’s 80b Platinum includes an 8-inch 1024x768 display, a quad-core processor, and a chassis built from aluminium.

It’s clearly an iPad mini clone - just look at the "design" - but is it any good? Nope!

Material world

Companies need to understand that using metal on a device is extremely tricky. Sure, it potentially looks better, but it’s not just about looks. You have to take weight into consideration, not to mention the finish. Archos’ tablet falls down in both departments.

The 80b is a heavy tablet. At 440 grams, it’s far heavier than the Nexus 7 and iPad mini (290 grams and 308 grams respectively), and you can definitely notice in day to day use. Fatigue quickly sets in with one handed use.

The texture of the aluminium back isn’t anywhere near as nice as the iPad mini either. Whereas Apple has gone with a smooth finish that feels excellent to the touch, Archos hasn’t treated the metal in anyway - it feels rougher than it should. There are noticeable colour variances when you hold it under bright lights too. The back of our review unit was pure silver at the bottom, yet had strange red splotches towards the top. Most people won’t notice it, but it’s still pretty weird.

Oh, and it scratches very easily.

All of the ports at the top of the tablet ruin Archos’ attempt at aping Apple’s design too. Everything has been jammed in a line to try and keep things clean on the other sides of the tablet - that includes the power button, headphone jack, microUSB, microHDMI, power, reset button, and microSD card slot. It’s a mess. There’s also a volume rocker on the left side, as well as a physical home button. Why is there a weirdly placed home button when all the navigation buttons are onscreen? I have no idea.

In the mouth of madness

The display on the 80b is not good. Text and images are pixelated and jaggy, but even worse, the screen is undersaturated and not nearly bright enough. You won’t be able to use it outdoors at all. There’s no oleophobic coating either, resulting in a juddery ride across the screen as you swipe your finger and a fine layer of grease left behind when you’re done.

Worse still, there’s a bizarre moire pattern that can be seen on solid colours when you’re interacting with the screen. It’s reminiscent of a PenTile display, but it’s not nearly as pronounced. If you hold the tablet at a normal viewing distance, then it won’t be that noticeable, but it’s maddening once you do spot it in action.

Actually using the tablet is frustrating too. Dive into Chrome, for example, and you’ll quickly discover that there’s no pinch to zoom. Or double tap to zoom. There’s no zoom at all. What?

Content heavy pages are jittery and occasionally sluggish, but even lighter sites on the web have a tangible lag that’s always there in the background. They load relatively quickly on WiFi - if you have a good signal. Once you move towards the edge of your network, connectivity practically disappears. Pages take an age to load, or don’t load at all.

Light games - Angry Birds, World of Goo - run without issues. There are some dropped frames here and there, but for the most part everything is smooth. Given the poor screen, though, I'm not sure why you'd want to try and play anything for more than a minute or so.

The included cameras are awful. Pictures are blurry and don’t have any detail. The fact that there’s no digital stabilisation - causing the camera to CONSTANTLY shake - doesn’t help either.

Why?

Why are the time and date slightly off centre on the lock screen? Why are there seemingly random app crashes? Why is video playback choppy in Archos’ own video player? Why does the back get so warm during trivial tasks? Why doesn't it use microUSB for charging?

So I probably shouldn’t buy this thing...

Bingo. Especially not for £170. The Tesco Hudl is £120 (!) and better in just about every respect. If you have a bit more to spend, then just get a Nexus 7. And if your heart longs for an iPad mini, just buy an iPad mini. Don’t buy a bad knockoff.