Even if the 32 were perfect in every way – and it obviously isn’t – it doesn’t work for sound reproduction. It doesn’t “sound bad” – it plain doesn’t work. We loaded ordinary MP3 files ripped from our own collection, all of which play and sound fine on every other music player or cellphone we’ve loaded them on to. But vocals on the 32, when you can hear them at all, sound like faint echoes in the distance. Many tracks sound like original Beatles’ stereo recordings, which had half the instruments on the left, half on the right, and if you shifted the balance, you heard only half the mix. On the 32, you often lose the cohesive stereo mix and get distinct left-and-right instrument segregation. For sound reproduction, this fundamentally off. There must be something wrong with the circuitry.
Even when vocals are properly mixed – maybe one track out of 10 – music sound muddy and tinny.
These problems aren’t limited to music. Archos pre-loaded some AVI clips, including a complete copies of Batman Begins, You’ve Got Mail and Saving Private Ryan. Even with pre-loaded test videos, not ours, dialog again sounded faint or non-existent, like watching a silent movie with only music and some sound effects audible.
The Archos 32 has an included VGA camera and camcorder that’s barely worth the effort – even most free cellphones include a megapixel imager. Aside from the small-but-average VGA images, the lens is on the right rear edge (it’s on the left on all other cellphones), which makes it tough to avoid getting a finger in the picture as you grip the device and try to hit the touchscreen shutter release. Even though there’s a setting for audible shutter release, we heard none, and there’s no LCD screen pause or review to let you know you’ve captured a shot, just a pop-up “Picture Taken” with date message.
There is no reason to delve any deeper into the Archos 32. You can’t listen to music on it. Whether this sound reproduction flaw extends to Archos’ other “Internet tablets” I don’t know, but caveat emptor. But even if other functions performed moderately well – and the opposite is true – if you can’t hear the music, this tiny tablet is totally useless.
- Voices in music and video sound faint or missing
- Fuzzy screen
- Limited number of Archos-optimized Android apps
- Slow processor
- Poor VGA camera
- No expandable memory