Normally, critics chuckle with maniacal glee given the chance to savage a really awful product. But we take no joy in reporting the Archos 32, the company’s 3.2-inch Android-based portable media player (or, as the company pretentiously calls it, an “Internet tablet”), is a complete disaster. We have tried two units, thinking the first must be a manufacturing aberration, used them with different headphones, and different file types, and the results have always been the same: sound so broken there has to be something fundamentally wrong with its audio chipset. Even discounting a serious silicon slip-up, the rest of the device, positioned as a smaller alternative to Apple’s iPod Touch, isn’t too hot, either.
Features and Design
The 32, actually printed with a large 3 and a small 2 indicating its 3.2-inch screen size, resembles a small, thin Android cellphone such as the HTC Aria. The whole family encompasses three other models with the same nomenclature: the 24 (2.4-inch screen), the 43 (4.3-inch screen), the 70 (10-inch screen) and the 101 (10.1-inch screen). As for the 32, it’s a dark maroon slab with the familiar four Android touch controls (back, menu, home, search) beneath the screen and, underneath these, touch volume plus and minus keys. The microUSB jack and 3.5-inch headphone jack are on the bottom perimeter, and physical volume toggle and screen off buttons are on the bottom left side.
Looking at the 32′s screen is like looking at a photo or painting behind a sheet of glass – the actual display is under a visible protective layer. This layer has no affect on 32′s touch sensitivity, it’s just disconcerting. The display also isn’t as crisp as you’d expect; icons and text are fuzzy, with clearly visible pixels. As a result, videos and photos lack definition and brightness.
Inside, you get 8GB of memory (actually 6.88 GB of user space), Wi-Fi for Web browsing, Twitter (via a pre-installed app called Touiteur), e-mail, and a phonebook. Archos’ Android 2.1 iteration has five home screens, with quick access to video viewing on the first screen swipe right, to music on the first swipe left. There’s no Android Marketplace; you search for apps specifically optimized for these Archos tablets in the AppsLib app.