Android Ecosystem — This Week in Android

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Welcome to our newest Monday feature — Android Ecosystem! This week starts off with a huge bang — the longest and most detailed review I’ve yet seen on the ARCHOS Internet Tablet with Android. Steve Paine really put this 4.8″ non-phone slate tablet through the paces and this is a must read for anyone considering the device. Initial reports from Steve and some of our own readers pegged the unit as buggy and unstable, but firmware fixes have done a world of good. You’ll need to bring your own 3G connectivity though as there’s still only Wi-Fi in the hardware. The other big downside in my opinion is the same one I’ve run into with Android on my Intel Core Solo UMPC — no access to the official Android Marketplace. There are workarounds for alternative application stores, but none are as good as native access to the Marketplace. My hope is that Google (s goog) eventually relaxes hardware requirements and allows more Android devices to use the Marketplace. They could still limit installation of applications by hardware specs so that folks could use basic Android apps on any Android device.

Speaking of Android devices, a bunch are expected out of HTC in the first half of 2010. But more timely and available might be the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10, which now may be found toting T-Mobile’s U.S. 3G frequencies. Assuming no deviations from the spec sheet, this would a be second variant of the Android 1.6 handset — the first being compatible with the AT&T (s t) network. The latest report from Android Guys confirms the 1700 MHz support we first heard back in early November, and while two people saying something doesn’t make it true, I think this rumor has legs. And support for T-Mobile U.S. 3G.

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I do have to say that I am impressed with the Archos 5 as well. Archos has done a good job, but still needs some work. With the latest Firmware it is more stable. It will be nice to be able to have the Anroid Market instead of the Applib, even though you can install it using the hack way; which is not really that hard. The Dolphin Browser is working really good on the A5. With the Android hack I now have access to gmail, google calendar, Gtalk, etc… all these are working great. I use the calendar which I use to sync with my BlackBerry Storm 2, so I can have access or update my calendar no matter what. :) The 4.8″ 800×480 is really good for web browsing, and what I like is that if you zoom in or switch to portriat or landscape it puts all the text in a nice viewable and readable format. All this needs is a web cam; that should be the next Archos 6. :) Google Maps looks and works pretty good on the A5 with the GPS. I typed “Target Stores” and gave me what Target Stores where near me. For 3g I use it to tether to my phone, so I have on the go access to anything. The A5 is a good size because you can put it in your back pocket and connect anywhere you are to use it. Chippy does have a excellent review and info at his site. We should be seeing a firmware for the A5, and will be Android 1.6, hopefully it will be released on the 17th.

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