Archos spent more than a year to develop the 101 XS, its newest high-end tablet, one that sports a glossy white finish with a stainless steel overmolding frame.
The tablet comes with a bundled removable keyboard that converts it into a fully fledged ultra portable laptop (not unlike the Asus Eee Prime Transformer or the Microsoft Surface) and will only cost £299 when it goes on sale mid-September.
Archos' UK product manager, Phil Geldard, pointed out that the 101 XS' keyboard – which also serves as a protective cover - was in development way before Microsoft released its Surface tablet. The Coverboard, as it's called, is only 5mm thick, sticks to the tablet thanks to an array of magnets and has clickable island-style keys but no touchpad. When in position, it is only 1mm thicker than the iPad with its own smart cover and 10mm thinner than the Asus Transformer.
The 101 XS – which is only 8mm thick - comes with a 10.1in MVA display with a 1,280 x 800 resolution, a TI OMAP4470 CPU clocked at 1.5GHz, a PowerVR SGX544MP graphics subsystem, 1GB of RAM, 16GB onboard storage, a microSD card slot and a front-facing 720p camera (but no rear cameras) plus mini HDMI and micro-USB ports.
As expected, it is powered by a vanilla version of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with full access to Google Play plus a number of pre-installed apps including Angry Birds, Zinio, News Republic, Office Suite pro and Archos' own multimedia apps. A Jelly Bean update is scheduled to be released in November and possibly before.
Archos says that its patented fabrication process for overmolding means that there’s no need for a Gorilla Glass-type protection for the screen. In addition, the stainless steel shell on the Coverboard prevents flex, which means that the keys on the keyboard never touch the screen.
The French company has also confirmed that there will be smaller versions of the tablet - the 80 XS and the 97 XS - with, respectively, 8in and 9.7in 1,024 x 768 (4:3) displays, complete with Coverboards.