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Archos may not have a great history with tablets, but all of that changed last year with its slim and stylish 101 XS. The tablet was far from perfect, but it was a big step in the right direction. Now Archos is taking yet another shot. Yesterday it announced updates to its trio of Platinum series Android tablets — there's an 8-inch iPad mini and Nexus 7 competitor, a 9.7-inch iPad competitor, and a 10.1-inch Nexus 10 and Note 10.1 competitor. All of those tablets are hard to beat, but Archos has one thing going for it: surprisingly low prices.


An iPad for $200 less?

Archos' flagship is actually the tablet that lands in the middle of its lineup, the 97b Platinum HD. The company is putting its best foot forward to take on the iPad, and it's trying to do so at just $299 — $200 less than Apple's tablet. It even has the exact same screen resolution at the exact same size, coming in at a sharp 264 pixels per inch, and a body that's just a hair smaller and lighter.

Like last year, Archos' tablets are once again running stock Android — albeit with a handful of bundled apps — this time on 4.2 Jelly Bean. It may be a version behind, but it's still all too rare to come by stock Android devices. The big issue with this tablet is likely to be one of performance: the 97b Platinum is running on a Cortex A9 processor, which is far from the latest and greatest. Performance certainly won't match what you'll find on top tier tablets, and while A9 processors have been improving, it's far from clear whether it'll have enough performance to drive a modern tablet. At the end of the day, running smoothly matters more than pixels, and that could spell trouble for Archos' 97b Platinum.

To take on smaller tablets like the iPad mini and the Nexus 7, Archos attempts the same feat: out-pricing them while keeping a sleek profile. At $199.99, the 80b Platinum comes in $30 beneath Google's tablet and $130 beneath Apple's. Unlike its larger sibling, the 80b doesn't best its competitors physically. It's wider, thicker, and heavier, and its prospects don't get much better from there. While it matches the iPad mini's resolution, it's bested by the Nexus 7's before running into the same possible performance hiccups again because of its processor.

Archos' 10.1-inch tablet — the largest of the pack — falls in-between its other two price-wise, oddly enough. It's $269.99, making it far less expensive than the $399 Nexus 10 and the $549.99 Note 10.1. But the 101 Platinum makes even more tradeoffs than its siblings: it's thicker and heavier than its competitors, has a far lower resolution, and should also be far from the finest performer.

It's hard to see any of Archos' Platinum line as obvious winners. The 97b Platinum could come off as a gem in an otherwise basic lineup, but only if it's able to perform well. And with Google selling the Nexus 7 at $229.99, it's no longer difficult to find great performance at a great price, so long as you're willing to accept a smaller screen.

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