David Zax

A View from David Zax

Do We Really Need a 250 GB Tablet?

When tablet and traditional computing awkwardly merge.

  • August 18, 2011

Archos is putting out a new tablet in September. Dubbed the Archos G9, it will run the Android “Honeycomb” operating system, will pack a 1.5GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 4460 dual-core processor, and will come in both 8-inch and 10-inch models (priced at $370 and $470, respectively). But those specs aren’t what’s most interesting about the Archos G9. The tablet, CNET notes, has a massive hard disk drive–250 GB.

The Archos G9.

It’s an unusual move, for tablet computing. 250 GB is a lot of storage, a number more typically associated with laptop and desktop computers. For comparison’s sake, the iPad maxes out at 64 GB of storage; and there are some models that ship at just 16 GB. Also breaking with tablet tradition, the Archos uses a hard disk drive in place of a flash drive. The G9 is expected to use the Seagate Momentus Thin hard drive, though Archos has altered it slightly so that 4 GB of flash storage sits on top of the hard disk drive, allowing quick access to most-used data.

Archos’s new device seems like a worthy experiment, and we’ll see in September if there’s a market for it, as Archos apparently believes. But it also seems as if Archos is missing the mark with this device. Tablet computers are fundamentally mobile things, intended to take advantage of an era when our data resides more fully in the cloud.

The whole point of a tablet, it seems (for many people, at least), is that it’s lightweight and nimble, another handy portal into the vast stores of data that live on the Internet or in one’s own cloud storage. When people complain about the limited storage capabilities of most tablets, often they are really complaining about features external to the tablet–spotty Wi-Fi that impedes access to data, or the fact that they haven’t taken the plunge to storing their music library on the cloud.

Until cloud storage and reliable wireless are as taken for granted as the air we breathe, there might indeed be a sizable market for the Archos G9. But when those services become more ubiquitous and reliable, a large hard disk drive–which is likely to add weight to a device and lessen battery life–can only be seen as a hindrance.

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