Archos 9 Windows 7 tablet hands-on

Looks like the Archos 9 Windows 7 tablet has made it out of the labs (and controlled show floor settings) and into the hands of Crave UK, where thatseemingly-amazing resistive touchscreen continues to impress -- so much so that they initially thought it was a capacitive unit. We actually pinged Crave ed Nate Lanxon to find out what was up, and the real story appears to be a mystery -- either Archos PR is mistaken in telling everyone that it's a resistive screen, or the company has somehow improved the tech to the point where it's virtually indistinguishable from a capacitive display. Given our experience with previous Archos resistive touchscreen devices that felt like mush, we've got to say we're going with Occam's Razor on this and that it's really capacitive, but we're definitely ready to be proven wrong -- hey Archos, you feel like sending us a new toy to play with?

Lurking in the archives of last month you'll find details of the 9-inch Windows 7 tablet PCcoming later this year from French manufacturer Archos. Today, the wait to know how it functions is over, as we spent a morning fingering it. Oh, and we know now that it'll cost £450 for an 80GB model, and £500 for a 160GB.

First, a quick reminder of les autres caractéristiques. This is a tablet PC weighing 623g, featuring a 9-inchcapacitive touchscreen (that's the sexy kind, like the iPhone), an Intel Atom Z515 CPU, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, plus built-in DVB-T antennas, which should allow it to receive and store Freeview TV in the UK.

It feels like a solid piece of kit. Used as a weapon, you could probably knock a decent-sized mammal unconscious, up to and including a cheetah, though a musk ox would certainly be a step too far and require a full-size laptop. The capacitive screen -- which was running at 1,024x600-pixel resolution -- was responsive and allowed us to click around the Windows 7 release candidate without any real problems.

And because it's capacitive, you can safely ditch your stylus right now. Three of your finest cheers can be released in response to this news.

The on-screen keyboard takes up roughly half of the lower part of the screen when brought up. Again, as this is a touch-sensitive, as opposed to pressure-sensitive screen, tapping on a virtual Qwerty keyboard is relatively painless. Unless you're typing a novel, in which case using a touchscreen is about as enjoyable as having an eyeball removed.

Time was short this morning, so we didn't have an opportunity to benchmark or perform any kind of scientific tests dans le tablette, so check back for our full review in the coming weeks.

For now, enjoy the plateau of visual treats over the next few pages, as we explore the physical attributes of one of the most interesting French inventions since Madame Guillotine.

Update: We discussed the Archos 9 having a capacitive touchscreen, but Archos's Web site specifies a resistive screen that uses a stylus. This is causing us some confusion, so we're looking into it. If that screen was resistive, it may be one of the best resistive screens we've ever seen -- so good, and so sensitive, it had us believe it was capacitive. We'll update when we get confirmation either way.