In part because my children are perhaps not quite so careful with CDs as I am, I ripped all my CDs (at least, all that will still read!) to flac, ogg, and mp3 files. The second half of the project was to get a media player that could play all those files – preferably over the network from my main server so that I don’t have to copy files onto an SD card every time I get a new CD and rip it.

When the Archos 7 Home Tablet was announced, it seemed like the obvious thing to use. WiFi to access the server. Should play oggs just fine. I don’t really care very much about whether it can access the Android market, though the restrictions on the market seem rather silly to me.

After I downloaded Subsonic and installed the server portion on my home server and the client on my tablet, I had a working solution for audio. While the default RPM packaging for Subsonic is sub-optimal (making important directories world readable/writable, for example) and this makes me convinced that I would not want to expose a Subsonic server implementation to the world, on my internal network I’m fine with it, and it gives me all the functionality I need to play my music collection on my home stereo. (The only problem is that for reasons I haven’t researched, I have to use mp3s instead of oggs, even though I can play ogg files directly on the tablet.)

However, I’m not all that impressed with the Archos 7 Home Tablet. As reported by others, the native browser crashes almost instantly when you try to actually use it. It rarely survives a google search from the google search widget. I’m not impressed that Archos shipped something this broken, and less impressed that Archos has not yet released an updated firmware to resolve this issue, nor do they have updates available in their proprietary “applib” for the malfunctioning browser. Using Dolphin Browser or Opera seems to be the only way to use this tablet to browse the web.

I’m also not impressed that this late, they are still shipping an Android 1.5 OS.

Kindly, a user has stepped up to the plate and delivered a firmware update (shame on Archos for their lack of attention to this device!) that resolves at least some issues. So far, the browser hasn’t crashed for me after applying the update. As a bonus, the user-supplied firmware enables the Android Market on the device, which made it a bit easier to get my apps back after wiping the system as part of applying the update.

It looks like there will soon be a whole crop of better tablet devices coming out with similar hardware but newer versions of Android. In retrospect, if I could make my decision again, I would wait and purchase a different tablet. Maybe at Kmart, of all places…