French hardware company Archos (EPA:JXR) is perhaps best known for in 2000 releasing the Archos Jukebox 5000, arguably launching the portable media player (PMP) craze. A year later Apple, Inc. (AAPL) would jump on the bandwagon with the iPod, a device that would overshadow Archos to the point that many felt the American company “invented” the PMP. By 2003 Archos tucked tail and abandoned the traditional MP3 player market, unable to compete with Apple. However, its products remained coveted devices to some enthusiasts, as Archos was about a year ahead of Apple in storage capacities on its PMPs.
Eventually the PMP segment would fade and Archos continued to tinker with tablet-style PMPs in the latter half of last decade. With the advent of Google Inc.’s (GOOG) Android, it saw a minor resurgence establishing itself as a top budget Android tablet maker.
Now Archos’ comeback may be poised to enter a new phase. The OEM has announced an aggressively priced Windows Phone device — the 40 Cesium — and a Windows 8.1 tablet — the 80 Cesium. It also teased at two budget Android devices — the 45c and 50b Platinum — and a budget 1080p Android tablet — the 101 Oxygen. All of these devices carry elemental nicknames, with numbers reflecting their display size (40=4.0 in., 80 = 8.0-in., 101 = 10.1-in., etc.).
Archos is one of a number of new Windows Phone licensees, and it’s clearly looking to make a favorable impression. Its Windows 8.1 tablet, priced at $150 USD, represents one of the cheapest x86 Windows 8.1 tablets available today.
Archos 80 Cesium — an 8-inch, $150 USD Windows 8.1 tablet
Archos quite possibly has “out-Nokia-ed” Microsoft Corp.’s (MSFT) own Nokia Devices on the budget end. Here’s the spec of the devices:
Spec-wise, the $99 and $150 Windows devices look very competitive against Microsoft’s in-house Nokia products, such as the Lumia 530 smartphone and Surface 2 tablet. At last we’re seeing price parity (or even slightly cheaper prices, perhaps) for Android and Windows Phone/Windows tablet devices, following Microsoft’s decision to offer its platforms for free to OEMs on all devices smaller than 9 inches (which notably includes the petite 80 Cesium).
The Archos 45c Platinum — a $129 USD Android device
At $129 and $149 (smartphones) the Archos 45c and 50b are some of the cheapest Android smartphones around.
The Archos 50b Platinum — a $150 Android smartphone
Likewise $250 is a very competitive price for a 10.1-inch, 1080p Android tablet.
The Archos 101 Oxygen rounds out the lineup. It is a $250, 10.1 inch, 1080p Android tablet.
We should find out more details about the other specifications of this device quintet. Archos announced that it would be previewing the devices and sharing more info at the IFA 2014 (Sept. 5-10th) mobile electronics trade show in Berlin, Germany.
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