Archos media players have long been a favorite of mine, offering ease of use and excellent video/audio quality. In 2009, the French consumer electronics company was first to market with a Windows 7 tablet computer and has now announced a new improved version of the Archos 9 PC Tablet. Unfortunately the upgraded version still has a resistive touchscreen and only gets Windows 7 Starter Edition, but there is better storage in the shape of a Solid State Drive (SSD) and a more powerful Atom processor.

The new 10.07 x 5.27 x 0.66-inch (256 x 134 x 17 mm) Archos 9 weighs just over 28 ounces (800g) and has a 16:9 aspect, LED backlit, 1024 x 600 resolution, 8.9-inch touchscreen display capable of full 1080p high definition video playback. Sound is provided by a pair of stereo speakers or via the 3.5mm headphone jack. Flanking the screen is an optical trackpoint (right) and left and right mouse buttons, a forward-facing 1.3 megapixel webcam and virtual keyboard activation button (left).

Archos has given the new tablet an upgraded Intel Atom Z515 1.2GHz processor with integrated Intel graphics, supported by a gigabyte of onboard system memory and a 32GB SSD. The company has supplemented the choice of operating system with the Lotus Symphony office productivity suite, has pre-installed Skype, and loaded in vTuner for internet radio and television and Deezer for online music.

As with other Archos devices, the tablet has an integrated, two position kick-stand which can be set for multimedia playback or for typing/browsing. There's USB and Ethernet connectivity, Bluetooth 2.0 and 802.11b/g WiFi, and the Lithium Polymer battery is said to be good for five hours between charges.

The improved Archos 9 is priced at US$429.99.