I've been wanting to add an Android device to my collection for some time now, but I had to wait until I had the funds to spare. The Archos 5 was released last fall in the US and Europe. It's your usual MID with a 4.8” screen, 8GB flash, Wifi, Bluetooth, and a microSD card slot. It also has excellent media abilities (Archos has been making media players for quite a few years now.)
It's important when looking at a tablet that you keep in mind that it can do a lot more than just read ebooks. If you get one, you should remember that Archos calls it an “internet tablet” for a reason. I have some (6 or so) devices that fill a similar ereaders niche as the Archos 5, and I kept 2 handy in order to compare to the Archos 5: an Ipod Touch and a SmartQ 7. Everyone is probably familiar with the iTouch, and the SmartQ 7 is a 7” Linux tablet with Wifi.
The Archos 5 is both thin and just the right size that I can hold it in portrait in one hand. It was nice to hold, and having used PDAs with 4” and 3” screen I was quite pleased with the 4.8” wide screen. There's no stylus, but the screen was reasonably fingertip friendly.
The hardware is great, but I had serious issues with the software. I'm about to return this tablet, again, because it keeps crashing. I can live with system crashes for a little while, but the first unit also lost Wifi. I've also had to force a reboot a number of times because half the screen went black.
I've also had trouble with file permissions. What I'm used to doing on Windows or Linux is double-click on a file and let the system open it with the correct program. This didn't work on the Archos 5, and I'm not sure whether this problem was caused by Archos or the Android OS.
The other major problem I encountered was that a couple of the reading apps couldn't find the microSD card. Again, I don't know if this was the fault of Archos or Android, but my guess is that the problem was caused by my unit having both internal flash and a microSD card slot. I think Archos did something slightly funky to the file system, and Android OS isn't flexible enough to cope.
The Archos 5 has a full browser, Flash support, RSS feed, etc. I tried most of the features, and I used it in much the same way that I did my iPod Touch or my SmartQ 7. Now, I do some browsing on both the iTouch and Q7, so I'm used to the small screen. I was a little surprised to discover that I don't like to browse on the Archos 5. The onscreen keyboard just wasn't as easy to use as on either of my handhelds. I'd thought that I would at least prefer the Archos over the iTouch because the screen is bigger. Strangely enough, the iTouch was nicer to use in every way.
Leaving aside the stability issues, this is a decent reader, and there are several reader apps available. I reviewed them in detail over here. What do I think of it as an ereader? Well, the answer is somewhat complicated. I would not get an Android tablet to use as an ereader, but if I had an Android phone I would read on it. The reading apps themselves are very good; it's the devices that I have trouble with.
I would not go out of my way to get an Android tablet as an ebook reader. TBH, I would avoid them entirely. It is not nearly as stable or nor as feature rich as either Linux or Windows Mobile. Also, it doesn't offer as many apps as either Linux or Windows Mobile. Android isn't ready yet; it's still in its infancy. And frankly, it was meant to run phones, not tablets. There's a reason why the only authorized devices are phones; that's what it's designed for.