Google's open-source Android platform might be busting its way out of the smartphone niche just a little earlier than anyone expected, thanks to a new Mobile Internet Device from Archos.

As reported by BetaNews, the company is looking to expand on the success of its Archos IMT 5 and 7 devices which were released last year. By integrating Android, Archos is able to build smartphone functionality into the tablet while still keeping a powerful OS that will allow for easy installation and use of third-party software.

Although the device – dubbed the Internet Media Tablet, or IMT – will feature a mobile phone connection via a 7.2Mb/s HSUPA 3G link, but this isn't a device designed to be a smartphone; with models offering up to 500GB of storage, this is a media player first and foremost with PC and phone functionality an additional extra. While the device is small for a Mobile Internet Device – with a five-inch diagonal touchscreen and being just 10mm thick – it's a trifle bulky to be holding up to your ear for a conversation.

Aside from the data connection and storage, the unit is to be powered by a OMAP3440 processor from Texas Instruments – a version of UK-based ARM's Cortex chip. Featuring hardware acceleration of video playback and Adobe Flash support, there shouldn't be too many formats the device isn't equipped to handle – and the good news is that it'll be able to record on the go, too.

Battery life is kept to a reasonable level thanks to the low-power processor, with a figure of seven hours continuous video playback being bandied around. Android Community has it that the device is due some time towards the latter half of this year, although a final product name and pricing level has yet to be announced by Archos.

Is this the kind of converged device that has you drooling, or has the day of the 500GB MP3 player been and gone – replaced with ultra-slim 16GB flash-based devices? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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