On Wednesday Archos revealed GamePad, a new tablet form factor that adds physical gaming controls and analog sticks to the typical 7-inch tablet chassis. The details are slim at this point, but the gadget is expected to hit the market by the end of October -- just in time to compete with Windows RT-based tablets, the iPad Mini and Kindle Fire HD.
Archos said that the tablet will sport a 1.5 GHz dual-core SoC featuring a Mali-400 MP quad-core GPU. The device will also come packed with automatic game recognition and mapping tools – patented technology to ensure control compatibility with every advanced Android game.
"Until now, tablets provided gamers with touch controls that lacked response and compatibility for their advanced games, providing a disappointing gaming experience. As one of the main tablet uses, there is a strong need for a tablet that does more for gaming. Thanks to the complete touch and physical controls of the Archos GamePad, Gamers can enhance their experience starting at the end of October," the company said.
The Archos GamePad will arrive with Google's Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" OS. Henri Crohas, Archos Founder and CEO, said the company decided to develop a gamepad-tablet hybrid due to Android 4.0's game controller support embedded within the framework. That said, many developers have already included gamepad support in their games, and even GameStop has released its own Android-based game controller.
But according to Archos, a large number of these supporting games do not include physical control mapping. This is where the Archos tablet hybrid comes in with its mapping and game recognition tool. This patented technology will allow any virtual control to be mapped the GamePad’s physical control buttons.
"Thanks to the mapping and automatic game recognition systems included on the GamePad, we already have over a thousand android games compatible with the Archos GamePad’s physical controls, including back catalog titles that originally didn’t include physical controls,” Crohas said.
So far pricing and an actual spec list is unknown for now, but expect to pay less than $200 USD. It will likely be competitively priced in light of Apple's launch of the 7-inch iPad Mini, Google's current Nexus 7, and Amazon's upcoming second-generation Kindle Fire -- all fighting for the consumer's holiday season dollars.