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Hands-on With Archos GamePad Android Tablet

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 7 comments

The Archos GamePad is a thin, sleek Android-based handheld that could spell certain doom for Nintendo and Sony.

Archos was on hand at CES to showcase its latest line of tablets including the 7-inch Archos GamePad for $169.99, the new Platinum series and the new Titanium series. The company was also showcasing its TV Connect gadget, but time was limited so I didn't get a chance to check out the latter device.

For the uninitiated, the Archos GamePad is packed with a 7-inch capacitive LCD screen with a 1024 x 600 resolution. Also included is a 1.6 GHz dual-core Cortex A9 CPU and a quad-core Mali 400 GPU crammed onto one chip. There's also 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot adding up to 64 GB of extra storage, and a miniHDMI port to connect the GamePad to an HDTV.

My initial impression was that the GamePad is extremely light and thin – a feather compared to the meatier Razer Edge I fondled the night before. That's because the device measures just 15.4-mm thick and weighs just over 11 ounces. This is a good thing, allowing gamers to play for hours without suffering fatigue in their hands and wrists.

On the controller side, the GamePad provides a directional pad, an analog thumbpad and a shoulder button on one side, and the typical four action button layout, analog thumbstick and shoulder button on the other. Everything worked as expected although the thumbpads felt a little stiff and small. The GamePad actually reminded me of a larger PSP, only thinner and much lighter.

One of the real cool aspects about this device is that it features a patented game mapping technology allowing users to assign their own control schemes instead of relying on the developer to implement GamePad support. That said, you can play all Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" compatible game you want, and have the tools to customize the setup to your liking – no need to search for GamePad-specific titles.

To be honest, handhld console makers Nintendo and Sony should be scared. Here in the States, a $169.99 handheld gaming device is about to enter the market and feature (1) a wider selection of titles and (2) games with a far lower price point. Developers like Gameloft and Madfinger Games have proven that Android isn't just a mobile OS: it's a platform playing host to console quality titles.

The Archos GamePad, which is already available in Europe, is slated to launch in North America in March for $169.99. Hopefully we score a unit closer to launch so we have additional time to do a more in-depth analysis. Meanwhile, the full list of specs can be viewed here.

 

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  • 1 Hide
    outlw6669 , January 11, 2013 1:30 PM
    This looks like a great gaming tablet and the price is defiantly right!
    I can't wait for an in-depth analysis and hope the battery life and display quality turn out to be quite good.
  • 4 Hide
    kawininjazx , January 11, 2013 2:06 PM
    Sony should have embraced Android with their PSP, making it run a customized version of Jellybean with their own special app store to download premium PSP games. They could have put in a secondary processor to play certain android games (think PS2 backwards compatibility in early PS3s) and the main processor that the PSP vita uses. This way, its a great mobile gaming machine as well as a tablet.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , January 11, 2013 2:25 PM
    Yup Tom is really behind on this one with his comment of, "hours of game play"!!! LOL

    The battery only lasts 2hrs of heavy gaming!!!
  • 1 Hide
    kinggraves , January 11, 2013 2:27 PM
    Yeah, I'm sure it will spell certain doom for Nintendo and Sony when people use it to pirate old Nintendo and Sony games since Android games are pretty much garbage designed to kill 10 minutes. Sorry, but I'd rather pay a heftier price to get a quality game instead of nickle and diming to get a new skin of Angry Birds. The lineup for 3DS is full of top tier titles by this point and Vita isn't coming along too badly either. This also completely ignores the fact they have their own game markets with cheaper priced DL games, virtual console, and backwards compatibility far expanding their "small library".

    It doesn't matter if you can map a gamepad to the controls when the game was not designed for anything resembling a gamepad to begin with. Games designed for a gamepad are not functional for the majority of devices out, and devices are not made with gamepad buttons because few games exist that need them. Eventually the two sides will nudge their way to a compromise, but that will take time and failures.

    Good work Archos, you've reinvented the NGage.
  • 0 Hide
    rebel1280 , January 11, 2013 2:42 PM
    kawininjazxSony should have embraced Android with their PSP, making it run a customized version of Jellybean with their own special app store to download premium PSP games. They could have put in a secondary processor to play certain android games (think PS2 backwards compatibility in early PS3s) and the main processor that the PSP vita uses. This way, its a great mobile gaming machine as well as a tablet.

    That sir makes to much sense in the business world. Such dangerous thinking needs to be punished! Now go to the basement and hand me your red stapler!
    If sony did that, they would most certainly B.A.N.K but that would mean admitting defeat on the PSVita, Sony to proud to do that unfortunately and the ones who have to commit digital seppuku are us :( 
  • 0 Hide
    razzb3d , January 11, 2013 3:46 PM
    I'm getting one as soon as it launches in my country.
  • 0 Hide
    groundrat , January 11, 2013 4:17 PM
    Archos has been a leading innovator, if not a leading retailer, of tablets, pads and players for years now. The iPad owes a great debt to the innovations first realized on Archos devices.