Archos confirmed on Friday that its Android-based 7-inch gaming tablet, the Archos GamePad, is now shipping here in the States for $179 USD. This was the cool gadget we saw during CES 2013 back in January sporting a Sony-like PSP form factor, placing physical controls on each side of the screen.
As reported months ago, the device sports a 7-inch capacitive touch screen supporting up to 5 simultaneous inputs and a 1024 x 600 resolution. Powering this "gablet" are two 1.6 GHz Cortex-A9 CPU cores and four Mali 400 MP GPU cores, 1 GB of RAM, and Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean". For storage, the gadget coughs up 8 GB of internal space (less than that after Android) and a microSD card slot for up to 64 GB of added space.
As for other features, the tablet provides a mini-HDMI output so you can play games on your HDTV while using the tablet as a gamepad, a USB 2.0 MTP port, a 1.2MP front-facing camera (the supposed 2MP rear camera isn't listed on specs or shown in press images), two built-in speakers, and Wi-Fi connectivity. It's 0.6-inches thin, and measures 9-inches by 4.6-inches.
On the gaming front, the tablet provides an analog thumbstick mounted on each side of the screen, directional buttons on the left and your typical ABXY setup on the right, and a shoulder button and two other buttons on each side. This prevents players from fighting with the touch screen, offering a better Android gaming experience.
Archos claims the device has an exclusive game mapping tool so that you can assign the buttons to whatever best suits your gaming (fragging) needs. It provides an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface, allowing users to map a game in seconds. Mapping profiles automatically load when a game is launched, and hundreds of profiles are included for the most popular titles.
The Archos GamePad arrives months before Nvidia unleashes Project Shield, the Tegra 4-powered Android handheld that seemingly merges a 5-inch tablet with a game controller. So far Nvidia hasn't settled on a price, but it's part of the company's localized cloud gaming setup which allows a customer to stream PC games from their Kepler-based rig to the Android gaming handheld.
The Archos GamePad is available now for $179 at various online retailers.