Archos said on Thursday that it is now shipping its new 7-inch Android tablet with built-in gaming controls, the Archos GamePad. Packed with Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" and a 1.6 GHz dual-core SoC, the new game-oriented tablet goes on sale in Europe first for €149.99, followed by a North American launch in early Q1 2013.
"Android device users spend more than 9 hours a month gaming on their devices and yet are not completely satisfied with the touch-screen experience," says Henri Crohas, Founder and CEO of Archos. "We feel this area of gaming is proven and will continue to grow. With the introduction of the GamePad we are uniquely positioned to feed the demand of gamers who want a better gaming experience on a tablet."
The new tablet features 14 physical buttons, two analog thumb-sticks, and the company's "revolutionary" game mapping tool. The device itself measures a mere 0.3-inches thin and weighs 0.7 pounds, making it more handheld console-like than your typical boxy 7-inch tablet.
"Thanks to the revolutionary Archos mapping tool, even back catalog games that weren’t made for physical controls can work with the physical controls of the Archos GamePad; ‘map’ any on-screen virtual control to the physical controls of the GamePad for hundreds of games within the tool or use its drag-and-drop interface to ‘map’ any game in seconds," the company said on Thursday.
The spec list shows that the tablet also includes a quad-core Mali 400 MP GPU, 8 GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot to add an additional 64 GB, and a mini-HDMI port so that the GamePad can be connected to an HDTV for big-screen gaming. The tablet's screen supports 16 million colors, up to five touch-based inputs, and a 1024 x 600 resolution.
According to Archos, the new GamePad has full access to Google Play and Google's other Android services. That said, the tablet is more than a gaming machine, allowing customers to download books, magazines, music, movies and TV shows from Google's storefront. Surf the web using Google Chrome, check your Gmail account, or keep up with friends using the Facebook and Twitter apps for Android.
For more information about the 7-inch Archos GamePad, head here. We'll likely get a better North American street date estimation from Archos during CES 2013 next month, so stay tuned.