Archos has announced a product that brings something a little different to the increasingly overcrowded Android tablet space. The GamePad takes the common 7-inch form factor and adds physical controls for a more traditional - and potentially less frustrating - gaming experience.
Archos has a history of releasing a procession of somewhat underwhelming and underpowered tablet devices. However, while the GamePad's dual-core 1.5 GHz processor is unlikely to break any records, the new form factor might just make the company's latest effort worth a look.
The GamePad couples the dual-core CPU with a Mali 400mp quad-core GPU to add a little more power to the device. Putting this into perspective, Google's Nexus tablet, also a 7-inch system, features a quad-core Tegra 3 processor and a 12-core GPU. There's no word yet on the GamePad's RAM, or the resolution of its capacitive, touch-screen display.
When it comes to the device's real hook - its physical controls, the GamePad's offering is strongly reminiscent of the Playstation Vita, Sony's flagship handheld. With two analogue sticks and the classic array of directional and functional buttons, the hardware is likely to make Android gaming feel that little bit more natural.
Archos has also worked to ensure fluid compatibility with the numerous titles available for the OS through the inclusion of automatic game recognition and mapping software. This tech works to ensure that the hardware controls are compatible with games that usually utilize on-screen touch-based input. The company is claiming an initial compatibility with more than a thousand titles.
The device will not, of course, be limited to gaming alone. but will provide access to a full version of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), including the Google Play store. Mountain View's app store is likely to keep the content fresh, with the service continuing to grow rapidly. It now contains more than 600,000 applications, falling just short of the 650,000 apps in Apple's App Store.
The GamePad is set to hit shelves towards the end of October, and will retail for less than £130 (US$205 at the time of writing).