The Xperia Play gave the world an Android-powered gaming phone, and Ouya has the Android console role covered, but where are the dedicated Android gaming tablets? Archos hopes to fill that role nicely with its new GamePad, a slate with 14 buttons and analog joysticks flanking a 7-inch screen.
But what if you’re playing an older game that doesn’t support physical controls? Fear not: The Archos GamePad ships with mapping technology that lets you link on-screen virtual controls to off-screen physical controls.
Even with the numerous physical controls, the Archos GamePad manages to measure just 0.4-inch thick and weigh in at 0.72 lbs — slightly thicker and heavier than a Nexus or iPad, but not utterly massive. The tablet runs on Android 4.1.
The interior components are a bit less flashy than the exterior, however. The quad-core Mali 400 GPU should do a good job rendering graphics, and it’s paired with an unnamed 1.6GHz dual-core processor, a similarly unspecified amount of RAM, and 8GB of onboard storage. You’ll also find a mini-HDMI port for big screen streaming and a micro-SD port perfect for storing games. Don’t let the GamePad’s “1080p HD” advertising claims fool you; the 7-inch screen tops out at 1024 x 600, which, by our hit-and-miss math skills, doesn’t extend 1080 pixels in either the horizontal or the vertical.
Nevertheless, the physical controls make the Archos GamePad a uniquely intriguing device until Razer’s Project Fiona or the rumored Xbox Surface tablet come along. Interested? The North American release isn’t scheduled until Q1 2013, but the GamePad just started shipping in Europe for 149.99€, or roughly $200 USD.