In what could be interpreted as a sign of the times, Archos has crafted a dedicated handheld gaming device that runs on Android. It could be seen as an indicator of how important iOS and Android have become in the mobile gaming market.
The Archos GamePad isn’t just a gaming device – it is a fully-fledged 7” Android tablet, running Android 4.0 out of the box, with a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor and a Mali 400mp quad-core GPU, giving it respectable gaming chops. It also has physical buttons (including shoulder buttons) and analog sticks on the sides, in a configuration that isn’t much different from that of the PlayStation Vita. The analog sticks don’t appear to be sticks in the traditional sense, laying almost flat against the device. That will probably mean the sticks will require more subtle thumb movements for those who are used to sticks on the Vita or the Nintendo DS series.
The GamePad will automatically recognize when a game is initialized on the device, which will fire up the physical controls. Other than that, it’s a full Android tablet, with a capacitive touchscreen, web browsing and access to Google Play.
I’m not sure if this will be worth it for people who like to play games on Android devices – as it is, those games are designed for touchscreen controls. Touchscreen controls for handheld gaming aren’t exactly popular, but I wonder how much physical controls will help for games that have been designed to go without them. But, if you’re a big fan of what Android has to offer, and wish you could enjoy those offerings using a more familiar control scheme, the Archos GamePad might be for you.
As of now, pricing and availability for the Archos GamePad are unknown.