A couple months back, at CES 2013, we first had a look at the Archos GamePad. It's an awesome idea that fills a hole in mobile gaming -- we need good controls. The GamePad solves this by having everything you expect to see in a game controller built into the frame of a 7-inch tablet. You have dual-joysticks, directional buttons, A,B,X,Y buttons, start and select, and a pair of buttons on the left and right shoulders. This sounds like just the ticket for some of today's big, immersive games -- I'm looking right at you Ravensword: Shadowlands.
The hardware itself, both inside and out, is nothing to write home about. A dual-core A9 with a Mali MP4 GPU won't exactly get spec junkies up and moving, and the device itself is 100-percent plastic. While that will make it nice and light to hold while playing games, it certainly makes the thing feel a little cheap. The good news is that the price tag reflects this, and the GamePad will only set you back about $180.
The GamePad does more than play games, as it's basically a 7-inch tablet at heart. It runs Android 4.1.1, with very little customization done to the standard stock build of Android. But my first impressions are that it's not a very good 7-inch tablet. It seems a bit sluggish, but I'll reserve judgment here until I get everything signed in and set up. I won't hold back about the screen though -- it's terrible. You can watch movies and look at pictures on the GamePad, but you won't want to. The resolution (1024 x 600) makes things look pixilated, and the viewing angle is atrocious. The good news is that the GPU won't have to work very hard to drive the low-res screen while playing games.
I'm really looking forward to gaming on it. The controls feel excellent, and the placement is perfect. You can see a quick look at it all after the break, and after I give it the old college try I'll post a more thorough review. In the meantime, head into the forums with any questions you might have, and I'll do my best to answer them.