Even though its name might not ring many bells for most regular tech users, French-based consumer electronics manufacturer Archos might really be onto something with a couple of new tablets. Archos is certainly not trying to come out with an “iPad killer” of any sort, but is looking to target certain niches that haven’t gotten much attention from OEMs until recently.
The Arnova ChildPad is one of the very few kid-friendly slates around, the 101XS targets users focused on functionality and productivity, and now the GamePad looks oriented toward hardcore mobile gamers.
Although it’s already the third gaming console/Android tablet to be unveiled these past months, the GamePad might actually be fortunate enough to undercut its other two competitors and get out the first. We know that the Ouya has an ETA set for spring 2013, while the WikiPad tablet has been slated for a 2012 release but still without an exact launch date announced just yet.
Even if it won’t be released earlier than the other gaming tablets, the 7-inch GamePad might still get more attention than the Ouya and WikiPad, due to a very attractive design and what looks like a more than fair quality-price ratio. Archos has announced the tab as being powered by a snappy 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU coupled with an even more impressive Mali 400mp quad-core GPU.
The GamePad will run Android 4.0 ICS out of the box with full access to Google Play and WiFi connectivity, so it will be more than just a “dumb” console and will act as a full-fledged tablet if needed. Other confirmed features will include 8 GB of on-board storage, microSD support for expanding the memory to up to 64 GB, and mini-HDMI connectivity.
Archos has chosen to keep a few key details under wraps for the time being, so we don’t know what resolution will feature that 7-inch capacitive touchscreen, how much RAM will the tab come with, or what battery it will sport.
In terms of design, the GamePad looks quite unique and original, having physical gaming controls in addition to the standard touchscreen. The 7-incher doesn’t look bulky in the first and only official photo released, but we don’t know its exact weight, so some of you might still prefer the WikiPad, which comes with detachable gaming equipment. Then again, that’s a 10-inch tab, so Archos’ slate might actually be lighter, even with the built-in sticks and buttons.
As for the actual controls, these look decently sized and spaced and include dual analog sticks, a D-Pad, four face buttons, as well as left and right shoulder buttons. These should be more than enough to get the best out of any “pretentious” Android game out there, be it Gameloft’s Asphalt 7 racing title, the N.O.V.A. 3 FPS, or any one of the coolest RPGs around.
Archos is playing mysterious when talking about GamePad’s future price and availability, only mentioning that the 7-incher will be out in Europe in late October for “less than €150.” Could we dream to see it in the US around the same time for maybe $150? Most definitely! However, for the time being, we should wait to hear more from its makers.