• Low price
• Decent specifications
• Poor gaming interface
• Bad screen
• Weak battery life
• Incompatible with some big games
• Like the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, the Archos GamePad is an attempt to bolt a proper gaming controller to an Android-based device.
• It’s a 7-inch tablet running Android 4.1 with physical buttons and sticks bolted onto its sides, and boasts a dual-core CPU and quad-core Mali 400 graphics processor. There’s 8GB of internal storage onboard and an expansion slot for a microSD card.
French company Archos has beaten them both to the punch with the GamePad — although as is often the case, being first doesn’t always equal success. The physical controls are painful to use and don’t offer the kind of precision a user would expect. The LCD screen is cheap and nasty, and the battery life is laughable. Worst of all, the GamePad won’t run some big-name Android titles, including Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series.
The idea of a gaming tablet is certainly very appealing, but we’d advise that a user would wait for other, better examples to come along instead of dropping any hard-earned cash on this.
If a user would have ever handled an Archos product before, the GamePad won’t hold any genuine surprises. The silver plastic casing is robust enough, but it positively drips with cheapness and is nowhere near as desirable as the iPad mini or Kindle Fire HD. A user’s eyes will naturally be drawn to the legion of buttons, pads and sticks that festoon the tablet’s bodywork.
The arrangement looks sensible enough, but that D-pad is a real bone of contention — because it’s four separate keys, hitting diagonals is difficult, and performing a single sweeping motion (like a quarter-circle required to perform Ryu’s fireball in Street Fighter II) is nigh-on impossible. The analogue nubs fare little better. Although they mimic the single nub seen on the PlayStation Portable, the movement is stiff and awkward.
The Archos GamePad’s 7-inch 1,024×600-pixel screen is another crushing disappointment. The 170ppi resolution is distinctly lacking when compared to the likes of the Nexus 7 and iPad mini, and viewing angles are abysmal. Colours also look washed out and drab.
With a dual-core CPU at its heart and the same graphics processor as the Samsung Galaxy S3, a user would expect reasonably decent performance from the Archos GamePad. This is true to a degree, although it naturally can’t compare to the likes of the Nexus 7 when it comes to raw power. The big issue here is that the GamePad doesn’t seem capable of harnessing its strength without throwing a hissy fit every now and then.
The back of the GamePad is shaped to make it comfortable to hold, but lacks a camera. A user would expect Archos to really hit the nail on the head when it comes to gaming after all, this has been christened the GamePad for a reason. Sadly, the tablet fails to live up to this promise. The controls make playing games frustratingly uncomfortable, and the pre-installed Mapping Tool is a little too unpredictable to rely upon.