My first appointment yesterday was to swing by the Archos booth and get my first look at the GamePad, their android-based gaming tablet. We saw a lot of information come out on the European version over the summer but I was able to get some of the specs confirmed for the U.S. version during my visit.
I met with Steve Cederberg, Archos Product Manager, and he was able to fill in some of the information gaps regarding the U.S. version of the GamePad. It will have the dual-core CPU along with the quad-core GPU running the 7” screen. The GamePad memory includes 1GB of internal RAM, 8GB of internal storage and up to 64GB of external storage via micro SD. As previously reported, it will ship with Android 4.1 Jellybean and the unit is fully Google certified, which means access to Google Play store and well as being able to be upgraded.
I spent some time playing Trial and the GamePad handled the game really well. The screen was bright, the controls responsive and easy to get too with my fingers and thumbs. The tablet is also incredibly light, so there isn’t much chance of getting fatigue while playing it or that awkward feeling you get when holding onto larger tablets for extended periods. I was told that it will most likely ship with copies of Angry Birds, Trial and the usual suite of applications that Archos includes on its tablets.
The GamePad mapping tool has been tested compatible with over 6,000 games so far, and there are over 2,000 that are pre-mapped. So if you happen to come across titles that needs mapping, the system to do this works very easily. Steve was able to demo this live for us on the show floor, so take a look at the video below of just how easy it is to map controls of games for the Archos GamePad.
Archos Product Manager Steve Cederberg demoing the GamePad control mapping
Archos expects the GamePad to ship this February with an MSRP of $169.99, which is very competitively priced for the combination of size, processing power and memory. The great thing is despite the gaming form factor, it is a fully functioning touchscreen tablet, so it can seamlessly switch between a recreation product and a productivity tool just by changing the apps you are running.