It looks like the many times delayed WkiPad won’t be the first Android gaming tablet on the market.
The Archos GamePad is now available on a number of US retail sites, and while this 7″ tablet does not have the impressive specs of the WikiPad it does have the benefit of being available.
The GamePad is running Andrid 4.1 on a 1.6GHz dual-core Rockchip CPU. That’s a CPU we’re going to see on a lot of budget tablets this year, and like those budget tablets the GamePad also has a Mali-400 (quad-core) GPU. That is a decent start for a tablet, but performance will probably not match premium tablets like the Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HD, or others.
The tablet has a capacitive touchscreen with a screen resolution of 1024×600, matching the screen shipped on last year’s Kindle Fire. It also has 1GB of RAM, 8GB of Flash storage, microSD card slot, front-facing VGA camera, 2 speakers, microphone, and an HDMI port. There is Wifi but no Bluetooth.
The GamePad’s chief claim to fame are the gaming controller buttons grafted on either side of the screen. The 2 thumbsticks are paired with no less than 12 buttons on the face of the tablet as well as a pair of shoulder triggers on the upper edge.
All in all it looks to me like Archos has taken a run of the mill budget tablet and grafted a gaming controller on to it. They seem to have done a good job, too. Wired posted a review today, and they were somewhat impressed:
WIRED Delivers a terrific gaming experience, but only with certain kinds of games. Handsome design and thumb-friendly control layout. Bright screen flanked by decent speakers. Priced lower than competing 7-inch tablets that don’t have game controls.
TIRED Thumb-sticks? More like dumb-sticks. Control-mapping can be cumbersome, and you can’t map screen-swipes. Non-removable battery offers so-so battery life.
The GamePad was first introduced in August 2012, and shipped in Europe in December 2012. You can find this tablet on Amazon.