The Archos GamePad, yet another attempt at an Android gaming device, will come to the U.S. sometime in February for $169 according to Unwired View.
The Archos GamePad is a 7-inch Android tablet that also has controller inputs on the left and right side of the screen. The device lets any game use the game controller, even if the developer didn’t design the game with a controller in mind.
Archos built its own app that lets gamers map virtual buttons from games to the physical buttons of the tablet. That way gamers can play any game with the physical buttons without worrying about whether games support controllers or not. Archos built-in controller mapping for a number of popular Android games, but gamers can reset those layouts or build their own for games that aren’t supported.
Recent games like Dead Trigger which do support controllers will work with the device automatically with no effort from the user beyond launching the app.
While the controller feature is great, the Archos GamePad isn’t as fully featured as other Android gaming devices. The device only has a resolution of 1024×600 and a dual-core 1.6GHz processor with a quad-core Mali 400 MP graphics processor.
The biggest competitor to the Archos GamePad, the NVIDIA Shield has a smaller, higher resolution display and a faster quad-core Tegra 4 processor. The NVIDIA Shield will likely cost more than the Archos GamePad, however, and it doesn’t have the ability to map virtual buttons to physical buttons. The Archos GamePad can’t stream games from a PC like the Shield, though.
The Archos GamePad sounds promising for gamers who like Android games, or who want an inexpensive tablet for emulators. Others may want to wait and see how much NVIDIA charges for its system, or just connect a controller they already have to another tablet like the Nexus 7.