Archos unveils sub-$200 Android-based GamePad

There was more good news for Android gamers yesterday, as Archos unveiled the GamePad, a 7-inch gaming system that runs Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0). No points for originality in naming, I guess.

Basically this is a competitor to the WikiPad that we talked about a few weeks back. Archos has taken a 7" Android tablet and built it into a chassis that contains physical gaming controls. At a glance it looks something like the Playstation Vita.

It has physical buttons and analog sticks, though from the press pics thes looks like they're closer to 'nubs' than sticks. Still, they'll beat the heck out of the virtual sticks we're generally forced to use while Android gaming now.

Under the hood is a dual-core 1.5 Ghz CPU and a quad-core GPU (the ARM Mali 400 MP, for you GPU aficionados). It has an HDMI port, so presumably you can throw your games up on the big screen. Unfortunately just 8 GB of internal storage (some of these Android games are starting to get pretty big) and it doesn't sound like there's any kind of additional storage slots.

The GamePad includes support for the Google Play store and Archos has developed a mapping and game recognition tool that is supposed to let you map virtual controls to the physical controls on the device. Best of all is the price. It'll launch in October for under 150€ (~$187).

The reason I'm excited about the GamePad is that it represents another Android device with physical controls. I figure the more of these things that are out there, the more likely it is that developers will take advantage of Android 4's support of physical game controls.

The GamePad looks pretty swanky in the press image but the price seems almost too good to be true. I'll be interested to hear what the build quality is like once the device starts shipping.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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