The GamePad 2 is a vast improvement on the first, but it still doesn't have the blockbusters or price tag to compete with the dedicated handhelds.
Stylish, comfortable design
HD IPS screen
Plenty of games to choose from Impressive battery
Priced too high
Can't cope with more demanding games
Button mapping is poor
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These days, Android games are popping up as fast as cheap, third-party Android tablets.
It's a hit and miss marketplace, with many games disappearing deep into the ether after launch and most seeing fewer than 100 downloads. But because of the rapid increase and ease of development, Android games are gradually improving in quality.
The same can be said for tablets and gaming tablets. The Archos GamePad 2, and the arrival of other gaming-specific tablets, is the result of refining the Android gaming experience. Archos has improved on its initial attempt with the GamePad by redesigning the console to look more like a dedicated gaming device, while making sure it also offers most of the standard tablet features.
The GamePad 2 now has a sleek, black, matted exterior that the previous version missed and doesn't just look like a d-pad and buttons have been stuck to either side of a tablet.
It also comes with an improved 1280 x 800 screen, 2GB of RAM, a quad-core A9 1.6GHz processor and a quad-core GPU Mali 400 MP4. But then it also comes with a hefty launch price - £179 ($199.99, about AU$330).
The GamePad 2 doesn't confidently command that price tag. Issues with lag and multitasking - issues that plagued the previous GamePad - still exist, and there simply aren't enough blockbuster games in the Play Store to justify a launch price that's higher than the PS Vita.
But that's if you compare the GamePad 2 directly with another gaming console. If you include the fact that it's also a tablet then the plus points begin to rack up. Archos makes it clear in its marketing that the GamePad 2 is multifunctional, not just a gaming tablet. Although that is its main focus, it's also a pretty decent Android tablet.
And, if you judge it purely on its ability as a tablet, it fares pretty well. It boasts features that are missing from other high-end 7-inch tablets like the Nexus 7, such as a mini HMDI port for PC connectivity and a MicroSD card slot for extra storage. Features that are desperately missing from its tablet rivals.
But at its core, the GamePad 2 is a gaming tablet with Android tablet functionality. The hardwired buttons to the design make sure of that. This is perhaps where the Wikipad, a gaming tablet with detachable controls, scores some points ahead of Archos's unit.
Granted, the design is bulky and unattractive but it does have the dual functionality that the GamePad 2 lacks. With this in mind, Archos has taken a bit of a gamble by attempting to take on the handheld gaming market, instead of playing it safe like the Wikipad.
Does it work? Yes and no. It's well designed and comfortable to hold, but the Android market place doesn't have the high-quality games you'll get on a PS Vita or 3DS - and at around the same price, it doesn't really stack up.
If you're looking purely at Android gaming, the GamePad 2 makes perfect sense. If you're looking at the wider handheld market, however, this device isn't going to compete.
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