Archos GamePad 2 review

The GamePad 2 has had a significant makeover, but doesn't justify the price tag

Archos GamePad 2
GamePad 2: in touch with the hardcore gamer?

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The Archos GamePad 2 impresses with its design and its comfortable controls, but it fails when tasked with high-performance gaming. The breadth of games available in the Play Store means that gamers could be entertained for months without breaking the bank.

The depth of colours and full HD screen really enhances the gaming experience, with cel-shaded games benefiting the most. Playing through an episode of The Walking Dead: Assault is a delight and, just based on graphics, it seems almost as if it was developed exclusively for the GamePad 2.

And with a constant stream of Android games being developed and uploaded to the Android store the GamePad 2 will continue to pay out. But as games become more demanding it may buckle under the pressure. Despite the improvement in processor and RAM size, lag issues frustratingly persist.

We liked

The sleek black design and ergonomic controls are particularly nice. Archos has moved away from the dull grey design and opted for a more stylish, black, matte look. The overall finish is polished and this is nowhere more apparent than in the controls - especially the joysticks.

At 1080 x 800 the screen is HD, but not startlingly HD like the Kobo Arc 10 or Nexus 7. What's most impressive is the depth of colours, which makes cel-shaded games look genuinely stunning.

It makes sense to take advantage of the Android games market by introducing a gaming-specific tablet, purely because of the amount of games on offer. Although many are just basic quick-play games, there are some titles that have been developed with core gamers in mind, such as Modern Combat 4 and Asphalt.

We disliked

The Archos GamePad 2 8GB retails at £179 ($199.99, about AU$330), which is higher than both the 3DS XL and PS Vita. The high price point is a bit disingenuous because the quality of gaming on the Archos GamePad 2 is going to be much lower than the Sony and Nintendo competition, even if the library is more vast.

Button mapping is also a problem. The button mapping tool, whilst a good idea, is unresponsive and sometimes useless. This needs to be upgraded, otherwise it's pretty much redundant.

The tinny speakers are a bit of a nuisance, too. Few tablets have managed to nail the exterior speakers and the GamePad 2 is no different. Although the twin stereo front-facing speakers looks promising, they don't deliver much and start to sound tinny as the volume increases.

Final verdict

The GamePad 2 is a well built, ergonomic, attractive portable gaming tablet that looks and feels like it should be playing in the big league. The depth of colours, crisp screen and broad array of Android games mean you will be entertained.

But at its high price point and with few Android games really challenging the likes of blockbusters on other, more established, consoles, the Archos GamePad 2 isn't value for money. You're better off spending (and saving) your money on a PS Vita.