Is it a tablet or is it a gaming handheld? It's both! Archos' GamePad is a 7-inch gaming tablet (gablet?) that has one thing the iPad and Nexus 7 don't: real buttons and dual analogs.
Clearly realizing there's a market for a proper Android gaming tablet, Archos' 7-inch GamePad is swooping in to deliver the goods. Along with the 7-inch capacitative touchscreen, the GamePad boasts a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, Mali 400 quad-core GPU, 8GB of internal storage (expandable via microSD cards), a pair of stereo speakers, a mini HD output, standard A/B/X/Y buttons, D-pad and two analogs (they appear to be "nubs," like the one found on the PlayStation Portable).
Android gaming might not be as big as it is on iOS, but every day there are more and more games with console-quality graphics that demand console-quality controls. This running list at XDA-Developers shows over two dozen games that have gamepad support. Those are games that support external controllers such as the Nyko PlayPad. But two dozen games isn't going to convince people why they should pick up a GamePad over a cheap tablet or Nintendo 3DS.
It's a good thing Archos has smartly figured out how to automatically map the touchscreen controls of many Android games to work with the GamePad without any configuration on the user's part. According to Archos Founder and CEO Henri Crohas:
"Thanks to the mapping and automatic game recognition systems included on the GamePad, we already have over a thousand android games compatible with the ARCHOS GamePad's physical controls, including back catalog titles that originally didn't include physical controls."
Archos expects to sell the GamePad for 150 euros (about $187) in Europe and the U.S. in October. What do you think? Can a low-priced "gablet" find a place in today's crowded sea of mobile gadgets?