Jan 09 AT 6:59 PM Sean Riley 21 Comments

Hands-on with the Archos GamePad

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The Archos GamePad doesn’t have the flash or the breadth of capabilities seen in NVIDIA’s Project SHIELD, but at just $169.99, and available already in the UK with a US launch coming in February, the GamePad could be the answer for Android gamers jonesing for some real controls to use with the increasingly impressive catalog of games in the Play Store.

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The controls are very reminiscent of the PlayStation Portable — both a good and a bad thing. They did wisely offer dual analog control sticks, but if you’ve never handled a PSP, they slide rather than pivot like the control sticks on an XBOX 360 or PlayStation controller. It’s still easily superior to on screen controls; however, it doesn’t offer anything close to the level of precision you can achieve with a console controller. The rest of the hardware buttons were quite responsive, although they did feel a bit loose. While the GamePad is running stock Android 4.1 and could certainly be used as a tablet, I would rather have seen them push it even farther in the direction of a great gaming controller with a screen.

Unfortunately, the specs are a bit behind; the GamePad is equipped with a dual-core A9 processor at 1.6 GHz, a quad-core MALI 400 GPU and 1 GB of RAM.

The most interesting thing Archos has done with the GamePad is their patented ability to map the physical controls directly to the screen using a drag and drop interface. It’s incredibly easy to use and worked perfectly in every game we tried. Archos does have a patent on their implementation of this concept. This strikes me as a a bit unfortunate; it’s such a simple and clever way to handle mapping on screen buttons to physical controls.

The GamePad feels like a 1.0 product, and based on our brief time with it, we wouldn’t recommend that you run out and buy one. But, it does show some promise. If Archos takes user feedback to heart, the second generation GamePad will be something to keep an eye out for.

Sean has been with Android and Me for over 5 years and covering mobile for the last 6. He occasionally muses about gadgets and tech outside of the Android universe at Techgasms.

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  • SGB101

    Very nice….

  • nikhilverma

    I am not sure about this.

  • thel0nerang3r

    I’ve been wanting something like this, but on a 10″ screen. This is awesome for a game machine. I’ve been turned off by many games due to touch controls. Getting a wireless control, ruins the experience for me… might as well just play a console.
    I also prefer a larger screen for a tablet for non-gaming duties.


    I actually do prefer this form factor to the shield. It makes using the for non gaming more natural and gaming still feels right for anyone who has spend any time with a PSP. But I do much prefer the specs and support the shield is sure to see from its manufacturer. They aren’t going to let that thing fail.

  • alexanderharri3

    As CES moves on….the handheld/console Android gaming space is becoming very crowded….

  • donger

    Buttons remind me of a psp/psvita.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002275344855 luis maldonado

    Very PSPish but I like the overall design, if this thing takes off and 2.0 is a hit maybe that can pressure nvidia into keeping the shield at a reasonable price point, cause im not paying anything more than 3-400 for and handheld gaming dedicated device

  • Franco american

    It’s sad that you say you wouldn’t reconnect buying it. For under 200 you’re getting a good tablet with stock android with a controller attached for gaming. If no one buys this, we will never see a 2.0 version. Don’t you understand that? I’m buying one. Sure sheild is waaay better spec’d but it’ll cost $500 and the form factor is not as good as another commenter stated.

  • mike

    If im using controller i dont want buttons on the screen
    Also with archos track record with device support i dont see this going far.

    Be cool for emulators though

  • mike

    Just noticed price i might get one IDK

  • R.S

    For the price, this looks pretty enticing.

    During the Zombie game, did the controls seem choppy to anyone else?

  • Nathan D.

    Yea, I’m not getting this

  • Jorge Eslava

    Wasn’t there an app that could do the same thing with a dual shock?

  • Kurt

    Will this work with the Archos TV as well?

  • nobile

    super cool :)

  • Esoth

    This Kickstarter project is over, but keep your eyes peeled for it to hit retail. I’d much rather use one of these than buy a separate device:


  • gamer

    I actually got this for my kids for Christmas. It’s a bit cheap feeling, but c’mon…the price is great. The controls mapping is great too – I’m not sure I’d recommend it for everybody but gamers will enjoy it, especially kids. I have emulators loaded, Mario is great =)

  • jamal adam

    Reminds of the Sony PSP except with Android. But I don’t expect much from it with that underwhelming processor when it could have gone with the likes of the Tegra 4 or waited a little more and gave it the necessary processing power to make it worthwhile. Otherwise, I think this looks nice and would be cool.

  • jonstle

    I really want some hands on time with this to see how it does. Looks promising!

  • digvijaya07

    Well, really Confused but Still its good :)