Archos has managed the mean feat of never being able to break into the mainstream of portable devices, whether it was MP3 players several years ago or tablets today, and yet continue to put out new products at a budget price. While there's been nothing particularly buzzworthy about most of its Android tablet lineup to date, the French company may have an intriguing model on its hands with its latest release.
Dubbed the GamePad, the tablet sports two sets of gaming controls that flank a 7-inch 1,024x600 screen. In total, you get 14 physical buttons, including a pair of thumbsticks. In addition, Archos has created a game-mapping tool that lets you set up your controls using the touchscreen interface in advance for your favorite games and then automatically load the settings when you play those titles. You can even use the tool to map games that weren't designed for physical controls.
Inside, the GamePad's specs are more pedestrian. Powering Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is a dual-core ARM Cortex A9 processor with a quad-core Mali GPU. You get a mere 8GB of storage, though there's a microSD card slot for additional capacity. You also get a front-facing webcam and a mini-HDMI output so you can connect the GameSpad to an HDTV for some large-screen gaming.
Archos already has the GamePad available for Europe for 150 euros (or a shade under $200), with a North American release expected in the first quarter of next year. Would you consider buying it instead of an Amazon Kindle Fire, Google Nexus 7, or another 7-inch Android tablet? Let us know your thoughts in the Talkback section below.