The Archos GamePad 2 still falls short as a gaming device, which is ironic given its specialisation in that field. However, for a tablet with these specs it is well-priced and has some useful features.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,3/11/2014 12:10:32 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Thumb-sticks and directional pad
Screen not Full HD
Lacks support for game titles
Mapping function could be better
Tablets and smartphones are now an everyday part of even the occasional gamer’s life, but the PC and console owning public misses that satisfying feel of a controller when they’re on the go. Archos took note of that need and launched its first GamePad early in 2013, marrying a seven-inch touchscreen tablet to a portable gaming experience.
Unfortunately, we weren’t blown away by the results. Its two-tone colour scheme with cheap buttons was flat and uninspiring, but worse still was its disappointing mix of confused, weak controls and poor screen technology. The GamePad 2 hopes to answer those concerns by taking the gaming tablet concept even further, this time including an HD screen, faster processor, greater game compatibility and longer battery-life.
Those additional controls – including two analogue thumb-sticks, a directional pad, six front-facing buttons and four shoulder buttons – still add a little extra width and height to the tablet, but this time they look much more professional. In fact, the whole tablet has much more of a premium feel, as piano-black styling replaces the dull greys of the first GamePad. The extra weight of the device, thanks to its gaming additions, is also not a problem. On paper it is a lot heftier than a Nexus 7 (290g) or Apple iPad mini Retina (331g) but its 400g isn’t as much of an inconvenience as it sounds and it was easy to hold for extended periods.
This tablet is also a lot quicker than the previous model. An A9-generation quad-core processor running at 1.6GHz has been coupled with a quad-core graphics processor and 2GB of RAM, making slow-downs a thing of the past. That’s particularly crucial when it comes to gaming and it handles the most up-to-date titles easily. Naturally, that speed also translates to other functions, including multiple Android apps, web pages or HD video playback.
However, while the 1280 x 800 resolution screen is an improvement, it lags ever so slightly behind tablets with a Full HD 1920 x 1280 display. On the plus side, the mini HDMI out (cable sold separately) allows you to pump your content to a better display. The GamePad 2 even allowed us to play video files from a thumb drive, using an adaptor and its USB host ability.
With everything else stacking up nicely, how do those all-important gaming credentials compare? For starters, we got almost seven hours use out of the new 5000mAh battery, which sounds standard but is more than twice what the original GamePad offered. No one wants a game machine that can’t last until the end of a train journey to the Midlands.
As for titles, the tablet comes pre-loaded with Modern Combat 4 and Asphalt 8 to give you a taste of its gaming prowess. The GamePad has also been optimised to work with all of the titles on the Gameloft service, thanks to a partnership with Archos. Stick to those and you won’t have a problem.
Unfortunately, many other Google Play titles don't have the support they need. This should be fixable thanks to a mapping feature that fits a game’s functions to the best configuration of buttons and dpad, but in practice this often didn't configure the settings properly. Sadly, that lack of wider support will still be a killer blow for serious gamers.