There are lots of skeptics that don’t see hand-held devices as gaming platforms, but rather they consider them a step below traditional consoles. The main reason is because they don’t have a traditional console-like controller. They say that playing on a touch-screen device only works with certain genres and games, creating an never-ending list of titles that simply can’t be enjoyed. As a response to this point of view, the Archos GamePad tablet was born, which comes with two analog sticks and a directional pad.

Taking a closer glance, the design of the device is awfully familiar. Inevitably, it reminds us of the recently launched Wii U gamepad, but changing the Nintendo catalog for that of the Android micro universe and all that Google Play has to offer. In fact, it’s practically a mid-level tablet, but with the benefit of the added controls system. It has an ARM CortexTM dual-core 1.6 Ghz processor, quad-core MALI 400 MP GPU (an excellent graphics card), 1 GB of RAM, WiFi, and a 7-inch screen with 1024×600 resolution, in addition to being compatible with a limitless number of audio and video formats for use as a multimedia player.

It is very easy to handle, weighing just 11.6 ounces and only 10mm thick, which isn’t any bigger than today’s standard 7-inch tablet (Although the Nexus 7 only weighs 9.9 ounces). Also, its extra features turn it into a multi-use machine, with 8GB of internal memory, MicroSD slot, mini HDMI, and microUSB 2.0. And, the best of all, the Archos GamePad has just been placed on the market for only 149€.

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But let’s get to what’s really interesting… Right from the start one might think that Android video games aren’t very compatible with awkward external bluetooth controls and extremely difficult configuration menus, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Android version 4.1 Jelly Bean is incorporated in the device, which includes an easy-to-use feature in the lower menu that allows you to assign the digital controls to the gamepad itself, providing a completely customized experience according to the needs of each game. You can even save the configuration settings for each game.

Apparently, the only setback is in the specs of the device themselves. Although it has decent features, it can’t compete with what devices such as the Google Nexus 7 are capable of, or the recent iPad Mini, but rather is more in line with what the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD offers. So, it might slow down on certain occasions with higher-end games. Even still, and given the great amount of games in the Google Play catalog, it’s a good little gaming system.

There’s something else about this device worth highlighting that will make gamers fall in love: it can be used as an emulation platform. There are a lot of legal emulators that allow you to relive older platforms, from the Atari 2600 to the first Playstation. Check out the video embedded in this post to see the Archos running the classic Super Mario 64 with the controls perfectly adapted to the game and no slowing of the game.

Finally, the Archos GamePad is a tablet that offers an exciting alternative to traditional hand-held consoles because of its affordable price and amazing features. It is a versatile device on which you consume all kinds of content thanks to the plentiful GooglePlay catalog. Of course, it isn’t a high-end device, and therefore it won’t perform amazingly well with games that require lots of resources. It is up to you whether or not it is worth the buy.

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