Archos GamePad 2 review
- Comfortable controls
- Snappy Android experience
- Micro SD and HDMI out
- Limited support for big titles
- Screen isn't full HD
- Slow and boring games
The first Archos GamePad was a disaster - it was slow, the screen was abysmal, and the controls didn't work properly.
The maker has quickly released a successor, the Archos GamePad 2, which packs respectable hardware, a new HD-quality screen, and support for publisher GameLoft's games. Is it finally the Android games console we've been waiting for?
Archos GamePad 2: Size and build
The Archos GamePad 2 is a 7-inch tablet with game controls adding a couple of centimetres of extra length (or width, as you'll be holding this in landscape mode most of the time).
It's over a millimetre thicker than the Google Nexus 7 at 9.9mm, but it's still small enough to easily slide in a backpack at 200.5mm x 154mm. The 400g weight is over 100g more than the Nexus 7, but it still feels nice and light.
The GamePad 2 is certainly a lot sleeker than the Wikipad - its closest competitor that features a really bulky frame for game controls. GamePad 2 is completely plastic and therefore doesn't feel like a premium product, but it feels solidly constructed, and rugged enough to survive being in a bag without a case.
Archos GamePad 2: Features
The GamePad 2 is a relatively powerful Android tablet - its quad-core 1.6GHz A9 processor/Mali 400 GPU won't trouble the likes of the new Advent Tegra Note and its Tegra 4 processor, but it's fast enough to run Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean without slowdown.
It's fast enough to juggle multiple Android applications at the same time, and will play 1080p video without stutter. In this regard, Archos' own Video App is good - it supports most major file formats and even plays media from network storage such as our Synology DS214Play Network Attached Storage device.
There are third-party apps like MX Player that will also do this on Android, but we liked that it was all included by default on the Archos.
There are a decent amount of connections on the GamePad 2 - in addition to micro-USB for charging and data transfer, there's mini-HDMI out for playing on a TV or monitor, and a microSD slot, which will take cards up to 64GB.
We really like the latter feature, which is still a rarity on a lot of tablets, and allows you to buy the cheaper 8GB version of the GamePad 2 and expand the memory cheaply.
On the wireless side, the 5GHz wireless connectivity offers a fast link to your home network and will help when streaming video to a Miracast device, if you have one. If you're watching on the device itself, the built-in stereo speakers are good, and provide plenty of volume if you want to listen to music.
The 5000 mAh battery sounds impresses on paper, and is quoted at lasting nine hours, but we found it was closer to seven hours in practice.
If you're an Android OS fan, it's worth noting that Archos sadly isn't working to bring version 4.3 to the device right now. We were also disappointed that there's no rear-facing camera on the GamePad 2, which is always nice to have, while the front-facing camera didn't impress.