Tech Talk #4: Archos GamePad: Android Gaming Tablet Mimics PlayStation Vita

 Have Archos finally got a decent offering?

Archos announced their new GamePad, which looks like a slimmed down PlayStation Vita. It’s an Android tablet capable of emails, internet, apps etc. But the GamePad’s really aimed at gaming, hence the name. It’s got all the pre-requisite interfaces: buttons, a d-pad, analogue sticks and a touch-screen.

What Archos is claiming as their differentiator is that GamePad comes from some interesting patented Archos tech that re-maps touch-screen controls to physical controls with no extra developer input. This infers that means there are already +1000 games on Google Play that the Archos GamePad can play. They have also priced it at about 2/3 the price of a PlayStation Vita.

Okay, so it sounds interesting, but let’s break it down: Archos are a French personal media storage / player company – and they’ve never been able to break that image of cigarette packet sized MP3 players. Go to your local Carphone Warehouse – they may have been making tablets for a long time, but their products are in the bargain section because they are plasticky, difficult to upgrade, and well, they just don’t perform as well as the competition. They have no significant market share at their end of the tablet market. Check out the CNET reviews: same complaints.

The trade-off for being cheaper is lower cost components: the Archos GamePad has a dual-core 1.5 GHz CPU and a Mali 400mp quad-core GPU. Contrast that with the PlayStation Vita, which has a quad-core CPU and quad-core PowerVR SGX543 MP4+ GPU. That’s why there’s a 1/3 price differential.

And let’s talk content: that +1,000 games? Let’s face it, if you’ve been on Google Play then you’ll know that (like iTunes) most of the games are either really poor, or much of a muchness – at any one time only about 20% of the games stand out and make up the 80% of the downloads / purchases. At least you know that the games for the Vita will be purpose-built.

Finally, I’ll just comment on the concept. Convergence has reached a limited, and by that I mean, we all thought we wanted a ‘one-box-does all’ but the reality is different. We can all store all of our music on our phones, but most of us choose to listen to it on an MP3 player.  Remember back when Nokia ruled the phone market – they launched N-Gage, a phone and gaming platform which died on it’s a***. The reality was, it was neither one nor the other. We don’t like too much consolidation because we are usually worried about conserving battery life, or losing one box and being isolated. That’s why we have notebooks, tablets, e-readers, iPods & phones… a combined tablet and gaming platform with bits (buttons & joysticks) that can break off – really, is that what you want…?

Reporter: SilverFox

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