Archos GamePad packs a nice thin design with a steel frame finish. During Archos press conference in March, 2012, Crohas explained some details on how tablet are usually built following the model of Apple Ipad, with an machined aluminium body where a high quality glass is applied. Archos on the other hand has developed their own technology over the past 3 years. The tablet structure is made by highly resistant stainless steel embedded in a plastic enclosure. An extremely thin (about 1/10 mm) metal frame surrounds the screen as you can see on the picture below. The plastic screen surface does catch fingerprints though and it is not easy to get them off.
Compared to some previous Archos models, it seems there has been a lot of efforts in the tablet build quality, as the pieces are now better adjusted, the whole device seem quite solid and the materials feel quite good for this price range.
The upper tablet side holds the connectors, from right to left:
- the HDMI connector (mini HDMI format, aka HDMI type c connector)
- a tiny hole for the microphone
- headphone connector, usual 3.5 mm mini-jack format
- micro USB connector (slave/host)
- power button
- volume buttons
The microSD slot is located on the down side of the tablet and the 0.3 Mpx front facing camera can be found on the front.You can see the steel frame being really thin.
Archos GamePad comes with an 7.0″ TN screen, which is actually slightly bigger than the screen sizes we get to see on most handheld consoles. With the ppi(pixels per inch) of 169(for comparison, Archos 101 XS has ppi of 160 and the iPad 4 ppi of 264), the GamePad doesn’t have the biggest density. We definitely regret the GamePad coming with such a screen, an IPS screen would fit it much better. Though the colors themselves are pretty nice, we regret the brightness and the viewing angles.
Speaking of the resolution, we found it to be quite okey. All the text is readable, contrary to 7″ tablets with 800×480 resolution. Multi-touch can also be found, supporting up to five simultaneous touches.
Before we got our GamePad sample for testing, we had a lot of concerns about the game controllers. Would the analogue sticks really be analogue and not just doubling the buttons? What about the screen size, won’t it be too big? Fortunately, the analogue sticks are really analogue (for example, in gta 3 you can walk/run, same for emulators) and all the buttons are unique. We didn’t find the buttons as comfortable as on a PSP or PS3 controller, but they are all reachable and are nicely made. You just need some time to get used to them. The tablet doesn’t have a vibrate function, so the buttons won’t vibrate.
Though on the photo the “grained” plastic surface may look weird, we found it to look and feel pretty nice. Instead of one d-pad, all the buttons are placed separately and it really depends on what you are used to.
The “shoulder” buttons on the back are transparant. L2 and R2 buttons didn’t fit there and are placed on the front side.
We definitely liked the double speakers which produce stereo sound. Contrary to most tablets, they are not placed on the back, so their sound is not attenuated when the tablet lies on its back.
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