Thursday, 11 September 2014

SYNAPSE CIRCUIT ARCHOS GAMEPAD 2

Above: GamePad 2! Does it deliver to serious hardcore gamers? Read on...
SYNAPSE CIRCUIT
ARCHOS GAMEPAD 2
PRICE: £140. Check online for prices!

Goodhour, Synapse Circuit Readers! What’s happening? Are you burning the midnight oil? I can see that I’ve gained more of an audience and I thank you for staying with me and for resharing my articles up on G+! Thank you!

At last! A review! Whoohoo! Lately I have been carried away by Samsung’s superlative latest offerings, Apple’s iPhone 6 and IFA Berlin to have time for reviews... Now that I’ve covered Samsung and Apple – IFA will come later – it’s time for a review! Yes, it’s the GamePad 2 from Archos!

INTRODUCTION
Yes, Synapse Circuit Reader Friends! Somehow I missed out on the first GamePad but here is version 2! If you know me you will understand that I am currently searching for my first tablet! With Android I am so spoiled for choice. I am also thinking about purchasing an Android tablet for my little nephew who loves his gaming and not only is he keen on game devices spanning all the platforms i.e. Android, iOS, PC, Xbox, Playstation, etc he’s bloomin’ brilliant at them! Let’s see how we rate this tablet specifically for this purpose...

CONSTRUCTION
GamePad 2 feels nice and solid in the hands; it’s well constructed and some may find it quite weighty at 400g but it needs to be quite hefty – especially if you are the sort to get physical when gaming. It’s plastic all the way, Baby! But it doesn’t feel cheap. To me it looks very much like a Playstation which will most likely appeal to the intended audience.

The back of the unit features a rough surface that helps to maintain a good grip.

POWER ON
Booting up the 7” IPS (In-plane switching) 1280 x 800 screen is surprisingly bright and has good viewing angles.

After setting up a Google account I downloaded some games and away I went. I am not a gamer as such and found it slightly intimidating (hee hee) and exciting at the same time! I downloaded some free FPS games and surprisingly I had good fun playing them. Within a few minutes I was immersed in virtual warzones and battling deadly forces on Combat 4! I thought the sound was quite good – not too loud. The sound was good considering the size of the front-facing speakers. I wouldn’t hesitate giving the GamePad 2 to my nephew as I am weary of how loudness can affect the ears over long periods of time. As a musician I know only too well the importance of giving the ears a rest!

The joystick took me a short while to get used to but once I did it was very comfortable. I must confess that I didn’t take to gaming like a duck to water. My nephew, Karl, was unsurprisingly adept with handling the joysticks and he was in his element playing a racing game, Asphalt 8. His words were, “The GamePad (2) is alright. Gaming is very good and the screen is sharp! If I had it for Christmas or my birthday I wouldn’t be disappointed...”

What I appreciate about GamePad 2 as a web weary uncle is that it’s Wi-Fi only so his parents can monitor the time he spends on it i.e. they have the power to turn off the router and there is little chance that he can surf the web on his own. My nephew is very inquisitive as a 12 year old would be and so one has to invest a considerable amount of time in steering him in the right direction.

It’s not the fastest gaming device but it’s okay for non-3D intensive games; GamePad 2 was not designed to compete with hardcore gaming devices such as the Xbox – if you are thinking about substituting it. Uh-uh! It was my poor driving skills on Asphalt 8 that let me down; I can’t say that I experienced an intolerable amount lag but occasionally a game would stutter - so to speak i.e Asphalt 8 would take a wee bit of time to redraw. Loading the games took a bit of time though!

AS A TABLET

I can’t say that I was too impressed as the touch screen wasn’t as responsive as I would have liked. Occasionally, I got a little wound up having to repeat an interaction. I’m inclined to think that productivity using office apps such as Google Docs may prove to be a little troublesome.

As a tablet for entertainment I could live with it. Watching YouTube videos was a pleasant experience as was listening to music. Because of the screen responsiveness prolonged visits on my social networks will be frustrating.

SPECIFICATIONS
Here’s a list of specifications:-

* Dual analog thumbsticks for precise gaming
* Directional Pad and 6 front facing buttons with 2 pairs of shoulder buttons
* Quad-core CPU with Quad core graphics
* 2 full games from Gameloft preinstalled - Asphalt 8 and Modern Combat 4
* ARCHOS game mapping tool

CPU
Rockchip RK 3188 Quad-core @ 1.6 GHz

GPU
Mali 400 MP4 Quad-core

RAM & Storage
2 GB Internal Storage
8 GB or 16 GB
Expandable Storage: Micro SD card up to 64 GB (when formatted to fat 32 standard)

Screen
Screen - Diagonal Size, 7 inches (17.78 cm)
Resolution1280 x 800 pixels
Technology Type: IPS

Software

Operating System: Android 4.2.2 "Jelly Bean"
Application Store: Google Play
Internet browser: Chrome
Voice Assistant: Google Now
Google Apps preinstalled: Gmail, Calendar, Hangouts, Maps, Play Music, Play Movies,
Play Books

ARCHOS Apps preinstalled
Game Mapping Tool, Video, Music, System Monitor, Files, Media ServerEmail

Compatibilities
POP/IMAP/ Exchange Active Synch/ SMTP/Push Mail

Wireless Technologies
Wireless display: Yes
Wi-Fi Dual Band: Wi-Fi (2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz)
Wi-Fi Direct: Yes
Bluetooth: Yes

Camera
Front Camera: 0.3 MP - webcam

Power
Battery Size: 5000 mAH
Battery Type: Li-PolyBattery
Weight: 98g
Number of cells: 1 cell
Battery Life: 10 hours active use
Charging Adaptor: 5.0V - 2.0 A, Micro USB

Multimedia
Video Playback: H.264 HD (up to 1080p @30fps), MPEG-42 HD (up to 1080p @30fps), extensions: AVI, MP4, MOV, 3GP, MPG, PS, TS, MKV, FLV
Audio Playback: MP3, WAV (PCM/ADPCM), AAC3, AAC+ 5.13, OGG Vorbis, FLAC
Image viewing: JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIFuPnP /DNLAYes, via Video and Media Server applications

Ports and Sensors
Loudspeakers: Dual front speakers
Audio out: 3.5mm Jack
Microphone: Yes
USB: Micro USB with USB host via OTG cable (sold seperately)
HDMI: Yes Mini HDM
IG-sensor: Yes


What's in the box
ARCHOS GamePad 2
Charging Cable with EU, UK and US adaptors
USB Data Cable
Documentation

CONCLUSION
GamePad 2 despite its name is not the hardcore powerhouse of a gaming tablet that NVIDIA Shield promises to be. If you accept that there is going to be a bit of lag here and there with some of what I would call level entry 3D games then it’s not bad. I think that hardcore demanding game players may be disappointed as GamePad 2 looks the part. I would imagine that this tablet would please a 7 to 12 year old. And if he or she happens to have an Xbox or other game console the GamePad 2 would be the equivalent of getting out the MP3 player instead of using a powerful Hi-Fi system.

Children can also use it when they are not playing games to access educational materials such as eBooks and interactive games that require some thinking.

The possible snag is that Mom ‘n’ Pop or Mom or Pop may give the GamePad 2 to a child or children and leave him / her / them to get on with it. I would imagine that non-tech savvy parents would feel intimidated to sit down with a child / children to actively be a part of the learning experience. On the other hand it is very likely that a child or children would be able to show Mom / Pop the ropes and perhaps even play a game or two with the child / children! Teaching can work both ways! It’s not difficult!

Hardcore gamers looking for a serious gaming tablet that can handle intensive 3D games ought to look elsewhere and shell out more money for a better quad-core CPU and graphics chipset.

SCORE
6.5 / 10


If the screen didn't have that slight nonresponsive issue I would have scored it a respectable 7 out of 10. The price isn't too bad but I suspect that as newer and more powerful cost effective tablets enter the marketplace it'll come down some more in price. As stated earlier, the GamePad 2 is suitable for 7 to 12 year olds. Older children will know his / her game tech onions and it is not a replacement for a dedicated games console. 

THANKS FOR READING...


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