Earlier this year at CES, Archos introduced its first GamePad, an Android device with built-in physical gaming controls. Now it's back with a successor, and the improvements are numerous and significant. Most immediate among the changes (aside from an even closer resemblance to the PSVita) is a higher resolution 1280 x 800 IPS display, up from 1024 x 600. Archos has also fitted GamePad 2 with more capable internals: it features a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 chip with 2GB of RAM, twice the memory found in the original. It runs a newer version of Android (4.2) and Archos says it now includes "a much larger battery" than what you'd typically find in a 7-inch tablet. This should lead to "vastly improved battery life" both for gaming and more ordinary tasks you'd carry out on an Android tablet.
For gamers, the thumbsticks on GamePad 2 are now more precise, and buttons are now clickier - an admittedly small improvement the company says results in a better gaming experience. It will be available in Europe this month for €180 (approximately $243). And while there's nothing to suggest products like GamePad 2 (and Nvidia's Shield) appeal to a mass audience, there's clearly a niche market that's interested. As for the competition, a number of iOS-compatible gaming pads are expected to arrive before long thanks to broader support in iOS 7.