The first Archos GamePad made quite a few waves, because it seemed like a decent portable console that would run much cheaper Android games, and it was offered at an affordable price. The upcoming GamePad 2 seems to improve on the idea by arriving with more processing power and a better display (quite critical for a gaming machine).
The Archos GamePad 2 will have a quad-core 1.6 Ghz Cortex A9 processor (Rockchip RK3188) and Mali-400 GPU (533 MHz), 2 GB of RAM, an improved 1280×800 display, 8 GB and 16 GB storage options and microSD slot. I would be nice if it arrived with at least Android 4.3, but something tells me it only has Android 4.2 on board (not confirmed yet). The gamepad controls seem to have remained largely the same.
If it doesn’t go over $200, it should be a pretty cool device, especially as a gift for kids. I’m not sure if it works for everyone else as well, because for one, the Android gaming library is not that great (although there are some good titles out there), and because its performance still seems to be stuck in the past. You won’t see stuff like OpenGL ES 3.0 and a unified shader architecture here.
If they wanted to catch the attention of everyone else, they could’ve tried to put a Snapdragon 800 or similar processor in there. That would’ve made the tech media and its readers more excited about the device, too, especially if the price remained just as low.
I’m not expecting small or 3rd party manufacturers to really understand this, though, because ultimately they will need to support the back-end and gaming for it, too, and that’s something only Google can do and promote. That’s why I hope they eventually come out with a gaming console that has not only great hardware for an affordable price, but they also make a commitment to really work hard to get the best games on that console and on the Android platform in general. Gaming is a killer feature of any platform that gets people to commit to a platform and be loyal to it, and that’s exactly the kind of things Google needs for Android.