The buttons are nicely spread out with everything in comfortable reach, apart from when you use the left-hand joystick and trigger combination - this can be a little uncomfortable. See also: The 10 budget tablets 2013/2014.
Ultimately the Archos GamePad 2 needs to be judged on how it performs when playing games. From a physical point of view it is a lot more comfortable to hold than a traditional tablet, as you'd expect. The physical buttons are also a major plus point for serious gamers too, allowing users to get really stuck into a game and hammer quick commands to the tablet without relying on the questionable receptiveness of multi-touch screens.
The gameplay was quite satisfying, albeit not very challenging. The use of physical buttons results in you becoming a gaming god. Whether this is a good thing or not is up to you, but when playing normal Android apps with the GamePad 2's physical buttons you can't help but feel like you are bringing a gun to a knife fight.
Archos claim that this GamePad 2 is perfect for gaming. This is a bit of a bold claim. First of all the screen is pretty mediocre, and far from the dazzling HD screen we'd expect from a perfect gaming machine. It is a 7in IPS display that posts reasonable pixel figures of 1280 x 800, making it a 216 ppi display, which looks good enough when in use.
The device comes with a quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM. While this sounds like a lot it actually under-performed in our benchmarking tests and we experienced more lag than we expected.
The storage options are standard, with either 8GB or 16GB available onboard. There is a microSD slot however that lets you expand the storage by up to 64GB. Importantly there is app2SD support which means you can runs your apps from the SD card.
There is only one camera on offer here and that is a front-facing VGA webcam with no flash. Not ideal.
GamePad 2 runs a pretty plain version of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, with no noticeable bloatware. The major difference is home screen layout with the fixed home apps organized vertically on the left of the screen.
All-in-all it's not a bad Android, but apart from the inclusion of physical buttons, it is a long way of being a perfect gaming device.
We award 3 and a half stars.