Android device pioneer ARCHOS has made the official announcement regarding the second version of its gamer-centric handheld device, the GamePad 2. While it may not have reached the mainstream status of the iPads, Kindle Fires, and Samsung tablets, the ARCHOS GamePad did make waves in its niche: the handheld gaming sector.

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The original GamePad runs on Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), powered by a 1.6GHz dual-core processor and Mali 400mp quad-core GPU. It has a 1,024 x 600 resolution touchpanel, physical control buttons, and of course, analog sticks. At 0.3-inches thick and at a price cheaper than many of the top tablets today, it is easy to get why the GamePad has gained popularity, and ARCHOS is not going to sit on its laurels.

The GamePad 2 sports definite improvements over its predecessor, with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 chip and 2GB of RAM. It also has a sharper 1,280 x 800 IPS display, which is always welcome, gamer or not. The new GamePad runs on Android 4.2, and it comes with a bigger battery so that you can play for longer without having to plug it in.

Here’s a little something to sweeten the deal – well, two little somethings, actually: Asphalt 8: Airborne and Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour by Gameloft. These two games will come pre-installed on the GamePad 2, so you won’t even have to immediately spend more cash on new games. If you’re really strapped for cash, then the playing hours for these two games will give you a little breather.

By the end of this year, US consumers will be able to get their hands on the GamePad 2, for $200. UK gamers will enjoy Christmas early by the end of this month to the tune of 180 euros (why it’s more expensive at $243, I don’t know).

For more details on the ARCHOS GamePad 2, you can read the press release in its entirety here.

[Image via Engadget]