FamilyPad, the tablet to gather round this Christmas

While gaming on your tablet computer may usually seen as a bit of a solitary, antisocial activity, one tablet maker is aiming to challenge that perception.

After the turkey, pigs-in-blankets and Christmas pudding, lots of families traditionally got together for a board game like Pictionary or Monopoly, or view photographs taken during the year of loved ones.

Now budget friendly Archos, a French consumer electronics company, has brought such after-lunch activities bang up-to-date by launching a family-sized tablet called the FamilyPad.

Released through Archos’ Arnova brand, the FamilyPad has a 13.3-inch, 1280 x 800 resolution touchscreen. It’s due to cost £274.99 when it’s released in the UK next month. It’s kind of the same idea as the new Windows 8-based Sony Tap 20, but a great deal cheaper as Sony’s gizmo costs £1,000.

Archos is billing its new release as “the tablet to gather round” and you can see why. It has a range of pre-installed multi-player digital board games, there’s a 2-megapixel front-facing camera so you can webchat with family members or friends who live a long distance away and there’s a display stand included if you want to watch movies or flick through the family photo album on the coffee table after lunch.

“The Arnova FamilyPad is the perfect screen size to gather around and share as family,” say its makers. “The 16m colour 1280 x 800 pixel screen means that whatever you’re showing, the Arnova FamilyPad will show it off perfectly and its extra-large battery will mean it’ll show it for longer – over 10 hours of video playback.”

And when you’re not actively using the FamilyPad, you can set it up as a digital photo frame, linking it up to the likes of Picasa or Facebook and controlling it online. Or, rather than all those post it notes or reminders stuck to the refrigerator with dozens of magnets, you can use the device as a replacement for your calendar. Multiple users can add their schedules so you should never forget that football match or dance rehearsal again.

Its handy stand also means it’s great for family activities like baking cakes together as you can put it upright while you follow recipes through online videos.

So far, reviewers have pointed out that it is rather under-specced for its size, with a slow single-core processor. But, as intomobile points out: “Then again, I guess Archos’ idea with the FamilyPad isn’t to beat the Nexus 10 to the punch – cause it’s far from that – rather, they want to offer a relatively affordable product a whole family could enjoy, either for watching movies, playing board games, sharing pictures and so on.”

So, while the Arnova gizmo clearly doesn’t have the same sort of specs as the other large tablets on the market, if you’re buying it as an alternative to playing boxing on the Nintendo Wii after Christmas lunch and don’t want to splash too much cash, then it could hit the spot.

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