We've seen Android gamepad prototypes come and go; but the bluetooth Gametel, which actually launched in the flesh yesterday, promises to clip-on and add a joypad to any Android phone or tablet running Éclair (2.1.1) or better.
The Gametel connects over bluetooth to any compatible Android device, integrating with a free controller app on the phone or tablet. Unfortunately the games themselves have to support input from a joypad, but the good news is that there are over 50 games available in the Marketplace right now that'll support it. The beauty is that any game that has been coded to take advantage of the Xperia Play, can be made compatible with the Gametel with just a tiny tweak. Hopefully we should see more and more Android game developers making that small tweak. Being bluetooth it'll also work with other platforms and supports iOS games that tie-in with the iCade, if that's how you roll.
I got a brief hands on with it last night and can tell you the controls are responsive, the joypad feels good in the hand, and the holder mechanism for the phone is simple and well thought-out. The Gametel will work within the standard range of bluetooth, so we're talking up to 10-metres away, and works just as well with tablets as it does with phones. It means that you can turn your Android phone or tablet into a mini-games console just by hooking it up to your TV, and you can play with up to four Gametels connected simultaneously. With 9 hours worth of battery life, a D-pad, four action buttons and two shoulder buttons, there's plenty of controls to suit most games. It's missing analogue joysticks, so it's not going to do first-person shooters justice, but then neither do on-screen controls.