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Archos' strange TV Connect with bizarre remote turns your television into an Android tablet

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If you've been looking to change your TV into an Android tablet, Archos has just answered your call with what may just been one of the oddest devices that we've seen in recent memory. The company — known for its portable media players and tablets — has just unveiled the Archos TV Connect, which is designed to turn your ordinary TV into an Android-powered smart TV. We've seen plenty of kits to give older TVs internet-connected features, but the TV Connect doesn't use software like Google TV, which is designed for your television. Instead, it runs Android 4.1 in its standard tablet interface.

Of course, that raises a major problem: just how, exactly, does one use a tablet without a touchscreen? Archos has cooked up what it's calling the TV Connect Remote, and it makes Sony's most unwieldy Google TV remote seem tame. As is usual for smart tv remotes, it has a full QWERTY keypad, but it also has a four-way D-pad and Xbox-style X, Y, B, and A buttons for gaming. That's not to mention the two analog control sticks that are also used for "multi-touch gestures" like zooming in and panning. If the remote wasn't complicated enough, it's worth noting that you'll have to use Archos software to map game controls to the buttons on the gamepad for each and every game you'd like to play.

Beyond the remote control, the TV Connect offers everything you'd expect from an Android tablet. It's been Google certified so you can access and download apps from Google Play, and it's equipped with an SD card slot, HDMI port, USB plug. The base station, which is designed to sit on top of or below your TV, also has a webcam for video chats. The whole package will cost $129.99 when it comes out in February, and while Archos CEO Henri Crohas calls it "a bigger, better way to enjoy Android," we're going to remain skeptical until we spend some time with it at CES next week.