Just days before the gadget makes its debut at CES 2013 in Las Vegas next week, Archos revealed the TV Connect, a multi-touch device that turns any HDTV into an Android-powered Smart TV. It's billed as the "only" multi-touch Android-on-TV experience for your favorite apps and games, comprised of an HDMI-based over-the-top box and a specially designed TV Touch remote that resembles a QWERTY-packed gamepad.
"The TV Connect allows you to control your TV just like a tablet - tap, swipe, zoom in, zoom out, select or type," the company said. "With the TV Connect, users will be able to play games, stream videos, video chat in HD, email friends or surf the web all from their big screen TV."
According to the product sheet, the remote features a full QWERTY keyboard with Android shortcut keys – including keys for voice controls and voice typing -- packed within a gamepad-like form factor. Dual analog thumb-sticks allow the user to easily zoom in, zoom out and rotate with unique gesture controls. They also allow the user to control the TV as if it were a tablet offering tapping and swiping motions.
In addition to the keyboard and thumb-sticks (the latter of which can be used for gaming), the remote also provides a directional button and the typical 4-button gamepad setup. The gadget's patented Archos game mapping tools allow the user to link the virtual controls of any game to the TV Touch remote’s physical controls in a matter of seconds.
As for the over-the-top box, it rests on the top of your HDTV and plugs into an HDMI port. It's powered by Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" and provides full access to Google Play's library of apps, games, movies, music and more. Search the internet using Chrome, or check out videos of pouting cats on YouTube. There's even an HD webcam for making video calls, and an LED that notifies the user when a call is received while watching TV.
The spec sheet reveals that the over-the-top box includes a 1.5 GHz multi-core SoC, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of internal storage, an SD card slot for an additional 32 GB of storage, a microUSB port, a USB host port, Ethernet and Wi-Fi network connectivity, and more.
"As a pioneer in multimedia Android devices, we wanted to create a bigger, better way to enjoy Android," said Henri Crohas, Founder and CEO of Archos. "The Archos TV Connect provides users with a multi-touch, multi-media Smart TV experience powered by Android."
The Archos TV Connect will be available starting in February for $129.99.