TCL used CES 2019 to announce plans to expand its U.S. television business in 2019, bringing in more models with larger screen sizes and advanced quantum dot color enhancement, it also announced plans for large-screen 8K TV models.

TCL announced that it continues to make gains in the global TV market behind “a vertical-integration strategy” supported by increased TV panel production and investments, the company said. TCL will put its new China Star Optoelectronics Technology (CSoT) Gen. 11 large mother glass panel factory in Shenzen into mass production starting in Q1 of 2019. This is expected to help the company deliver large volumes of large-screen LED LCD panels in both 4K and new 8K resolution levels.

As a result, Chris Larson, TCL North America senior VP, said “this means we have to get very big, very fast in large screen.” He explained that North America and China are the two largest regions of the world in large-screen TV consumption, necessitating that TCL make a significant push on 65-inch, 75-inch and larger products here in the year ahead.

As part of that initiative, TCL said it plans to bring its first “high-performance” 8K Ultra HDTV to North America in 2019. The product will support advanced technologies including the new HDMI 2.1 connection interface to support external 8K devices.

“We view very positively the opportunities for 8K, especially in the large size — 65- and 75-inch — classes,” said Aaron Dew, TCL North America director of product development. “Just over the last four years, as 4K was introduced to the market, it has been about screen size. Essentially, if you are shopping for a big-screen TV today, 55-inches and larger, your [only] option has been 4K. It has taken over certain screen size segments. We see the same kind of thing happening in the next couple of years with 8K for the largest screen sizes.”

TCL said many of the standards needed for 8K are still in development, and the company is not yet prepared to announce model specifics, like which HDR profiles the first 8K TVs will support, “but the TVs are certainly capable and we will be able to work with content providers that will be providing content to external devices,” Dew said, referencing the new HDMI 2.1 connection standard that is beginning to surface.

Quantum Dot TVs

In addition to 8K resolution, TCL said it will be bringing to North America this year quantum dot-enhanced TVs. This will enable presenting a wider color gamut as a step-up from the company’s 4K TVs in 2018 that used NBT photon technology to achieve greater color gamut coverage.

“We now see the value equation for quantum dot becoming such that we believe there’s an opportunity for it becoming a mainstream high-performance solution for customers in the U.S.,” Dew said.

He explained that TCL’s implementation of quantum dot technology will result in TCL TVs achieving an even wider color gamut solution for the U.S. product portfolio.

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At the same time, he said TCL will continue to improve contrast performance in its 2019 televisions to achieve a greater degree of high dynamic rage (HDR) using “Quantum Contrast technology.”

This was described as a new technology for North America this year powered by “a new format of Mini LED” backlighting that will enable “up to 300% more contrast control zones.”

Expanded 6 Series Lineup

TCL said it will be strengthening its 6 Series line of 4K Roku TV, which were very well received in 2018. Last year, the series had two screen sizes 55- and 65-inches. This year the line will be expanded with a new 75-inch 6 Series 4K Ultra HD Roku TV, which is available in stores this week.

The 75-inch 6 Series model will feature 160 “Contrast Control Zones” and up to “240 Hz CMI” (presumably 120Hz native refresh rate) motion smoothing technology. Dew said the TV will have “more localized and more precise ability” to control high contast performance.

In North America, TCL’s 4K/HDR televisions will support the base HDR10 and premium Dolby Vision HDR profiles only. In other regions, the company will add support for Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) as well, the company said.

Improved Gaming

TCL said it has also made strides this year to improve the video gaming experience on some of its TV models. This will include rolling out a new software update to all current 5 and 6 Series TCL Roku TVs to enable compatibility with the new Dolby Vision HDR mode available on the Xbox One S/X consoles.

Microsoft and gaming partners are expected to be introduce this year an expanded assortment of games supporting the Dolby Vision HDR profile.

To make its televisions even easier to use, Dew said the company is partnering “with the leaders in voice assistant technologies in different geographies.” This will include using Google Assistant in some global regions, Baidu technology in the China domestic market and Roku TV in North America.

TCL said it will be using “AI voice cancellation technology and beam-forming technology into an integrated far-field mic array so you can very simply walk in and via your voice interact with the TV to discover and manage content,” Dew said.

TCL is also expanding home audio, in part, to complement its growing position in televisions with products like sound bars. TCL’s strategy here is to add unique functionality and technology by focusing on the user experience. This will bring users greater access to content when ever it’s wanted and where ever it’s wanted.

In a related initiative for 2019, the company will be appealing to a younger customer demographic by marketing mobile entertainment technologies including headphones and personal audio products that are important to that audience.

Alto Sound Bars

Meanwhile, to improve the sound experience for TV watching, TCL is adding its Alto Home Theater Sound Bar lines in 2019. This will include the Alto 5 lineup for mid-size TVs starting at 43 inches, and the Alto 7 line, positioned for TVs measuring 55-inches and larger.

Both Alto sound bar series were designed for ease of use and will include two different models — one 2.0 channel and one 2.1 channel configuration. TCL will make wireless subwoofers available for use with models in both lines, the company said.

TCL said these will offer improved sound quality and specialized sound modes and will support Bluetooth music streaming.

Dew pointed out that TCL is proud that its Roku TVs support the new Roku wireless speakers that recently launched, adding “they are a great first-step in the Roku Eco system and building that capability.” He added that TCL wouldn’t be offering any similar TCL-branded speakers because “today they are only able to support Roku TVs. They can’t be attached to any other brands of TVs and some other limitations there.”

“The Alto Sound Bars, however, will attach to any TV, making it very simple and easy for users to set up. As the Roku wireless audio system becomes a more mature, and the shopping experience becomes a little bit easier in terms of what to attach them to, we will certainly continue to work with and partner with Roku,” he continued.


By Greg Tarr


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