TCL Unveils 4K Roku TVs In Two Series
China-based TV manufacturer TCL launched Thursday its first 4K Ultra HDTVs carrying an embedded 4K Roku smart TV platform.
The 4K Roku TVs join models recently introduced under the Insignia brand by Best Buy as the first dedicated Roku TVs with 4K Ultra HD streaming capabilities. None of the 4K Roku TV models offer high dynamic range (HDR) capability at this time.
TCL is offering the 4K Roku TVs in two series, including the S series with the 55-inch (55US5800, $599) and 65-inch (65US5800, $999) models that begin shipping from Amazon today, and the P130 (or “premium”) series with the 43-inch (43UP130, $499), 50-inch (50UP130, $599), 55-inch (55UP130, $699), and 65-inch (65UP130, $1,099) models that will ship in several weeks.
The new 4K Roku TV platform is similar to that featured in the latest Roku 4 set-top media adapter and includes virtually the same remote control that is distinguished by its small size, simple button layout, mic input for voice command program searches, lost-remote retrieval alarm and head phone jack.
Also, for the first time, Roku has developed a new remote control app for smartphones and tablets that brings a range of advanced picture calibration adjustments, in addition to other standard control operations, exclusively to 4K Roku TV models.
Read more on the new TCL 4K Roku TVs after the jump.
Both the S and P130 Series TCL 4K Roku TV models feature direct back-lit LEDs without local dimming. P130 series models feature a step-up cosmetic design offering narrow bezels with chrome accents and a thinner panel profile.
The Chinese manufacturer, which currently ranks in the world’s top four global television makers, has been stepping up its TV marketing efforts outside of its domestic market, and has chosen to make a big push in the United States behind TVs carrying Roku connectivity. TCL makes sets with various other smart TV OS’s in other global areas, but the Roku TV platform has performed exceptionally well here.
In the North American market, TCL’s business has tripled year-over-year for two consecutive years, according to Chris Larson, TCL U.S. sales and marketing VP. (Pictured at top to the far right of the TCL 65-inch 65US5800).
TCL manufactures TV components in China and assembles many of the finished sets for the North American market in Mexico. Larson said TCL will expand its footprint on this continent in June when it begins selling its first branded TVs in the Mexican market.
The Roku platform has grown in popularity as an operating system for set-top media adapters as well as an embedded smart TV platform. This is due largely to its simple-to-use interface and its menu carrying over 3,000 entertainment streaming apps, including all of the most popular services in the favorites section and the Roku Apps Store.
As in the 4K UHD-enabled Roku 4 media adapter, the new dedicated 4K Roku TV sets include nearly a dozen 4K UHD streaming app services. These include: Amazon Video, Netflix, Vudu, YouTube, UltraFlix and others. Additional streaming services offering 4K content are expected to be added in the future, Roku said.
4K Roku TV viewers can quickly find available 4K Ultra HD programs under a Roku Spotlight channel that aggregates 4K content available from multiple content sources.
The Roku platform is designed to provide “unbiased Roku content searches,” meaning they don’t favor any one particular streaming service over another. Chas Smith, Roku TV and players senior VP and general manager (Pictured at top to the left of the TCL 65US5800), said all searches list available programs in order of lowest price.
The selections start with shows that require no additional fee. Searches can be conducted with input using an on-screen soft keypad or using Roku’s voice command search feature. Users can simply speak the name of the program they are looking to watch into the mic pinhole on the remote. As well, the free Roku Mobile App for iOS and Android devices will accept voice-activated search commands from a smartphone or tablet.
Roku TVs also include a new feature added last year called My Feed. This allows users to input the name of a new movie, TV show, actors and directors, in order to be alerted when the program becomes available to view on subscription TV services, like HBO Go or Time Warner TV, and notifies viewers of changes in price to view the title. Alerts are flagged next to the My Feed link on the home screen of the TV.
All of the TCL 4K Roku TV models feature four HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2 inputs to connect with external 4K Ultra HD devices like new Ultra HD Blu-ray players. Also added is an Ethernet port to complement the internal Wi-Fi connectivity (802.11ac in the P130 series and 802.11g in the S series).
All TCL 4K Roku TV models also include a quad-core processor, Ultra HD picture resolution, and a proprietary TCL Creative Pro 4K UHD upscaling engine to convert lower-resolution content for playback on the 3840×2160 pixel screen.
Larson said the TCL Roku TVs have done so well since the partnership began two years ago that the company currently lists only three TV models that don’t feature the platform in its U.S market model mix.
TCL will sell the 4K Roku TVs across its retail partners, which include Amazon, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Target, Costco, Bestbuy.com as well as numerous regional electronics chains.
By Greg Tarr
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