One TCL’s 2018 Series 6 4K Ultra HD Roku TVs with a thin-screen design.

TCL, which was last year’s fast-growing television brand in North America behind its lines of value-priced Roku TVs, used CES 2018 to both celebrate its achievements over the past 12 months, and to set the course for further advancements in the year ahead with high value, strong performing displays.

The company said it is emphasizing “premium picture performance” in larger-sized smart TVs with HDR10, Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR), a wide color gamut and precise color accuracy to make its name and build is share of the U.S. television business.

As an example of that effort, TCL revealed at press conference in Las Vegas that it will globally launch in the second half of 2018 premium 4K Ultra HD LED-LCD TVs incorporating new “quantum dot on glass” technology. This approach was described as “a method of bringing the wide color gamut performance of quantum dot technology to a more mainstream range of products.”

Nearer term, the company will launch in a few weeks new aggressively priced lines of 4K Ultra HD LED-LCD TVs that will further the momentum started with the release of the popular P6 Series of 4K/Dolby Vision HDR Roku TVs it released in the second half of 2017.

Read more TCL’s 2018 television product plans after the jump:

Aaron Dew, TCL North America director of product development, that to continue to build its share of the market in 2018, TCL is focusing intently on improving picture performance in big-screen sizes.

TCL’s display panel manufacturing company China Star Optoelectronics Technologies (CSOT), is ramping up its production efforts with the planned opening in early 2019 of a new $7 billion Gen. 11 plant. The plant will be focused specifically on producing large-sized panels for the Chinese and North American markets, where the vast marjority of large television screen sizes (65 and 75-inch panels) are sold on a global basis.

In 2018, TCL is building its business in anticipation of those larger screen sizes becoming more available in 2019, Dew said. This year, TCL will stress the use and performance of high dynamic range (HDR) in 4K Ultra HDTV sets, continuing to offer models with both HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR support, as the company “keeps its eye” on adding other emerging profiles including HDR10+ and HLG down the road, according to Dew.

Also, as previously announced, this year TCL Roku TVs are slated to receive a range of new features delivered through a software update to the Roku OS. Roku Connect will
enable Roku TVs to easily connect to other AV devices in the Roku ecosystem such as soundbars and speakers enabling consumers to easily add great sound to a TV and audio
system around the home.
Roku Entertainment Assistant, a voice assistant for entertainment will let customers launch podcasts, movies and TV shows from their favorite services with a simple voice command.

TCL will launch in the first quarter of 2018 its 5 and 6 series 4K Ultra HD LED-LCD TVs with the Roku TV OS.

The 6 series is billed as an “evolution and continuation” of the P6 Roku TV Series the company launched very successfully in the second half of 2017. New models will be offered in the 55- and 65-inch screen sizes featuring “premium picture quality” including support for both HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR, leveraging its HDR Picture Performance Pro package of advanced features incuding TCL’s Contrast Control Zones (full-array LED backlight with local dimming across 96 and 120 zones, respectively), iPQ engine (said to deliver accurate optimized P3 color space tuning without the need of a professional calibration), and HDR Pro Gamma (allows consumers to adjust performance of HDR content and tone mapping based on light or dark viewing environments).

The TCL 6 Series televisions will deliver a wide color gamut using what TCL calls its “NBP Photon” (phospher-based) technology, and 240 Natural Motion (120 Hz native refresh rate). The sets will include the Roku TV platform supporting 4K/HDR10/Dolby Vision and Voice Assistant technology described as an evolution of the voice-enabled remote from 2017.

TCL said it has developed for the series a new “brushed metal cosmetic design, highlighted by an elegant power button jewel on the front of the TV. The look is said to communiticate the power and refinement of the TV even before it is turned on.”

TCL said the new 6 Series is expected to deliver a 25 percent improvement in peak brightness over the 2017 P6 series models. Those models were noted to have peak brightness of more than 600 nits measuring in a 25 percent D65 white window pattern.

As for pricing, TLC put companies like Vizio on notice that its new 6 Series will very aggressively priced for its level of perforance. The new 6 Series 55-inch model will maintain the $649 price point of the 55-inch P6 Series version in 2017.

The TCL 5 series will feature “premium picture quality” and will include the 43-, 49-, 55- and 65-inch screen sizes. Models will support both HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR, iPQ engine and HDR Pro Gamma, but it will swap out the COntrast Control Zone full array local dimming system of the 6 Seres for what TCL calls “HDR Dynamic Contrast.” TCL said this uses the inherent flexibility of Dolby Vision HDR to control brightness levels and contrast performance on a scene-by-scene or shot-by-shot level for all forms content.

The 5 Series televisions will deliver a wide color gamut and will also use what “NBP Photon” technology, 240 Natural Motion (120 Hz native refresh rate) in the 55- and 65-inch models — 60 Hz refresh in the 43- and 49-inch versions — and Roku TV smart TV with voice assistant.

Dew said the 55-inch model will launch at a suggested retail price below $500.

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Meanwhile, Chris Larson, TCL North America marketing VP said the company continues to build upon its brand marketing efforts to make consumer more comfortable with the company, its products and trade name.

“We want to be where customers want us to be. We have strong [advertising/promotional] partnerships with things like The Ellen Show, the Rose Bowl, where we were the official TV; sponsoships with the NBA’s Minnesota Timber Wolves and Major League Soccer.”

The company also continues to leverage its branding sponsorship of the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood, used for high profile movie premieres and other events.

“Overall our brand investment is considerable,” Larson said. “We believe it is making a difference, and we have studies to back that up.”

“On a world wide basis, TCL continues to grow on the television brand leaders in this space. We have about a 7 percent share through Q3 on a world wide basis. We are closing the gap with our top competitors in distancing ourselves from the rest,” Larson said. “Vertical integration is an asset that we share with Samsung and LG which allows us to move faster and separate ourselves for marketing companies.”

In the smart TV market in North America, TCL is the No. 2 brand in the United States year-to-date through Q3 with a 15 percent market share, and 87 percent growth year-on-year. Smart TVs represent almost 70 percent of total TV sales in North America, and grew 13 percent, where overall TV sales dropped slightly.

“We are finding that more and more consolidation is going on in the smart TV category with consumers gravitating toward a platform they can trust. Now we are seeing that 80 percent of smart TVs are being sold by the top five brands,” he said.

In overall TV marketing through Q3, the North America market contracted by about 4 percent in unit volume, IHS research shows. TCL held a No. 4 share in the overall TV category in North America, as some competitors are attacking aggressively from a price standpoint in TVs that lack a smart platform.

According to research, TCL holds an 11 percent share of the overall TV market with almost 100 percent unit share growth.

“What really makes the difference between branded TV and a non-branded TV is what we call that primary set. It’s that TV that is going to earn its place in the living room and become the TV you go to on a day by day basis,” said Larson.

TCL uses models with 48-inch plus screen sizes as the starting measurement for its “primary TVs.”

The overall market grew 9 percent in the 48-inch-plus category in North America through Q3, he said, and TCL has continued to close the gap with the leaders (Samsung, Vizio and LG), holding about 8 percent unit market share through Q3, with about 100 percent year-on-year growth.

TCL attained a No. 2 market share rank in both September and October, but expected to end the year in fourth position with about 9 percent of the overall sell-through TV market in the United States, as measured by NPD, with TCL doubling its unit sales business, year over year, in a market that is down about 10 percent.

 

By Greg Tarr

 

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