TCL and Roku are teaming up to release 8K televisions featuring Roku’s TV OS later this year, the two companies have announced via CES 2019. The new sets will be the first released on Roku’s new 8K hardware reference design platform featuring an update to the company’s popular streaming platform. TCL will be the first to license the technology with display panels being built out of TCL’s Gen 11 LCD panel factory. No details have been provided regarding pricing or the screen sizes TCL has planned for the new televisions. Simultaneously, Roku has revealed that it’s working on a refresh for the reference design of its own media streaming solutions that will add support for far-field microphones, voice search, and voice controls.
Competing in the long game
Neither 8K televisions or voice controlled streaming platforms are new in 2019, with new designs touted by the likes of Samsung and LG at CES too. LG Display’s offering, the LG SIGNATURE OLED TV R, is planned for later this year as well and has the added benefit of being able to be rolled up and stored away. Google Assistant, Android TV, Alexa, and others also tend to dominate the voice-interactive technology market, with Samsung and others adding further competition via announcements made by each near the end of 2018. Where TCL has the advantage is in pricing. Although it isn’t necessarily introducing technologies on the bleeding edge such as rollable displays on sound-on-display technology, the company claims to have rapidly grown to occupy the number two position in US television sales. That’s not surprising given its entry into the market with televisions that are nearly as capable but not quite as expensive as the offerings of its competitors. TCL has also been a long-time partner with Roku, with the majority of its most recent sets offering the streaming platform baked into the television’s OS.
Roku is no stranger to the highly competitive TV industry either. The company hasn’t said whether it plans to put a more complete AI behind its new reference design but the addition of voice controls on top of the reference design’s existing technologies should make it much more competitive as the IoT segment of the market grows. The platform already supports the latest in both 4K and HDR-compatible streaming that, at least on paper, is on par with competitors. While other companies’ products effectively own the interactive voice assistant portion of the IoT space, Roku does claim the number one position as a television streaming platform. Like TCL, its pricing is generally very competitive too, making the team up a nearly perfect match. As per the latest announcement, the company managed to place its streaming platform in one out of every four televisions sold in the US throughout 2018.
65-inches and up with details to come
No information has been provided regarding exact specifications for the 8K televisions to be released but it may be possible to surmise at least a few details from the information provided. TCL’s Gen 11 LCD panel factory was announced back in 2016 and built with the goal of specifically targeting the market for 65-inch and larger LCD TVs. That should mean that TCL’s new 8K TVs will be at or about the 65-inch range when they do begin to ship. More details will also most likely come to light later in the year in further announcements made during the lead-up to official sales.