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TCL Joins With Roku For Connected Soundbars

The No. 3 TV maker strengthening its manufacturing process

Coming off a year that saw a reported 131 percent growth in U.S. sales, and ranking as the No. 3 smart-TV line in the US, TCL hit the ground running at CES with introductions in both of its core TV lines, as well as its first foray into connected soundbars in conjunction with Roku.

Kevin Young, TCL VP, set the stage by touting the company’s status as one of only three TV brands in the world that is totally vertically integrated, and the only one in China. Already benefiting from starting with panel manufacturing, through its wholly owned CSOT subsidiary, right through to global sales and marketing, TCL is strengthening its manufacturing process with the construction of a new Gen. 11 panel fabrication optimized for 65- and 75- inch panels targeted at the US and China markets.

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Moving back to the present, TCL will expand its 4K/UHD lineup with the two-SKU 6-series line and the four-SKU 5 series. Both offer both HDR10 and Dolby Vision. Both lines are also based around TCL’s iPQ processing engine, said to deliver more accurate color reproduction. In addition, their HDR Pro Gamma technology lets users optimize HDR performance in bright viewing conditions as well as in darker rooms.

Also part of their HDR Performance Package is the use of their proprietary “NBP Photon technology” for more realistic colors. This enables the LED phosphors to drive color performance closer to the limits of human vision.

The new TCL 6 series will be available two models: 65 inches and 55 inches. The 65-inch model has 120 full-array backlight zones, while the 55-inch model has 72 zones. Dubbed Contrast Control Technology by TCL, this reporetedly allows for better contrast between light and dark areas.

Available this spring, the 6-series models both come with the new Roku TV Voice Remote for search and control, as well as high-speed 802.11ac wireless and Ethernet networking, and three HDMI2.0a ports.

The new 5 series also includes the iPQ engine, HDR Pro Gamma Technology and both HDR-10 and Dolby Vision, but lacks local area dimming. Models at 43, 45, 55 and 65 inches will also have spring availability.

An early proponent of Roku as the control, streaming and tuning engine for its smart-TV interface, TCL is upping its commitment with the announcement of the first Roku smart soundbar as part of Roku’s new Alto family of audio products.

Using the OS and control of the Roku Entertainment Assistant, consumers will be able to use voice control not only to search and select content, but also to control play/pause/resume of content as well as standard functions on a Roku-equipped TV. This ability to have hands-free, voice control will be expanded as both the soundbar and other Roku Connect products begin to roll out in late 2018.

Also announced was the expansion of a major initiative by TCL towards global recycling and the continuation of venue-associated brand marketing with landmark locations such as the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood, the TCL 4K Bar at Avaya Stadium, home of the San Jose Earthquakes soccer team and partnerships with the Ellen DeGeneres Show and participation as the official TV of the Rose Bowl.