CES 2018: TCL, Roku Bolster Relationship With New Smart TVs, Smart Soundbar

At CES 2018, TCL (Booth 12929) has launched the latest round of Roku TV, adding Dolby Vision HDR, Roku Connect, and Roku Entertainment Assistant to the platform. In addition, TCL is teaming with Roku on the new Alto family of audio products, the first release being the Smart Soundbar featuring Roku Connect and Roku Entertainment Assistant.

TCL, Roku Unveil Latest Round of Smart TVs
TCL’s newest TV sets add Contrast Control Zones for brighter whites and deeper blacks, a new iPQ Engine for controlled and precise color reproduction, and HDR Pro Gamma for impactful HDR performance in any environment. In addition, they will have access to the new Roku Connect and Roku Entertainment Assistant, both of which Roku plans to release in a software update to the Roku operating system later this year.

Roku’s Anthony Wood (left) and TCL North America’s Chris Larson on stage during TCL’s CES 2018 press conference

Launching in the North American market this year, TCL Roku TVs will establish updated categories for the brand. Following 2017’s P6 Series, 2018’s 6-Series will emphasize picture-performance technologies and design innovation with a bold, brushed-metal finish. Bringing HDR playback to a mainstream TV line, the brand-new 5-Series features Dolby Vision HDR imaging combined with wide color gamut powered by TCL’s NBP Photon technology. The 2018 6-Series also supports Dolby Vision.

“This year, TCL is pushing the boundaries when it comes to what kind of viewing experience consumers should expect from their TVs and sound systems,” says Chris Larson, SVP, TCL North America. “We’re working smarter throughout the company and with our partners to make sure people understand that there’s a whole new level of home entertainment within reach. As we continue to innovate, we’re able to produce televisions engineered with features that maximize technologies that already exist in our sets, like Dolby Vision and the Roku OS, to deliver outstanding performance at an incredible value.”

In a four-year-old partnership, TCL and Roku have grown their footprint in the Smart TV market. TCL ended 2017 as the No. 3 Smart TV brand in the U.S., with all its Smart TVs powered by the Roku OS. Among the new features that TCL Roku TVs are slated to receive in a software update this year, Roku Connect will enable Roku TVs to easily connect to other AV devices in the Roku ecosystem. Connecting to sound bars and speakers, for example, will enable 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.

“Roku TV is growing fast in popularity, and TCL is a key partner who is instrumental in its success,” says Roku CEO Anthony Wood. “We envision a broader Roku ecosystem where the TV is the center of the home-entertainment experience, making Roku TV even more desirable. Roku Connect will make it easy to add great sound to an already great TV.”

TCL Roku 6-Series 4K HDR TV
The new TCL 6-Series supports Dolby Vision and now boasts HDR Performance Package Pro to further elevate the experience. Dolby Vision transforms entertainment experiences by delivering greater brightness and contrast, as well as a fuller palette of rich colors. The HDR Performance Package Pro includes Contrast Control Zone technology, a new iPQ Engine, and a versatile HDR Pro Gamma control.

With 96 zones for the 55-in. 6-Series TV and 120 zones for the 65-in. model, TCL’s Contrast Control Zone technology identifies bright and dark areas in each frame of content and controls each zone within the frame to yield striking contrast between light and dark areas. An all new iPQ Engine allows precision color performance tailored to deliver accurate and optimized DCI-P3 color-space coverage. And, no matter what environment this TCL model is placed in, from a dim home theater to a sun-lit living room, details remain visible with HDR Pro Gamma’s tone map, which accurately reproduces every detail within the darkest and brightest scenes.

These televisions also feature wide color gamut with NBP Photon technology for even more-realistic colors. The latest LED phosphors drive color performance closer to the limits of human vision while targeting the DCI-P3 color-space standard in which Hollywood studios create the highest-quality content.

The 6-Series comes equipped with a new Roku TV Voice Remote with voice search, high-speed 802.11ac wireless and Ethernet networking for faster streaming, and three HDMI  2.0a ports with HDCP 2.2 enabling users to enjoy optimal functionality on all inputs. It will be available in 55- and 65-in. models this spring.

TCL Roku 5-Series 4K HDR TV
TCL’s totally new 5-Series marries superior 4K UHD picture quality with Dolby Vision for a stellar imaging experience. The 5-Series benefits from TCL’s HDR Performance Package, which features HDR Dynamic Contrast. The HDR Dynamic Contrast solution uses information embedded in Dolby Vision content to create a true cinematic experience by optimizing every scene for an accurate display of details in bright and dark areas simultaneously, unlike HDR solutions that have a set brightness level for all content. As with the 6-Series, the models in TCL’s 5-Series lineup feature both iPQ Engine for precise color replication and HDR Pro Gamma to significantly improve HDR performance in any setting.

Furthermore, the 5-Series TVs come packed with 240 Natural Motion technology for smooth action (55-in. and 65-in. sets only), wide color gamut with NBP Photon technology for exceptional colors, brighter highlights and increased contrast, advanced remote, high-speed 802.11ac wireless and Ethernet networking, and three HDMI 2.0a ports with HDCP 2.2.

The 5-Series will be available this spring with sizes ranging from 43 in. to 65 in.

TCL, Roku Team Up for Alto Audio Products
The new Alto family of audio products is an assortment of sound bars that will offer both standard and smart solutions. The TCL Roku Smart Soundbar, the first product in the family, is expected late this year. It is also the first device to launch from Roku’s newly announced Whole Home Entertainment Licensing program.

“A complete home-theater experience includes high-quality audio,” says Aaron Dew, director, product development, TCL. “TCL’s vast capabilities in audio combined with our vertical integration will enable us to deliver the same premium experience in the Alto family as we have with our televisions.”

Built on the Roku OS, the TCL Roku Smart Soundbar will offer premium sound while taking advantage of both Roku Connect to connect to other AV devices and the Roku Entertainment Assistant for access to new voice controls. Although it will be compatible with any TV, when combined with TCL Roku TVs, it extends hands-free voice and audio capabilities to the TV for more control and entertainment functionality.

Built specifically for the home-entertainment experience, Roku Entertainment Assistant will allow seamless voice control of Roku OS devices: for example, it will be able to turn on a TCL Roku TV when asked to launch video content or stream audio even when the TV is turned off. Consumers will be able to play, pause, and resume music and audio without picking up a remote control or pushing a button. They will also be able to search for and explore a large selection of entertainment.

“Our TCL Roku TVs are amazingly popular among consumers, making the TCL brand the third-most-popular Smart TV in the U.S. in 2017. We’re doubling down on our partnership with Roku to offer our customers an easy way to add premium sound and enhanced functionality to a TCL Roku TV,” says Larson. “TCL is dedicated to integrating leading technologies into our entertainment-product portfolio. By partnering with Roku, we’re bringing a better home-theater experience to our consumers.”

Notes Wood, “TCL is an exceptional Roku TV partner and a natural fit to be the first partner to plan to build a smart sound bar under our new licensing program. The TCL Roku Smart Soundbar will offer a great value and make TV watching even more enjoyable by offering premium sound and more entertainment control.”

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