You Might Want to Take TCL’s 4K TV Brands Seriously

7/25/2013 4:47:00 PM
With the fall “selling season” still a few months down the road, competition is already heating up in the UHD/4K display arena with today’s introduction of the first 50-inch Ultra HD TV priced under $1,000. Scheduled for availability in August, TCL will join Seiki in the low-cost end of the UHD market, setting a new line in the sand as the first such model to be released at $999; the MSRP for the Seiki model still shows on their web site as $1,299.

While some may dismiss Seiki as an upstart, TCL is a Chinese powerhouse that builds products for a number of brands and is now working hard to establish their own presence as a top tier brand in the US. Indeed, their commitment to the market was confirmed earlier in the year when they bought the naming rights to what is now the “TCL Chinese Theater” on Hollywood Boulevard, just down the street from the Dolby Theater where the Academy Awards are handed out each year. Further evidence of their intentions was a large booth at CES at the front of the main exhibit area featuring the 110-inch 4K set that was placed in the most recent Iron Man movie.

At this time we haven’t seen the set yet and thus cannot comment on the picture quality, but from the available specs for the Model 7E5040 it is clear that TCL wants to come out of the gate fighting. It has four HDMI inputs, compared to three on the Seiki and one is MHL enabled for direct connection and charging with compatible smartphones and tablets as well as with the Roku Streaming Stick. Scaling to 4K is provided for conventional HD and SD inputs, but again the final judgment will come when we have a chance to view it in person. 120Hz refresh is in place as is a USB input , Energy Star 6.0 compliance and SRS TruSurround. While the HDMI inputs are typical of higher end sets, there is no listing of a VGA input to accompany the one-each component and composite inputs. The LED edge-lit set has a two-year warranty and a 5 million to one contrast ratio is quoted.

It is easy for some to dismiss TCL as “just another Chinese brand,” but it wasn’t all that long ago when Samsung and LG were tarred with the low-end brush by many. One need only look at the leadership positions of those companies to know that they have grown into potent competitors across the board and market leaders in more than a few categories once dominated by Japanese or U.S. brands. As a major partner in China Star Optoelectronics Technology, TCL can be said to produce their own LCD panels rather than being an assembler of sourced components.

Again, the picture quality will tell the tale, but this $999 shot across the bow of both the major brands as well as other China-based competitors clearly sends the message that TCL intends to become a brand to be reckoned with and has the capability to make a market impact.

The $999 UHD set, along with 40- and 46-inch HD models at $399 and $499 along with a 55-inch Smart TV with Netflix, YouTube and Yahoo Apps for $799 also announced today is likely to be just the start of more interesting products to come from TCL.

Sherman Oaks, CA-based editorial contributor Michael Heiss is a respected technology consultant and CEDIA Fellow.


No records found
Photo GalleriesMore Galleries >
Doug Henderson and Joe Atkins

Doug Henderson (left) president of Bowers & Wilkins Group North America, and Joe Atkins, Bowers & Wilkins global CEO, invited consumer and t...

BMWs, McLarens, and Volvos

Upon arrival, guests experienced Bowers & Wilkins Automotive products in BMW, McLaren, and Volvo cars (the Maserati wasn’t available...

Demo'ing the McLaren

Bowers & Wilkins North America president Doug Henderson show demonstrates how to open the door on the McLaren.

B&W Speakers in the McLaren

Bowers & Wilkins speakers in the McLaren.

B&W Vintage Living Room

Bowers & Wilkins North America president Doug Henderson shows off the company’s vintage living room space, which featured vintage ge...

The B&W LP Collection

Part of the Bowers & Wilkins vintage living room space is this collection of LP covers that represent a seminal album from each of the com...

The B&W Museum

Bowers & Wilkins had to purchase much of the gear in its museum because most discontinued products were not kept over the last 50 years.

The Wisdom of John Bowers

Words to live by from Bowers & Wilkins founder John Bowers

The History of B&W

A timeline of Bowers & Wilkins’ product and company history

Andy Kerr and Martial Rousseau

Senior product manager Andy Kerr and head of research Martial Rousseau from the U.K. Bowers & Wilkins office. They were showing off the ne...

Turbine Head

  The turbine head for the 800 D3 houses the mid-range speakers.

Andy Kerr

Senior product manager Andy Kerr holds up the very heavy solid-body turbine head.

Historical Flagship Products

A look at the company’s flagship products through its 50-year history

The Legendary Diamond Tweeter Dome

To show off the company’s legendary diamond tweeter dome, one was encased in plastic to protect the brittle material. The tweeter domes ...

Demo'ing the 800 D3 Speakers

Bowers & Wilkins’ new demo room showcases its new flagship 800 D2 speakers, which are the outcomes of one of the company’s mos...

800 D3 Close Up

The silver 6-inch FST midrange drive unit of the 800 D3 uses Bower & Wilkins’ new proprietary Continuum woven material. Developed af...

In-wall Demo

Bower & Wilkins’ showcases its in-wall speakers in this space.

The B&W Nautilus

Bower & Wilkins’ legendary Nautilus is 17 years old but just as contemporary now as it was then.

Nautilus Pricing

A wall plaque in the “Nautilus demo room” itemizing the price of the system

Theater Demo

A theater demo showcasing the flexibility of 800 D2 speakers