For the better part of the last decade, TCL has done a heck of a job expanding into new and unique categories throughout its product portfolio. A brand that only recently gained entry into the U.S. market has seen tremendous growth in its North American TV sales in that time. But throughout the rest of the globe, you’ll find TCL appliances, TCL audio gear, and TCL-owned smartphone brands like Blackberry and Alcatel.
Last year, at this same press conference here at IFA in Berlin, TCL proclaimed a company strategy that was baked around the concept of AI + IoT, essentially meaning that they wanted to add those two technologies to its products. This year, that focus has moved to AI x IoT, or effectively combining those technologies to create a TCL-branded experience that spans the entire connected ecosystem.
That strategy starts with the TV—the company’s core product—and moves through its supporting audio gear, down to personal audio products, a first-ever TCL-branded smartphone, and new concept products that TCL will showcase here in Berlin.
The technology and all of the products that were put on display here are certainly exciting, and we’ll get into them in a minute. But what’s most noteworthy from the press conference is just how incredibly affordable they’re making these products. In a market where they could likely double their prices and still come across as reasonably valued, TCL opts to keep to their mission of producing solid electronics that don’t break the bank.
It was the TCL PLEX, the company’s first-ever name brand smartphone, that headlined the event. Launching in Q4 starting with select European markets, the device brings TCL’s connected living story full circle. And, as the brand stated during its press conference, it also brings full circle the company’s status as a leading display manufacturer, wherein they can take their proprietary advanced display technology and apply it to their own smartphone device.
TCL NXTVISION, the proprietary technology, uses that screen tech combined with the camera technology to enrich screen color, clarity, and contrast to enhance the picture in real time. The device itself is a 6.5-inch LCD display with a hole punch for the front-facing 24MP camera.
An Android-based device, the PLEX boasts an impressive triple-lens rear facing camera system that features a 48MP lens, a 123-degree wide angle lens, and a low light lens. The camera can also record video in slow motion at 960 fps. Other features include the ability to connect four Bluetooth devices simultaneously, a 3,820mAh battery, the existence of a 3.5mm headphone jack, 6GB of RAM and 128GB ROM, 109GB of internal storage, and a microSD card slot that’s expandable up to 256GB.
The price? 329 Euros—roughly $363. Jaw dropping.
In other mobility news, TCL did show off their Project Archery mixed reality headset, though it was kept behind a glass case; and the foldable device was held up during the presentation for all to see. Both are considered concept devices with no real world, consumer-ready applications currently in development by TCL—yet.
Moving over to TVs, TCL dove deep into its plans for their QLED 8K TV. With the TV being the self-described center of the TCL connected ecosystem, the company gushed over the uses of AI in enhancing all content to true 8K performance. Using a system that combines the screen itself with the onboard 8K processor, and TCL’s upscaling algorithm, the pictures that come through on the display are promised to be as close to 8K content as actual 8K content.
Additionally, TCL announced that their X Series 8K TVs will have a dual display system that brings a “second screen” to the integrated soundbar. There, consumers will have visual access to smartphone-like notifications, they can interact with the digital assistants of choice, view programming information, and more.
On the sound side of the TV experience, TCL unveiled their Ray-Danz soundbar, which from the front looks rather unassuming. Look at the back of the soundbar, though, and you’ll see a curved design that is the heart of TCL’s reflector acoustic technology. The intent of the design is to create a more accurate and wider sound stage.
There were also announcements in the personal audio space, including two new true wireless earbud offerings, a neckband line, and noise canceling over-ear headphones. And, for the European market, TCL showed off new appliances and European specific TV models.
In all, the announcements by TCL here at IFA 2019 should generate plenty of excitement, and they really go to show how the fast growing brand is taking notable steps towards building a strong ecosystem of connected tech.