TCL attracted quite a lot of attention with its sub-$5000 4K/UHD TV last year, but in a world where Kogan is flogging a 4K set for under $1000, that price point has fallen to the wrong side of astonishing very quickly. Can TCL’s new 85-inch monster captivate the high-resolution addicts of Australia once more with a sub-$10,000 price tag, or will cheapskates run for the $799 40-inch model instead? Also, why doesn’t TCL want to sell Android TVs and tablets down here just yet?
TCL’s 2014 range, launched in Melbourne today, includes five 3840 by 2160 pixel UHD models, which will go on sale in April. The 40-inch (which TCL claims is the first UHD in that size sold in Australia) costs $799. The 50-inch has an RRP of $1499, 55-inch is $1999 , and the 65-inch costs $2999.
The flagship 85-inch model is $9998, though experience suggests that all those prices will fall quite quickly. All models have USB 3.0 and HDMI 1.3 ports — an interesting point, given that only HDMI 2.0 unlocks that futuristic, super-smooth 4K at 60 frames per second. TCL says the sets will be sold through five major retail chains (it didn’t give names, but there aren’t more than five left, are there?)
TCL sold 17 million units last year, which makes it the third-biggest TV brand on the planet. Who’d have thunk it? In part, that relative obscurity reflects TCL’s much broader range in its Chinese home market. For instance, while TCL is selling OLED models in China, it doesn’t plan to do so in Australia right now.
Nor is it immediately planning to sell its Android-based smart TVs. The main reason? Negotiating with local TV networks is tricky when you’re a smaller brand. “Gaining access to a Channel 9 or Channel 10 and gaining access to all their content is a slow process,” national sales manager Nick Redmond said. “We’re working closely with Freeview.” The current models will be software-upgradeable to Freeview+ in the future.
So what will we see locally after this round? There will be a curved 65-inch model in time for Christmas — no price yet, but we’ll keep you posted. The next generation of panels will also offer HDMI 2.0 and H.265, according to Redmond. Next year, we might also see Android-powered TCL tablets and phones.