As you can tell by the live blog we had running during CES, there was lots to look at, and China’s latest TV entrant in Australia gave us more than just the regular bunch of tellies, with computers, phones, and a window to the future. Literally.
For a company that hasn’t seen much release in America or Australia, we were surprised at the size of the TCL booth at the Consumer Electronics Show this year.
It was big, bright, and very colourful, and that seems to be the image TCL is trying to get across with the slate of devices it’s intending to bring into stores across the world.
While we took a brief look at one before the year ended, that was just the tip of the iceberg, it seems, with loads more coming.
We began our tour of TCL’s booth at the show with a model called the Blade, which seems to indicate that it’ll be one thin display.
Indeed it seemed to be, with the main connection on the side existing in a micro-HDMI port, and not the larger and thicker regular HDMI port we’re all used to.
Sure, the back seemed to have more ports available, but from the design, it was clear that this model was intended for the consumer looking for a minimalist design without a huge take-up in space.
The remote echoes this, too, with a long black form encased in the colour of what your model is accented in, either red or gold from what we saw there.
Next up, we took a short walk to see what TCL had in store for Google-based TV products, an area that has been lacking for Australians.
When Sony let us play with Google TV last year, we weren’t terribly impressed. The system was slow, clunky, oversized, and generally felt like a lesser quality product than the Apple TV it was being marketed against.
This year, TCL plans on bringing its own Google TV product to Australia, and we had a brief play.
The service will, similar to competing devices, allow you to streaming movies and TV shows across the web straight to your television. Since Google TV is built on a similar framework to Android mobile phones, the service can take advantage of voice support, allowing you to speak into the remote and say exactly what you’re looking for.
In our case, one of the GadgetGuy team – Peter Blasina – said that he wanted “movies about robberies in Las Vegas,” which came up on screen pretty close to what we asked. Not bad, especially given our accent is an Australian one, and not necessarily configured to work with a product being shown at an American electronics show.
Google TV will initially become available in an external box from TCL when it does arrive, but should also be built into one of the company’s TV sets later down the track.
Moving on from here, it was time to check out the sort of technologies that were being blended with TVs to make more impressive devices.
To that end, TCL showed us a 55 inch touchscreen LCD TV with Intel inside. While we can’t be sure of the exact specifications, we suspect TCL is using an Intel Atom system-on-a-chip processor, effectively turning this big TV into one of the biggest touchscreen computers we’ve ever seen.
For what it’s worth, the responsiveness was better than on some computers we’ve come across, and in no time, we were doing our regular swipes, gestures, and web browsing.
TCL is also throwing motion technology into its TVs, allowing kids to be captured and mapped by the cameras and used as virtual joysticks for game characters.
Glasses-less 3D was also on show, though it’s still not quite ready for primetime, as it can be a little jarring to look at for long periods of time, while also requiring a more or less dead centre position.
One TV had us well and truly surprised, with TCL storing it inside of a briefcase.
The most portable big screen TV you’re ever likely to come across, this screen sits inside of case and features the battery, remote, and connection ports, so you can take the entertainment with you where ever you go.
While the original version of this was made for wealthy buyers in foreign nations, GadgetGuy staffers eyed it off as a great option to take camping, especially if you wanted to get the family to gather around for a movie, or just watch the game when you were roughing it away from your regular big screen.
TCL is hoping that another type of display penetrates people’s living rooms later down the track.
Called the “IceScreen,” this is a 24 inch touchscreen LCD that you can take with you. Powered by a custom skinned version of Android, the IceScreen could conceivably be mounted to a wall, a fridge, or just taken on the go with you and used for apps and games.
A release date has yet to be set for the IceScreen, but this was the one product we were able to get a rough estimate on pricing for, with TCL saying it should fetch around $399 by the time it launches.
Not everything TCL makes is a TV, however.
We spent a few minutes with some hand-size pico projectors, a couple of sound bars, and even a few phones, with the latter connected to Australia (thought not yet available) thanks to these handsets being badged as Alcatel even though TCL owns the brand.
We’ve already pointed out the transparent electronic fridge that impressed us, but TCL also demonstrated a digital window, which can let you see outside while also showing a full colour information screen in front of you.
Like the transparent fridge, it’s probably a ways off, though we like the idea of being able to draw the blinds and not only looking outside, but seeing the weather forecast and reading the news.
Curtains might not even be required, with representatives for TCL suggesting that the screen could go black and block out all light, making the entire process of blinds controlled by the screen itself.
Leigh D. Stark traveled to CES as a guest of LG Electronics Australia.