China's TCL Announces Big Plans, Shows Quantum Dot TV

TCL is one of the Chinese HDTV makers vying for attention at CES. While still little known in this country, the company claims to have produced 30 million HDTVs this year, the bulk of them going, so far, to markets other than the U.S. (most, of course, were sold in China). The company has 75,000 employees, with 23 R&D facilities, 21 manufacturing bases, and markets in 80 countries. It’s also building a new panel factory (it also sells panels to other manufacturers, some of them outside of China, for use in their sets). That factory will be 70% devoted to making TFT LCD panels and, interestingly, 30% to OLED.

TCL’s stated goal is to become not just a TV manufacturer but a global entertainment technology company. In 2013 it even bought the naming rights to Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood and converted it to an IMAX facility. It’s now known as the TCL Chinese Theater, giving that facility a genuinely Chinese connection for the first time.

TCL will launch 3 new series of TVs in the spring of 2015, with a total of 12 models. The 4K set shown at the press event (a modest 55-incher) was the H9700 and uses Quantum Dots. (In its press release TCL states that this technology is superior to OLED. Though time will tell, I seriously doubt that. But QD should be cheaper to make than OLED, at least for now.) This set, like the LGs mentioned above, also incorporates a Harman Kardon audio system. On demonstration it sounded reasonably good, though bass shy. You can’t beat the laws of physics, which demands more space than the inside of a flat panel set can offer for truly extended bass (not to mention the difficulty of trying to fill a ballroom-sized meeting room with sound).

TCL also employs Roku for its smart TV features. These will be discussed in separate blog.