TCL has been the premier Roku TV brand ever since it first partnered with the streaming platform in 2014, but on Tuesday, the company announced that it’s broadening its horizons—specifically with Google, which will power newly debuted versions of its 5-Series and 6-Series models.
TCL previewed its latest offerings during an in-person briefing in New York recently, and the new line is beautiful, featuring some notable improvements over previous installments. As with the Roku models, the main differentiating factor between the 5-Series and 6-Series still appears to be that the 6-Series is slightly fancier, featuring the TCL-pioneered mini-LED backlight technology and four HDMI ports (the 5-Series only has three). Gamers will also be particularly excited to learn that the new 6-Series with Google TV will be capable of 4K at 120Hz, which edges out the Roku model’s performance at 120Hz at 1440p, and will also come equipped with THX Certified Game Mode. The new models will both support HDR 10 Plus—a new HDR format that offers higher levels of brightness and contrast—and will come equipped with QLED technology to ensure greater brightness and a rich palette of rich colors.
Other than that, much is the same: The Google TVs will also be priced similarly to last year’s Roku-powered 5-Series and 6-Series, with the 5-Series TCL Google TVs starting at $599 for 50 inches, and ranging all the way up $1,299 at 75 inches. The 6-Series TCL Google TVs start at $999 for 55 inches, and run up to $1,799 for 75 inches.
While there’s no 8K model supported by Google just yet, there’s at least some encouraging news for anyone looking to write off movie theaters entirely during a still-raging global pandemic: Reps for TCL said that the company is working on a Google TV-powered version of its 85-inch QLED flagship for its XL Collection, which features 85-inch displays and above. That model is slated to roll out later this month, although pricing and exact release information isn’t available just yet.
The Google TV interface on the new 5- and 6-Series is clean and intuitive, and comes equipped with a For You tab that algorithmically generates a list of content that users might enjoy and a Watchlist that syncs up with your phone so that you can save TV recommendations on the fly. In addition to making searching shows a breeze, a voice-activated Google Assistant button on the remote has smart home integrations that can help users check their security cameras, the weather, and also traffic conditions for their morning commutes. Seemingly aware of the Google Assistant’s potential to spook privacy-minded customers concerned about eavesdropping, the brand has also provided a manual off-switch, which viewers can use to physically disable the microphone.
Chris Larson, TCL’s senior vice president for North America, said that far from abandoning its partnership with Roku, the company is excited to continue to offer consumers both options going forward, particularly at a time when forced closures and the threat of another interminable quarantine have more and more users clamoring for home entertainment options.
“Pairing our high-performance hardware with the content-forward, consumer friendly Google TV was an easy decision for us as we both put the user’s needs first,” Larson said in a press release. “From their robust library to having hands-free voice assistance and smart home control, Google’s intuitive entertainment platform is the perfect complement to our TCL sets.”
The new Google TV line is currently available for preorder from Best Buy.