TCL at IFA 2018 - 8K QLED and ‘Living Window’
TCL’s launch announcements took us by surprise this year. We had been expecting an 8K QLED TV — this had been all but confirmed at a press conference last April. But after a 25-minute delay while the room awaited the arrival of TCL’s Chairman Lee, who perhaps had as much trouble finding the room as had the rest of us, it turned out to be well worth the wait. We certainly got the deets on the 8K QLED TV, which is due in April next year (see below). But we were also captivated by a series of new models that TCL has created under the banner of ‘Living Window’.
There are four models, each inspired by a particular style or period of art, we were told — “a poetic answer for the future of entertainment, and a tribute to art” waffled TCL’s charming Senior Designer Tiago Abreu.
So we were expecting something along the lines of Samsung’s The Frame, pretending to be art rather than a TV when asleep, as it were.
Not at all.
First up was the Art Deco Living Window (above), a tribute to the art deco style... though at first we couldn't help thinking it is also rather a tribute to some of Loewe’s current bild TV designs.
But we could find no such comparison for the second model — a tribute to cubism, called the Abstract Beauty Model (above). Mr Abreu explained how the elements of the television had been disassembled and then reassembled, and how the Mediterranean blue colour of the speaker coverings was used as a tribute to a leading proponent of cubism. (Which one would take to mean Picasso, making us wonder why Mr Abreu wasn’t specific — has Picasso’s family got a patent on Mediterranean blue?)
Next up, the Modern Simplicity Model (above) — an abstract television; who’d have thought? Following artistic symmetry, the picture and sound are aligned centrally within a frame, the speaker covers here in ‘Moonlit blue’...
Lastly the Oriental Elegance Model, inspired by traditional Chinese folding screens that use partition to create space, as well as the Chinese folding fan. Black walnut is used on the sides of the speakers, a further connection to the East.
We saw them in the flesh the next day on TCL’s stand, and they looked pretty much as impressive as the PR images shown here.
TCL was keen to stress that Living Window is not only about the design — the company has thrown its top tech into the mix. They’re QLED panels in a full screen design, with low reflection matte screens and an auto AI brightness regulator to match the surrounding light (so a bit like Samsung’s The Frame in that regard).
The sound systems are significantly larger than anything on your run-of-the-mill TVs; they were referred to as ‘AI soundbars’ though sometimes using two separate speakers and a subwoofer. They are designed to be used even when screen is switched off.
There are smart functions available called Concert Hall and Home Gallery, which are AI-based “supercool deductive functions” triggered by voice control. If showing a painting or playing music, you can request an audio description to find out about the artist and the genre of image or music.
The TVs will also have a ‘Life Butler’, connected with smart home platforms. To these delicious fusions of design and technology, we say ‘Gosh’. Only later, talking to the TCL team at the EISA Awards event, did we discover that there are currently no plans to offer these lovely things outside the China market. We rather hope that will be reconsidered, as surely it would go a long way to raising TCL's profile as a manufacturer of higher-end offerings, as much as value TVs. We're pleased to have heard from TCL Australia that as yet "everything is still under consideration".
The TCL 8K QLED TV (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Edition) is just 20mm at its thinnest point, impressive for a backlit design.
The backlighting uses Quantum Dot tech (efficiently delivering light to the wavelengths at which our eyes are most sensitive), so achieving a wide color gamut of 157% BT.709, while 1000 nits peak brightness on an 832-zone local dimming display seems a highly precise backlight control that aims to provide a top-quality HDR viewing experience, including Dolby Vision. And a promise of 60,000 hours operation.
For those dim enough to run a TV this magnificent without an attached sound system, the TCL does at least come with a sound system that features hardware from Onkyo, which promises an immersive virtual Dolby Atmos sound experience (the speaker is sloped upwards). The ‘AI soundbar “enables the sound system to work independently when the TV is turned off. This allows users to easily find content via voice control with the help of the remote microphone that is part of the built-in, intelligent system”.
The TV is expected to be launched in international markets (c’mon, send it to Oz!) from May 2019, and will be “adapted” for its commercialisation in Europe.
And one more snippet of TCL telly tech here...