When an exhibition at Milan Design Week kicks off in an underwater-themed room called the Concept Pool, you know you’re in for a beautiful, cerebral evening.
We’ve already covered TCL’s 2023 Mini-LED TV rollout at the salubrious Italian exhibition, including the company’s whopping new 98-inch displays, but what about the weirder (and arguably even more wonderful) propositions? What about the passion projects which may never make it to market? That would be the first three products in this roundup. Scroll the images in the galleries below each heading and I think you’ll agree, the ideas are pretty wild. Will they ever hit shelves? That kind of depends on you.
The fourth concept? That’s a product which I’m reliably informed was never intended to meet the consumer, but did (it’s now a Selfridges exclusive in the UK) because initial feedback was so positive.
The fifth innovation in this roundup has made it to TCL’s flagship largest TV options for 2023 and it pertains to sound – because why have a cinematic behemoth of a screen if the only audio you’ll glean from it comes from the tiny speakers squirrelled away into its razor-thin bezels?
Our guide is Tiago Abreu, Head of TCL Innovation and Design, and while he’ll challenge you to a game of air-hockey as soon as look at you, he’s also is quick to quip, “I don’t just make the things I want! I mean I do, but really at some point you have to like them too.”
All of these products represent pie-in-the-sky thoughts made real; the answer to the ‘what if?’ questions only some of us attempt to solve. And TCL deserves kudos for that, even if you do feel as if that Dune TV might start following you around your home after dark…
TCL’s Telly Table proves the future is retro – especially if, like me, you immediately think of the British children’s TV show Teletubbies when you hear the name.
It looks for all the world like a G-plan coffee table, but tap it and it comes to life. I had a quick go of air hockey on it and I have to say, it was great fun. But it’ll also show a roaring log fire loop – if you feel like a blazing coffee table is what your den chiefly needs.
For me, the piece de resistance came when designer Thiago Abreu tilted the screen upright, showing an Ambilight-esque ring on its underside and explaining that a child might prefer to sketch on it this way – rather than taking a box of magic markers to your walls.
Again, I don’t know how much it is, but I like it.
At first glance, it might look like a very (very) large Amazon Echo Show 15, but its barrel-like a stand just goes all the way to the floor and its larger display can be set in portrait or landscape mode with a motion smooth as butter.
And that’s sort of what it is; a screen-toting assistant that can run smoothly across your kitchen floor, aided by a glowing ring of light at its base so you know it’s there.
Does it put me in mind of a Dalek? Yes. But can I imagine someone – possibly a slightly older user – following a recipe or completing a sudoku on it without having to clear a space on their kitchen table (and getting their tablet screen covered in pastry?) Also yes.
This is very much conceptual territory, so we’ve no word on pricing. Is there a gap in the market for such a thing? Possibly.
Art TV plus soundbar with removable satellite speakers
How about a sleek TV and fuss-free Dolby Atmos soundbar setup complete with removable speakers that you can either set up behind you (to feel those bullets fly overhead) or take to another room and use independently, if you wish?
Those little cylindrical speakers have a four-hour wireless battery-life on their own and charge in the little ports atop the main soundbar.
Although I didn’t get to hear it in action at Milan Design Week, it’s certainly an easy-to-use and chic idea that might tempt families. Why bother buying extra Bluetooth speakers for the children when your soundbar comes with two of them? And given the talents offered by TCL’s most recent 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos X937UE soundbar, competitors should be worried.
Is this is TCL’s answer to Sonos’ home theater options? If so, it’s potentially a very good one.
TCL NXTWEAR S smart glasses
The pitch: smart glasses able to create the equivalent of a 130-inch screen being watched from four meters away. And guys, it’s good…
We actually covered the older TCL NXTWEAR G’s debut, at Mobile World Congress in June 2021, but you know what? I tried this new S-suffixed variant and for visuals, they are nothing short of excellent.
Launched at IFA 2022, TCL NXTWEAR S wearable display glasses are now available in select European countries, priced €499 (which is around $549, £440 or AU$820, but these prices are unofficial). The stylish consumer XR glasses come with new-generation dual 1080p Micro OLED displays and a unique acoustic phase cancellation mode to promise a “private, cinema-like audiovisual experience to you at anywhere, anytime.”
The crisp and immersive wraparound visuals are nothing short of remarkable – and remember, I tested them outside in sunny Milan. There’s a brightness toggle on one arm and a volume dial on the other, plus if you remove the shadier outer lenses, you can also see people in front of you. There’s an additional holder attachment to accommodate your regular glasses too, if you wear them.
For me, the onboard stereo speakers came off just a little thin and hard to hear – but again, I was outdoors at a busy exhibition. I’d certainly love to spend more time alone with them.
C84 TV with Onkyo subwoofer built-in for 2.1-ch audio
TCL’s brand-new, top-end C84 Series is a mini-LED QLED TV proposition boasting 2,000 nits of brightness, a 144Hz native refresh rate (plus support for HDR10+, Dolby Vision and Dolby IQ) with a 240Hz ‘Game Accelerator’ mode, Dolby Atmos and Google TV OS.
But for this, the flagship model, TCL has done something a bit different. How to make sure the sound you get from the TV matches its cinematic inky blacks, crisp colors and huge peak brightness? Get Onkyo to build a subwoofer into the back and base, to boast an onboard 2.1 stereo sound system, that’s how.
And even though TCL had themed this room with black lava chips and fire at Milan Design Week, I was kindly allowed to jump into the mouth of the volcano and take these images of it. You’re welcome.
Given that the TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) is hands-down one of the best TVs of last year (and that the best QLED TVs are rapidly catching up to OLED TVs) we also can’t wait to hear how it sounds. Is it set to become one of the best TVs for sound in 2023? Watch this space…
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