The range of TCL Roku TVs is finally expanding beyond North America, after TV brand TCL and its Roku partner – which develops the Roku OS for smart TVs and streaming sticks – announced the range would roll out to new territories before the end of the year.
We know TCL Roku TVs are now coming to both Europe and South America, and assuming for now that it includes the UK – where TCL's slightly limp launch back in 2018 has had us crying out for a Roku iteration ever since.
But what's so special about Roku? The Roku OS is licensed out to a number of different TV manufacturers, including both TCL and Hisense, due to its ease-of-use and familiar layout. Especially for budget TV models, sticking in a ready-to-go smart platform can make more sense than sticking band-aids on a proprietary system that offers a lesser user experience.
While you won't find it on truly high-end sets, the Roku platform is straightforward to use, with a well-organized icon system and market-leading universal search making it easy to find and select the apps you're after.
Because Roku doesn’t have ties to a major streaming service – other than a vague deal to include FandangoNow on the home screen of the OS – it doesn’t push you any direction you don’t want to go and happily supports everything from Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV and Amazon, to lesser-known channels like Pluto.tv, tubi, Crackle and others.
TCL tends to release its annual TV ranges a bit later in the year than much of the competition, so it's unsurprising that we're only hearing this announcement in August.
We do expect LG's budget BX OLED model to launch around September, though – and if it's a competitive enough price point, it could overshadow some of TCL's plans. It's likely that the first round of Roku TVs will be only half or a third of the cost of a new B Series OLED, though, given they tend to be on the cheaper end of the scale.
UK buyers have already been treated to the launch of the C71 and C81 QLEDs from TCL this year, with promise of an 8K QLED model coming later in 2020 too. But a truly budget TCL model with the Roku platform could be what really helps TCL break out in the UK, and we're sure UK shoppers would only be too happy to oblige.
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Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.