TCL will enable VRR on select 2019 TVs through an update. In 2020, the company will also launch its first 8K Roku TV, introduce 'THX Game Mode', and start its transition to HDMI 2.1.
TCL's plans for 2020
TCL came to CES 2020 with a mixed bag. Unlike some of its competitors, it did not announce a full line-up of new TVs as it recently launched a new high-end miniLED-based LCD TV.
Instead, TCL focused on the broader strokes saying that 2020 will mark the beginning of its transition to HDMI 2.1, including VRR (variable refresh rate) for smoother gaming and eARC for better audio. This includes a planned update for select 2019 TVs (Roku 6-series and high-end models) to enable VRR and eARC.
- "These updated 2019 TVs, along with some 2020 models, will be able to dynamically synchronize the frame rate of the TV to exactly match the frame rate of compatible games and game consoles for optimized performance," the company said.
TCL also mentioned 120Hz playback but this appears to be reserved for the new 2020 models with HDMI 2.1 ports.
In addition, the company is partnering with THX to launch a 'THX Certified Game Mode', which will debut in the first TVs later this year in North America.
- "THX Certified Game Mode delivers fast response time and the most optimal viewing experience, allowing games to be experienced the way they were intended by the creators with rich, vibrant colors and better contrast in crisp 4K HDR resolution."
During the press conference, TCL also touted HGiG support, which first appeared in LG's new TVs.
TCL used the opportunity to reaffirm that it will be getting into 8K TVs soon. The company had originally planned to launch its first 8K TVs in 2019 but ultimately decided to delay the launch. Together with Samsung, TCL is a member of the 8K Association that has less stringent standards for 8K TVs than CTA's '8K Ultra HD' specification.
- "TCL intends to launch TVs in North America this year that will exceed the high standards established as part of the 8K Association Certified program and grow the global adoption of this exciting big-screen technology, even partnering with Roku to roll out the first 8K TCL Roku TV later this year, to be ready for the next stage of 8K content as new game consoles and streaming services come to the market," said TCL.
In Europe, TCL's first 8K TV will feature Android TV and be available in 75 inches named X91.
Next step for miniLED LCD
TCL launched the first miniLED-based LCD TV last year in the US. It was supposed to reach Europe in December but has been delayed to 2020.
TCL used the opportunity at CES to talk about the next phase for miniLED backlights in LCD TVs. A miniLED backlight utilizes smaller light emitting diodes, allowing manufacturers to increase the number of dimming zones, although still limited to less than 1000 zones. Going higher will require a more advanced driving system that is significantly more expensive to produce.
- "TCL’s new Vidrian Mini-LED technology is the world’s first TV backlight with the driving semi-conductor circuitry and tens of thousands of micro-meter class mini-LEDs directly infused in a crystal-clear glass substrate."
TCL says that its Vidrian technology can be used for 65-inch, 75-inch or larger LCD TVs. MiniLED should not be confused with microLED, which is instead an entirely new display technology.