TCL will in 2021 launch its first "wireless" soundbar, Alto R1, that does not require an HDMI connection to the TV as it can connect wirelessly to Roku TVs over WiFi. It will also launch new soundbars with Dolby Atmos.
TCL's wireless soundbar
Much like Apple's HomePods can connect wirelessly to Apple TV 4K over WiFi, TCL's upcoming Alto R1 can connect wirelessly to Roku TVs over WiFi. Of course, it will still require power from an outlet.
- "TCL has teamed up with Roku to make upgrading any TV with premium audio easier than ever by launching the new Alto R1 soundbar, the company’s first entry into “wireless” bars and the first soundbar to use Roku proprietary WiFi AUDIO streaming technology. This new feature completely eliminates the need to use a cable when connecting to the TV. Rather, simply plug the soundbar power cord into your wall outlet, turn it on and the TCL Roku TV will automatically generate an on-screen guide for set-up," said TCL.
TCL announced its plans to go wireless at CES 2021 but did not release full specifications on Alto R1 other than saying that it will be a mid-range option without support for Dolby Atmos.
Ahead of CES 2021, Roku announced that it has created a 'wireless reference design' based on proprietary audio technology, most likely based on technology from Dynastrom that Roku acquired in 2017 for a reported $3.5 million. Roku launched its own wireless TV speakers in 2018.
TCL is the first company to launch a soundbar based on Roku's wireless reference design but Roku hints that others will follow suit in the future. The company added that its 'Roku TV Ready' program currently available in the US will be expanded internationally in 2021.
Other TCL soundbars
TCL also announced plans to launch the Alto 82i soundbar with Dolby Atmos, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple AirPlay 2 in Q3 2021. Similarly, Apple AirPlay allows you to connect a soundbar wirelessly to Apple TV.
- "Two additional bars will round out the Alto lineup in 2021. The Alto 8e with a 3.2.1 configuration, Dolby Atmos, Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Airplay and Spotify compatibility, along with a wireless subwoofer and up-firing speakers will be available in Q2. And lastly, another premium soundbar with Dolby Atmos," the company said.
TCL's Alto 82i, Alto 8e and Alto R1 soundbars have been confirmed for the US. Availability and pricing details will be announced later.
In Europe, TCL will launch a new 3.1.2 soundbar (TS8132) with Dolby Atmos support, a wireless subwoofer, and 350W total output. It will come with built-in Apple AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast and Amazon Alexa.