OnePlus is all set to launch its first TV later this week in India, followed by a launch in global markets later in the year. As is often the case for OnePlus, the company has teased several features of the TV already, giving us a good look at what's coming.
This is a particularly interesting launch for OnePlus as the company makes its foray into a new product category. The manufacturer has fared incredibly well in the phone segment over the last 18 months, but it is venturing into an all-new segment that's dominated by the likes of Samsung and LG.
Here's what I'm looking forward to seeing from OnePlus's first TV offering.
Android TV with three years of updates
One of the first things OnePlus confirmed for its upcoming TV was that it would be based on Android TV. That's a good thing, because Google's TV platform balances a minimal design with a robust set of features. The ribbon-based interface isn't the most polished out there, but you get Google Assistant integration, and each Android TV acts as a Cast target, letting you easily stream content from your phone or via a command to Google Home.
Over the years, I've switched to Android TV as my smart TV platform of choice — I have four TVs running Android TV in my home — and I'm interested in seeing what OnePlus adds to the mix. The manufacturer has stated that it will roll out an "optimized" version of Android TV with its own set of features. Seeing as how Google doesn't allow manufacturers to customize Android TV, I'm eager to find out what OnePlus has to offer in this area.
OnePlus has also revealed that it will deliver three years' worth of updates to its TV, and that's a big deal. My 2016 Sony picked up a single platform update to Android 7.0 Nougat, and there haven't been any updates in the last year or so. That isn't ideal when you're paying over $1,500 for a TV, so the fact that the OnePlus TV will get three years of updates is a good thing.
QLED panel with Gamma Color Magic processor
It's interesting that OnePlus is offering a QLED display on its TV, as that confirms that Samsung is making the panel. QLED is a marketing term that Samsung uses for its TVs (similar to AMOLED for phones), but it shouldn't be confused for OLED, or organic light-emitting diode.
A QLED panel is nothing but an LCD display with LED backlight that has a quantum dot layer for improved brightness and colors. That said, a QLED panel is still transmissive, meaning the LED backlight is transmitted through several layers. An OLED display, meanwhile, has millions of LEDs that individually light up on their own, negating the need for a backlight. That leads to unmatched black levels.
The TV also has a Gamma Color Magic processor that, according to Pete Lau, will deliver "best-in-class image quality," a pretty bold claim all things considered. While QLED panels have come a long way in the last three years, they still aren't quite as vibrant as LG's OLED TVs, but it looks like OnePlus is aiming to bridge the gap with a dedicated image engine.
Seamless phone connectivity
One of the ways OnePlus is looking to differentiate its TV is seamless phone connectivity. From the little we've heard of it so far, it looks like OnePlus will offer a way to easily pair your phone with your TV. The image that OnePlus showed off doesn't reveal much, but it looks like you'll be able to get recommendations and cast content directly from your phone.
Right now, there isn't a whole lot in this area aside from Android TV Remote, so it will be interesting to see what OnePlus manages to offer.
Oh, and there's the remote. Pete Lau showed off the remote a few weeks ago, with a design that's nearly identical to what you get with Apple TV. The remote just doesn't seem like a good idea, particularly with that phone-style volume rocker on the side. Also, a remote with a sleek design is like Bruce Willis with hair; it just doesn't work.
I fully agree with Phil; the Logitech Harmony should be the reference for other brands when it comes to remote design. You need large buttons with a comfortable design, not a brushed aluminum body with a USB-C port at the bottom.
Dolby Atmos + 50W audio
Most TVs these days come with built-in speakers that top out at 20W, but the OnePlus TV has a 50W speaker with eight drivers. The manufacturer says the built-in audio will fill your living room, and while 50W isn't all that powerful when you consider budget soundbars have a 100W output, the OnePlus TV isn't too bad. Also, Dolby Atmos integration means you'll get much better audio separation.
What are you most excited about?
What are you interested in seeing from the OnePlus TV? Sound off in the comments below.