Amazon and Best Buy Refresh Lineup of Toshiba-branded, Fire TV-powered Smart TVs
New models include picture-in-picture support for Alexa-enabled home automation devices
Amazon and Best Buy announced a product refresh for the lineup of Toshiba-branded smart TV’s powered by the Amazon Fire TV OTT operating system.
Starting in mid-May, Best Buy will sell the Toshiba C350 Series sets, arriving in 43- and 50-inch iterations, featuring 4K, HDR and HDR-10 resolution support, as well as DTS and Virtual: X capabilities. Larger screen sizes—55-, 65- and 75-inch versions—are “coming soon,” Amazon and Best Buy said.
The C350 line also includes “Live View Picture in Picture” to enhance whole-home Alexa voice functionality. “For example, if you press the mic button on your Fire TV Remote and say ‘Alexa, preview my front door camera’ or when someone rings a paired video doorbell, a Live View Picture in Picture video feed from that camera will appear on top of whatever show or movie is playing,” Amazon said in a blog announcing the new product line.
The new sets also tack on additional HDMI and USB ports.
In 2017, Japan’s Toshiba, which used to be a top consumer electronics brand in the U.S., sold 95% of its TV manufacturing business to China’s Hisense for $113.6 million. And notably, Hisense also manufactures TVs sold by Best Buy under the big box retailer’s Insignia brand.
According to Statista, Hisense was the fifth largest supplier of smart TVs to the U.S. in 2020, controlling around 5% of shipments.
Hisense also sells TVs powered by Roku and Android TV.
Chinese TV manufacturers Hisense and TCL have quickly established their global market share, and expanded the reach of their associated connected TV device platforms, by significantly undercutting incumbent Korean smart TV leaders, including Samsung and LG.
Roku, for example, controls an industry-leading 37% of streaming usage on TVs in the U.S. according to just-released Conviva data. And it got put into this lofty position due in no small part to brisk sales of TCL-made smart TVs at Best Buy.
According to the latest Consumer Reports data, the quality of these Chinese-made smart TV sets has improved a bit of late, but they still trail the higher priced models from Korean and Japanese makers.
In a world where consumers expect an Apple-level performance of IP devices, a willingness by streaming tech companies to distribute their connected TV OS platforms on flimsy hardware could make a difference over time.
In the category of smart TVs ranging in size from 46 inches to 52 inches—which is generally the mid-range in terms of consumer pricing—sets branded Insignia, TCL, Toshiba and Hisense rank ahead of Vizio-branded models in terms of buyer surveys, but they trail Samsung, Sony, LG and Sharp.
In the lowest priced 32-inch category, Hisense and Toshiba rank ahead of TCL, but are well behind market leader Samsung in qualitative assessment.
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!