CES 2018: TCL Sets Table for Roku-Optimized Smart Soundbar

Las Vegas – TV maker TCL is using this week’s CES to unveil a new family of “Alto”-branded audio products, led off by a smart soundbar that will be tightly integrated with Roku’s operating system and new Roku Connect initiative.

That product, called the TCL Roku Smart Soundbar, is expected to launch in late 2018. Pricing wasn’t announced, but TCL’s soundbar is the first announced device to emerge from Roku’s Whole Home Entertainment Licensing program.

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TCL’s new soundbar will work with any TV with the proper input, but is optimized for Roku. The Roku Connect capability, for example, will enable the soundbar to connect to other AV devices in that ecosystem and weave in support for voice control through the coming A.I.-powered Roku Entertainment Assistant.

Among examples, the new soundbar will be capable of turning on a TCL Roku TV when asked to launch video content or stream audio even when the TV is turned off, the companies said.

TCL is a “natural fit to be the first partner to plan to build a smart soundbar under our new licensing program,” Roku CEO Anthony Wood said, in a statement.

The TCL soundbar will be compatible with other TVs or smart speakers that enter Roku’s licensing ecosystem.

Roku has not announced other OEM partners that will build products based on its new licensing initiative, but other TV makers that work with Roku include RCA, Element Electronics, Hitachi America, Sharp, Insignia (Best Buy’s in-house brand), Hisense, and Funai Electric.

TCL also announced a new line of Roku TVs that will be outfitted with Dolby Vision HDR, Roku Connect and the Roku Entertainment Assistant, including 2018 6-Series models, which will also support 4K video resolution, and screen sizes of 55 inches and 65 inches.