If you want to buy a TV, you probably think about brands like Sony or Panasonic, brands you trust with your TV, having been sitting in the corner of your living room for the past 30 years or so. These great Japanese brands saw some competition from Korea when Samsung and LG emerged on the scene, but the next competitor in the TV turf war is China.
In fact this is something that has been quietly happening for the past few years, with companies like Hisense marching in and hitting headline specs like 4K and high dynamic range (HDR), at prices that conventional TV manufacturers can't match. Take the Hisense OB8, for example, which offers a 55-inch 4K OLED TV hundreds of pounds cheaper than LG.
But Hisense is relatively conventional as TV manufacturers go and it too stands to lose out in the face of the incoming challenges from companies like OnePlus, Honor, Huawei and Motorola.
A new wave of TVs
The big thing that these manufacturers want to do is change the TV experience. Sure, we've seen fancy user interfaces from LG with webOS, we've seen increasing features on TVs like the incorporation of Google Assistant or Alexa support, but the incoming TVs don't want to just show you programmes - they want to be the biggest interactive screen you have in your house.
That's where the new fight will be: the holistic experience offered by that big screen, putting user experience first.
These new TVs will focus on the close pairing with your phone, they'll move to be the central controller of your smart home and they'll want to handle all the entertainment too.
Some of these things we've seen manufacturers trying to do already: support for voice assistants is growing, Samsung had some app integration for some time and there's always noises about being part of your smart home - but that joined up reality isn't really there yet.
Why do these incoming companies matter?
OnePlus is probably the most interesting of the new challengers with OnePlus TV. This will be announced (we think) in India on 26 September and one of the things that OnePlus has been very good at is software. Some of the previews of the slick integration of TV control through your phone are unlike anything currently available.
OnePlus has another trick up its sleeve too: a fan base. While it might not shift as many TVs as Samsung does across the year, it's likely that OnePlus fans will consider buying the OnePlus TV whether they actually need a new TV or not. In the sort of move that will be familiar to Apple fans, there's going to be desirability and excitement that doesn't always arrive with the launch of new TVs from incumbent brands.
Honor and Huawei have already announced their Vision sets, and while Huawei does face some challenges right now thanks to the US trade ban, that's unlikely to deter those looking for a cheaper and better-connected TV. Yes, they might not sell in the US, but globally Huawei is a huge brand, has shown itself to be aggressive in development of cutting-edge technologies - and it's going to be using its own HarmonyOS platform - so it's not dependent on Google.
Will they be able to compete?
Where these new arrivals are likely to compete is at the affordable end of the TV spectrum. While conventional TV manufacturers are good at launching halo televisions, we're unlikely to see any competition at that high-end position. Instead, we'll see these new brands cutting into the mass market, looking to distract you from buying a mid-range big brand TV.
While they might lack the picture processing skills or panel tuning experience that big brands do, these are all tech companies. OnePlus, for example, sits under the BBK Electronics umbrella, a parent company that includes Oppo Digital. Oppo is still cited as the gold standard in Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray players, so OnePlus isn't necessarily starting from scratch.
What they will be able to do, however, is push a few models, rather than a blistering array of choices. The current TV market is full of models, similarly specced where it's not always clear what the difference is - and this is what these new brands should aim to avoid.
But what they are hitting is specs that people will be familiar with: QLED, 4K, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos and while there's a lot more to TV than just those tech specs, once you get into the mass market, people are less likely to look at things like peak brightness or colour volume.
When will these TVs start to appear?
We're expecting OnePlus to make its launch announcement in India on 26 September. The company has always said that it's going to focus on India first, but we know it has plans to expand beyond India.
Motorola has also announced its TVs for India too. Like OnePlus, Motorola (a division of Lenovo remember), is also hitting key spec points at a low price.
Honor has already announced the Honor Vision - while Huawei has also announced its version the Huawei Vision - both of which are launching into China first. However, they will also be appearing in Europe. What's missing at the moment is any exact details on price or dates.
A change is coming in TVs. It's been on the horizon for a number of years and it could bring with it a real change in how you use your TV and how it integrates not just into your living room, but into your life. Consider yourself warned.
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