OnePlus surprised many with the announcement that it's working on developing a new product that breaks away from its popular smartphones and accessories.
OnePlus TV was announced as a vision for OnePlus in September 2018, outlining the company's aim to give customers a more connected TV experience, to actually make smart TV smart, with seamless smartphone integration.
It's a lofty aim and OnePlus has been sharing little bits of information about how this plan is going to come together. Here's what we know so far.
OnePlus TV release date
- Plans first announced in September 2018
- Target date of 2019 suggested
- Launch in 2020 more likely
It was via the OnePlus forums that Pete Lau, OnePlus CEO, announced the intention to get into televisions, widening into a different product category. While the company is clear that this is a product in development, in an interview with Business insider, Lau said he was "hopeful" for a 2019 launch.
Excited to take the next step forward together! What would you like to see in the OnePlus TV? Have ideas for a name? Let us know here: https://t.co/IpSnDtPxkT— Pete Lau (@petelau2007) September 17, 2018
Drilling into the details of launch - which OnePlus is yet to confirm - PC Mag suggests that India and China are areas where smart TV is growing fast and OnePlus has quite a fanbase in these regions, so it seems a likely target.
Since the first announcement of OnePlus TV things have slipped slightly, with reports from India that the 2020 is a more realistic date - although Pete Lau has stated that no firm date has been set.
OnePlus TV design and manufacture
- Premium design
OnePlus doesn't make TV panels and it doesn't make TVs, but it does have an eye for design. The company has said that it wants to bring "OnePlus’ premium flagship design" to the TV category.
There's only so much you can do with a 16:9 panel, but it looks like design is going to be a target for the company. We'd expect it to focus on convenience, from controls to physical connections - but as yet, we've no idea what it will look like.
OnePlus TV specs
- Voice control
- Integrated camera
- Likely to be 4K HDR
It's a little early in the cycle to be talking about specs, but for a TV to be competitive, it really needs to be a 4K HDR panel. OnePlus CEO, Pete Lau, has said that it will "develop its own image processing chipsets" and sets the benchmark at Sony's image quality. From that, we can safely assume it will offer the latest TV standards.
While this might all sound a little abstract, it's worth remembering that OnePlus sits under the umbrella of the Chinese giant BBK Electronics, alongside brands like Oppo Digital. That company (separate from the smartphone arm) recently announced that it was withdrawing from AV, but it had one of the best Ultra HD Blu-ray players on the market, so there's experience within the family, as it were.
According to Wikipedia, Pete Lau was previously director of Oppo's Blu-ray division, so his position at the head of the new OnePlus TV division makes a lot of sense.
OnePlus also made a point of mentioning "image quality and audio experience". While that's not saying much, we suspect that OnePlus will be chasing some of the latest standards - HDR10+, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos - to deliver the experience.
OnePlus has only revealed a couple of details on the hardware side. Firstly, it's going to offer voice control and interaction, so there are going to be far-field microphones, according to details garnered in an interview with PC Mag.
The OnePlus TV will also include a camera, presumably to go straight into video calling - but Lau told Business Insider that it had a solution for privacy concerns with such cameras. Beyond that, little is known - apart from the vision of a better TV experience.
OnePlus TV smart experience
- Voice control
- Seamless smartphone integration
- More personalised TV experience
But it's really the smart functions that will make the OnePlus TV stand out and this is the crux of what OnePlus has so far outlined.
"We believe your TV has the potential to be so much more than where you watch your favorite shows," says Lau in the original forum post, but the specifics fall into other interviews.
"In my mobile phone, I have my calendar agenda. When I get up in the morning, the agenda will pop up in the TV with the local time, weather, temperature, my hotel information, and recommendations for how to dress," quotes PC Mag, suggesting a shift from a smartphone AI experience to one on the big screen.
It's all about a seamless integration between phone and TV, so that there's no complication getting content from your phone to your TV. It sounds, very much, like the sort of features that Samsung offers between its phones and TVs.
OnePlus TV as a smart home controller
- Likely to have Google Assistant or Alexa integration
- Smart home hub
OnePlus is reported to have confirmed that it won't be starting from scratch with its platform, it's going to use a "mainstream provider" so that the TV fits into existing ecosystems. That makes us think it will be Amazon or Google.
We wouldn't be surprised to see the TV running on Android, considering the company's experience from smartphones. Integrating with Google Assistant would dovetail the TV into a wide range of smart home systems which OnePlus seems keen to leverage, seeing the TV as a smart home hub, rather than just a place to watch TV.
Again that brings to mind Samsung's aims with SmartThings: it's not a realised vision and OnePlus has the right idea here - by joining up a few dots, your TV becomes a lot more useful as a part of a smart home control, not just as a target for content.
Alexa is also an open platform and Amazon's smart assistant is finding its way into a wide range of products and devices, so you can't rule it out.
How much will OnePlus TV cost?
OnePlus is saying that the TV will be premium, but that's always been the message for OnePlus' smartphones and they have been aggressively priced against established rivals like LG, Sony and Samsung - all big players in the TV space. The same thing will be true of OnePlus TV. In an interview with The Economic Times, Pete Lau described the TV as a "flagship killer" - hinting that pricing will be designed to challenge those established rivals.
The truth is we really don't know what the price will be yet, but we do know that in India it will be available from Amazon. We suspect the same will be true in the UK.
We will keep you posted.