I spent the beginning of this week in Italy with TCL as it launched its new range of TVs and soundbars at Milan Design Week; not a bad Monday by usual standards. While the standard 4K QLED and Mini LED sets were front and centre, as they are set to launch in just a few short weeks, there was also a trio of interesting concept TVs on show that really caught my eye.
These TVs aren't set to hit shelves any time soon, and they appeared in prototype form at the event. They all propose unique use cases and functionality, however. One, in particular, stood out to me – and oddly enough it was arguably the least out-there concept. But, before we get to that, let's take a look at the concept sets with the more niche form factors.
Bear in mind that these are firmly concept devices, and when I enquired about pricing and when we might see these sets hit the mainstream, I was assured that as for now, they will remain concepts.
TCL Telly Table
It's a table; and it's a telly. The clue really is in the name with the Telly Table, as it is a hybrid of the two. It features a pleasingly retro design, with a vintage 1970s-inspired frame that appears unassuming at first glance. Hidden under the tabletop however is a touchscreen display that can be used as an information screen or to play games on – with designer Thiago Abreu giving us a demo of the built-in air hockey game.
The unit really comes to life when it is flipped up into the standing position (as seen above) in which it lives up to the Telly name. In this orientation, you can watch movies and TV, or hook up a console via the hidden HDMI ports to play games. You can even play a fireplace screen saver on it, which likely won't provide any additional warmth, but should bring the cosy vibes.
My concern is where I would put my drink if I was watching TV on it; it's sort of positioned to take the place of your coffee table and TV. Perhaps this is why it's still a concept. Either way, I did like its lighthearted and intuitive design and could see it being a great choice for those in more confined spaces, such as a studio flat.
TCL Dune TV
Disappointingly, this portable touchscreen concept TV is nothing to do with the 2021 sci-fi epic of the same name. Instead, it's a super-sized tablet/TV hybrid that appears to be running some version of Android. It can be wheeled around on its (fairly substantial) base, which includes ambient lighting effects and 360-degree speakers.
To me, this was the least interesting of the bunch, as LG launched something similar back in 2021. While the stand on the TCL is much more advanced and packs some interesting tech inside, it is fundamentally a super-sized tablet on which you can watch content.
While these first two concept TVs are slightly more avant-garde and less likely to be mainstream hits, the final TV that TCL showed me was something much more realistic – and one that I sincerely hope makes it out of the hypothetical stage and onto retail shelves.
TCL Art TV Series
The Art TV Series seems to be both the most realistic of this trio, and the one I would actually buy. If you're familiar with the Samsung The Frame series of TVs, you will know what the appeal is here. It's a minimalist wall-mounted TV that doubles as an art installation when not in use, with ambient wallpapers of famous works of art and geographic locations that play when the TV is in standby mode.
While that doesn't differ greatly from Samsung's offering, the real brilliance is in the incorporated soundbar, which has a serious trick up its sleeve. There are two detachable surround speakers which dock in the main body of the soundbar, with upward-firing drivers perfect for Dolby Atmos. Alternatively, they can be used as independent Bluetooth speakers that you can connect your phone to; or you could even leave them connected to the TV if you need to leave the room but don't want to miss any of the action.
It's a unique and versatile system that just makes so much sense when you see it in action. Unfortunately, I didn't get to hear the speakers, so I can't comment on sound quality, but they get a thumbs up from me based purely on functionality and smart design.
If TCL decide to move forward with any of these TVs, I hope it's the Art TV Series, as it makes the most sense from both aesthetic and performance standpoints. From its minimal yet effective design to its built-in Dolby Atmos soundbar solution, TCL could be on to a real winner here – so I hope it gives the Art Series the green light.
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