Yes, you read that correctly, right now you can claim a free 4K TV if you live in the United States, and yes of course there is a catch. However, that hasn't stopped over 100,000 people from doing so – but what exactly is this free TV all about?
You may have heard of Pluto TV, an advertisement-subsidised streaming network on smart TVs, Fire Sticks, Chromecasts and even gaming consoles. It uses a live TV model with over 200 channels; however, it is broadcast using the internet making it an almost hybrid service that sits between live TV and streaming. The co-founder of Pluto TV, Ilya Pozin, has since quietly launched a startup company named Teevee Corporation, which has developed a new company/service named Telly (see what they did there?) and it now plans to launch its own television with a unique business model.
The Telly, the company's first piece of AV hardware, is the free 55-inch 4K HDR TV in question, and it supposedly even has a built-in soundbar with five drivers. Could this be the greatest two-for-one offer ever? There are even three HDMI ports for connecting streaming devices, a built-in webcam for video calls and a "Hey Telly" voice assistant. However, the biggest feature of the Telly would have to be its secondary display; and here is where Teevee will monetise its latest creation.
This secondary display's primary purpose is to show advertisements as you're watching TV; this is the catch we mentioned earlier. However, it might not be as bad as it sounds, as in the first images we've seen, the ads are relegated to the far right-hand corner of the screen, with the rest acting as a sort of smart display akin to a super-sized Echo Show. Here you'll find news briefings, weather, sports scores and more; however, we're not letting it completely off the hook quite yet, as these adverts appear to be targeted based on user data.
Telly's terms and conditions are ones you may wish to take some time to read, as FlatpanelsHD points out that they are quite invasive. The TV will "collect information about the audio and video content you watch, the channels you view, and the duration of your viewing sessions" as referenced in the terms, and opting out of these terms and conditions isn't exactly easy.
If you decide that you don't want your information to be tracked and collected, Telly says that you're more welcome to opt out from sharing your data, if you're willing to return the TV that is. If you don't return the TV after opting out of these terms, then you will be charged a fee to a linked credit card – apparently references to a specific amount have been removed, but FlatpanelsHD claims that a $500 figure was initially part of these conditions.
Pozin has assured users that they shouldn't worry about privacy concerns with the Telly as "it doesn’t record, it doesn’t transmit, it doesn’t [use] facial recognition" and the camera has a physical shutter for those who (quite rightly) don't fancy having a lens pointed at them in their house constantly. The motion sensor is also apparently purely for detecting motion to power on the TV when it detects presence, and is found on many other TVs, such as the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED. That all being said, we're still extremely wary of a device that tracks all of our watching and listening data.
Despite the Orwellian parallels that could be inferred here, it's not put off US customers, as reportedly over 100,000 units have been ordered since reservations opened around 36 hours ago. The company said that the first 500,000 free units will begin shipping this summer, and it doesn't plan on stopping there. Telly anticipates shipping "millions" of TVs in 2024, although no word has been given on an international launch outside of the US quite yet.
So, the real question is, would you be willing to give up your data for a free 4K TV?
Check out our picks for the best TVs
Not quite as good as free, but check out the best TV deals
Check out our Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED hands-on review