TCL, Amazon Alexa wed

By LIA ZHU in San Francisco | China Daily USA | Updated: 2016-11-21 11:23

Chinese TV maker TCL, one of the fastest-growing consumer electronics brands in North America, has launched a new model of smart TV enabled by Amazon Alexa to provide home owners a mobile home hub to control compatible devices.

The TCL Xess, with a 17.3-inch screen, integrates the Alexa voice service and TCL hardware features. It is available on Amazon for $499.

Consumers can use the TV to control a suite of compatible devices including thermostats, lights, garage doors and sprinklers, in addition to other Alexa functionalities like creating shopping lists or catching up on the latest news and weather.

With a built-in carry handle, Xess is designed to be portable in the home. It is equipped with an IP camera, allowing in-home monitoring of any room in the house, said the company.

In addition to a home hub, the device also offers entertainment for users with access to streaming content from a library of apps, as well as dual 3.6-watt JBL speakers, according to the company.

"The Amazon customer and TCL customer are very similar," said Michelle Mao, president of TCL North America. "We have made a concentrated effort to put our digital marketing efforts behind driving traffic to Amazon, and we do a really robust job of telling the story of our product there."

"An Amazon customer tends to be more connected, tends to enjoy streaming more, and tends to research enough to listen to this story, where it's really hard to do that in a retail store," she said.

Mao said TCL had invested heavily in Amazon, which was critical to the company's "explosive growth" in the television category, and the partnership had led the way to brand recognition and loyalty "that has extended to more traditional retailers like Walmart, Target and Costco, among others".

"We're thrilled to work with TCL to bring Xess with Alexa to customers," said Aaron Brown, director of Amazon Alexa. "Now TCL customers can turn on and off their lights, get the weather, listen to audio books and more — just by using their voice. We can't wait for customers to try it out."   

The TCL Xess has been rated 4.7 out of five stars by 13 customers at Amazon so far. Large screen, portability, Alexa functionality and curated cooking experience are among the top reasons for the high score.

Pre-loaded with Kitchen Stories, the device provides access to meal recipes and cooking how-to videos. In addition, Alexa enables users to find new recipes on the device, convert measurements and shop for ingredients with just voice commands, according to the company.

TCL has been focusing on smart TVs for the North American market and been a part of the "cord-cutting movement", as more and more consumers are leaving cable and accessing content on-demand, said Mao.

The TCL Roku TVs and 4K smart TVs have been well received by retail partners, she said, without disclosing sales numbers.

"The American consumer has been extremely receptive to our product strategy, and Amazon has been and will continue to be a critical partner for our continued success and growth in the US market," said Mao.

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