TCL to release new line of Amazon Fire TV sets in Europe

A TCL smart television set powered by Amazon's Fire TV operating system.
A TCL smart television set powered by Amazon’s Fire TV operating system. (TV image courtesy TCL, Graphic designed by The Desk)

Electronics brand TCL says it will release a new line of smart television sets that will be powered by Amazon’s Fire TV operating system for the first time.

The new CF6-model sets will have ultra-high definition (UHD/4K) screens with QLED backlight technology and come in 50-inch and 55-inch sizes. The sets will support two types of high dynamic range contrast: HDR10 Plus and HDR Dolby Vision, as well as support for Dolby Atmos audio.

The TCL CF6 televisions will come bundled with a voice-powered remote that gives users access to Amazon’s smart assistant Alexa. Most popular streaming television apps will be supported, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus. Other apps will also be available to download from the Amazon App Store, with specific apps limited to certain countries.

“We are more than excited to launch our first TCL Fire TV series, that delivers high-quality and broad selection of content with superb viewing experience to our customers,” Frédéric Langin, TCL Europe’s vice president of sales and marketing, said in a statement on Thursday.

The TCL CF6 model sets will be sold in four European countries at launch: the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Spain. It was not clear if the sets will be offered in the United States or other countries where TCL and Amazon do business.

The CF6 model is the first time TCL has put its brand name on a set powered by Amazon’s Fire TV. That said, there’s some speculation that TCL has been behind a line of higher-end Fire TV sets that debuted last year. But those sets carried Amazon’s branding, not TCL — and Google might be the reason for that.

Historically, TCL has offered TV sets powered by Roku OS or Android TV (later Google TV). According to tech publication Protocol, Google for years has allowed anyone to build television sets powered by Android, provided that they make those Android-powered sets compatible with Google’s services, including the Google Play Store.

Amazon’s Fire TV is a modified version of Android, through which streaming apps are downloaded from an Amazon-controlled app store. Typically, Fire TV devices don’t include access to the Google Play Store (though users can always modify their devices to make them compatible with Google’s app store).

On Thursday, Protocol reporter Janko Roettgers wrote Amazon and Google had struck a partnership in recent months that eased some of these licensing restrictions, which may have been spurred by recent regulatory scrutiny against Google in some countries. Which might be why TCL is now allowed to reveal itself as the manufacturer of new Fire TV-powered smart TV sets, even if they’re only being sold in a handful of countries.