Fans of TCL smart TVs who would like an alternative to the Roku platform now have one: The company is rolling out Android TV versions of its 3-Series and 4-Series smart TVs at very affordable prices. The smallest 4K HDR model, the 43-inch 4-Series, is priced at just $200, while the largest model — a 75-inch 4-Series — goes for $800. If you’re looking for additional budget-friendly deals, you can head over to the best Black Friday TV deals and check out your options.
is compatible with both HDR10 and HLG, HDR formats that are typically found on services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
There’s also a new budget option for folks who don’t need a big screen, 4K resolution, or HDR. The 3-Series offers Android TV at 32 inches (720p resolution) for $130, or a 40-inch model with
1080p resolution for $200
At the moment, all of the TCL Android TV models are Best Buy exclusives, but we imagine this will change in the future.
With the exception of the Android TV operating system, which brings both Google Assistant and Chromecast to the 3- and 4-Series, TCL hasn’t made many changes from its Roku TV versions of these models. They all have support for Dolby Digital Plus audio, and they feature HDMI ARC for a single-cable connection to a soundbar or A/V receiver. But there is a subtle difference with the Android TV versions.
Typically, Roku TVs ship with Roku remotes — they’re simple and easy to use, which is why Roku fans love them. But there’s no way to use a Roku remote to trigger a voice assistant — the only voice feature on Roku TVs is Roku’s own voice search, which is not compatible with any smart home ecosystems like Apple’s HomeKit, Amazon’s Alexa, or Google Home. Roku’s remote is also missing dedicated channel up/down buttons for those who want to use their TVs with an antenna for free over-the-air HD channels.
The Android TV versions get a remote that has more buttons (so arguably not as simple), of which two are used for channel up/down. And there’s also a dedicated Google Assistant button, which can summon the voice assistant for TV functions like launching apps and searching. As with other Google Assistant devices like Nest smart speakers, it can also control compatible smart home gear.
Another small difference: Android TV models support private listening on any set of Bluetooth headphones, while the Roku TV versions require that you use the free Roku app and listen via your smartphone or tablet’s headphones.
Google spent years letting Android TV fester, with only a few partners like Nvidia and Sony using the smart TV software to power their devices. However, with the launch of the new Chromecast with Google TV, TCL’s new Android TV models, and even the new Stream 4K device from TiVo, Android TV is clearly on a roll.
YouTube TV finally gets the 4K Plus plan’s price right
The price of the 4K Plus add-on for YouTube TV always has been a bit weird. Technically the add-on has been $20 a month since its launch in mid-2021, but subscribers have always gotten the first year of service for half that. And that will remain true come April 2023, when the YouTube TV base plan goes up to $73 a month and the add-on changes price to $10 a month, with the first year of service at $5 a month.
That's a much more palatable price for an add-on that's absolutely an extravagance.
YouTube TV rolls out multiview: watch up to 4 NCAA games at once
If you love college basketball and can process more than one game at a time, you're going to go bananas for YouTube TV's new multiview feature, which will be rolling out on a limited, early access basis starting March 14. With multiview, you'll be able to pick up to four channels and see them all simultaneously, with the ability to easily flip the active audio from one to another. The new feature is compatible with any TV-based YouTube TV installations (streaming media players, smart TVs, and game consoles), but it doesn't yet work on mobile devices or computers.
Initially, multiview will only be available to select YouTube TV users, who will be chosen at random. But Google says the goal is to include every subscriber by the time NFL football season starts in the fall. Another limitation, at least for now, is that YouTube TV will preselect the multiview channels you can choose. At launch, only channels that carry NCAA tournament games will be included in that preselected list.
How to use YouTube TV multiview
If you're one of the lucky, randomly chosen users, you'll see an option to watch up to four preselected, different streams at once in your “Top Picks for You” section. After selecting multiview, you can switch audio and captions between streams, and jump in and out of a full-screen view of a game.
It's all about sports
At the moment, YouTube TV sees multiview as an enhancement of the sports viewing experience, so only sports content will be eligible. YouTube TV has had some big sports wins in 2022, including 4K coverage of the Soccer World Cup, and that trend will continue in 2023 thanks to its acquisition of the NFL Sunday Ticket games. However, YouTube TV recently lost access to MLB Network and the MLB.tv add-on, which reduces the amount of sports content available for multiview in 2023.
Why aren’t sports in 4K and HDR? It’s harder than you think
I don’t know if we can pinpoint a moment at which 4K content became normalized -- it sort of snuck up on us -- but today 4K and 4K HDR content is not hard to come by. Netflix, Amazon, Disney +, HBO Max – they all have it, and plenty of it. So we’re starting to get used to it. We’re hungry for 4K and we expect it on our plate. This has a lot of folks wondering: Why is it so hard to get sports in 4K?
Three years ago, I was fortunate enough to fly down to Florida to go behind the scenes with Fox Sports as it delivered the first-ever 4K HDR Super Bowl broadcast. Not only did I get to watch the Fox team do its live daytime broadcasts from South Beach, but I also got to go to roam around Hard Rock Stadium, where I had totally unfettered access to the stadium and all the cameras in it – as well as a massive broadcast compound. I got to go in every production truck, I saw every step of the production, from the cameras to the outbound feeds, and I got every question I asked answered by some of the top video production pros in the business. I learned so much while I was there.