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Why Best Buy just pulled TCL’s Google TVs from stores

TCL’s 5-Series and 6-Series Google TVs are no longer available at Best Buy. The retailer has pulled these models from its stores and website. Clicking links that previously worked for the product pages in question now result in a “We’re sorry, something went wrong” message. The reason for the removal of these TVs is ongoing software problems that have led to degraded performance, according to 9to5Google.

Digital Trends reached out to TCL for its comments on the situation. “We do not comment on the actions of our retail partners,” a TCL spokesperson responded. “However, we can confirm that TCL Televisions featuring the Google TV OS remain available for sale around the world.” This seems to be true — Best Buy Canada still lists the 5-Series on its site. We also reached out to Best Buy for its comments, but we have yet to receive a response.

“TCL is committed to delivering premium products with world-class experiences and the new product featuring Google TV is certainly no different. We are sorry to hear that some users are facing challenges with the stability of the user interface featured on TCL sets with Google TV. Our high-performance TVs are constantly evolving and recent software updates have allowed us to make significant progress, but we will continue to refine our products featuring Google TV. Patience is appreciated, as customers will see marked improvements in the weeks to come.” — TCL

The removal of TCL TVs does not affect the company’s other smart TVs, like its line of Roku TVs or its Android TV-based models.

TCL 5-Series Google TV (S546) Review | A balancing act

The root cause of the 5-Series and 6-Series problems could be the onboard processors, which might simply not be powerful enough to run the Google TV interface smoothly. We recently had an opportunity to spend some hands-on time with the 5-Series Google TV and our reviewer, Caleb Denison, found the experience sluggish and buggy, which seems to mirror what buyers have been saying about these TVs.

“Given this is TCL’s first go with a new smart TV platform,” Denison told me, “I expected a few bumps on the road, but my experience using the TV was a bit buggier than I expected. I found myself annoyed at times with its sluggishness and odd behavior.”

Given that the Google TV software, which debuted on the Chromecast with Google TV, seems to run well on that device, it’s unlikely that it’s a Google TV problem per se. Our reviewer found no performance issues on that streaming media device, though he noted the startup sequence seemed to be a bit laggy. Likewise, Sony uses Google TV software on several of its televisions, and we found no problems with the user experience on those sets, either.

If the problem can be fixed with a firmware or software update, we could see a resolution soon. “The TCL televisions with Google TV should update automatically,” TCL said, “but we provide links and instructions for folks to ensure they have the most recent software on our support page. We expect the TCL TV models with Google TV to be available again in the coming weeks.”

It’s not clear yet whether the decision to pull TCL’s TVs was a joint one between TCL and Best Buy, or taken unilaterally by one of the companies, but it’s clear this is bad timing for both entities. “I imagine this was a tough call for all parties involved,” Denison said. “No one wants to pull product off shelves approaching the holiday season. Then again, no one wants to face a bunch of potential returns after the holiday season, either. My hope is TCL comes through with updates that solve the issues and put the TVs back on shelves soon because these TVs look amazing for the price.”

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Simon Cohen
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