Chinese device maker TCL is many things to many people.
To us in Kenya, TCL is the brand we use daily but don’t closely associate with the products we use that it makes. Like the dirt cheap branded smartphones from mobile network operators Safaricom and Telkom. The network operators don’t make smartphones so those phones they sell complete with their respective branding have to come from somewhere, right?
That somewhere has been TCL, among other China-based brands.
Still sticking with smartphones, one of the most affordable Android smartphones in the local market which is sold by Safaricom, no less, is the Alcatel 1, an Android Go device that is a direct variation of the very first Android Go smartphone to be announced, the Alcatel 1X. As some would know, Alcatel is a TCL brand and any Alcatel device one has used over the last decade is from the Chinese device maker.
What most Kenyans will know TCL for, however, are its television sets, some of the most affordable in the Kenyan market.
Fresh from a successful 2018 where it managed to increase its global TV sales by 23% to stand at 28.6 million units, the company is not resting on its laurels.
In addition to its renown TV business, TCL has, since the start of the year entered the headphones business with a range of headsets, some of which have already been a hit with reviewers and users alike.
The company’s European representatives were at hand at the IFA Global Press Conference in Andalusia, Spain, this week to lay out TCL’s vision for its latest product range to the over 300 attendees.
TCL’s headphones, first unveiled back in January for the American and European markets, come in both wired and wireless iterations in the four product lines that they have been segmented, and are making their way to other markets where TCL has a presence.
The four product lines are SOCL, MTRO, ACTV and ELIT.
The SOCL are meant to provide comfort and good looks while doing just about what one expects from earphones. This review from the Verge‘s Vlad Savov appears to give the SOCL300 variant a big thumbs up so they may be worth considering given that they start at a bargain $10, just over Kshs 1,000.
The ACTV (read as Active) as the name insinuates, are able to stay put when you break a sweat during workout as they are IPX4-rated. They come in two variants: one that only has the design, meant to make sure they stay in the ears even as one jogs about (thanks to the over-ear hooks), and another that has the aforementioned water and sweat resistance. As one can expect, the two are, thus priced differently – $20 for the former and $40 for the latter.
The MTRO stay in the middle of things giving users more options for an even more immersive audio experience. They are also the go-to sets for Bluetooth 5 (important if you have devices like the Galaxy S8, S8+, S9, S9+, Note 9 etc) as well as for the bass heads.
The ELIT (read: Elite), as the name suggests, are the cream of the pack with each of the 3 models on offer providing high-resolution audio output without breaking the $100 price ceiling – the most expensive model costs $80 while the most affordable starts at $30. The Traveller edition of the TCL ELIT headsets even features active noise cancellation, a feature that has been mostly associated with high-cost options.
In addition to the headsets, which are already in the market, TCL is also looking at solidifying its presence in the soundbar market with its own take of what German research firm GfK bills as one of the fastest growing consumer electronics.
TCL already incorporates soundbars in some of its TVs, like the C6 (which is also available in Kenya for Kshs 125,000 for the 65-inch model and Kshs 80,000 for the 55-inch variant – read Team Android‘s review of the set here) and has made some gems like the Alto Roku soundbar.