Pete Lau spills the beans on upcoming OnePlus TV, says QLED offers good balance between cost & image quality
The OnePlus CEO said that in about 10 years, most homes will have TVs that are actually smart displays.
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Although not as hyper competitive as the smartphone space, the smart TV space is also booming thanks to the rush of affordable, large screen TVs. ET’s Hitesh Raj Bhagat spoke to OnePlus CEO Pete Lau to find out more about their brand new TV, which launches in India before anywhere else
Hitesh Raj Bhagat: Will OnePlus TV compete in the value or high-end TV market?
Pete Lau: The positioning is definitely premium. We will be using a QLED panel which is superior to the regular LED TVs – it’s a high-end panel and picture quality. Thanks to the strategic partnership with Amazon for TV, the pricing will be slightly different from the current premium products. Since we are partnering exclusively with Amazon, the channel efficiency will be higher as compared to offline. That gives us a price advantage compared to other premium products.
HRB: What can OnePlus TVs offer the consumer that the other TVs in the same segment cannot?
PL: When you compare OnePlus TV with others in the space, our major advantage is the premium quality and the overall Internet experience we provide. I already mentioned QLED technology. Some of the premium brands available in the market right now have great image and sound quality but not necessarily a great Internet experience (or vice versa). For us, the combination of good quality and great internet experience is really our advantage.
HRB: Have you thought about manufacturing TVs in India?
PL: In the long term, we want to do that. The manufacturing standards have to be put in place before it can be done in India. Right now, our TVs will be made in China but as things scale up, we may look to make in India.
HRB: What TV sizes do you think will be the most popular in India?
PL: I’ve looked a lot of data and right now, on average, the most popular size in India is around 40-inches. But we don't want to focus on current trends, we want to think about the future. We want to provide something that is going to be mainstream in future. Right now, we’re only focusing on one large size – 55-inch with a QLED panel.
HRB: Do you think that creating a content ecosystem is important? Why not launch without content and keep the costs down?
PL: Content means that when you when you switch on the TV, you already have things that you can stream on the TVs smart interface. We believe this is something really important because we’re focused on providing a better user experience.
Our future direction is to seamlessly connect the home internet and smartphone. So, in about 10 years, most households will have TVs that are actually smart displays.
HRB: Do you have any plans to integrate with set top boxes? How important are they in the overall scheme of things, especially with so many streaming services around?
PL: I believe for the future that Internet content will be mainstream and there will be a decline in cable and satellite boxes. We have already seen this in China and India is going to follow suit.
HRB: Will OnePlus TV be a Google certified Android TV? How often do you see it getting updates? Is it more important in a TV to get Android version updates or new software features?
PL: Yes, our TV is on the Google Certified Android TV platform but we have also worked extensively on the software ourselves. We are going to have our own interface too. We're also going to definitely be the company that can provide the fastest updates to the user. Thanks to the strategic partnership we have with Google, we have optimised the system very well.
We carried over a similar concept from our smartphones: we want to make sure that our TV operating system is fast and smooth. Once you use the TV, you will notice on lot of details that the whole industry sometimes overlooks. Our user interface is also going to be tailored for the Indian user.
HRB: Any comments on Netflix certification? And can you reveal details of any other streaming content partners?
PL: We have already established partnerships with a lot of content providers. In terms of details on whom we have partnered with, all will be revealed at the official launch event.
HRB: Any thoughts on separating the TV panel and electronics - such as LG’s wallpaper TV? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
PL: We have thought about this when we started developing and doing research. We believe this is a great idea but right now, this is just a wish – the situation may change 5 or 10 years down the line. For instance, it’s possible that there may be significant improvements in the panel and its cost may come down. In that case, upgrading to a whole new TV makes more sense rather than just upgrading the electronics as you suggest.
HRB: You have confirmed QLED technology for your first TV but what are your thoughts about OLED? Many consider it to be a superior TV technology.
Pete: I do agree that black levels on OLED are much darker compared to the others but there is currently a massive disparity between the cost of using OLED display panels and the actual benefits they provide. I believe QLED is the most appropriate at this time, providing a good balance of quality and cost.
HRB: In a forum post, you spoke about intelligent connectivity. Can you offer an example of intelligent connectivity on a TV?
PL: When it comes to TV, there are two key focus areas for us: how to provide amazing image quality and how to seamlessly connect OnePlus TV with OnePlus smartphones. Here’s a quick example. Entering passwords on a TV using the remote control is a terrible experience. If you have a OnePlus TV and OnePlus smartphone, the keyboard will automatically pop-up on your phone whenever you need to enter text.
HRB: When it comes to TV audio, there always seems to be toss up between sleek design and louder/fuller sound. You can’t have both. Some decide to focus more on design while others include bulky soundbars underneath. What are your thoughts?
PL: You seem to know this industry well (laughs). This part is tricky. We’re going to have a creative way to solve that. We wanted to deliver great sound quality but also keep the design very premium. Stay tuned to see it in action.
HRB: What are your plans for distribution, installation and after sales for OnePlus TV?
PL: This is all part of our partnership with Amazon India. They’ve been selling TVs in India for a while now so they’re well versed with what is needed. They’re going to provide all these services to our customers on our behalf.