Hisense announces Google TV, Android HDTVs

Michelle Clancy | 22-10-2012

Hisense, the consumer electronics behemoth behind Best Buy's Insignia and Dynex TV house brands, is going up-market with Google TV and Android-enabled TV sets meant to compete against the major HDTV brands. It's announcing nine new television lines, including LED and LCD models, plus the Hisense Pulse.

The Pulse is a $99 Google TV box that converts any HDTV into a smart TV. It features a dual-sided remote control with a QWERTY keyboard on one side and a touchpad plus numeric keyboard on the other, built-in Wi-Fi, HDMI output and a Google Chrome browser. It will be available initially at Amazon next month.

Hisense, the world's sixth largest producer of televisions, has been in the U.S. market for two years with entry-level HDTVs but is now adding high-end features such as 240 Hz refresh, 3D, Ultra HD (featuring 3840 x 2160 resolution) and connected TV capability.

The timing is ripe: as RTVN previously reported, more than three quarters of U.S. households have an HDTV set—that's up 14% from last year, according to a recent study by Nielsen. And to boot, nearly 40% of those homes have multiple HD sets. That's of course largely driven by the fact that most new televisions have HD built in automatically: getting consumers to actually use the functionality and seek out HD programming will be a function of education and content availability (particularly when it comes to '4K' ultra-def content, which is expensive to product and applies to a small install base to date).

Hisense is doing its part with a host of new TVs, ranging from 22 to 65 inches, some of which will be available exclusively at Walmart and through Amazon.

At the top end, the XT880 is a Ultra HDTV (supporting a 4x resolution of full HD), which includes a thin 7mm bezel, connected TV capability with the Android Ice Cream Sandwich OS, Internet browser, detachable (to insure privacy) HD camera with facial recognition, gesture control, Skype video, 240 Hz refresh, edge lit LEDs, active 3D, games, Google apps and more. The XT880 will arrive in the United States during Q1 2013 in 50-, 58- and 65-inch screen sizes. The 50-inch is shipping this month into the Chinese market. Pricing is to be announced.

The new offerings offer a bundle of functionality aimed at the connected home. For instance, the K316 series of 42-, 46- and 50-inch LED LCDs feature 1080p HDTV with 120 Hz refresh, active 3D, Wi-Fi, the Opera Web browser, four HDMI inputs, two USBs, and two pairs of active 3D glasses. Embedded Internet streaming options include Netflix, VUDU and YouTube.