Update: TCL TVs are now back on sale at Best Buy after the company issued a software fix.
Earlier this year, TCL announced a new range of 6-Series and 5-Series TVs that would run on the new Google TV, rather than on the Roku platform. Well, it seems that change might not have been for the better — because those TVs have now been pulled from sale, reportedly due to software issues.
According to The Verge (opens in new tab), Best Buy, exclusive retailer of TCL Google TVs in the U.S., has at least temporarily removed the TVs from shelves after complaints of buggy and sluggish software performance. The Verge quotes TCL as stating that it's aware that “some are facing challenges with the stability of the user interface” but that it expects these models to be “available again in the coming weeks.”
We didn’t run into any issues when we reviewed the TCL 5-Series Google TV (S546) — in fact, we loved it, awarding it 4.5 stars and giving it a place in our best TVs list.
However, it seems complaints over the TVs' performance aren't rare, with multiple posts on Reddit (opens in new tab) and Best Buy’s own product reviews (opens in new tab) page mentioning problems.
The experience seems to be very much the same across the board, with slow software generally affecting the whole TV-watching experience. The Verge’s Chris Welch also referred to instances where the TV froze and ended up unresponsive.
In the past, TCL has sold televisions powered by a wide range of software, including a select few powered by Android TV. However, Google TV is a relatively new system, having launched earlier this year.
The software is designed to offer more smart controls and better integration with Google’s smart home devices. It's also intended to be a more refined experience, with more emphasis on personalized content recommendations, thanks to better integration with your own Google account. The new interface also puts content first, and is a massive redesign compared to Android TV.
TCL told The Verge that it has already rolled out updates designed to improve the TVs’ performance and that “customers will see marked improvements in the weeks to come.”
It's also important to note that Best Buy has yet to confirm whether these issues are the reason why the TVs are no longer available, or whether stock problems are involved. In the meantime, let's hope TCL can figure out the problems quickly, because we were certainly impressed by them in our testing and consider them some of the best Google TVs.