At the IFA this week Toshiba announced a new range of Alexa-enabled TVs. This might not sound particularly earth shattering, but it’s going to embed Amazon ever deeper into people’s lives and that means in all likelihood they’ll be shopping more frequently on the marketplace.
So why is an Alexa enabled TV noteworthy? It’s all to do with home automation. Alexa can control many smart devices around the home as can Google Home, but the one thing that neither can do is properly control a TV and when you think about it that’s one of the things you’d expect as a basic – dump the remote control and move to voice control.
Currently Alexa can certainly control a TV to an extent with the Fire TV Stick and Google Home integrates nicely with Chromecast. Both have one major failing however and that is that you can’t turn your TV on and select an HDMI or antenna input.
Yes, you can turn your TV on with smart plugs but that won’t help you at all. All a smart plug (whether voice controlled by Alexa, Google or another device) can do is turn on power to your TV. That’ll put it into standby mode and now it’s time to hunt for the control to take it out of standby mode and choose a TV input before you can switch to voice control.
The new Toshiba range of TVs will change all this with simple commands such as “Alexa, put on BBC1″ and that’s currently something you can’t do.
Of course if you’re amazing technical and want to play with InfraRed blasters you can buy the kit to created a voice controlled TV already, but Toshiba are hoping their new tellies will appeal to older and less technically savvy users who just want a voice controlled TV to work out of the box. Connect your new TV to the same WiFi network as your Alexa device (e.g. Amazon Echo) and you’ll be all set to go.
The new range of Toshiba TVs will be Ultra HD 4K with screen sizes ranging from 43″ to 75”. Pricing has yet to be released but they’re unlikely to be cheap. Our advice, as with most tech, is if you want one it’s going to be expensive but if you wait a while price will fall and other manufacturers will soon follow suit and add voice control to their TVs.