TCL pulls Google TVs from sale over software performance issues

TCL launched its new 5-Series and 6-Series smart television models back in August, all of them made notable by the inclusion of Google TV. These lines, which include 50- to 75-inch models, are sold through Best Buy in the US, joining the similar TCL models running Roku OS. Unfortunately, early buyers were hit with a number of software problems, prompting TCL to pull these models from sale.

TCL confirmed the issue with 9to5Google, which first spied user reports claiming slow performance, remote problems, and other annoyances impacting some of the company's 5-Series and 6-Series Google TVs. The problem appears to only impact the versions of these TVs running Google's software, not the Roku OS versions.

As well, the issue seems to be entirely related to software, not hardware, as TCL said in its statement that its customers "will see marked improvements in the weeks to come" thanks to software updates. TCL claims its recent updates have already introduced "significant progress" toward resolving the issues.

That statement seems to indicate TCL has been aware of the performance issues for a while, but it's not clear whether these problems have been around since launch. An exact timeline for these software updates likewise has not been provided at this time, though TCL does have a support document that shows Google TV owners how to manually check for and install future releases.

These Google TV models will go back up for sale through Best Buy once the software problems are resolved. This is an unfortunate situation for consumers who have already bought one of these TVs, however, as they're left with either tolerating the issues until a fix is released or using a third-party device connected to the TV for streaming in the meantime.

Not all TCL Google TV owners are impacted by this software performance bug, though it's impossible to determine at this time what percentage of consumers are dealing with the issues. A number of complaints about these Google TV models have appeared on the TCL TVs Reddit forum, including issues with powering on the display and overall slow, "buggy" performance.

What to do while waiting

If you own one of these buggy models and find yourself unable to tolerate the issues until the bug fix is released, you have some other options — though none of them will be as convenient. Put simply, you'll need to connect a different device to your TV's HDMI port and use that third-party device to access your favorite streaming services.

If you already own a newer gaming console like the PS4 or PS5, you can install many popular video services and stream through with the device, including YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu. Alternatively, you can pick up a cheap streaming box or stick, such as the Fire TV Stick, and use that to stream content until the update is available.

Consumers who particularly enjoy the Google TV experience (when it works properly) can look into getting a Chromecast with Google TV dongle for use with their model. Spending another $40 to watch content on a new TV that doesn't work right is disappointing, but it may ultimately be worth it compared to potentially weeks of flickering, slow menus, and other annoyances.