Editor’s Note: Sorry that I am just sharing this post. I have been fine tuning it during my travels.
In 12 years LeEco has made a huge name from themselves in China. And now the multi-faceted company has introduced themselves to the US. And they did so with not just one product announcement; but an ecosystem of products for different product categories. These product aren’t think you normally think of getting from the one company and range from TVs, phones, to even a car. Here is a look at some of the things unveiled in San Francisco.
uMax85 and Super4 TV’s
I do not normally talk about TV’s on the site. Though they are a bit of an interest of most Americans. We consume a fair amount of content on them; despite the falling numbers when compared to how much content we consume on our portable devices. LeEco was already the maker of the best-selling TV’s in China. And with their recent purchase of Vizio they are looking to move in to the US market. Before you start to worry; Vizio is not going anywhere, But LeEco has announced that they will be releasing the own branded uMax85 in the US. As the name would suggest this TV is a massive 85 inches 4K TV. The Super4 line will all be 4K screen as well.
They sport an attractive design with thin bezels and pedestal feet on either end. It supports all standards of HDR like HDR-10 and it supports Dolby Vision. But what really caught my attention about this TV is the inclusion of Harman Kardon speakers. Sound quality from the built-in speakers on TV’s normally aren’t anything to write home about. But LeEco looks to change that. The TV is also very aggressively priced with the uMax85 having an MSRP of $4,999.
Le Pro 3 and Le S3
One of the reasons I have had my eyes on LeEco is their phones(I know they do a lot more but I can’t help it, I’m a phone guy). The Le Pro 3 and Le S3 brings their high-end specs/wallet-friendly priced phone lines to the US. Both phone sport a 5.5 inch 1080p IPS screen, 8 megapixel front cam, 16 megapixel rear camera(though the Pro 3 sports dual flashed while the S3 only has a single one), fingerprint sensors, IR blasters, and are running their content-driven user interface on top of Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. But they are pretty different. For one the Pro 3 definitely feels a lot more premium than the S3. The Pro 3 is also packing the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 while the S3 sports a 652. You are going to get both more RAM and storage on the Pro 3; which has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage compared to the S3’s 3GB RAM and 32GB of storage.
The Le S3 has some design cue that were obviously influenced by Apple and the iPhone 5. One could also argue that they were looking more towards HTC. While checking out both the Le S3 and Pro 3 it didn’t escape me that both have more than a passing similarity to the Desire and One line for phones for the Taiwanese company. Both sport metal bodies but the Pro 3 has a unbiddy frame while the S3 does not. The S3 felt a little hollow; at least when pressing the capacitive buttons. It could just be the position of the vibrating motor or it could be that this was demo hardware. We will see I guess.
The Pro is also packing dual speaker; one a bottom firing can while the other is on the earpiece. You will also not find a 3.5 mm headphone jack. Instead you have to run audio through the USB Type-C port. But it does support Dolby Atmos audio and CDLA audio. This should make the audio experience on this phone something special.
As for pricing on both you will be looking at $399 for the Pro 3 in either silver, gray, or gold. The Le S3 will set you back $249 and will be available in silver, gray, gold, and rose gold.
So this one is out of the ordinary for me. I don’t normally talk about smart models of transportation. But this one caught my eye. The Supra Bike is not an electric bike; but it is a connected one. You aren’t going to be getting things like a motor; instead you will be the power moving this 27 pound bike around town. But it has built-in GPS, an alarm system, fingerprint lock, walkie-talkie, and in general looks really cool. The bike also has some health components to it as it will track your trips, allowing you to then manually import that info into your preferred health app. As of now there is no word if they plan on integrating syncing functions for that data collected from the bike to any health platform like Fitbit, S-Health, or Apple’s Health App. The other bad news here is there is no release info or pricing on this one. In fact, I was told that the one showed off at the conference was not the finished product. They will be adding even more features to the consumer version. I will keep you updated on that as info is released.
An electric, autonomous car is no something you see everyday from a company that offers digital content, cell phones, and VR headsets. Though Google has its self-driving cars which they have tested and Apple is rumored to be throwing their hat into that space. LeEco has a leg up on both companies in a way as they not only have a model ready for consumers to at least swoon over(even if they can’t buy one quite yet). But they also have a well-known and respected auto company working with them in Aston Martian. They are also working with FF; who will be showing off their own electric car early next year. From what I did see the Lesee Pro is an eye-catching car.
The company is looking to bring their content offering to your drive too; since the car will be doing most of the hard work you can enjoy some TV or catch a movie during the ride. Though there will be an option to use the more traditional staring wheel for those would rather drive themselves around. Also for those times when there are no sensors on the road to allow for autonomous driving. Hopefully that partnership with Aston Martin will mean either driving experience will be an enjoyable one.
My thoughts on LeEco’s entry into the US market
The US market is one of the most important ones for any company to break into. We are a nation of spenders and are always looking for the latest, most interesting things. We tend to be open to trying new things IF it is compelling enough. LeEco made a name for themselves in China and hope to find the same success in the US. But this won’t be an easy battle for them. I think what MAY set this apart and help them is their “Open” system. Something that stands in starch contrast when compared to Apple’s closed loop ecosystem.
The other advantage LeEco have would be their well-established content distribution system integrated into their ecosystem. They have partnered with companies like Vice and Loinsgate to their US launch with more partners to be listed later. Add to that their years of experience producing content. Though both Apple and Google have content to distribution; when it comes to original content I feel LeEco has a leg up. They have built their content library into their devices and how something like the phone and TV communicate seamlessly(for the most part, there were some hiccups in the demo area but we are talking about demo hardware and software so that’s par for the course).
LeEco will also be selling their products directly to consumers. Their products will be available through their website; LeMail.com. This can either help or hurt them as retail availability is a good way to get your products in front of consumers. This also allows this to get some hands-on time(or eyes-on) with your devices. Personally I prefer to be able to see a product in person before making a purchase unless I have bought from the company before. On the other hand more and more consumers are making their purchases online so this could work out great for them. Plus with their pricing they will be even more attractive. I would like to do more research on how other consumers truly feel about things such as that but either way I feel like a retail presents could help the company.
I think one of the things that will real set them apart is their pricing.This is one of the reasons I was excited for their US debut. During the presentation they called it “disruptive.” I could not have said it better myself. For what hardware you are getting you are paying a low price when compared to the competition. Of course, there will be some trade-offs made to get them to those prices but so far it seems like they are making smart concessions to get there. Putting a 1080 screen on their phones and not a 2K one, not using OLED on their TV. This are nice feature to have; but they aren’t deal breakers. Add to that their rewards program will give you additional discounts for your brand loyalty.
One of the most interesting things from the press event was when the company’s founder and CEO YT Jia was talking about why he decided his company would make an electric car. The move came from what seems like a genuine concern about the environmental impact the industry has had. He shown two pictures from outside their main headquarters in China. One picture showed what was a relatively clear day and the only taken a few minutes later when smog had rolled in. He said he truly believes that electric cars is an important step in reducing the amount of air pollution. This belief more than likely lead to the Super Bike. As someone who worries about the environmental impact of some of our decisions I can get behind the idea of doing what you can do address the issue.
What do you think of LeEco’s US entrance? Do you think that the company can carve out a place for itself in this very competitive market or well this end up as a loss for them? Share your thought in the comment section below.