The first 4K Roku TV is coming, courtesy of TCL

Roku TVs, which build our favorite smart TV suite right into the television itself, are finally 4K, starting with a series from Chinese brand TCL, launching this spring.

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TCL/Roku

There isn't much to watch in 4K today, but the Roku 4 box offers just about all of it that's available via streaming. And coming next year, you'll be able to get the equivalent of a Roku 4 built into a TV, no box required.

Chinese brand TCL will ship the first Roku TVs in spring 2016 that support 4K streaming. They'll deliver all of the numerous 4K apps found on the Roku 4 box, including the 4K versions of Netflix, Amazon Video, YouTube, Vudu, M-Go and UltraFlix, as well as the 4K Spotlight Channel with its curated collection of 4K content (which currently excludes Netflix).

Two series of Roku 4K TVs will be available, the US5800 and the UP130. The step-up UP130 will incorporate the same kind of fancy remote control as found on the Roku 4, complete with voice search, a headphone jack and the unique remote finder function, while the US5800 will ship with the standard Roku TV remote.

The sets will come in 43-, 50-, 55- and 65-inch sizes, and will start shipping this spring. Pricing was not officially announced, but a TCL rep told me the 55-inch model in the US5800 series should cost less than $600 at retail.

Roku says other partners beyond TCL will also offer 4K TVs in the future, but didn't get more specific. Current partners include Haier, Hisense, Insignia, Sharp and TCL, and LG also sold a "limited time" Roku TV last year.

HDR Roku TVs coming too

Similar to the 4K reference design Roku announced last year, the company says, "Roku is also releasing the Roku TV HDR reference design for TV partners to incorporate HDR technology into future 4K UHD Roku TV models. TCL will be an initial TV partner to integrate the Roku TV HDR reference design."

Roku says the design will include support for both Dolby Vision and HDR 10, the two principal HDR standards.

HDR, which stands for High Dynamic Range, is expected to be a major theme for TV makers at CES this year. It's a catch-all term for new, improved content, namely TV shows and movies, and the televisions that can display it. The most concise pitch I've heard is, "Not just more pixels, but better pixels," an implicit improvement on mere 4K resolution. Check out CES 2016 TV tech: 4K yawns, high dynamic range dawns for more details.

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