Honor Vision smart TV is the first device with Huawei’s Harmony OS
Companies that have traditionally been known for their smartphones are venturing into the smart TV business. Xiaomi has been in this game for some time now, while OnePlus is also gearing up to launch its own smart screen product. Honor, an independent smartphone brand under Huawei Technologies, started teasing its own smart TV device late last month. What makes Honor’s TV so interesting is that it doesn’t run Android TV, but rather Huawei’s new Harmony OS. That makes the Honor Vision the first device with Huawei’s new Harmony operating system.
Yesterday, Huawei CEO Richard Yu unveiled Harmony OS at the Huawei Developer Conference in Dongguan, China. Harmony is a microkernel-based OS, like Google’s Fuchsia OS, and it’s described by Huawei as a “distributed OS” that can run on multiple device types including smartwatches, televisions, smart displays, car kits, and more. It can also run on smartphones, but Huawei isn’t ready to ditch Android just yet because the company doesn’t want to destroy its relationships with its partners and they aren’t ready to compete with the Android ecosystem. Huawei has built up Harmony over the past 2 years as its “plan B” if the company can no longer use Google’s Android or Microsoft’s Windows, and part of its efforts to reduce its dependence on American technology involves growing Harmony OS in China. That’s why today they announced the new Honor Vision TV for the Chinese market.
Honor Vision Smart TV with Harmony OS
The display on the Honor smart TV is 55-inches with a screen resolution of 3840×2160 (4K) and a 94% screen-to-body ratio. The display supports 87% NTSC wide color gamut, up to 400 nits of brightness, and 178° viewing angle. The TV has received TÜV Rheinland’s low blue light certification. Honor says it takes 1 second to wake the TV from the button, and 2 seconds to wake the TV using the remote control.
Honor says the TV is lightweight and 6.9mm at its thinnest point. It has a full metal bezel, “3D arc design,” and a “diamond pattern” on the back. The Pro model also has a 1080p pop-up camera that can angle down up to 10°. The camera only pops up during video calls, and when it pops up there is a light that changes colors as it interacts with the user.
Honor has equipped the Honor Vision Pro model with 6 10W speaker boxes (4 10W speaker boxes on the non-Pro) and a 1.6L sound cavity, the Huawei Histen surround sound effect, Hi-Res Wireless Audio (HWA) support, Bluetooth 5.0 support for the remote or to connect your headset or smartphone, and a loudness adaptation feature to normalize the volume when changing channels.
The Honor Vision TV has a linear array with 6 microphones that support a 5-meter range to start the YoYo voice assistant.
Harmony OS Software
The Honor Vision is the first device to run Huawei’s new Harmony OS. Since this is a TV, the UI is adapted for a large screen. Honor describes the Harmony OS UI as “magazine-style.” The OS has integrations with multiple local Chinese services and will serve as a hub for multi-device interactions when other Harmony OS devices are released.
The Vision TV includes Honor Magic-link to use your smartphone as a control for your TV with the ability to also cast your screen at 1080p resolution. Screencasting uses the DLNA or Miracast standards so a dedicated app is not needed for casting. Honor says that low-latency casting (between 50-100ms) is possible, enabling screen sharing for games. You can also beam media content straight from your phone with Huawei Share; Honor says that a 600MB file can be shared in just 20 seconds.
The built-in YoYo voice assistant can start routines for when you’re home or going to sleep, and it can also launch apps with your voice. The TV can also use facial recognition to detect when a child is watching the TV, in which case the TV will automatically adjust the screen mode to reduce blue light emission.
Other software features include a family message board function, video doorbell integration that pauses your media when someone is at the door, and a streaming assistant to help you find the right streaming service for the content you’re looking for.
It’s impressive how many features Harmony OS on the Honor Vision TV already has. A lot of these features can be found on other smart TVs, but Huawei built this OS from the ground up.
The Honor Vision TV is powered by the new 28nm Hongjun 818 chipset, developed by Huawei’s HiSilicon in collaboration with Baidu. The chipset is optimized for outputting high-quality audio and video which is critical for the operation of a smart TV. It has 2 ARM Cortex A73 and 2 ARM Cortex A53 CPU cores, and a 4 core, 600MHz Mali-G51 GPU that supports H.265 4K video playback at up to 60fps and H.265 1080P video playback at up to 60 fps. The chipset also supports 64MP image decoding, HDR, noise reduction, super-resolution upscaling, MEMC (Motion Estimation/Motion Compensation), DCI, local dimming, and more imaging features. Baidu’s involvement brought improvements to the far-field voice commands used for the YOYO smart assistant, powered by the Hi3516DV300 NPU in the chipset.
Under the hood is also the HiSilicon Hi1103 Wi-Fi chip. This chip supports 160MHz bandwidth, a download rate up to 1.7Gbps, and 2.4G/5GHz dual-frequency.
Honor Vision Pricing and Availability
The Honor Vision costs ¥3799 (~Rs. 38,214/$537/€476) for the standard model with 16GB storage and ¥4799 (~Rs. 48,274/$680/€601) for the Pro model with 32GB storage. Both models have 2GB RAM. As mentioned previously, only the Pro model has a pop-up camera. Pre-orders begin tomorrow at 5 PM China Standard Time while general sales start at 10:00 AM on August 15th. No word yet on international availability, but don’t expect this TV to launch outside of China – especially because Harmony OS doesn’t have much in the way of an international app ecosystem.
Update 1 (8/10/19 @ 10:34 AM EST): This article was updated with information on the Wi-Fi chipset, clarification on the difference in speakers between the non-Pro and Pro, and more details on the Magic-link feature.