LeTV Max 70

LeTV Max 70

LeTV, the Chinese online video and hardware provider, just launched a new smart TV model, Max70 with a 70-inch screen and powered by a Qualcomm quad-core processor.

An accessory accompanying Max 70 is a motion control camera that enables gestures and voice controls — unlike Samsung that has the camera built in. So far it’s unknown whether the motion control with LeTV will function well as the first ones won’t be available for purchase until February 25th.

LeTV is known for being always one step ahead of major online video services and, more recently, smart TV makers. It made a fortune through video right sales during the price war among other major Chinese video services. Before those video sites began producing original video content, LeTV had established a film and TV program production company LeTV Yingye. In late 2013 LeTV acquired a production company Huaer for 900 million yuan (roughly $150 mn) which has produced a lot of the most popular Chinese TV drama series.

Now LeTV has established an ideal model. It has third-party or self-produced videos. LeTV UI, a custom Android system, is for users of set-top boxes or smart TVs to access online videos or all kinds of apps. Like the newly emerged hardware makers, LeTV sells all the hardware online, counting on pre-orders to suggest demand.

When it comes to smart TV, of all the TV makers in China, traditional or new, Xiaomi is considered LeTV’s direct competitor. Xiaomi released its first smart TV four months ago. As Xiaomi doesn’t own a video platform, it is rumored that the company is taking a stake in Xunlei Kankan, one of the major video streaming services in China. Different from LeTV, Xiaomi doesn’t charge a fee for streaming online videos or other services while LeTV charges an annual fee.

The first LeTV smart TV was one of the first of this kind in China, so the company hoped to collect fees like cable TV subscriptions have been doing. But companies like Xiaomi, founded by a bunch of Internet service developers, don’t think charging end-users is a good idea.

LeTV adjusted the pricing strategy accordingly. The price for the last flagship model X60, launched in May 2013, has been lowered to roughly two thirds of the original. But the company requires customers to pay for a two-year subscription instead of the one-year prior to the price adjustment. The latest model Max 70 also requires a two-year subscription. Priced at 8999 yuan (roughly $1500), LeTV is confident it’s way lower a price than its peers of the same screen size or similar specs.