Hardware startup Telly launches a free smart TV entirely supported by ads

Telly, a hardware startup led by Pluto TV co-founder Ilya Pozin, announced Monday that it’s giving away 500,000 of its new smart TVs for free. (Yes, we said free.) There’s a catch, though. Users must watch 24/7 ads while simultaneously streaming TV shows and movies.

Telly developed a dual-screen smart TV, which has a 55-inch 4K HDR screen, a built-in five-driver soundbar and a nine-inch second screen mounted underneath. This second screen is where ads appear alongside widgets, such as the weather, music playback and sports scores, among other informational widgets like stocks. The bottom panel is lit up at all times, even when content is playing.

However, since the extra screen is a lot smaller than the main screen, and the ads only take up a quarter of it, there are users who can likely train their eyes to ignore the ads altogether. For others, it may be too distracting. But hey, it’s a free TV!

Plus, the other trade-off is agreeing to give Telly certain data. After all, the giveaway is only possible because the advertising funds the device itself.

“Telly is a revolutionary step forward for both consumers and advertisers,” Pozin, founder and CEO of Telly, said in a statement. “For too long, consumers have not been an equal part of the advertising value exchange. Companies are making billions of dollars from ads served on televisions, yet consumers have historically had to pay for both the TV and the content they watch. All of that changes today. When I co-founded Pluto TV, we created an entirely new model that offered amazing TV content to viewers for free. Now, with Telly, we are providing the actual television for free as well.”

Users can reserve their free smart TV at www.freetelly.com. Telly will ship the device this summer. Currently, Telly is only accepting reservations in the U.S.

Image Credits: Telly

“Don’t be fooled by the free price. This is by far the most advanced television ever developed. Consumers will never look at their television the same way again after Telly transforms the TV from a monitor on the wall into the most powerful and useful device in the home. Telly is the ultimate free upgrade that actually gets better month after month with over-the-air updates constantly innovating the living room experience. There has never been anything like it before,” added Pozin.

Telly’s TV has a retail value of $1,000, according to the company.

Other notable features include a video-calling feature for users to chat with friends or family or virtually watch content together.

There’s a built-in camera, sensors and microphone, so users can also play games and work out. There are more than 40 video games to choose from, as well as motion-tracking fitness programs. Users can use controllers, remotes or their own bodies to use the features.

Telly’s AI-powered voice assistant allows users to set timers, ask questions and more. For instance, users can watch their favorite football game and ask “Hey Telly” to bring up their fantasy football roster, which will appear on the bottom screen.

Another way the company differs from other competitors is that it doesn’t have its own smart TV software. Telly’s TV will ship with an Android TV streaming stick, and consumers can also plug in other connected devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV.