Startup Telly Offers You a Free 55-inch TV in Exchange For Constant Ads

A new startup wants to give you a free 55-inch TV with an integrated soundbar. The catch? You’ll need to be willing to fork over your privacy, be filmed by a built-in camera, and endure an endless barrage of ads in order to get the device. 

Telly, founded by Ilya Pozin — the co-founder of Pluto TV — announced Monday that it has opened a waitlist for its free dual-screen TV. The second, smaller screen sits below the main TV and soundbar and acts as a display for ads and widgets. While ads will stay out of the way while you’re watching TV, they could take over both screens when the TV is not in use. 

In an interview with The Verge, Dallas Lawrence, Telly’s chief strategy officer, said that Telly is working on many different ways to place ads on both screens. “There are literally hundreds of things we are thinking about to create the most engaging ad experience ever,” he said.

On top of constant advertising, people will also have to agree to fork over plenty of data. The company states in its privacy policy that it will collect data on “the audio and video content you watch, the channels you view and the duration of your viewing sessions.” 

Additionally, it will monitor when and how you use your TV, including “your search queries, settings preferences, applications you open, purchases or other transactions you make, buttons you select, the time, frequency and duration of your activities, the physical presence of you and any other individuals using the TV at any given time, and other usage data.”

If you want to opt out of the monitoring, you’ll have to return the TV or pay the company $500. 

While many smart TVs display ads and collect data, there are always settings in which users can turn off much of the data collection. Additionally, most televisions do not come equipped with cameras, which means that the device will not be able to visually track you. 

Telly says that its camera comes with a privacy shutter, though the company’s privacy policy makes it clear that the TV is tracking the physical presence of those using it. 

The addition of an included soundbar and built-in camera — not to mention a second screen — makes the Telly unique among 55-inch TVs. The TV itself appears to lack QLED, mini-LED, full-array local dimming or any other sort of advanced technology to enhance its picture quality. A standard 55-inch TV with basic picture specs similar to the Telly costs around $300 to $400. Of course, you’d have to pay more for an additional soundbar, which would add on around $100 or more.

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