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Telly offers a free TV, is upfront about data collection

by JOY SCHWABACH | May 27, 2023 at 1:49 a.m.

I can hardly wait to get my free 55-inch 4K "Telly" TV. You can get one too.

In the first 36 seconds, 100,000 people signed up, mostly Millennials and Gen Zs in the higher income and education brackets. The first half million TVs will be shipped next month, and millions more will be shipped in 2024 and 2025.

Unfortunately, the Telly is getting a bum rap because of the data it collects. That's ironic. Today's TVs already spy on you, then sell your data to third parties. The main difference between the Telly and other TVs is that the Telly is upfront about it and gives you a TV for free.

Sign up at to get a TV that takes the place of many other gadgets. For example, say "Hey Telly," instead of "Hey Google, Alexa or Siri," to have your lights and room temperature controlled, to see who's at the door, find your favorite show, play music and get answers. The major component, the glass, is manufactured by the same company that makes TV screens for Samsung, Vizio and all the other major brands.

Besides the usual programs, the Telly offers over 40 video games including the classic arcade type, a fitness studio with motion tracking, Zoom video calls, and the ability to share shows and sports with friends across the country. It also lets you connect to your favorite streaming services: Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, Apple TV and others.

The Telly has two smart displays with a sound bar in between. Its main screen displays your shows, Zoom calls, video games and fitness activities. The much narrower bottom panel is for news and stock updates, with a quarter of the space reserved for unobtrusive ads, silently displayed.

Here's a typical scenario: You say: "Hey Telly, turn on Sunday football." Meanwhile, you have a fantasy football app in the lower panel, a sports wagering app next to it, and a Zoom window with your friends from a fantasy sports league. Off to the right in that lower panel, you might see an ad for Uber Eats or Domino's Pizza. If you order a pizza, the ad will change to a widget that tracks your delivery.

The fitness studio, if you switch that on, offers an experience similar to the $995 to $1,500 Mirror, from It lets you see yourself exercising and offers feedback.

Unlike other devices, the Telly comes with a cover for its camera. If you need to use the camera, you can raise it, otherwise the shutter is down.

Both the first TVs and the later ones will get updates with new features, such as karaoke. Partners include Apple, Google, Amazon, Netflix, Roku, Comcast, Pluto TV, Sony, DIRECTV, and Nielsen. The company was founded by the guy who started Pluto TV, a free movie channel.

The Telly is huge and weighs 65 pounds, so I'll probably mount it on the wall. For some reason, during sign-up, I kept getting an error message on my Android phone. So I signed up by installing the Telly app on my iPad.


When you're in a hurry to take a photo, it can be hard to open your camera fast enough, especially if you use a PIN instead of facial recognition to get past the lock screen. So here's a shortcut: In Settings search for "Quick Capture." With it turned on, you can twist your wrist twice to open the camera at any time, even with the screen locked. A further setting determines which camera, front or rear, first appears.


After I wrote about my internet speed, a reader told me that for almost 25 years, he was stuck with agonizingly slow service. For example, when he uploaded one of his hiking videos, he could start the process before going to bed but it still wasn't finished when he woke up. However, recently he was able to order a download speed of 30 megabits per second for $75 a month, which is about what I'm getting for $55 a month. But "if we have two TVs streaming and I try to surf the internet on an iPad," he wrote, "it starts slowing down. Often, I have to close the iPad to prevent buffering on TVs."

Fortunately, a company called Ritter Communications from Jonesboro recently laid fiber optic around his White Hall neighborhood, with speeds ranging from 100 megabytes per second to five gigabytes. "Finally!" he said. "After almost 25 years with three Mbps, I was beginning to wonder if we would ever catch up with the rest of the civilized world. I can't wait to see what 500 Mbps will be like."


If you have TSA pre-check, the airport's security line is about to get even faster. At some airports, you can now insert your driver's license or passport into a card reader. Artificial intelligence will do the rest, comparing your face with your picture ID. You can find it in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Fla., and a handful of other U.S. airports. There will still be an agent, to speed you on your way.


"Watch this guy build amazing franken-bikes." Search on that phrase see triangular wheels in motion.

Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at

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