TCL 6-series (55R617) Roku TV review
DT Editors' Choice
“If the unbelievably low price doesn’t convince you, the 6-Series’ great picture quality absolutely will.”
- Excellent black levels
- High brightness
- Punchy HDR picture
- Accurate, wide color gamut
- Roku TV OS is excellent
- Vertical banding is visible in some units
- Vignette effect in corners
TCL 6-series models
- While we reviewed the 55-inch 55R617 model, our review also applies to the 65-inch model.
- 55-inch (55R617)
- 65-inch (65R617)
After wowing reviewers and customers alike with its P-Series TV last year, TCL is frequently on shortlists for folks looking to purchase a new 4K TV. After all, last year’s P-series competed well against TVs costing twice as much – that’s undeniable value. So, with the introduction of the new 6-Series, TCL had a lot to live up to. In today’s tech market, if your new product doesn’t significantly outperform your last, then you are going backward. And we’re pleased to share that TCL has definitely moved forward.
With a 55-inch 6-Series Roku TV coming in at $650 and a 65-inch at $1,000, TCL has customers banging down its doors – we’ve seen both sizes go out of stock at several retailers over the past few weeks. But, as the self-proclaimed fastest growing TV brand in the U.S., TCL says it will meet demand this year. Should you get one? Yeah, you probably should. What follows is our account of the TCL 6-Series experience, along with a few crucial things you’ll want to keep in mind when buying.
More handsome and more capable
With such a budget-friendly price, you’d be right to expect a lackluster-looking TV. Last year’s P-Series fit that description, but the new 6-Series TVs look considerably better, even before turning them on.
The 6-Series upgrades the plastic bezels of the past to an unassuming, dark brushed metal, improving both the look and feel of the TV. You’ll find metal legs which operate as the TV’s stand, but while we’re happy to see better materials in use, we’re bothered by this trend that sees a TVs legs spread across almost the entire width of the TV. In fact, with the 6-Series, the legs reach beyond the borders of the set. Better get a wide entertainment unit if you’re stand mounting.
If you’re wall mounting, you’ll get a very sleek-looking presentation, with a slightly thicker band of black metal along the bottom, accented by a power/control button, a low-key Roku logo, and a totally not low-key illuminated TCL logo smack in the center. We still haven’t figured out how to turn that thing off when the TV is powered down, but fortunately, it turns itself off when the TV is on.
In the box with the TV is a bit of product literature, some batteries, and the all-important Roku remote. It’s important we make a distinction here: The R617 models, sold primarily by Amazon, come with a voice-remote which uses a Wi-Fi signal to control the TV.
The R615 models, sold by Best Buy, come with a scaled down remote which does not come with voice capabilities and uses infra-red to send control signals to the TV. Since IR remotes require line of sight, you’ll need to be in the same room pointing the remote at the TV should you go with the R615 version.
Since we’re talking about the remote, now is a good time to warn those who fell in love with the P-Series from last year that the 6-Series remote lacks the headphone jack in the remote for private listening. You can still listen via headphones, but you’ll need to plug into your phone or tablet and call up the Roku app to do so.
Roku just gets it, and you’ll get Roku
If you’ve not yet experienced a Roku TV, you’re in for a treat. This is the kind of interface just about anyone can figure out. Not only are apps like Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu easy to find and quick to launch, connected devices like cable boxes, game consoles, and Blu-ray players live right next to the apps, with labels that tell you exactly what they are. You’ll never have to guess which input your stuff is plugged into. Just click the icon for whatever you wish to access.
You can say, “show me 4K movies on Netflix,” and you’ll be served a list of 4K titles on Netflix.
Roku’s voice commands are a bit rudimentary – you can’t ask the TV to “play Ozark” and expect the show to start streaming on Netflix – but for searches alone, it’s a useful feature. Once again, Roku does a better job than any other platform of helping you find what you want to watch quickly while telling you where to watch it for free, or how much it is going to cost you when not available with a subscription.
Roku’s also got a leg up in helping you enjoy 4K content. You can say, “show me 4K movies on Netflix,” and you’ll be served a list of 4K titles on Netflix. Be sure to ask the right way, though. If you say “show me movies in 4K,” the voice assistant will get confused and you’ll get nowhere. As has been the case with these voice-interactions for years now, you’ll have to learn the system, because the system isn’t that quick to learn you.
For connections, the 6-Series Roku TV supports three HDMI 2.0 HDCP 2.2 inputs, so you can connect all your 4K HDR devices like an Xbox One S or PS4 Pro without having to be careful about which inputs will work. HDMI ARC is located on HDMI 3, though, so if you plan to run ARC sound to your sound bar or A/V receiver, keep that one free for that purpose.
This television will support Dolby Atmos sound via HDMI ARC when using compatible streaming apps, but we have yet to determine if the TV will transcode Dolby True HD from a Blu-ray or Ultra HD Blu-ray disc down to Dolby Digital Plus and shoot it down the ARC line. LG TVs do it, and we hope to update this review once we hear more from TCL.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. How’s the picture quality?
No exaggeration: I have never had so many people ask me about a TV and when they could see my review of it than regarding the TCL 6-Series. That shouldn’t be a surprise, really, considering it claims to offer videophile-grade picture quality for a ridiculously approachable price. Is that a real thing now?
Unfortunately, there’s also the issue of the online community sharing some experiences of trouble with their 6-Series TVs showing “dirty screen effect” or “banding,” along with discussions of the so-called “panel lottery.” I’m going to dive into all of that, but before I do, allow me to describe what our experience with this TV has been like over the past few weeks.
On the whole, the new TCL 6-Series produces remarkably impressive picture quality, full stop. The low price is a bonus to be sure, but the 6-Series stands up well against competing sets from Sony, LG, and Samsung costing much more. Add in the convenience of Roku TV, and it’s hard to argue the 6-Series is anything other than a tremendous value.
The 6-Series boasts over 1 Billion colors in its palate, and they are very accurate out of the box.
This 55-inch TV’s 96 zones of locally dimmed backlights (120 zones in the 65-inch variant) are extremely effective at providing punchy brightness while preserving deep black levels. In the past, budget TVs (and even some more expensive options) with this kind of advanced technology haven’t employed it well – we’ve seen slow dimming response times and bleed-over into adjacent zones – but TCL’s local dimming was highly effective during our testing. To get better, you’re going to have to spend a lot more.
This element is key because local dimming supports a TVs contrast, and contrast is the most easily recognizable element of picture quality. When it comes to contrast, the 6-Series is in the company with the very best QLED TVs from Samsung and is only significantly bested by OLED TVs from LG and Sony.
With that great contrast comes equally great color. The 6-Series boasts over 1 Billion colors in its palate, and they are, based on comparison calibrated reference monitor, very accurate out of the box. We had the best results using the Movie picture preset with TV Brightness set to normal, but did enjoy Dolby Vision Dark mode when watching Dolby Vision titles.
Speaking of HDR and Dolby Vision: When you get such impressive color and contrast, HDR performance tends to follow. The TCL 6-Series supports both HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and it displays both of them extremely well. We tested both HDR formats using Netflix and Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, watching titles such as Ozark, Lost in Space, Altered Carbon, Bosch, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Ready Player One, and Mad Max: Fury Road, and found ourselves consistently impressed with the 6-Series’ fidelity.
Specular highlights are a particular benefit with this TV since it is capable of producing upwards of 800 nits in small, glinting areas. Placed against an impressively dark background with smooth gradients across the brightness range, this kind of HDR performance will dazzle any viewer, not just videophiles and enthusiasts.
We witnessed and documented some vertical banding which brings about an anomaly called dirty screen effect.
Unfortunately, it is those videophiles and enthusiasts who justifiably have cause for concern with regard to some issues we’ve both seen reported and experienced ourselves. For those unfamiliar, LCD panels tend to be inconsistent to some degree. No two perform exactly the same and, depending on the manufacturer and the batch of LCD panels produced, the variance in performance quality can be small or great. This truth in TV purchasing is referred to as “panel lottery.” Sometimes, you just don’t know what you’re going to get until you get it.
In the case of the 6-Series, we witnessed and documented some vertical banding which brings about an anomaly called dirty screen effect – so called because it can make the screen appear as if it has smudges on the surface. Now to be clear, this vertical banding and the resulting effect it has on images is difficult to detect in most typical viewing cases – in fact, we had to display solid color screens to show the problems our panel had with uniformity.
Sports fans, however, could notice the problem while watching soccer, football, tennis, golf, or hockey … pretty much any sport which fills the screen with a preponderance of a single, uniform color. We should also mention our panel shows a vignette effect in the corners where images are slightly darker than the rest of the screen.
It is clear the severity of these issues varies from TV to TV. We’ve seen worse, and we’ve seen better ourselves. Last year’s TCL P-Series review sample, for instance, has a far superior panel to the one built into our 6-Series sample. And if the reports we’ve heard both directly and through forum posts are any indication, the delta in quality could be wide. This means a shopper might have to buy and return a set or two if they received something they found unacceptable, and that would be a hassle.
Still, we find the TCL 6-Series to be a remarkable TV. The vertical banding issue is one we think the average viewer won’t notice, and even if they do, it comes along so infrequently that it is hard to call it a serious problem. Plus, we don’t have hard data to support any conclusion as to just how widespread and varied this problem could be. TCL told us they aren’t seeing significant returns, so it is possible we’re looking again at an issue of a vocal minority – one which just happens to have a very keen eye – calling attention to a very specific issue.
Would we buy and keep the TV we received as a review sample? Absolutely. Especially for just $1,000. The overall picture quality is just that good, and the Roku TV experience is better than it’s ever been, especially with the recent introduction of Roku Wireless Speakers.
TCL provides a one-year parts and labor warranty covering defects in materials or workmanship to the original owner when purchased as new from an authorized dealer. For more information, you can visit TCL’s warranty page here.
Is there a better alternative?
There is no clearly superior alternative in this price class. The Vizio P-Series TV – available in a 65-inch model for $200 more – is the closest competition, but our review of that unit is not yet complete. We’ll update this section of our review once the review of the P-Series is complete.
How long will it last?
Given the TCL 6-Series is equipped with both Dolby Vision and HDR10 processing, a strong backlight system, and wide color gamut, it is likely this TV, from a technological standpoint, is in a strong position to last for as long as a TV can these days. Inconsistencies in panel quality, however, do have us concerned about hastened degradation over several years of use, as we’ve witnessed the vignette effect worsen over time with other displays.
Should you buy it?
Yes. For most shoppers looking for the best picture quality attainable under $1,000, the TCL 6-Series is the ticket. For video enthusiasts seeking the best picture quality for the money, we advise being prepared to accept a little vertical banding – only visible at certain times – and perhaps a little vignette effect at the edges, depending on the panel received.
TCL 6 series (2018 Roku TV) review: Still the best picture quality for the money, period
Late 2019 update: New model available
What follows is the 2018 TCL 6-Series review as it was when last updated earlier this year, and which will no longer be updated.
More than a year after I first reviewed it, the TCL 6 series is still the best TV for the money you can buy. No TV in its price range can beat it, and that includes new 2019 models like the Vizio M8 series I recently reviewed.
Read more: Best TV gifts for the holidays
At this point the 6 series is heavily discounted from its initial price, making it a better value than ever. The 65-inch model regularly gets down to $700, and the 55-inch version down to just $500. Even the massive 75-inch version of the 6 series is a bargain at $1,400. Those prices might be different by the time you read this, however.
I can say the 6 series is the best because I've reviewed almost all of its closest competitors, including the 2019 M8 and Samsung Q70. I also compared it to a bunch of 2018 TVs, including the Vizio M-Series, Vizio P-Series, the Sony X900F and the Samsung Q8. All five offer similar image quality overall -- in a word, excellent, and each scored an 8 for picture quality -- so TV shoppers who want the best TV for the buck should gravitate to the cheapest. And that's the TCL.
Of course you could pay more for a better picture. LG's B8 OLED TV and Vizio's P-Series Quantum earned a 10 and a 9, respectively, in overall image quality, and both significantly outperform any of those TVs. If you can afford either one and relish image quality, they're worth considering. And if you can wait, there's more new 2019 TVs available now, but you'll have to wait until fall 2019, when TV prices bottom out, if you want the best deal. Speaking of waiting, TCL has yet to announce a 2019 successor to the 6 series, but we expect that to happen later this summer.
Beyond image quality, the 6 series includes my favorite smart TV system, Roku TV. It trounces the apps, simplicity and convenience of smart TV systems by LG, Vizio and Sony. Samsung's system has it beat in a couple of areas, namely device control and a new cool ambient mode, but overall I still like Roku better.
Among all the major midrange TVs I've reviewed, the TCL 6 series rises to the the top and continues to earn CNET's Editors' Choice award. For savvy TV shoppers who want a 55-, 65- or 75-inch inch size and prioritize getting as much picture quality for as little money as possible, it wins. For other options and sizes, check out CNET's Best TVs lists.
Editors' note: There are two variations of the TCL 6 series. One version ends in model number "617" and the other ends in "615." The 615 models are exclusive to Best Buy, while the 617 models are found at Amazon and elsewhere. The only difference between the two is in their remote controls; see below for details.
Goodbye and good riddance to shiny black plastic, hello to a no-nonsense metallic finish. The 6 series outclasses the appearance of previous TCLs by encasing the thin frame in a dark, textured metal. It reflects more than a matte-black but not too much, and creates a sleeker, more high-end feel than last year's model.
TCL adds a bit of panache with a rounded power button and aggressive, angled legs. The Roku TV logo is subtle and tough to spot on the lower right, while the shiny TCL below the screen is anything but subtle.
As expected for a full-array TV, the 6 series is relatively thick when seen in profile, but from straight on, where it matters, the frame around the screen is quite narrow and minimal, with the typical slightly wider bottom edge. Speaking of that edge, its fit and finish on my review sample weren't perfect: There was some slight separation along the bottom-left corner. It's not a major issue (I probably wouldn't return the set myself if I noticed it), but something to keep an eye on.
Rah-rah for Roku
I'm a fan of Roku TV, for reasons I've documented extensively in previous reviews. Here's the short version.
- Frequent updates and feature improvements.
- Simple menus with quick responses.
- Full customization, including input naming.
- Inputs on the same home page as TV apps.
- More apps (and 4K HDR apps) than any other smart TV system.
- 4K Spotlight and 4K apps category make finding 4K content easier.
- Cross-platform search covers many services, allows price comparisons.
- More Ways To Watch suggests streaming shows in antenna program guide.
- Can pause live TV from an antenna source (and a USB stick).
For more info, check out my review of my favorite 4K Roku device, the Roku Streaming Stick Plus. The 2017 P series review also has a lot more details about the above features.
The remote: Fewer extras in the Best Buy version
As mentioned above, the two versions of the 6 series, 615 and 617, have different remote controls.
The 617 series' remote has more features, namely a built-in mic for voice functions and the ability to communicate with the TV without needing line of sight. That means you don't need to aim the clicker at the TV.
Roku's voice function is not nearly as robust as Amazon Alexa, found on Fire Edition TVs for example, but it worked fine for searches, app launching, switching inputs and tuning to an antenna channel. If the TV is off, a voice command like, "Launch Netflix" will turn it on and launch the app.
If you don't care about the voice remote, the 615 series is a better value. It comes with a standard remote without voice search and uses infrared (IR) technology so you have to aim it at the TV. And if you really want voice search, you can always access it using Roku's phone app, which also offers extras like headphone jack private listening.
|Display technology||LED LCD|
|LED backlight||Full array with local dimming|
|HDR-compatible||HDR10 and Dolby Vision|
|Smart TV||Roku TV|
|Remote||Voice (617 only)|
Full-array local dimming sets the 6 series apart from many competitors, and most TV makers reserve the feature for TVs that cost a lot more than the 6 series. TCL calls it Contrast Control Zone technology, but it means the same thing. The 6 series has more zones than competing Vizio TVs: 96 zones for the 55-incher, 120 zones for the 65-incher and a whopping 160 on the 75-incher.
Having more dimming zones doesn't necessarily mean better image quality, but it can help. That's because smaller, more numerous zones allow the image to light up (and dim) more precisely, better separating the parts of the image that should be brighter from the parts that should be darker. It helps eliminate "blooming," where a bright area can lighten one that should be dark. See picture quality for more on how it performs.
The 6 series has WCG (wide color gamut) capabilities, thanks to NBP Photon technology (Nano Band Phosphor), but according to our measurements it's not as wide as many competing sets. Just like 2017's model, the 6 series supports both Dolby Vision and HDR10 high dynamic range formats.
The 55- and 65-inch models also tout a "120Hz clear motion index," but as usual, that's a made-up number. The 6 series has a 60Hz native panel and can't match the motion performance of true 120Hz TVs, like the Vizio P-Series, Samsung Q8 and Sony X900F.
The exception is the 75-inch size, which has a true 120Hz panel. The result should be better motion performance, although we weren't able to test that size for this review to confirm. As usual, however, the benefits should be pretty subtle.
Around back you'll find a solid selection of inputs.
- 3 HDMI inputs (HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2)
- 1 analog (composite) video input
- 1 USB port (2.0)
- Ethernet (wired internet)
- 1 headphone jack
- 1 optical digital audio output
- 1 RF (antenna) input
The HDMIs are state-of-the-art and worked fine with everything I threw at them. The headphone jack is a nice touch, and unlike cheaper Roku sets, this one has Ethernet, too.
LG's C8 OLED TV again sets the pace with a score of 10 in this subcategory, but the 6 series earns an 8 (Excellent), putting it in the company of LCD TVs that cost a lot more.
In my side-by-side tests against the Samsung Q8 and Sony X900F, the TCL more than held its own, with deeper black levels and better contrast in many scenes than those more-expensive sets. It couldn't get quite as bright, but still has plenty of light output for bright rooms and high-dynamic-range TV shows and movies. Color accuracy and video processing were also a bit worse than those others, but by no means poor, and TCL improved uniformity significantly, which was an issue last year.
So no, the 6 series is by no means flawless, but even persnickety videophiles will find plenty to like -- especially at this price.
Click the image at the right to see the picture settings used in the review and to read more about how this TV's picture controls worked during calibration.
Dim lighting: The TCL punched far above its weight in my dark-room comparison with the TVs calibrated to the same light output. Watching the incredible-looking 1080p Blu-ray The Greatest Showman, it kept pace with and in many ways exceeded the picture quality of the more expensive Samsung Q8 and Sony X900F, which are also equipped with full-array local dimming. It also looked better than 2017's Vizio M and the 55-inch TCL P series.
The key as usual was deep black levels, something the 6 series delivers very well. In the nighttime dance montage in Chapter 2, for example, its letterbox bars and the shadows between the buildings (9:22) looked and measured a darker shade of black than any of the other sets aside from the OLED. As a result the darker scenes looked just a bit more realistic and punchy on the TCL and a bit less realistic and washed out on the others. The differences were minimal to nonexistent in many scenes, and the contrast of the others was still excellent, but the 6 series had the slightest of advantages.
Shadow details were also excellent on the 6 series and better than what I saw on the Vizio or the TCL P series, which tended to crush the darkest areas slightly. The 6 series also controlled blooming, or stray illumination very well, although it had no clear advantage in this area with dim SDR (see below for HDR tests, however).
Bright lighting: The 6 series showed a big improvement in raw light output over last year, and outpaced all of the TVs in the lineup aside from the twice-as-expensive Samsung and Sony sets. Yes those two can get substantially brighter, which makes them a better choice for exceedingly bright rooms, but for the vast majority of rooms the TCL will be plenty bright enough.
Light output in nits
|TV||Mode (SDR)||10% window (SDR)||Full screen (SDR)||Mode (HDR)||10% window (HDR)|
|TCL 65R617||Brighter/Vivid||653||480||Brighter/Dark HDR||824|
|TCL 55P607||Vivid/dimming off||438||431||Brighter/dark HDR||448|
|LG OLED65C8P||Vivid||419||141||Cinema Home||792|
|LG OLED55C8P||Vivid||418||140||Cinema Home||788|
The 2017 Vizio M did get a bit brighter in HDR mode in its Vivid setting. That mode is highly inaccurate, however; in the Vizio's better Calibrated setting it fell short of the TCL (788 vs. 824 nits), and in HDR program material the TCL's highlights were better. I also appreciated that the TCL achieved its highest light output with local dimming set to the best (Local Contrast: High) setting. Last year you had to turn dimming off to get the TV at its brightest.
The TCL's matte screen didn't reduce reflections or preserve black level quite as well as the other sets in my lineup, but it was still very good.
Color accuracy: Prior to any adjustment my review sample showed a plus-red bias in its most accurate picture mode (Movie), which tended to make Caucasian skin tones look a bit too ruddy, for example. Even so, color was far from terrible before calibration, and most viewers would be hard-pressed to notice the reddish cast. After adjustment using TCL's superb system, however, color was as accurate as on any TV in my lineup.
Watching Showman, the TCL's color was excellent, with as much saturation and accuracy as any of the other LCD sets. Chapter 6 is packed with lots of bright and near-black color in the circus signs, the costumes of the performers and dramatic lighting, for example, and the 6 series delivered it all with a bit of extra richness compared with the other non-OLED sets. I chalk up the advantage to its superior black levels, which can improve apparent saturation.
Video processing: The TCL 6 series handled 1080p/24 content properly, preserving the cadence of film. New for 2018, there's a setting called Natural Cinema that's said to improve the look of film (24p) content, but in my standard test using the aircraft carrier flyover from I Am Legend, I couldn't see any difference whether the setting was turned on or off.
Two other new settings are also available now: Action Smoothing and LED Motion Clarity. The former introduces the soap opera effect in various strengths, but unlike such settings on most other TVs it doesn't improve motion resolution, which remained at the 300 lines typical of 60Hz TVs no matter how much Action Smoothing I applied. (As mentioned above I wasn't able to test the 75-inch size but I expect it to have a better result thanks to its 120Hz panel.)
LED Motion Clarity uses black frame insertion to boost motion resolution (to an impressive 1,200 lines) and combat blur, but comes with the usual trade-offs: a significantly dimmer image and visible flicker. I recommend all but the most blur-sensitive viewers keep it turned off.
The TCL has the lowest (best) input lag I've measured in a long time. With Game Mode engaged it was just 15.43 milliseconds with 1080p sources, and 17.5ms with 4K HDR sources. With it turned off, lag increased quite a bit to 56ms and 121ms, respectively.
Uniformity and off-angle: This category was a weakness for the 2017 P series, but not the 2018 6 series. With full-field test patterns it looked nearly as good as the others, with edges just slightly darker than the middle and no visible backlight structure as seen on the P. In tough program material, namely a hockey match, its dirty-screen effect was no worse than any of the other sets in my lineup, and definitely superior to its predecessor.
A mixed bag from off-angle, the 6 series preserved black-level fidelity better than the other LCDs aside from the P series -- it didn't wash out as badly -- but showed more color shift in bright areas. If I had to choose I'd prefer TCL's approach because it makes for better contrast from seats outside the sweet spot, at the expense of color accuracy.
HDR and 4K video: As usual for a good full-array local dimming TVs, the TCL's SDR strengths with SDR translated well into HDR too. Its image was brilliant and punchy, and while it fell short of the highlights achieved by the Sony and especially the Samsung, it showed a higher-contrast image in dark scenes. The only TV in my lineup that looked consistently better with all HDR images was the LG C8 OLED -- in other words the TCL held its own very well against the more expensive Q8 and X900F, and beat the 2017 M series once again.
For my first HDR test I slipped in the 4K Blu-ray of The Greatest Showman. The TCL's black-level advantages showed up best in darker scenes like the ballet recital (Chapter 7, 33:35). The TCL's letterbox bars and shadows behind the dancers appeared darker and truer than any TV aside from the OLED, while still preserving excellent shadow detail in the folds of the curtains. It's worth noting that the 2017 TCL P series came closest to the 6 series black level, but shadows in this scene and others looked less detailed and a bit muddy.
When the shot panned out to show the dancers, the Samsung (215 nits), Sony (139) and LG C8 (164) showed brighter, more impressive highlights in the central pink tutu (the TCL hit 97 nits), as well as in other highlights I measured. That brightness advantage did lend their images extra pop, in both mixed scenes like that and in brighter scenes, like the approach to the house at the beginning of the chapter. In my side-by-side comparisons I did prefer the look of those three more expensive TVs in brighter scenes over the TCL.
Blooming is often an issue in HDR with its extra brightness, but the TCL controlled it well, even in difficult sequences like the white-on-black credits at the end of Showman. None of the other non-OLED TVs kept the black area as free of stray illumination as the 6 series.
The TCL did appear less color-accurate than the three higher-end TVs, although it did beat the Sony and Samsung for richness and saturation in many scenes. Skin tones in the Showman appeared a bit redder in particular, although not as skewed as on the TCL P series or the Vizio M. According to my measurements it also fell shorter of their color gamuts, although in this film the disadvantage was tough to spot.
Playing Altered Carbon on Netflix, the TCL's less accurate color was apparent compared with the others. In Episode 1 as Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman) talks to the barkeep (45:05), for example, their skin tones looked a bit too reddish and oversaturated, and that slightly reddish case applied to the plush chairs and lighting in the room as well. The 65R617's color issues showed up in my measurements as well, where the color checker showed more overall errors than competitors. That said, color wasn't terrible, and as usual it would be a lot tougher to see the difference beyond a side-by-side comparison.
|Black luminance (0%)||0.0008||Good|
|Peak white luminance (SDR)||653||Good|
|Avg. gamma (10-100%)||2.39||Good|
|Avg. grayscale error (10-100%)||0.39||Good|
|Dark gray error (30%)||0.04||Good|
|Bright gray error (80%)||0.16||Good|
|Avg. color checker error||0.70||Good|
|Avg. color error||0.42||Good|
|1080p/24 Cadence (IAL)||Pass||Good|
|Motion resolution (max)||1,200||Good|
|Motion resolution (dejudder off)||300||Poor|
|Input lag (Game mode)||15.43||Good|
|Black luminance (0%)||0.004||Good|
|Peak white luminance (10% win)||825||Average|
|Gamut % UHDA/P3 (CIE 1976)||94.63||Average|
|Avg. color checker error||3.42||Average|
|Input lag (Game mode, 4K HDR)||17.5||Good|
TCL 55R617 Review_
Table Of Contents_
The TCL 55R617 provides you with an amazing picture quality with a native contrast ratio of 5182: 1 and even wins against many TVs with an IPS panel when it comes to performance. Featuring the Dolby Vision technology which enhances the brightness and contrast while simultaneously providing you with a wide color volume, the TV also has a decent local dimming capability. This paired with a lower response time and its newly introduced motion interpolation technology, the TCL 55R617 also surpasses the TCL 65S517 from last year. And thus standing out with all of these amazing features with a price much less than half that of its competitors, the TCL 55R617 can be considered to be the best 4K TV for the money. Pricing at under $1,000, it’s far more affordable than the $3,000-5,000 price point found in our LG 65ef9500 tv review.
Why We Like It – TCL 55R617
Having a price less than half of that of its competitors, the TCL 55R617 brings you Ultra HD features, local dimming and a whole lot more. It has premium metallic finish, making its build quality stand out even among more expensive products. In this TV review we go over how all that paired with Dolby Vision and the Roku TV platform, make the TCL 55R617 the editors choice for the best TV for a budget.
- Less than half the price of its competitors
- Premium build quality
- Low input lag
- No cable management
- Poor viewing angles
With the iPQ engine in the 6 series, the TCL 55R617 has precise colour replication which is complemented by the HDR Pro Gamma feature, enhancing HDR performance in any setting. And thanks to the full array local dimming or in other words the TCL Contrast Control Zone tech, the image on the LED LCD screen is optimized across 120 dimming zones. Although the local dimming is only decent and the peak brightness (672cd/m2) falls behind the Samsung Q7F, the TCL 55R617 has excellent picture quality for the price, with deep black levels and no blooming.
However, the screen does fall behind many IPS displays in certain areas due to its poor viewing angles and bad a dirty screen effect. This makes it a bad pick for those who watch sports matches with a group of people, as only the person sitting directly in front would have the best view. But, for anyone else the TV is a great pick for watching movies and other HDR content thanks to its HDR real scene peak brightness of 840cd/m2 and the Roku TV platform which provides you with a wide selection of streaming services, which is on par if not much better than many other TV platforms. Additionally, it is also a great choice for gamers with its low input lag of 17-20 ms which could be as low as 15ms in its game mode. Finally, the TCL 55R617 is also compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant.
Finished with metal borders, and a semi-gloss finish on the screen gives the TCL 55R617 a pretty premium look while minimizing the reflections on the screen respectively. The TV also comes with a pretty nice stand which is wide and also can be inverted if the table happens to not be long enough. This along with the inputs pointing out towards the side from the back allows for easy accessibility. Speaking of the inputs we have 3 HDMI ports, a single USB input, a composite video input as well as a Headphone jack, ethernet output and an optical digital audio output. The TCL TV itself has a power button on it, while the remote has a simple design and is a voice remote as well.
All of this does allow you to connect the TV to your Xbox One, Playstation or even your cable box to make the most of the picture settings, but it does come with a downside. Unlike the Samsung Q7F it has all the inputs directly connected to the TV which doesn’t allow for cable management and thus may cause a clutter depending on the number of devices you use. The TV itself is a bit bulky so it might stick out if it is wall mounted.
Moreover, the TV TCL remote also allows you to easily browse through the platform and access anything mentioned in the Roku TV review.
The TCL 55R617 falls a little behind the Samsung Q7F when it comes to performance, it also falls behind the Sony XBR-A1E when it comes to both sound and picture quality. But let’s take in the fact that it has a price less than half that of these products, a wide color gamut, and makes up for these downsides with amazing accessibility thanks to TV Roku and its Roku Mobile app, which allows you to listen through headphones connected to your phone. And so, with a great HDR performance it is one of the best TVs you can get for the money.
TCL 55R617 4K UHD Roku TV review: Great color and HDR for a very modest price
Each time I see a new TCL TV, such as the $649, 55-inch, 4K UHD 55R617 reviewed here, the company has made significant strides in one area or another. A couple of years ago it was adopting the excellent Roku operating system; this year, it’s delivering color and HDR (Dolby Vision, specifically) that’s competitive with TV’s costing twice as much.
Note that as of 9/17/2020, Roku has ameliorated one of my major complaints by adding a DLNA client to the Roku Media player.
Design and features
I’ll get back to the picture TCL's 6-series TVs generate in a bit; first, one of the best things I’ve seen in a while: An honest-to-goodness, placed-where-you-can-see-it power button. Somewhere along the line, these fell out of favor with TV manufacturers, banished to the back of the chassis or some other inconspicuous location. Possibly because of Samsung’s one-time ridiculous habit of making them bright blue and leaving them burning all the time.
This one is large, obvious, and placed on the lower right front of the TV as you can see below, but it doesn’t shine constantly. Sweet. And yes, I just devoted more than a paragraph to a single button.
Beyond that which I just discussed, you’re talking nice, but not extraordinary design: a pewter-colored bezel and a rectangular shape. TCL talks up their thinner (from screen to edge) bezel, which of course allows a larger TV in a smaller space should that happen to be a requirement of yours. It measures 3 inches front to back, and it weighs in at roughly 38 pounds, so it’s easily wall-mountable (via the VESA mount point), but it’s not what you’d call a “disappearing” design.
The input/output ports are recessed into the back right (as you look at it) of the TV’s housing: Three 60Hz HDMI 2.0 (with HDCP 2.2), one of which supports the Audio Return Channel (ARC); an optical S/PDIF audio out; a single USB 2.0 port; a 3.5mm headphone jack; a 3.5mm A/V input that accepts an included breakout cable with stereo RCA and composite video input jacks; and 10/100 ethernet (with an 802.11ac adapter onboard). The remote works via Bluetooth, but there’s no support for other Bluetooth devices, so you can't connect wireless headphones to it or stream music from a mobile device..
Remote and interface
The Roku OS TCL uses delivers unrivaled content presentation and succinct navigation. Live preview of the content playing on the inputs has been added, assuaging just about the only complaint I ever had about Roku. Okay, that and having to create an online profile to use the service. Note that you do not need to supply credit-card info, although that fact is not made obvious. Simply quit the sign-up process without filling out those fields.
The TCL remote is essentially a Roku remote (it’s basically the same remote you’d get if you bought one of Roku’s higher-end set-top boxes). It has a minimal number of buttons and is quite efficient. The remote supports voice commands and has a headphone output for private listening via headphones or earbuds. I really like how the user interface handles navigation during file playback—you need just one click for any action using the four-way rocker switch. That’s much better than the tedious Samsung approach, where you must select the appropriate on-screen control before you can take action.
On the other hand, I’m not a huge fan of the remote's streaming-service shortcut buttons (Netflix, YouTube, et al). I never use them, and even if I did, I’d still consider them intrusive advertising. Opinions will vary. You can see them below, although the labels are not present in in this shot the PR folks sent.
Another feature I do like, is the 3.5mm headphone jack on the side of the remote. This somewhat compensates for the TV not supporting Bluetooth headphones.
Like all TV vendors, TCL uses sexy-sounding but essentially meaningless techno-babble, such as “nano-band photon technology,” in the marketing of its TVs. Photons are the particles that comprise light—among other things—and nano could mean anything really small, though it generally hints at quantum dots, which as far as I’m aware of, do not occupy a place in the TCL’s display technology. Wide Color is also mentioned, which means a broader range of colors. I’m assuming TCL is trying to say that they use a narrow-spectrum LCD light source, and that the set produces a broader range of colors compared to other TVs.
Whatever the company is talking about, the display technology at hand works pretty well with both SDR (standard dynamic range) and Dolby Vision/HDR10 high dynamic range material. Indeed, the brightness, contrast, and color remind me more of recent mid- to high-end Sony and Samsung TVs than any entry-level set. The colors are rich, and there seems to be a lot of them: It’s a 10-bit panel delivering 94 percent of the DCI-3 color space, and 74 percent of BT.2020, if you care. And colors seem to be pretty darn accurate. I detected no unintended yellow/green or orange/red. The HDR pops really well, which the 1,068-peak-nit reading from our light meter backs up.
One thing I truly appreciate about the 55R617 is that, unlike some other TVs, all the adjustments remain available when HDR is engaged. Off-axis viewing is also generally quite good, given relatively mild lighting in the surrounding area.
Alas, the 6-series is not a mid- to high-end TV, and this shows up in several ways. One of the most salient is the large amount of moiré and shimmer in detailed areas during slow pans. There was also some mild stuttering during fast action shots, though cranking the motion compensation reduced that to a tolerable level. Note that this is a 60Hz panel, so forget TCL’s 120Hz Clear Motion malarky. Generally speaking, 60Hz TVs suffer more severe motion issues because, yes, they don’t have as many dead frames per second to play with, and compensation for this generally requires more processing power than is provided.
The other issues were related to control of the 96-zone full-array backlight, with the brightness of the entire screen occasionally jumping up and down by a noticeable amount, as well as discernible 2- to 3-inch vertical dark areas in quick panning shots. Uniformity was also slightly off, with both upper corners slightly gray, as well as subtle clouding in several areas around the display.
Note that most of these issues occur only occasionally, as most shows and videos don’t stress a TV in ways that will produce them. The 2160P/HDR10 material I use for testing will always bring out the worst in a TV.
I do a lot of testing with files, which were once the only source of HDR material. The 55R617 recognizes USB mass media, but not larger drives such as the 1TB model I normally use. TCL hadn’t gotten back to me on the limit, but switching to a 64GB drive worked fine. The 55R617 understands both h.264 and h.265 video, as well as all the other common video and audio file types.
When it comes to sound, not being an extremely thin design helps: The 55r617’s sound is hardly thumpy, but you can tell the bass and kick drum are there, and the overall timbre good for talk and dialog, if not for music. It’s certainly adequate for those times you just don’t like feel like turning on the surround system or listening through headphones to watch the news.
In terms of color and HDR, the TCL 6-series punches impressively far above its weight class. A firmware upgrade that solves some of the backlighting issues would be welcome, although those appear rarely enough that they shouldn’t ruin the overall experience. But give the tires a really hard kick if you’re especially sensitive—it suffers many of the image foibles of an entry-level TV.
Also, just before I put this review to bed, the similarly priced 55-inch Hisense H9E Plus showed up. It can’t match the color, black, or brightness of the 55R617, but it handles motion better, and it doesn’t suffer the same backlighting issues. Kind of a toss-up there.
Note: This article was edited 07/13/2018 to change the discussion on the quality of the sound.
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TCL 6-series 4K UHD LCD Roku TV (55-inch class, model 55R617)
You're unlikely to find a 55-inch TV with better color or HDR performance in this price range, and the Roku OS is top-notch. Noticeable stutter in fast action sequences, on the other hand, moiré in high-detail panning shots, and backlighting issues remind that you're paying a lot less.
- Very good color
- Roku operating system is very easy to use
- Very affordable for a true HDR TV
- Noticeable motion artifacts (stutter, moiré)
- Noticeable defects in the backlight
Jon is a Juilliard-trained musician, former x86/6800 programmer, and long-time (late 70s) computer enthusiast living in the San Francisco bay area. [email protected]
Reviews tcl 55r617
TODAY'S BEST DEALS
The TCL 6-Series Roku TV offers a supremely good value for first-time 4K TV buyers, whether you're buying it at a standard 55-inch size or a larger (more recently released) 75-inch display, as one of the best TCL TVs out there.
It offers a big course correction to older 6 Series models too, many of which were limited to a single size, and restricting buyer flexibility – making the odd model that did make our best TVs list all the more impressive.
Thankfully, that issue has been fixed in the new 6-Series TVs that offer both a 65- and 55-inch variation, and since 2019, a new 75-inch version with even more contrast control zones.
As for the panel itself, there have been a few modifications for this year – TCL has increased the number of contrast control zones from 72 to 96 on the 55-inch models, and upwards of 120 on the 65-inch version of the TVs. The 75-inch edition tops out at 160 contrast control zones.
But largely you’re getting the same core specs from last year: Namely, a 4K TV with three types of HDR support including Dolby Vision, the built-in Roku operating system and a full-array panel - all of which TCL is selling for an unbelievably low $649 for the 55-inch 55R617, and $999 on the 65-inch 65R617. The brand new 75-inch 75R615 is a leap and only sold through Best Buy for $1,799.
Said simply, if there’s a better value TV on the market, we’ve yet to see it.
It's also worth noting that TCL is bringing its brand of low-cost TVs over the border to Canada: Starting in November, the premium 6-Series will be available in Canada in two versions, a 55-inch model (55R617-CA) that will sell for CA$849, and a 65-inch model (65R617-CA) will be on offer for CA$1249.
Before we dive too deep into it, It should be stated that there are three different models of the TV, each of which are available in 55-, 65-, and 75-inch variations. There’s the R615 model, which comes with a standard remote and can be found for $50 less than the usual MSRP of its older sibling, the R617, which offers a smart remote with a microphone for voice search built straight into it. (Pro tip: Spring for the smart voice remote - it makes searching for content 100 times easier than typing it in by hand.)
For our review, we were shipped a 55-inch R617, but you can apply the vast majority of what’s said here to both the R615 and R617 in both the 55- and 65-inch versions.
Let’s move on to what TCL’s latest TVs actually look like … which, for lack of a better word, we’d describe as industrial. That’s not a bad thing, though. A large factor contributing to that industrial feeling is the brushed metal exterior, jewel-like power button and robust frame that’s probably an inch and a half thick.
That said, even though TCL’s TVs don’t have the extremely thin frame that we’ve seen before on OLED and some edge-lit LED/LCD TVs and it can look sometimes a bit daunting sitting on a TV stand, it’s relatively unobtrusive - especially considering what’s underneath the hood of this TV.
What’s under there, in case you need a reminder, is a full-array LED panel with an unbelievable amount of contrast control zones. TCL is one of just two companies to announce how many zones it uses in its full-array TVs and by comparison it is completely crushing the competition: The VIZIO 2018 M-Series only offers 32 local dimming zones in its similarly priced 55-inch TV compared to the 96 zones found on the TCL 55R617.
The 6-Series stand on two metal v-shaped legs that have rubber padding on the bottom to prevent slippage. They can be fitted relatively quickly, and the TV should be up and running in a matter of minutes if you have all of your cables sorted and ready to be plugged in.
In terms of connections, what you’ll find on the back of the R615 and R617 are three HDMI 2.0 ports with HDCP 2.2, one with HDMI ARC, one USB 2.0 port, a 3.5mm Headphone Jack and Digital Optical-In, plus an AV In port that takes your standard composite (Red-White-Yellow RCA) input, great for classic gaming or older AV devices. It’d be nice to see another HDMI port here, but three HDMI ports should be enough for all but the most ardent of AV enthusiasts out there.
The one area we’d like to see the 6-Series improve next year - and it’s a small critique - is that its open-back design with the HDMI ports sticking out of the side leads to an unsightly mess of cables hanging off the side of your brand-new TV. The the TCL 8-Series 8K Roku TV has been announced, but back looks about the same.
One possible solution would be to design something similar to Samsung’s T-shaped stand that routes all cables through the base of the stand, and then along the grooves in the back of the TV. It’s a much neater solution and one that helps its TVs feel more premium even if the picture quality leaves something to be desired.
Design TL;DR: TCL's 6-Series is a bit on the thick side, but that's because it houses the all-important full-array panel.
Smart TV (Roku TV)
Once you get the TV up and running, you’ll be met with the familiar veneer of Roku TV – an egalitarian operating system that handily retains its top spot as the best operating system year after year. It’s intuitive to use (if a bit boring) and its lack of ties to a particular streaming platform allow it to point you to all the places content can be found without bias.
That last bit is important, especially if you’ve ever used an Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV, both of which would much rather have you stream from their ancillary streaming services over any of the third-party ones. Because Roku doesn’t have ties to a major streaming service - other than a vague deal to include FandangoNow on the home screen of the OS - it doesn’t push you any direction you don’t want to go and happily supports everything from Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV and Amazon, to lesser-known channels like Pluto.tv, tubi, Crackle and others.
That’s to say nothing of Roku’s own streaming service that it launched at the end of last year, which provides its own collection of entirely free movies that change in and out every few months. Most aren’t anything to write home about, but this month’s featured film is Whiplash - which, if you’ve never seen it, is entirely worth capitalizing on the free admission.
If you’ve got your mobile phone handy while surfing the channels, you can download the Roku TV app which will help you manage your My Feed content (a user-curated watch list that will let you know when a movie or TV show comes to a streaming service) and will allow up to four people listen to the TV in private listening mode - a new feature for 2018.
One nice surprise TCL and Roku tucked into the TV is that it has Chromecast built-in - a handy feature that allows you to cast content from your mobile device to your TV. This is nice if you have a group of friends over and they all want a turn showing their favorite YouTube clip, or if you want to use your TV as a digital picture frame when family comes to visit.
While it’d be nice to see the inclusion of artificial intelligence and personal assistants on Roku TV - similar to what LG is doing with WebOS and Samsung has done with Tizen and SmartThings - all things considered, this is still one of the best smart TV operating systems.
Smart TV TL;DR: While you won’t find smart assistants here or any sort of AI, Roku TV has laser-precision focus on delivering nearly every known streaming service and cataloging shows and movies in its robust, searchable database.
One major critique we levied against the P6-Series was its inability to properly upscale content from HD/SDR to 4K/HDR. The good news is that largely isn’t the case any more - HD/SDR content looks generally pretty great on the 55R617.
Take Guardians of the Galaxy 2, for example. Known for its bright, colorful scenes, the 6-Series handily upscaled the film’s 1080p SDR picture into a lush, near-4K image. Is it possible to make this movie even brighter and more colorful? Sure. Is it possible to do it without actually watching a native 4K HDR Blu-ray? Probably not.
The obvious advantage TCL has here is its full array panel and several dozen contrast control zones - they help each scene obtain higher contrast and even help SDR content look its best. What it means in practice is that you’ll notice a distinctive lack of gray hues on the TCL 6-Series that might’ve passed for black on previous TVs you owned. According to TCL, the 6-Series’ contrast performance exceeds the leading competitor by 300% and put the put the contrast ratio somewhere in the ballpark of 12,000:1 with SDR content.
Where there’s room for improvement here is with how the TV handles motion. For the most part, it’s surprisingly good - even if you’re watching fast-paced content - but the way Roku TV is implemented here, you don’t have much control over how motion is handled. There are just three settings - high, medium, low - or it can be turned off entirely.
Three options are better than none, obviously, but Samsung offers a more controlled 10-point scale. Whatever you might see on the box, it’s just a 60Hz panel - even if it hides that fact rather well.
The last point that’s worth making on the HD/SDR performance is that gamers can expect extremely low levels of input lag on the 6-Series. TCL says they measured it at around 17.7ms, which would put the 6-Series right around where we measured the LG OLED E8 - a TV that is significantly more expensive.
HD/SDR Performance TL;DR: Significantly improved from last year, the 6-Series' HD/SDR performance is outstanding.
Where the TCL’s success in HD/SDR is pretty much undeniable, its performance with 4K/HDR content is nearly just as good and rarely needs qualification: Stacked against the competition even in its most unfavorable conditions, the 6-Series holds its own; Put it in a spot where the 6-Series can thrive, though, and it will outclass TVs that cost two, three and even four times as much.
So just where should the 6-Series go?
You will get better performance unilaterally if the TV is placed in a dark room. Details at the ends of the light spectrum - in particularly bright scenes and particularly dark scenes - will retain their splendor, and colors won’t fade. Here, in the comfort of a darkened room, the 6-Series stands toe-to-toe with Samsung’s top-tier QLED TVs, LG’s OLED and Sony’s legendary LED-LCDs.
The key here, besides the iPQ Engine that helps expand contrast and the full-array panel which has more control than most TVs on the market, is its WCG (Wide Color Gamut) capabilities that come from its NBP Photon technology. NBP, or Nano Band Phosphor, uses high-output LEDs with precision phosphors that help the 6-Series display 93% of the DCI-P3 color space, very nearly all of it.
But move the 6-Series into a brightly lit room, say in a living room near a window, and some of these advantages begin to crumble. Black details begin to get lost, colors begin to fade some and the brightness that the TV once had - or, more accurately, felt like it had - dims.
This is because of a difference in peak luminance. TVs like the Samsung Q8FN are outputting twice as much as the TCL 6-Series and that means it looks better in bright rooms, while OLEDs like the Sony A1E and LG C8 OLED can do better black reproduction.
Of course, TCL isn’t going down without a fight to a brightly lit room - there are ways to increase luminance at the expense of black levels. One of those ways is with HDR Pro Gamma that allows you to change from Dark HDR modes for your stereotypical home theater, to Bright HDR for your window-lit living room and Normal HDR for anywhere in between. This helps fight back against fading colors and blown out images but it merely puts a band-aid on the TV’s light issues.
But all this might give you the impression that the 6-Series is a weak performer in the 4K HDR area. It’s not. It’s just the one area that it does lose ground in to the TVs that it so easily trumps in every other department. If you can look past some issues - which, trust us - it’s not hard to do, you are treated to spectacular-looking images.
This makes it a great partner for the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro. Playing through God of War on the PS4 Pro was an absolute treat, and Forza Motorsport 7 on Xbox One X is what we’ve always wanted a driving game to look like.
Taking the TCL’s HDR performance one step further is Dolby Vision support - a format used by movie studios and TV producers to great effect. Watching Daredevil in Netflix, Dolby Vision provides more of those low-light and ultra-bright details than standard HDR10 ever could on its own. Having it available here on a TV at this price point speaks volumes of about the value TCL and Dolby have created here.
No Dolby Vision demo content? Don’t worry about it. New this year is the Dolby app that offers free clips of Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos content that you can use to showcase your new TV. Educational, entertaining and best of all free, it is a welcome addition to TCL’s spectacular set.
4K/HDR Performance TL;DR: A perfect companion for games and movies (especially those in Dolby Vision) the 6-Series punches well above its weight.
In terms of audio, there’s not much new to report with the TCL 6-Series.
Like last year’s P607, the R617 uses two downward-firing 8-watt speakers that produce a sizeable amount of noise – it’s enough to completely fill a small room like a bedroom or cut through larger to midsize rooms without compromising too many of the details.
In terms of tonal balance, TCL has wisely placed an emphasis on the mids and highs rather than wall-shaking bass. That means the TV performs well in shows and movies where dialogue is the most important or prominent type of audio, but falls a bit short on music or games where explosions reign supreme. It’s not a complete slouch here, but if you’re looking for wall-shaking bass, you’ll need to invest in a soundbar.
It's worth noting, though, that the 6-Series supports Dolby Atmos passthrough. This means you can hook it up to something like the Creative X-Fi Sonic Carrier or a Focal Sib Evo Dolby Atmos-enabled home theater system and you’ll get immersive sound like you’ve never heard it before. It's a definite perk.
Other panels to ponder
The obvious competitor is the Samsung NU8000 - it offers a similar performance in many aspects but is a tad bit more expensive than the 6-Series.
The good news if you pick the Samsung over the TCL is that you get the equally great Tizen smart TV system, which now offers Samsung SmartThings integration alongside Samsung’s slightly better HDR upscaling algorithm, HDR+.
What you’d be missing out on, though, is the full-array panel on the TCL as the NU8000 uses an edge-lit display. The NU8000 is a bit brighter and more colorful with 4K HDR content, but overall HD/SDR content looks nicer on the TCL 6-Series. You can’t go wrong either way, but for the price the 6-Series is our pick.
If you’re thinking about an LG, you should look at the LG SK8000, part of the Super UHD line-up. Super UHD TVs are based on quantum dot technology that handily outshines TCL’s iPQ Engine in the color department.
In the LG SK9000, the SK8000’s older sibling, we liked the improved blacks and impressive AI features that came built into this year’s webOS but were put-off by the TV’s sound performance. While you’ll get slightly better performance from the SK8000, you’ll have to pay more for it as the 55-inch LG 55SK8000 is currently sitting at $899 after an already steep $300 discount.
If you had deep pockets and checkbook filled with blank checks, we’d tell you to reach deep and shell out for only the best TVs on the market - LG’s crazy-thin OLED W8 or Samsung’s ultra-bright Q9FN QLED. But that’s not realistic. For the vast, vast majority of us, our budget to spend on a TV is limited to somewhere under $1,000 - and often less than that.
To that end, it’s absolutely fair to say that the TCL 6-Series is the best TV you can possibly get in this price range. Its performance per dollar is unmatched and its picture quality - despite a few minor flaws - will truly impress you.
TODAY'S BEST DEALS
Nick Pino is the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar and covers TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's written for TechRadar, GamesRadar, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.
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