TCL – a popular TV brand in the US that's only just breaking into the UK – has revealed two new TV lines that could really upset the order of things. One matches cutting-edge mini-LED and QLED technology with PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X-friendly features in a way that looks ready to bust open our list of the best gaming TVs, while the other offers QLED image for a low price that really challenges the best Samsung TVs.
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The TCL 6-Series is the one we're really excited about, because mini-LED is the future of LCD TVs, and TCL is really pushing it forward. As the name implies, mini-LED TVs work a lot like LED TVs, in that there's a bank of LED lighting shining behind the panel, providing the light you see (with the QLED filter providing the colours)… but mini-LEDs are smaller. The advantage is that you can then divide the panel's lighting into smaller and more precise localised dimming zones, so the TV can darken areas to provide deeper contrast without as much light bleeding through.
Basically, it's a step towards better matching the vibrant HDR brightness advantages of LED with the fine contrast control of OLED… but the 6-Series starts from just $649 for a 55-inch TV, or $899 for a 65-inch model, and $1,399 for a 75-inch TV, which is hella cheap.
• Browse TCL's mini-LED TVs at Best Buy (opens in new tab)
Considering that these TVs will also support HDMI 2.1, including eARC for high-quality audio output, Variable Refresh Rates for smoother PS5/Xbox gaming, and even 120fps, there's a ridiculous amount of high-end tech here for the price.
That includes Dolby Vision for HDR, and Roku TV as the smart TV platform, which is one of the easiest to use out there.
Will the image quality live up to the tech? We haven't had a chance to test it yet, so the question is whether TCL's image processing is as good as the competition (very necessary at big sizes), and whether the mini-LED implementation can reach its potential at this budget. But the potential for this to be a blockbuster TV for next-gen gaming as well as movies is there.
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Cheap QLED for all
TCL has also introduced the 5-Series range, which will probably be even more tempting for most people. It includes a QLED panel, the same as is used in Samsung's best TVs – including the flagship 8K Samsung Q950TS and high-end 4K Samsung Q95T – but undercuts even Samsung's more budget QLED sets for price.
The 50-inch TCL 5-Series costs $399, the 55-inch costs $449, while the 65-inch costs $629. For comparison, the Samsung Q60T is its cheapest QLED TV, and that starts from just over $500 at 43 inches, and costs $699 for the 55-inch version – a $250 premium over the TCL!
• Browse TCL's 5-Series range at Best Buy (opens in new tab)
Again, we haven't been able to test the TCL in comparison to the Samsung yet, but we'd expect to see similar wide colour ranges thanks to the QLED technology in both, and Roku TV is used for the TCL's smart platform, which is a strong competitor to Samsung's own excellent smart system. Whether image quality overall will match, we'll have to see. But one thing's for sure, when it comes to image bang for buck, TCL is really shaking up the 2020 TV landscape.
Right now, these TVs are US only, and we don't expect that to change for these specific models.
However, TCL has also introduced two cheap QLED TVs in the UK: the C71 and C81. We'll have a review of the C71 soon, to see if it can make it into our lists of the best TVs under £500 and the best TVs under £1000.
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