TCL has built a reputation for making affordable TVs loaded with streaming smarts. Indeed, the Chinese brand ranked no.2 in North America in terms of market share in 2020. But should you buy a TCL TV if you spot a good deal? Read on for our take on TCL...
TCL TVs are generally pretty cheap compared to those offered by the likes of Samsung, Sony and LG, so it's no wonder people are tempted. And, despite the budget prices, TCL doesn't scrimp on features – the company even offers QLED models with Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos support.
- Our pick of the best TV deals 2021
But are TCL TVs actually any good? And should you buy one if you spot a good deal? While we haven't had the pleasure of testing every TCL TV on the market, we've run the rule over their spec sheets and picked out some tempting deals for your consideration.
Should you buy a TCL TV?
Short answer: If your priority is screen size and pixels-per-pound, TCL TVs are well worth considering – especially if you want a TV with built-in smart apps. TCL now offers both Roku- and Google-powered sets, so you can choose between two of the best smart TV platforms on the market.
That's a big tick in the features box, but what about picture quality? We've only tested a fraction of what TCL offers but, from what we've seen, the company has raised its game over the last 12 months. The 55RP620K, for example, received five stars in our review.
That said, we'd temper your expectations when it comes to ultimate 4K HDR performance. Those after the true splendour of 4K HDR content might be better served by one of these best TVs from Sony, Samsung, LG or Panasonic.
TCL TVs (UK)
The RP620K LED TV is one of our favourites. It has 4K UHD resolution and UHD upscaling for lower resolution content. It also supports HDR, including HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision, and can also process Dolby Atmos audio for an external Atmos-certified speaker.
In our recent review, we noted that the RP620K offers a "a grown-up performance for picture and sound", making it "another great Roku TV for the UK market."
The RP620K range is available in 43-inch, 50-inch, 55-inch and 65-inch sizes, officially priced at £349, £399, £449 and £549 respectively – but you might spot a better deal below.
The cheaper RS520K comes in 32-inch and 40-inch sizes. The larger has a full high-definition display (1080p image resolution) and is priced at £279, while the smaller is HD (720p), and costs £229.
Both the 5-series and 6-series offer an Auto Game Mode with a stated 15ms input lag time. Roku TV, meanwhile, offers one of the most comprehensive selections of streaming services around, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, AppleTV+, NOW and BT Sport.
TCL offers a decent range of QLED displays in the UK, too, including the C71 and C81
Both feature QLED (Quantum Dot Light Emitting Diode) panels and support the full suite of HDR formats: Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HDR and HLG. They run Android TV, with integrated Freeview Play and feature built-in Google Assistant voice control. Alexa compatibility allows for voice control via Amazon Alexa devices, too.
In September 2021, TCL stepped up to the big leagues by announcing its first-ever mini LED TVs. The TCL X92 Pro Series is the showstopper thanks to its 85-inch, super-thin, OD Zero Mini LED panel. It also boasts an Onkyo-designed 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos speaker system built-in, plus TCL's Game Master Pro feature package, which makes this model the official TV of Call Of Duty. Both the standard X92 and X92 Pro run the Google TV operating system.
Both models will be introduced in the UK and Australia in early 2022, and prices are still to be confirmed.
TCL TVs (US)
TCL offers US buyers a range of televisions in sizes from 32 inches, and a choice of two operating systems: Roku TV and Google TV.
The 2021 R635 is one of the company's most popular US models, so it's a great place to start your search. It supports Dolby Vision HDR (but not HDR10+) and enhances its QLED panel with Mini-LED backlighting for greater contrast and colour reproduction.
This model also delivers a THX Certified Game Mode, which allows it to compete with some of the best gaming TVs. Built-in Roku TV delivers access to a wealth of streaming platforms, including Netflix, Prime Video, HBO Max, Peacock, Hulu, Disney+, YouTube, Apple TV+, Vudu, Google Play Movies & TV, Sling TV, Fubo TV, ESPN+, Paramount+, Spotify and more.
Prefer Google TV? The 2021 S546 could be the best TCL TV for you. The switch to Google TV brings some seriously smart features, including personalized and customizable suggestions, as well as full Google Assistant integration, so you can use the TV's built-in far-field mic to control a vast array of Google-friendly connected gadgets.
The S546 supports all the major HDR formats including Dolby Vision and HDR10+. On the downside, it only uses a 60Hz panel – the R635 uses a 120Hz panel – which could be a consideration for gamers.
The 2020, Roku TV-powered S535 might be a step down in quality but it's also a step down in price. It uses a 60Hz panel but, with an input lag of 13.1 milliseconds, it should still appeal to gamers on a budget.
If you're looking for a good-quality second TV for a bedroom, you'll most likely find that the S535 is one of the cheapest QLED TVs in the US right now. Cast your eye over the deals below...
TCL's 3-series range offers options for those on an even tighter budget. The 2020 43-inch S435 might not boast a QLED panel or Dolby Vision support, but it does deliver an incredibly affordable 4K HDR experience with built-in Roku TV smarts. It's available in a wide range of sizes from 43 inches to 85 inches.
If you're on the hunt for a kitchen TV at a bargain price, look no further than the 32-inch 32S335. We called it "Small, smart and really rather good for the money", praising its "excellent apps and OS", "lively color palette" and "well-balanced audio".
We've also spotted a great deal on the 43-inch Class 4-Series 4K UHD HDR Roku Smart TV (43S435), which is down from $550 to $300 at Walmart. This app-happy model offers support for HDR10, plus three HDMI inputs (including one eARC) for devices such as soundbars and games consoles.
TCL 43-inch 4K Roku TV
$550 $300 at Walmart (save $250)
We've not reviewed the 43S435, but when you consider that this app-happy TV offers access to thousands of streaming channels (no cable box needed), plus support for HDR, it's a strong contender for bargain TV of the year.
All in all, TCL seems to be a brand that is on up, in the UK, US and beyond. From basic models to giant 8K QLED sets, there are all sorts of models to choose from. Of course, TCL isn't the only cheap TV brand around and with seasonal deals flooding onto the internet, you may wish to check out our pick of the best TV deals around.
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