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Should you buy a TCL TV? Our verdict on TCL Roku TVs and more

Should you buy a TCL TV? Our verdict on TCL Roku TVs and more
(Image credit: TCL)

TCL has built a reputation for making an abundance of affordable TVs. In 2017, the Chinese brand became the third-biggest brand in North America, and its LCD TV sales are, according to the company, growing rapidly year-on-year as they become increasingly available in the UK and other European countries.

The brand specialises in cheap 4K TVs, including the TCL 43S425, 55S405, 55R615, 55R617 and 55S517 in the US. In the UK and Europe you might have seen the DP608, DP628, DP648 and DC748 series, or even the new EC78 and EP65 ranges. 

TCL TVs might be affordable, but they don't scrimp on premium features – you'll see a few models with Dolby Vision HDR support, for example.

With prices starting often significantly below those offered by the likes of Samsung, Sony and LG, it's no wonder people are tempted. But are TCL TVs any good? And should you buy one if you spot a good deal? We've run the rule over all the TCL TVs on the market in the UK and US, and found the best deals.

Short answer: If your priority is screen size and pixels-per-pound, these TCL TVs are certainly worth considering - especially if you don't own a video streamer and want a TV with a fair share of smart apps built into it, which is exactly what Freeview Play and Roku TV offer (they're both built into a number of TCL TVs).

Features: tick. But what about picture quality? As these TCL TVs are so new to the UK market, we haven't gone twelve rounds with any. However, if their specs, and our experience of cheap 4K TVs are anything to go by, we'd temper expectations when it comes to ultimate 4K HDR performance.

For daytime TV and HD/SD streams, these TVs will likely be perfectly fine. However, those after the true splendour of 4K HDR content, from a 4K Blu-ray player, for example, might be better served by a more premium offering.

(Image credit: TCL)

TCL TVs in the UK

2020 models: EC78 and EP65
TCL has just unveiled two 4K HDR Android TV series, both of which come with Android 9.0, Freeview Play, Google Home and Google Assistant built-in. 

With Google Home and Google Assistant onboard, both can be controlled through selected Google devices such as Google Home Mini, Nest, Android OS mobile phones and TCL Google-enabled remote controls.

The EC78 series is the dearer model, combining what TCL calls its 'frameless ultra slim metal design', 4K HDR quality with Wide Colour Gamut, Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and Android TV with Google Assistant built-in. The EC78 range also includes sound by Onkyo, promising incredibly immersive sound during movies, music and gaming.

The EP65 series, meanwhile, features an elegant and slim design, 4K HDR picture quality with Google Assistant built-in, and Smart HDR for upgrading Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) content to HDR-like quality.

TCL 55EC788 55in 4K TV £520 at Costco
Android 9.0, Freeview Play, Google Home and built-in Google Assistant, as well as support for HDR10, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision HDR formats. There's even sound by Onkyo.View Deal

TCL 43EP658 43in 4K TV £329 at Amazon
Android 9.0, Freeview Play, smart apps, HDR10 support and two HDMI and single USB sockets. Similarly featured to the TV above but without Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and Onkyo-tuned sound.View Deal

TCL 65EP658 65in 4K TV £570 at Costco
The same TV as above but a 65-inch version.View Deal

2019 models: DP608, DP628 and DP648
Looking for an even bigger bargain? The TCL DP608, TCL DP628 and TCL DP648 TVs from last year are now even more attractively priced as they make way for the 2020 models discussed above. 

With 4K resolution, HDR10 and Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) support, as well as Freeview Play offering catch-up, on-demand services and live TV together in one place with no monthly costs, these TCL TV ranges are as feature-packed as you could hope for at the budget end of the market.

There are Netflix and YouTube apps for 4K content and various apps that can be installed for SD and HD content. It's not clear whether Amazon Prime Video is available on TCL's TV offering - if it isn't, users of that video streaming service would have to get it through a budget video streamer, such as a Google Chromecast or Amazon Fire TV 4K Stick.

The DP648 models deliver TCL's Wide Colour Gamut and Brightness+ processing over the DP608 range, but brightness levels still max out at 320 nits, so these TVs might not make the most of HDR content. Again, at this price you perhaps shouldn't expect them to, but it does mean we wouldn't rush to pair them with a 4K Blu-ray player. If you did want to, all the sets' HDMI inputs are compatible with 4K passthrough from connected 4K sources.

TCL 55DP608 55in 4K TV £371 at Amazon
The entry-level TCL TV doesn't have TCL's Wide Colour Gamut and Brightness+ processing but does still offer 4K resolution, HDR10 and HLG support as well as Freeview Play, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix apps.View Deal

TCL 50DP628 50in 4K TV £329 at Amazon
A larger version of the TV above, this 50in TCL telly matches its smaller sibling for support and features. And it fills a void for those people wanting a 50-inch budget TCL TV.View Deal

TCL 65DP628 65in 4K TV £549 at Amazon
A larger version of the TV above, this 65in TCL telly matches its smaller sibling for support and features. And it fills a void for those people wanting a 65-inch budget TCL TV.View Deal

TCL DP648 4K TV at Amazon
£571|65in: £847
This is the 'premium' budget TCL 4K TV, the P648 Series, and probably the best deal around right now. It adds HDR Pro and Wide Colour Gamut into the mix along with an Ultra Slim Metal Design. There's still Dolby Audio and all the Smart TV features. View Deal

MORE: The best UK TV deals on the market

TCL US TVs: 1-Series, 3-Series, 4-Series, 5-Series, 6-Series

TCL has five core TV ranges in the US, offering televisions in size from 28 inches all the way up to 75 inches. So how do the different TCL TVs compare? And which one should you go for? Let's take a look.

The 1-Series (D100) is a basic HD TV with no Smart TV functionality or internet connectivity. It's an LED TV, as all TCL TVs are, with a 60Hz refresh rate. You get three HDMI inputs and a USB 2.0 connection, a 60Hz refresh rate, digital optical and analog RCA outputs, and TCL's standard remote.

The TCL 3-Series (S303, S305, S325) is also an HD TV but offers wireless connectivity and Smart TV features. It's an LED TV with a 60Hz refresh rate, and comes in 28in, 32in, 40in, 43in and 49in screen sizes. There are three HDMI inputs and a USB 2.0 connection, digital optical output, the addition of a headphone jack and TCL's "Easy-to-use" remote. There's a digital TV tuner, too. The TCL 32S305, TCL 32S327, TCL 40S325 and TCL 49S325 are some of the best-sellers in this range.

The first 4K TCL range is the 4-Series (S401, S403, S405, S421, S423, S425). Unsurprisingly it's not available in small screen sizes but instead starts at 43-inch. There are also 49in, 55in and 65in models. Again it's an LED but here with a 120Hz refresh rate. You have the option of a wireless or Ethernet connection to access your Smart TV apps, there's support for HDR10, plus three HDMI 2.0 inputs with HDCP 2.2, one with HDMI ARC, a USB 2.0 connection, digital optical output and headphone jack. There's a digital TV tuner, too, and you get TCL's Easy-to-use remote. The TCL 43S425 and TCL 55S405 are two of the best-selling models here.

Step up to the TCL 5-Series (S515, S517) and you get all of the above, in the same screen sizes, but with a few extra features. There's support for Dolby Vision, as well as HDR10, an HDR Dynamic Contrast mode, Wide Color Gamut support, and the addition of an enhanced remote with voice control alongside the Easy-to-use remote. The TCL 55S517 is one of the most popular sets in this range.

At the top of the pile you'll find the TCL 6-Series (R615, R617). Available in 55in, 65in and 75in screen sizes, it has all the above features and functions, but adds "Contrast Control Zones", which we know as local dimming, with the number of zones - up to 160 - dependent on the size of screen you choose. The TCL 55R617 is the most popular model in this series.

TCL US TV deals

TCL 50S425 4K Roku Smart LED TV $270 at Best Buy
Save on this 4-Series TCL TV at Best Buy right now and get the added benefit of 4K resolution, HDR10 support and HDMI ARC. You still get all the same Smart TV apps.View Deal

TCL 55R617 4K HDR Roku TV $900 $448 at Walmart
Belonging to the premium 6-Series, this 55in TV is very well featured, with built-in Roku TV, support for Dolby Vision as well as HDR10, and three HDMI inputs.View Deal


How to choose the right TV

Best TV deals

  • hybridauth_Google_101888933069938064971
    What a misleading article! It doesn't answer the question and it doesn't give your verdict.

    You haven't tested any of these TVs so don't know if they are any good.

    This is just an overview of their range.

    I have no object ion to you providing an overview of a product range. In fact they can be very useful for comparison purposes, but please be honest with what you are providing.

    I expect higher standards of journalism from your (normally excellent) magazine/website. Please don't lower your standards to "click bait."
  • LowFiWhat
    To be clear, TCL 6 Series is on the R625 model in the United States now. This seems like a copy/paste article from Jan 2018. The upcoming 2020 6 Series will have the mini-LED technology from the 2019 8-series to pair with quantum dots (available on 2019 R625 model). In this price range, few TV's offer the best bang for the buck.