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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 affordable TVs loaded with streaming smarts. Indeed, the Chinese brand ranked no.2 in global market share last year. Impressive. 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 and MiniLED models with Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos support.

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?

TCL 55RP620K

(Image credit: TCL)

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 two years. The 55RP620K, for example, received five stars in our 2021 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 4K HDR TV

(Image credit: TCL)

TCL TVs (UK)

TCL teamed up with Roku a couple a years ago and now offers HD and 4K UHD TVs in all shapes and sizes. 

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 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 carries a £279 RRP, while the smaller is HD (720p), and £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+, Apple TV+, 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. 

In April 2022, TCL unveiled its second MiniLED flagship. The C93K comes in 65-inch and 75-inch sizes, benefit from the Google TV operating system and offer HDMI 2.1 sockets that support 4K/120Hz gaming, VRR and ALLM.

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 remains 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-launched 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 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 (opens in new tab). This app-happy model offers support for HDR10, plus three HDMI inputs (including one eARC) for devices such as soundbars and games consoles. 

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TCL 43-inch 4K Roku TV $550 $280 at Walmart (save $270) (opens in new tab)
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.

Verdict

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 so many seasonal deals flooding onto the internet, you may wish to check out our pick of the best TV deals around.

MORE:

The best TV you can buy, including 4K Ultra HD panels

Need help? How to choose the right TV 

Save big with our pick of the best TV deals

Becky Roberts
Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her eight years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.

  • 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."
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • SMTIPS
    I've owned this 55R635 for less than a month. It was fine for a week. Then audio sync issues started no matter what I watch on it. Then I started researching and Roku forums are full of complaints about it. There are 11 pages of complaints. There seems to be no fix for it. This has been going on with Roku/TCL TV's for well over a year.
    I spent HOURS last night trying to adjust and correct this, both through my new Denon 650H receiver and through the TV and through Prime Video/Firestick settings. There is no fix for it. The only possible fix I've seen is to completely disable all Roku by resetting and not connecting it to the internet and just using your own devices (Firestick, Streaming Box, DVD etc.).
    This is really unacceptable. Half the reason I bought it was for the "cool" factor of the Roku built in to this TV and the high ratings of the Roku app. I could buy any TV but this one had what I wanted. And now in less than a month I'm extremely unhappy with it. To get proper audio syncing I have to disable the entire Roku feature of this!!Reconsider your choice on purchasing this TV. Neither TCL nor Roku has offered any explanation or fix for this issue and it's been happening to many customers since at least 2018.
    Reply
  • philc
    I had a similar issue with one of my TCL unit, after much gnashing of teeth and some mild profanity I discovered the audio reset located at the back if the TV (requires such as a ball point pen) . I left the TV plugged in, used a ball point pen, pushed the reset in...sound reverted back to normal. I do not have cable hooked to the TV and am streaming from my wireless network. I also determined later that the issue may well have been created by my service provider which unbeknownst to me was, at the time, doing a firmware update..This may not have been the case in your situation but I am reasonably certain this was the issue with the audio problem that I had. Aside from that kerfuffle I have had no physical issues with this TV since I've had it, which is going on 2 years.
    Reply
  • rhdmsw
    Bought a 75 inch in 2000, the TV didn't last 2 years without problems. TV Video wouldn't work. Called TCL support and they ran me through diagnostics and troubleshooting. Still couldn't get the picture to come on. End answer was "sorry, your out of warranty".
    Everyone needs to know what garbage TCL is putting out on the market. Stay away and buy something else.
    Reply
  • SMTIPS
    philc said:
    I had a similar issue with one of my TCL unit, after much gnashing of teeth and some mild profanity I discovered the audio reset located at the back if the TV (requires such as a ball point pen) . I left the TV plugged in, used a ball point pen, pushed the reset in...sound reverted back to normal. I do not have cable hooked to the TV and am streaming from my wireless network. I also determined later that the issue may well have been created by my service provider which unbeknownst to me was, at the time, doing a firmware update..This may not have been the case in your situation but I am reasonably certain this was the issue with the audio problem that I had. Aside from that kerfuffle I have had no physical issues with this TV since I've had it, which is going on 2 years.

    This was not the issue. I had no TV provider, period. This was happening directly with a Gigabit wireless connection, I don't pay any provider. It happened on all channels on the Roku, and on the Fire Stick. This is a flat out blatant issue with Audio on TCL TV's, from my research anything Series 5 and above (does not happen at all on TCL 4 series, I've tested 3 of them I and my friends own).

    The problem was never solved. My only solution was to stop using channels through the TV, plug my fire stick directly into my Denon receiver, and use any channels I want through it. This solution completely bypasses the audio processing on the TV and puts it directly through the receiver. I feel bad for people with a sound bar or some small speakers they can't plug devices directly to.

    I will re-iterate, do NOT buy a TCL TV if you want a trouble free experience. These guys have done nothing to improve this, for your entertainment just do a search for "Audio Sync issue TCL" and you will find many many people with exactly the same issues. It can't be blamed on a service provider.
    Reply
  • Mjj
    This TV suddenly blacked out. I can hear it but no screen whatsoever. TCL has this issue with their tv’s right around the 2 year mark. Don’t bother calling them because they refuse to fix it, or acknowledge this is a tv defect and then they resort to the robot mode where they just repeat the same thing over and over again that the warranty is over until you hang up. This company sucks, their tv’s suck and if you don’t believe me do a quick google search thousands of people have the same issue. Will never buy TCL again.
    Reply
  • Looks like these TVs are crap then, probably why they gave 1 and 2 year warranties in the first place.
    Reply