As an avid console gamer who has been exposed to the biggest and best TVs as part of my job, I have quickly realised that the monitor I use for everything from work, to watching TV and playing games, just isn't cutting it any more. I'm missing out on key features such as VRR and ALLM, and my screen isn't even 4K – it's just not doing my PS5 justice, not to mention the fact it isn't the most cinematic affair for watching movies and TV shows.
While the 42-inch LG C2 OLED has been the object of my desire ever since I first laid eyes on it, I also recognise it is one of the higher-end sets and that my budget might not quite stretch – although I'm always on the lookout for an LG C2 bargain. This has led me on a quest to find a gaming-focused TV that doesn't break the bank, and TCL might have just answered my prayers.
The new C745 Series is being billed as the gaming TV in TCL's 2023 lineup, and I can see why. It features a bright and punchy 4K QLED panel that's capable of 1000 nits in certain HDMI modes, and it even throws full array local dimming into the mix. I got a quick glimpse of the C745 in action at Milan Design Week, and to my eye, it looked bright, sharp and punchy, which is certainly a good start.
That's not even the best part, as the TCL C7 is kitted out with a 144Hz panel, a rarity on TVs in general, let alone at this price point. It can apparently reach 240Hz refresh rates via TCL's Game Accelerator feature, which should appeal to PC gamers who want the big screen experience. These refresh rates are more than enough for the PS5, which maxes out at 4K/120Hz, but perhaps this TV is perfect future-proofing for the rumoured PS5 Pro.
The gaming goodness doesn't stop there, as the TCL has four HDMI 2.1 connectors, although only two can handle 4K/120Hz. Considering the price, that's good enough for me. There's also VRR in the AMD FreeSync Premium Pro variety, and ALLM support, which the PS5 and Xbox Series X both handle.
The C745 QLED also has a host of quality-of-life features that my monitor just can't compete with, including HDMI eARC and Dolby Atmos support for hooking up a beefier sound system, as well as proper HDR support in the HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision IQ and HLG formats.
I know it seems unfair to compare my monitor to a fully-fledged 4K TV but each upgrade justifies the switch – especially when it comes to the price.
I've established that the TCL is cheaper than the LG OLED, but how much exactly? Well the TCL C745 starts at just £649 for the 55-inch model, whereas the 42-inch LG C2 is currently retailing for roughly £1100 on LG's website, although it's worth noting that you can find it for slightly less if you shop around. Either way, there doesn't seem to be that many compromises on paper, especially enough to justify roughly £450.
Of course, the LG will offer deeper blacks and undoubtedly a better picture as LG is renowned for its stellar OLED panels, but I can always work up to that. The other caveat is that the TCL doesn't come in the 42-inch size variant, which is a form factor that I've become quite fond of as it just creeps into the desk-friendly size category. That being said, the TCL C745 is now firmly on my radar as I continue my gaming TV quest...
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