TCL 85C805K review

TCL delivers the home theatre bargain of the year Tested at £1579

TCL 85C805K 4K TV pictured from front on table showing water effects on screen
(Image: © What Hi-Fi?)

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

While it’s not a flagship-level performer, this huge but affordable TCL TV is more accomplished than expected and you just can’t argue with its cinematic scale


  • +

    Ridiculously good value

  • +

    Good contrast and brightness

  • +

    Excellent HDR and gaming support


  • -

    Colours lack a little finesse

  • -

    Pictures can look a little soft

  • -

    Some missing UK catch-up services

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

The 85C805K is pretty much a quintessential example of why TCL has now become such a threat to the more established TV industry grandees. For starters, there’s the gloriously straightforward mismatch between its colossal 85-inch screen size and remarkably small £1575 price (around $1970 / AU$2980).

This already enticing situation goes truly ballistic, though, when it turns out that the 85C805K’s epic screen has much more than just its size to commend it.


TCL 85C805K 4K TV remote on TV stand with bottom of screen and TCL logo

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

We’ve checked, double-checked and checked again, and yes, it’s true: the 85C805K’s movie-friendly 85-inch screen really can be yours for just £1575 at the time of writing. That’s less than many mid-range 65-inch TVs, and under half the price of recent premium 65-inch TVs such as LG’s OLED65G4 and Samsung’s QE65S95D. Yet the 85C805K’s size isn’t by any means the only thing it has going for it. As we’ll see, all that screen acreage is powered by a panel that’s far from the ultra-basic affair you’d expect it to be. 

It’s worth stressing here, too, just what a difference an 85-inch screen makes to your viewing experience. Compared with the sort of 65-inch screens normally found at this price level, it’s like going to the cinema every night, rather than just staying in and watching TV. That’s quite something when you think how much it costs to go to the cinema these days.

TCL typically deploys different model numbers across the many territories its TV division operates in, so it’s not particularly surprising to find no 85C805Ks listed for either the US or Australia.


TCL 85C805K 4K TV showing stand and bottom of screen

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Inevitably, the first thing that strikes you about the 85C805K is its size. It completely dominates anything even approaching a ‘normal sized’ room – so much so that for most households it will either be pretty much the only thing that families do in their living room, or else it will become the centrepiece of a dedicated home cinema room.

The 85C805K’s build quality isn’t as impressive as its screen acreage. There’s a lot of plastic in its bodywork, making it surprisingly lightweight for such a huge TV. Though this is good news for your spinal column and, potentially, your wall.

There’s nothing particularly striking about its design aside from its size, either. The glossy black frame holding the screen is pretty standard fare for the relatively affordable end of the TV market in terms of its width as well as its finish, and it’s fairly chunky around the back, too. 

It's helpful to find such a huge screen shipping with a centrally mounted, reasonably well-built base plate desktop stand, though, as this means you don’t need a huge bit of furniture to sit it on.

The remote control adds an unexpectedly premium touch by being clad in a crisp, shiny silver metallic finish far removed from the lightweight, plasticky designs of most TCL TV handsets.


TCL 85C805K 4K TV side/rear angle showing connections

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

By all rights, this section of the TCL 85C805K review shouldn’t detain us for very long. After all, it’s surely unreasonable to expect much more from such an affordable TV than the simple fact that it gives you 85 inches of 4K pictures, right? Wrong.

For starters, the 85C805K’s big 4K screen doesn’t just support high dynamic range video; it supports all four main formats of HDR video: HDR10, HLG, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. This means it’s equipped to take in the best version of literally any HDR content you feed it. Not even the current flagship TVs from LG, Samsung or Sony provide support for all four HDR formats.

The 85C805K’s king-sized panel is a VA one, meaning that it should deliver better contrast than the IPS alternative. Most surprisingly of all, though, is the way the 85C805K’s screen is illuminated by a combination of Mini LED lighting and local dimming that you’d typically only find on a high-end TV. 

What’s more, the number of dimming zones the screen supports is a mighty 880. That is more, again, than many mid-range and even premium LCD TVs provide, and could prove very handy indeed in delivering plenty of contrast and intensity without as many of the backlight clouding and blooming issues we might normally expect to see from such a large LCD TV.

TCL 85C805K tech specs

TCL 85C805K 4K TV

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Screen size 85 inches


Backlight Mini LED

Resolution 4K

HDR formats HLG, HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision

Operating system Google TV

HDMI inputs x 4 (2 x 48Gbps HDMI 2.1)

Gaming features 4K/120Hz, VRR, ALLM

Input lag 13.4ms (60Hz)


Optical output? Yes

Dimensions (hwd, without stand) 109 x 189 x 4.5cm

Still we’re not done with the 85C805K’s unexpectedly premium specifications, as it turns out that it benefits from a native 120Hz refresh rate, and uses Quantum Dots to deliver its colours rather than the duller, less precise RGB filters we might have expected to find with such a keenly priced TV. This colour system is claimed to cover as much as 96% of the DCI-P3 colour spectrum.

At this point it’s important to say that excellent though all these screen specifications are in their own right, they’ll also need to be controlled by a pretty serious processing system to get the best out of them. In the 85C805K’s case, this processing comes courtesy of the brand’s AI-informed AiPQ 3.0 Engine. Previous experience of this processor on TCL’s 65C845K suggests it’s a solid rather than spectacular effort – but if it can marshal the 85C805K’s promising specifications into even a solid result, we’ll likely be more than happy enough given how little its king-sized images cost.

The 85C805K continues to impress with its connections. Its four HDMIs counts as a healthy number for such an affordable TV, and even better, two of these HDMIs support a full gamut of the latest gaming features. Which is to say 4K/120Hz, VRR (including in the AMD FreeSync Premium Pro format), and ALLM. In fact, the screen is even capable of handling 144Hz feeds from suitably capable PCs.

Input lag with 1080p/60Hz feeds reduces to a tidy 13.4ms in the TV’s Game picture mode (and this number nearly halves with 120Hz sources), and gamers can even call up a Game Bar 2.0 menu screen to access at a glance information on the gaming feed the TV’s receiving, as well as one or two handy gaming aids.

Rounding out the 85C805K’s unexpectedly potent feature count is a Google TV smart system. This brings all the usual wealth of apps and streaming services, presented in the usual rather over-complicated onscreen menu system. It also, though, suffers with Google TV’s blind spot when it comes to some of the key UK broadcaster catch-up apps, including the BBC iPlayer. If you really can’t live without these missing services, though, TCL has pledged to send any 85C805K owner a free Roku streaming stick on request. 


TCL 85C805K 4K TV slight angle on wooden dining table

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Any rival brands hoping for the TCL 85C805K to crash and burn as soon as it’s turned on are going to be sorely disappointed to hear that it’s actually a way better performer than such a cheap ‘cinema screen’ has any right to be. Not perfect, of course, but endlessly watchable and much less likely than expected to do things that might break the sense of immersion such a vast screen is naturally inclined to create.

We are immediately startled by how bright it is, pumping out levels of light both for peak HDR highlights and full-screen bright HDR images on a par with the best mid-range and even some premium smaller LCD TVs out there. The full-screen brightness is also much higher – double and beyond – anything even the most cutting-edge OLED TVs are able to deliver. 

That rather dull, often heavily clipped in bright areas look to HDR that similarly good value LCD TVs so often produce at smaller screen sizes is just not apparent here. We are very much reminded, in fact, of how the 65C845K also rewrites the brightness-for-price rulebook elsewhere in TCL’s TV range

Seeing so much brightness pumped out of a screen as big as 85 inches feels especially spectacular, given how much of your room and field of view all that light is taking up.

Even more pleasing to the eye, though, is the way the 85C805K is able to deliver so much brightness right alongside startlingly deep, rich black tones. Thanks to the Mini LED lighting and, especially, local dimming system, there’s only a slight hint of general greyness hanging over dark scenes – nowhere near enough to ever become distracting. Nor is there much interference to dark scenes from such common LCD TV nemeses as backlight clouding or local dimming-created blooming around stand-out bright objects.

The limited amount of blooming – at least if you’re not watching the screen from a wide angle – is arguably the single most impressive thing about the 85C805K given how distracting such flaws have the potential to be on such a big screen. What’s more, TCL manages to suppress blooming without resorting to dimming down stand-out bright objects like some rival, full array with local dimming (FALD) TVs do.

Put the 85C805K’s unexpectedly deep and clean black tones alongside its equally unexpected brightness, and you’ve got an extremely satisfying contrast performance that ensures the TV delivers on the ‘range’ part of HDR rather than only pushing the light end of the brightness spectrum. 

The level of light control required to deliver this contrast range even extends to the subtleties of dark scenes, so that we never feel as if significant amounts of shadow detailing is getting crushed out of the darkest picture areas.

TCL 85C805K 4K TV slight angle on dining table showing aircraft on screen

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

It’s worth pointing out here that the 85C805K’s brightness, contrast and general HDR effects are far beyond anything you might expect to see from any of today’s projectors. Especially if you are looking for a display to go into a room that won’t always be completely blacked out.

The 85C805K doesn’t drop the ball in the colour department, either. Its Quantum Dot colour system easily retains strong saturations and vibrant colour expression even in the brightest parts of the brightest images, rather than such extreme areas starting to look washed out or thin. The Dynamic picture preset actually pushes colours beyond anything believable or comfortable, so we wouldn’t recommend you stick with it. But it’s worth checking out for a few minutes, at least, just to confirm how vibrant TCL’s monster TV really can get.

As we suggested earlier, the TCL 85C805K’s pictures aren’t completely immune to its lowly price. Comparing and contrasting with the performance of a new Samsung QE65QN95D exposes a general slight lack of refinement in the TCL’s imagery. So, for instance, while colours are bold and generally quite believable in tone (outside of the Dynamic mode), they do lack a little tonal finesse and subtlety. This is particularly noticeable in skin tones, which can at times leave actors looking a bit mannequin-like.

It also bears mention that its pictures are not as pin-sharp as those from the best premium TVs – partly because of the lack of colour precision, partly because there’s a touch more motion blur than high-end TVs usually suffer with, and partly because the 85C805K’s upscaling of sub-4K images isn’t on the same level as the best efforts from the TV world’s most powerful processors. Finally, the 85C805K’s screen is quite reflective of any direct light sources you might have opposite it,

The limitations we’ve just described tend to be reduced quite handily when you’re gaming on the 85C805K, though, as the slightly starker feel of the detailing and colour rendering in most games fits perfectly with the screen’s innate level of precision. Gaming also feels fluid and immersive thanks to the support for high and variable refresh rates, as well as the rapid 13.4ms input lag time. Plus, of course, who wouldn’t want to experience the beautifully crafted worlds of Tomb Raider and Call Of Duty at larger-than-life size?

It’s also important to note that, while AV fans with deep pockets need to be made aware of the 85C805K’s picture limitations, we can’t stress enough just how all-round watchable and consistent its pictures remain – even with our favourite ‘stress test’ demo scenes.  


TCL 85C805K 4K TV bottom corner of TV showing Onkyo branding

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

The 85C805K’s 2.0-channel speaker system has been designed in conjunction with renowned audio brand Onkyo, and it manages to get plenty of punch out of its reasonably high 30W power rating. 

Particularly welcome – and surprising – is the speakers’ ability to cast the TV’s sound well beyond the edges of the screen’s epic bodywork. This makes the viewing experience feel even bigger than it did already, without the large soundstage feeling forced or incoherent. The coherency is helped by the way dialogue and onscreen effects tend to remain quite tightly locked at the heart of the staging, as they should be, while the audio world beyond the screen is correctly limited to scoring, ambient sounds and off-screen effects.

While we wouldn’t say there are height effects above the screen’s top edge when listening to Dolby Atmos film mixes on the 85C805K, there is at least a mild sense of sound-effect tiers in the soundstage’s left and right wings, where the score sits at the bottom and specific or ambient effects feel like they’re being delivered at varying layers above.

Vocal tracks tend to hold up clearly against even the noisiest background racket, too, and we didn’t feel particularly aware of the sort of dislocation – where voices seem to be coming from below the pictures – quite commonly experienced with especially large TVs.

The only issues with the 85C805K’s sound are that, while its midrange is pretty open and far-reaching, the set is not as fulsome with its bass as we’d like, and that like its pictures, its sound lacks a little finesse, sometimes feeling a touch rough and ready.


TCL 85C805K 4K TV on wooden dining table showing Google TV OS on screen

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Despite costing less than some 55-inch TVs, the TCL 85C805K manages to combine the sheer largesse of its 85-inch pictures with excellent gaming support and genuinely cinematic and immersive picture and sound quality.

In other words, it’s pretty much a dream come true for home cinema fans who aren’t lucky enough to have limitlessly deep pockets.


  • Picture 5
  • Sound 4
  • Features 4


Read our review of the Panasonic TX-65MZ1500B

Also consider the Hisense 65U8KQ

Read our Sony X85L review

Best TV: flagship OLEDs and affordable flatscreens tried and tested

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

Read more about how we test