As part of a fleeting visit to Warsaw, we managed to spend a decent chunk of time with TCL's range of super-sized 98-inch TVs. These imposing sets join rivals from Samsung, LG and (TCL's main competitor) Hisense in the recent boom of truly massive TVs that prioritise sheer scale over almost everything else. This is our first time going face-to-face with a set this large, as reviewing one using our usual procedure is easier said than done.
So why have we started with the P745 if we had the pick of the litter with TCL's TV lineup? Simple: it's cheap. Considering the size of this unit, we had to do a double take to make sure the pricing information was correct, but after verification from the TCL representatives, we can confirm that this nearly 100-inch set costs just shy of £2000.
The real question is whether TCL has managed to balance the various aspects of this TV. Picture quality, sound, features and price are the four pillars, and at this price, we're confident that sacrifices must have been made. So, have they? Yes, but while we'll need to get the set into our own test rooms for more comprehensive and comparative testing before passing final judgment, we also found plenty to like with this gentle (on the wallet) giant during our brief hands-on session.
Price and build
As mentioned, the TCL 98P745 is currently available for £1999 in the UK (though it originally launched at £2999) and is exclusive to Europe, at least for now. There doesn't seem to be an equivalent model in the US or Australia, but using the magic of currency conversion we can estimate it to be around $2520 / AU$3810 in those respective markets.
Of course, this TV isn't only available at 98 inches, you can also find it in 43-, 50-, 55-, 65-, 75- and 85-inch variants. We expect performance to vary greatly between each model, however, so certainly don't apply our findings here to the smaller models.
Getting the obvious out of the way, this is an absolutely huge TV. It's not a particularly slick unit either, with a chunky plastic chassis that's a far cry from the super-slim OLEDs we regularly see.
That being said, it's practically what we expect from a TV at this price. Its bezels are fairly thin and its stand consists of two unobtrusive feet; although they're quite far apart (174cm to be exact) so make sure your media unit is wide enough.
What’s most impressive about this TV is its feature set, which is far more stocked than its price tag might suggest. There are cost-saving concessions, though, most obviously in the panel tech: this is a straightforward LCD TV with a direct LED backlight that lacks local dimming. If you want Quantum Dots, you're going to need to step up to the C745, and if you're after Mini-LED technology (as well as Quantum Dots), you need to look at the C805.
That being said, it's fully featured in other departments such as HDR format support. The 98P745 supports HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision and HLG, so any content you throw at it from practically any source should be reproduced in its 'best' format. The only issue we encountered during our testing was Dolby Vision being somewhat inconsistent – although quickly switching off the HDMI input and back onto it seemed to resolve the issue.
Gaming features are also very impressive. It supports 4K/120Hz over HDMI from the PS5 or Xbox Series X, with further support for VRR, ALLM and Dolby Vision Gaming. It can even reach 144Hz over HDMI if you hook up a high-spec gaming PC and fancy something a bit bigger than a 27-inch monitor. There’s also a useful if slightly simplistic Game Bar menu, which gives you quick access to game-related settings and information such as a frames-per-second counter.
On the subject of HDMI, this TV features four in total, two of which are HDMI 2.1 for that aforementioned 4K/120Hz gameplay. One is also the HDMI eARC port, which you'll need for a soundbar or AVR if you have one, and in such a case that will reduce you to just one top-spec HDMI port for gaming. That's frustrating if you have both next-generation consoles, but this issue persists on many sets, even high-end OLEDs from the likes of Sony and Panasonic, so this isn't really TCL's fault. The other two HDMIs are standard 2.0 that carry 4K/60Hz signals.
Rounding things out with the sound system, TCL has included an Onkyo-tuned pair of drivers with a combined output of 60W. The TV can decode all of the relevant formats we look for, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
While no hands-on session is ever enough to form a complete opinion of a product, testing conditions were unusually good for our window with the P745 and we had plenty of content on hand, including one of our go-to movie test discs, Blade Runner 2049. We had the TV set to the movie preset, with the film playing in HDR10 on the Panasonic DP-UB820.
Right from the opening scene with the white and red text on a black background, it's evident that TCL is prioritising screen size over pretty much everything else. Black levels are an immediate concern, with a discernably bright grey stepping in to fill the role of the background colour. However, that’s not necessarily a surprise considering this is a traditional LED set.
We move on to motion next, which overall isn’t overtly judder, but the panning shot of Officer K walking towards Sapper Morton’s house does highlight a slightly stuttering outhouse. His drone also appears a little wobbly as it surveys the farm, but it doesn’t break immersion as such.
What does concern us is the heavy-handed approach to contrast, specifically when it comes to shadow details. There isn’t much in the way of subtlety, with subjects either bathed in light or entirely in shadow. The close-up of Officer K looking over his shoulder is presented with a binary split down the middle of the picture, with half his face shown and the other half entirely black. This extends to dynamic range, something this set lacks finesse with.
We don’t want to be too harsh, as after all this is a standard LED model lacking the quantity of dimming zones that its more expensive Mini LED equipped 98-inch brethren include, but it must be said that this isn’t the most subtle TV we’ve ever seen.
Where we can give it props is in its level of detail. No, this won’t rival the flagship 4K sets, but considering its sheer scale, it digs up a good amount of finer skin and clothing textures. There’s a good amount of detail in the fur lining of K’s coat and the cockpit of his flying police car has some eye-catching components.
Unfortunately, what really brings us out of the picture is the inconsistency of the backlight. As Officer K descends into the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles, we’re met with visible patchy lines across the picture. This is accentuated when you view the TV off-axis and during extended camera movement – not ideal when you consider how big this screen is.
We switch to No Time To Die on Amazon Prime Video, streamed in HD and SDR with the TCL attempting a 4K upscale. The performance is inconsistent, to say the least, with some scenes appearing much more composed than others; for example, Madeline’s face appears rather grainy and smoothed over as she surfaces from the water near the start of the film, while Bond appears to look a fair bit better, if not slightly overly etched. While this could be down to the streaming, the TV certainly doesn't seem to be a very accomplished upscaler, offering a grainy, blocky image before attempting to rain itself in.
We also noticed that occasionally the TV seemed a bit buggy. For example, at times skipping through content via fast forward or rewind would cause a strange phenomenon where HDR would stop working, and then return after a second of playing the content.
Once again, we’d like to caveat that this is by no means a final review, as it was not conducted under our normal procedures, and with more granular tweaking it might be possible to negate some of the issues seem during the hands-on session.
As is the case with the picture, bigger doesn’t always mean better. Starting on a high note, the TV is capable of delivering big, and often punchy sounds. It's especially bassy in its movie preset, which lends itself well to No Time To Die’s car chase through Matera. There’s also a pleasant, if not particularly ravishing, amount of detail in the sound.
Unfortunately, it's not the strongest performer when it comes to the directionality of sound. Regardless of where a subject is on screen when they’re talking, the TV will just push the sound out with no particular regard to how that sound should correlate with the picture. Likewise, it's not a particularly engaging sound, with a flat and dynamically absent rendition of the frantic theme that plays as Bond escapes his pursuers.
The 98P745 seems like a valiant effort by TCL to bring super-sized screens down to a fairly affordable price. It's by no means a perfect TV, and considering there are other 98-inch models in its lineup, we suspect that TCL is well aware of that. Instead, this is a gateway for those who want to test the waters of these humongous TVs and prefer sheer cinematic scale over subtlety.
The sentiment shared when standing in front of these TVs is usually "gosh, I remember when a 32-inch TV was considered huge, " making seeing a TV of this size even more mind-blowing. While we're certainly going to see more and more TVs at this size, and we'll certainly see even bigger models soon enough, we'll be intrigued to see if they have as much to offer at this competitive price.
Read our full TCL C845K review
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