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Should you buy a TCL TV?

TCL TVs: Are they any good? Which are the best deals?

If you're preparing for hole up in front of the TV as the nights get colder, you might be tempted by a new TCL TV. The Chinese brand has built a reputation for making an abundance of affordable TVs. In 2017 it 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 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 (43in, 50in, 55in), DP648 (43in, 50in, 55in and 65in) and DC748 series.

With prices starting from just £289 for a 43-inch 4K TCL TV, 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. For daytime TV and HD/SD streams, these will likely be fine. However, those after the true splendour of 4K HDR playback may want to consider a more premium offering. 

(Image credit: TCL)

TCL UK TVs: TCL DP608, DP628 and DP648

We're going to focus on the best-selling TCL DP608, TCL DP628 and TCL DP648 TVs. 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.

Features: tick. But what about picture? 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 4K HDR performance. 

The DP648 models gets you TCL's Wide Colour Gamut and Brightness+ processing over the DP608 range, but brightness levels still max out at 320 nits, so these TVs won't truly 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 - advice we also gave regarding the similarly-priced Hisense 4K TVs we recently reviewed. If you did want to take the risk, all the sets' two or three HDMI inputs are compatible with 4K passthrough from connected 4K sources.

For non-HDR content, however, they should perform just fine where brightness is concerned. And we could only hope – especially considering the brand's popularity abroad – that their colour, detail and sharpness levels are up to scratch, too.

TCL UK TV deals

TCL 43DP608 43in 4K TV £330.40 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 43DP628 43in 4K TV £329 at Amazon 
This TCL 4K TV seems to have been phased out in favour of the DP608 above, but it's still on sale – and very cheap. Again, this range gives you 4K, HDR10 and HLG HDR support, Amazon, Netflix and Freeview Play.View Deal

TCL 50DP628 50in 4K TV £429 at AO
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 DP648 4K TV at Amazon
£567.80|65in: £850.22
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 as 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 wireless and Ethernet connections for 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 $280 at Best Buy
Save $70 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 55R615 4K HDR Roku TV $600 $500 at Best Buy
The top-of-the-range TCL 6-Series is available here, as a Best Buy exclusive, in 55-inch screen size for a $100 saving. Get all the Smart TV features, and 4K, HDR10 and Dolby Vision support, plus a screen with local dimming for what should be a jump in picture performance.View Deal

TCL 55R617 4K HDR Roku TV $900 $529 at Walmart
This is the same premium 6-Series model as above, but with a slightly different remote to differentiate it from the Best Buy model. Get all the same features.View Deal

MORE: The best US TV deals on the market