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TCL 2017 TVs
Reviews and Smart Features

TCL TVs have shown to offer great value over the past few years. They're a newcomer in the space, but they came in with quite a strong splash by associating themselves with Roku for their smart features. We've reviewed a few TCL TVs last year, and as they've shown popular, we will keep reviewing them in the future. Look forward to our reviews of 2017 models in the coming months.

Compared to other brands

  • Inexpensive. By far the cheapest priced brand we've tested this year. Most of them can be found for under $500.
  • Great Smart OS. All TCL smart TVs use Roku TV. Roku is intuitive, snappy, fully featured and has all the apps most people want.
  • Not very bright. All the TCL TVs we've tested have below average brightness measurements. Not unusable, but might not be enjoyable in brighter environments.
  • Below average viewing angle. Even compared to other "small viewing angle" TVs, TCL TVs tend to perform worse.

TCL vs Vizio

Compared to Vizio, TCL's lineup is a lot more budget-oriented. Their budget offerings are quite competitive, with similar picture quality. Their shortcoming is their smart features. The Roku TV interface is simply better than Vizio's SmartCast.

TCL vs LG

LG's lineup spans far and wide, and a lot of it is similarly priced to TCL. While they both offer excellent smart platforms. Budget oriented LG TVs will usually subpar picture quality compared to TCL TVs. They will do much better when viewed at an angle though.

Overall, TCL's TVs offer good picture quality and great features at a low price. Most TVs in this price point show a definitive drop in performance compared to more expensive models.

Best TCL Smart TVs

TCL's lineup strangely has a lot of overlap. Different models have the same sizes for about the same price as others and with no difference in picture quality.

Best TCL 4k TV

Usage Ratings
7.0Mixed Usage
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What it is General purpose. The TV will be used for a variety of content and usages. Movies at night, TV shows during the day, video games from time to time, etc.
Score components:
7.0Movies
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What it is Movies in the dark. The TV will be used for watching movies in a controlled environment, directly in front, in a home theater way. Mostly only high quality content, like Blu-rays, UHD Blu-rays, streaming and a little bit of HDR.
Score components:
6.7TV Shows
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What it is TV Shows in a bright living room. The TV will be used in to watch TV shows, in a bright room during the day, from multiple viewing positions at different angles. The content watched has an average quality: cable, streaming, SD channels, etc.
Score components:
7.0Sports
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What it is Sports in a living room. The TV will be used to watch sports during the day, like football or hockey. Usually watched with a group, so from multiple viewing position.
Score components:
7.6Video Games
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What it is Video games. The TV will be used to play video games, directly in front, in a controlled light environment. Usually fast games, like online FPS, where motion blur and input lag is important.
Score components:
6.8HDR Movies
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What it is HDR Movies and TV shows. The TV will be used to watch 4k UHD HDR content, with a wide color gamut and a high peak brightness. Either via UHD Blu-rays or HDR streaming.
Score components:
5.2HDR Gaming
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What it is HDR Gaming. The TV will be used to play HDR video games using consoles that support it or on current generation gaming PCs. Xbox One S, PS4 Pro, GTX 10 series and AMD RX series graphics cards.
4.7PC Monitor
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What it is PC Monitor. The TV will be used as a PC monitor, from 2-3 feet away, either for productivity purposes or gaming. Sharp text is important, as well as a high resolution.
Score components:
55" 65"

The best TCL TV we've reviewed is the US5800 4k LED TV. It offers good picture quality and great smart features at an unusually good price.

It's tough to find major flaws with the US5800. Contrast is great, and it has no big issues with motion or input lag. Uniformity is also decent. It's not the brightest, and picture quality does significantly deteriorate when viewed from an angle, but it's still a more than sufficient TV for the average person's evening TV sessions.

See our review

Best budget TCL TV

Usage Ratings
6.7Mixed Usage
Show Help
What it is General purpose. The TV will be used for a variety of content and usages. Movies at night, TV shows during the day, video games from time to time, etc.
Score components:
6.1Movies
Show Help
What it is Movies in the dark. The TV will be used for watching movies in a controlled environment, directly in front, in a home theater way. Mostly only high quality content, like Blu-rays, UHD Blu-rays, streaming and a little bit of HDR.
Score components:
6.6TV Shows
Show Help
What it is TV Shows in a bright living room. The TV will be used in to watch TV shows, in a bright room during the day, from multiple viewing positions at different angles. The content watched has an average quality: cable, streaming, SD channels, etc.
Score components:
7.1Sports
Show Help
What it is Sports in a living room. The TV will be used to watch sports during the day, like football or hockey. Usually watched with a group, so from multiple viewing position.
Score components:
7.6Video Games
Show Help
What it is Video games. The TV will be used to play video games, directly in front, in a controlled light environment. Usually fast games, like online FPS, where motion blur and input lag is important.
Score components:
5.3HDR Movies
Show Help
What it is HDR Movies and TV shows. The TV will be used to watch 4k UHD HDR content, with a wide color gamut and a high peak brightness. Either via UHD Blu-rays or HDR streaming.
Score components:
4.7HDR Gaming
Show Help
What it is HDR Gaming. The TV will be used to play HDR video games using consoles that support it or on current generation gaming PCs. Xbox One S, PS4 Pro, GTX 10 series and AMD RX series graphics cards.
5.0PC Monitor
Show Help
What it is PC Monitor. The TV will be used as a PC monitor, from 2-3 feet away, either for productivity purposes or gaming. Sharp text is important, as well as a high resolution.
Score components:
32" 40" 50"

If you want something truly inexpensive that still has a great set of features, look for the S305 1080p LED TV. It's picture quality isn't too far off from the US5800 above, but it's a good deal cheaper. This is the perfect model for those looking for a simple TV for a bedroom, since it doesn't get too bright, but it's still a better TV than the average one found at this price.

See our review

Next Releases

For 2017, TCL expanded their lineup in the US. They added support for HDR across their line including Dolby Vision for a few of the models.

P-Series
50" 55" 65"

The new flagship of the brand. Has a full-array local dimming and supports Dolby Vision.

C-Series
49" 55" 65" 70" 75"

Nicest looking series of the line drops the full-array backlight for an edge-lit solution instead.

S-Series
43" 50" 55" 65"

TCL's budget series has a plastic stand and no Dolby Vision support.

Smart Features

7.5Remote
8.0Design
9.0Usability
0Web Browser
8.0Extra Features

For those familiar with Roku's platform, you will find right at home on TCL smart TVs, Their remote and overall interface is identical to what you would find on the Roku set top boxes, with complete 4k support which is unlike most of their lineup.

Remote Controls

The TCL Smart TVs come with a remote you would think was mistakenly placed in the box. This isn’t a bad thing since it's very comfortable and responsive. The TCL branding is impressively minimal and much like the interface, it’s a carbon copy of the ones you can find with the Roku boxes.

There are two versions of the remote. One is slightly thicker and has a 3.5mm TRS connector right onto it, so you can listen to the TV with headphones. This version also has a microphone for use with the voice search of the Roku operating system. It can be found with the UP130. The other remote, found with all the other TCL TVs, is thinner and doesn't have these upgrades. It is otherwise the same. 

Don't worry, though. You don't need to buy that fancy remote to get those features. You can instead download the Roku app on Android or iOS and get all of them.The app is responsive and connects to the TV very easily. The audio lag when using the private listening feature on the phone isn't noticeable, just make sure to keep a good Wi-Fi connection to avoid any issues.

Main Interface

TCL home menu

When you first boot up the TCL smart TVs, you're greeted with what they call the home page. Unlike most other manufacturers, TCL brings you straight to your inputs before anything else. Since the smart features are only one button press away, it's quite intuitive.

TCL menu feed

Next up is the "my feed" page. It's an easy way to browse a lot of the content available on the platform across a multitude of apps. It aggregates everything that's available for free, to buy or to rent. It also allows you to follow movies and shows and notifies you when they're available.

The search feature works much like the feed, except user-driven instead of automated. It allows you to search through all types of contents as well as find apps and channels in one go. For example: if you look for "Willis," it will find movies and shows containing that word as well as apps. Even within streaming apps like Netflix.

TCL Store

Then comes the Channel Store. This is where you'll find all the apps available on Roku, and there is quite a lot of them. All the big ones like Netflix, Amazon Video, HBO GO, and Hulu and many more are available.

Roku Remote App

One of the best features of the Roku platform is its remote app you can find on both iOS and Android. It's capable of doing all that the smart remote found with the UP130 can do and more, so it's quite fully featured.

As you can see, all the basic remote controls are available, even powering the TV on and off. You can plug in headphones to your device and listen to the TV privately through the app as well.

The app is also really great for searches and logging into apps since you can use your phone's keyboard instead of having to wrangle with the arrow keys on the remote.

Much like the smart remote, you can also use your phone's microphone for voice search. Another faster alternative to fiddling with the directional controls to input text.

USB Playback

When testing out the USB playback, an issue arose. The TV didn't seem to recognize any of the USB drives we use. After further testing with different brands, we managed to find other drives that did work, but we couldn't find a particular reason as to why our specific ADATA drives had problems.

Web Browser

Unfortunately, there is no real web browser available on the Roku system. You can get the Firefox app, but all that allows you to do is to sync with your Android phone and send videos to the TV from the Firefox browser on your phone, kind of like Google Cast.

Codec Support

H.264 (AVI, MP4, MKV) Yes
H.265 (AVI, MP4, MKV) Yes
VP9 (WebM) Yes

Conclusion

TCL's lineup is mostly budget oriented, and they do very well in that area. Their smart platform rivals the very best, which can't be said of TVs multiple times more expensive. Plus, their picture quality has been consistently good across their models. Overall, it's tough to beat them when it comes to budget TVs, and that makes them a pretty safe bet.

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