There are few high-quality TV brands operating today that deliver the same bang-for-the-buck proposition as TCL. The Chinese electronics maker has quickly become one of the biggest presences in the US TV market, and it’s not hard to see why – with a host of bargain televisions that bring high-end specifications to very reasonable price points.
Casual shoppers will be drawn to truly budget options like the TCL 4 Series and TCL 5 Series – both of which will only set you back a few hundred dollars at most. But the company has also excelled at pushing next-gen TV technology like Quantum Dots and Mini-LED technology in its higher-end sets. Years before Samsung, LG, and Sony started making use of Mini-LED backlights, TCL was already releasing TVs outfitted with that tech to market, and its willingness to bet big on new ideas has made it an exciting company to keep track of.
Even cheaper models have been benefitting from the latest panel technologies, with new 5 Series QLED and 6 Series QLED TVs, ensuring that TCL’s cheaper offerings are able to stand out in a crowded market.
TCL is also known for its ultra-large 4K TVs, such as the models in its XL collection, which are sold in sizes up to an astonishing 98 inches. And while those are reasonably priced as compared to similar screen sizes from other companies – something you’d expect from TCL – we opted to focus on its more affordable TVs for our guide.
What follows is our picks of the best TCL TVs available today, from high-end Mini LED sets and 8K models to truly affordable budget LCDs. Whether you’re after a capable, mid-range Roku TV or something else entirely, we’ll run you through the best TCL TV options below.
Most of these are US models, mind, though you can scroll down to the end to see our top UK pick too.
Best TCL TV (US)
While there are more expensive options in the line-up, the TCL 6-Series (R635) QLED TV with Mini LED technology is the best in terms of price-to-performance ratio. What you get for the very affordable $650 sticker price is truly one of the best 4K TVs on the market today.
The Mini LEDs make the 6-Series brighter and more colorful than before, all while preventing light bleed. While the 2020 models don’t have proper HDMI 2.1 ports for full bandwidth 4K/120Hz, the 6-Series is one of the very first TVs to come with THX Certified Game Mode for 1440p/120Hz gaming – which means it’s more than capable of playing most of the high refresh rate console games out there right now.
In terms of design, the TV’s designed in a new way to hide your cables and the nearly bezel-less design of the TV is fairly versatile. The legs of the TV can either be placed close together to fit on a smaller table or stand, or can be attached to the outside corners of the TV to give it some more stability.
For the last few years you've had to decide between the contrast of OLEDs and the brightness and color saturation of LED-LCDs. Now you don't have to – the TCL 6-Series R635 has the best of both, making it the best TCL TV you can buy.
Read the full review: TCL 6-Series (R635)
Best Value TCL TV (US)
We love the TCL 6-Series for our living room, but if we had to go for a second TV for our bedroom or kitchen, we’d pick up the TCL 5-Series. It, too, uses QLED for better contrast and color, and like the 6-Series it also supports Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos passthrough.
What makes this our runner-up, however, is that the 5-Series isn’t as bright as the 6-Series is, and the 5-Series only uses a 60Hz panel instead of a 120Hz panel. Those two points aren’t typically deal-breakers for everyday TV viewers, but serious cinephiles will probably prefer the brighter 6-Series instead.
Still, the new TCL 5-Series is notably the cheapest QLED TV on the market; it costs significantly less than what Samsung’s entry-level QLED costs, while retaining the expanded color gamut and premium look. With full array local dimming for better black levels and Roku TV built-in, the 5-Series has a number of advantages over non-smart LED-LCD TVs, making it a great option for the price.
Read the full review: TCL 5-Series (S535)
Budget TCL TV (US)
If you’re after a seriously cheap TCL TV – but still want key features like 4K resolution and HDR10 support – then you should consider the 4-Series. The 4-Series doesn’t have Dolby Vision or Dolby Atmos passthrough, and it’s only a 60Hz native refresh rate, but the 4-Series starts at just $259 for the 43-inch model.
Besides being incredibly affordable, the 4-Series still comes with Roku TV built-in – which means you won’t have to worry about buying a separate streaming device – and it uses a direct lit panel instead of edge lighting, so highlights don’t totally destroy the black levels.
All that being said, the 4-Series isn’t as bright or as colorful as its QLED counterparts, the 5-Series and the 6-Series, and some gamers might run out of space for all their consoles as the 4-Series only has three HDMI 2.0 ports.
If you want a basic-but-good 4K HDR TV, the 4-Series gets the job done at half the price of the competition.
But what if money is no object for you? What if you’re prepared to drop some serious cash on the best TCL TV – and you have no qualms of spending over a thousand dollars? Well, in that case, you might want to consider the high-end TCL 8-Series from 2019.
It’s a few years old now, but the 8-Series has everything the 6-Series has to offer (Dolby Vision, QLED, Mini LED, etc...) but with even more contrast control zones. It’s not a game-changing difference, and we wouldn’t push your budget up too far just for the sake of more control zones; it’s worth noting that the 8-Series also shares largely the same specs as the 6-Series.
If you want a supersized TV with the best specs, though, the 8-Series inches out its siblings as the TCL TV to buy.
But what about a TV that goes beyond 4K? That, my friends, is the new TCL 6-Series 8K TV that the company announced at CES 2021. Our favorite TV from last year is going to get four times the amount of pixels in 2021, while retaining Mini LED and quantum dots. That means better contrast, better color and now sharper resolution, too.
Unfortunately TCL hasn’t told us yet when the TVs are going to hit store shelves or how much they’re going to cost. When asked to ballpark it, TCL has said that the TVs will still be around the same price but that number could be a bit higher than past years.
Even if the new 6-Series ends up costing a few hundred more than last year, it will still be the cheapest 8K TV on the market by a mile. We’re incredibly excited about it, and we can’t wait to hear more about it when TCL unveils it later this year.
Read more: The TCL 6-Series could feature the most affordable 8K TV ever made
Best TCL TV (UK)
The TCL C81 QLED is one of relatively few TCL televisions in the UK, at least compared to North America, but it's certainly our pick of the crop.
TCL entered the UK market back in 2018, but it took until the C81 QLED for it to make its mark, bringing its popular QLED (quantum dot) filter technology to boost color and contrast at a relatively affordable price.
The shiny appearance belies that value pricing though, with a metallic frame and felt-covered soundbar that give it an overall premium feel. The forward-facing sound system has some real impact to it, and you're getting colorful pictures onscreen too – though some careful picture preset tinkering is needed to temper them to an acceptable level.
The edge-lit panel means you won't always get consistent brightness, either and viewing angles are a bit limited compared to competing screens. But make no mistake: you're getting a dynamic television experience that melds key technologies with some cost-saving compromises, and it'll certainly suit some shoppers out there.
The C81 is currently TCL's premium UK offering, though that is set to change in 2021, with a TCL C82 Series that packs in Mini LED backlighting as well as HDMI 2.1 / VRR.
Read the full review: TCL C81 QLED