TCL is taking over the mid-range television space. It’s a spot it’s been vying for over the last five years, and now, it’s finally holding its own.
By volume, TCL holds roughly 10% of the global LCD TV market share, making it the third largest manufacturer right behind the likes of Samsung and LG.
To conquer that space, TCL has a number of TV series - and we mean literally, as TCL somewhat confusingly names its TVs after numbers.
Last year, we got the new-and-improved TCL P6-Series and upgraded 4-Series TVs. This year, TCL is treating us to brand-new additions to the 6-Series and 5-Series line-up while carrying over the 3-Series, 1-Series and C8-Series.
It can be hard deciphering which models are capable of which features, but that’s why we’re here. We’ve gone eyes on with a number of the new TVs, and can help you narrow down TCL’s ever-expanding line-up to find the TV that’s right for you.
But before we get into specific models, let’s talk about what TCL is changing in its brand-new 2018 TVs.
TCL 2018 TV technology
So what makes a TCL TV ... well, a TCL TV?
In recent years, one of the defining traits is its use of Roku TV in most of the mid-range models. By leveraging Roku’s strengths, TCL TVs have an incredible library of content right out of the box, not to mention a huge library of subscription-based streaming services like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
Beyond the software running on the TV itself, packed inside each TCL TV is a number of contrast control zones - an array of LED zones that can be independently turned on and off to improve overall contrast.
For 2018, TCL has jammed an impressive 96 of these zones in its 55-inch 6-Series TV and 120 zones in the 65-inch model. According to TCL, those zones help give the 6-Series a 12,667:1 contrast ratio which exceeds leading competitors’ TVs by 300%.
Contrast isn’t the only important quality when it comes to picture performance - color reproduction is pretty darn important, too. To help its screens better display the DCI-P3 and BT.2020 color spaces, TCL has equipped the TVs with its Wide Color with NBP Photon technology. This helps the TV achieve 93% of the DCI-P3 color space and 74% of the BT.2020 color space - which is all the more impressive when you consider its price.
The final component in the picture performance category is HDR performance - a newer technology that enables us to go beyond traditional standard dynamic range limitations. To offer the best HDR performance, the TCL 6-Series comes with HDR Pro Gamma technology that creates a custom tone map depending on where your TV is located. That means whether you keep your TV in a brightly lit living room or a dark home theater, the HDR content will retain that deeper contrast and expanded color range. Both the 5-Series and the 6-Series will support Dolby Vision, HLG and the standard HDR10 standards of HDR.
TCL 6-Series (New for 2018!)
Model numbers: 55R617, 65R617
TCL 6-Series (available in 55- and 65-inches): New for 2018 is the TCL 6-Series, which is a follow-up to last year’s well-received TCL P6-Series. Both models of the 6-Series boast all of the features listed above (three types of HDR support, Roku TV, copious amounts of LED control zones) and comes in two sizes, 55- and 65-inches. The big changes over the P6-Series are the increased control zones and new, more aesthetically pleasing design.
The TCL 6-Series is available now, at a special pre-order introductory price of $649 for the 55” (55R617) and $999 for the 65” (65R617) screen size.
TCL 5-Series (New for 2018!)
Model numbers: TBD
TCL 5-Series (available in 43-, 55- and 65-inches): Also new for 2018 is the TCL 5-Series, a little brother to the 6-Series that packs many of the same features. You can expect HDR Pro Gamma and support for the three main types of HDR, plus Wide Color with NBP Photon technology and Roku TV built-in. As far as motion is concerned, the 5-Series has 240 Natural Motion technology … which probably equates to a native refresh rate of 120Hz.
No pricing has been announced for the TCL 5-Series yet, however the TVs will be available later this year.
TCL P6-Series (Carryover from 2017)
Model numbers: 55P607
TCL P6-Series (only available in 55-inches): The TCL 55P607 was, beyond a doubt, our favorite budget TV from 2017. For $649, you could get a killer 55-inch TV that supported Dolby Vision and HDR10, boasted Wide Color Gamut with Advanced LED Phosphor and came with Roku TV built-in. For those reasons (and its resulting exceptional picture quality) we scored it a 4.5 out of 5 when we reviewed it, and gave it our seal of approval. The main reason that you shouldn’t buy one now in 2018 is that the 6-Series offers all of the same specs, plus additional contrast control zones that make the picture even better.
- Read our review of the TCL 55P607
TCL C8-Series (Carryover from 2017)
Model numbers: 55C807, 65C807, 75C807
TCL C8-Series (available in 55-, 65- and 75-inches): Another carryover from last year is the TCL C8-Series, an upscaled version of the P-Series that offers “contemporary design”. For the pragmatist, however, the real draw is the built-in soundbar, which helps elevate the TV’s audio from the measly 10-watt speakers often found in flatscreens these days. While the C8-Series wasn’t our favorite 4K TV from 2017, we did appreciate the built-in Roku TV and Dolby Vision support, which made shows and movies easier to find and look great.
- Read our review of the TCL 55C807
TCL 4-Series (Carryover from 2017)
Model numbers: 43S405, 49S405, 55S405, 65S405
TCL 4-Series (available in 43-, 49-, 55- and 65-inches): Stepping down further is the best Black Friday fodder we’ve seen in some time, the TCL 4-Series. While Vizio has been known to break through the bottom of the barrel in terms of selling a great TV for less than you’d expect to pay, TCL’s 4-Series is right there alongside them: The 43S405, for example, is a 43-inch 4K TV for $369 and comes with TCL’s 4K Creative Pro upscaling engine and a 120Hz CMI effective refresh rate.
To that end, these TVs can’t quite hold a candle to the P6-Series we saw last year or this year’s 5- and 6-Series, but if you’re looking for something decent and cheap, it doesn’t get any better than this.
TCL 3-Series (Carryover from 2017)
Model numbers: 28S305, 32S305, 40S305, 43S305, 49S305
TCL 3-Series (available in 28-, 32-, 40-, 43- and 49-inches): The 3-Series is TCL’s Full HD Smart TV series. It doesn’t pack in 4K or any of those picture quality features mentioned above, but again, like the 4-Series the 3-Series is darn cheap. The advantage of the 3-Series, besides the price point obviously, is that it comes with Roku built-in so you’re not completely left high and dry in terms of features. It’s also worth pointing out that, because these are smaller screens, 4K might be a bit overkill anyways. If you’re looking for a small screen for a second room in your house, the 3-Series isn’t a bad option.
TCL 1-Series (Carryover from 2017)
Model numbers: 32D100, 40D100, 49D100
TCL 1-Series (available in 32-, 40- and 49-inches): The 1-Series is TCL’s digital TV. No Roku. No picture quality enhancements. You get a full-array TV for cheap. The 40- and the 49-inch offer full 1080p, but the 32-inch, the last model in TCL’s entire catalog, only offers 720p. That said, the TCL 32D100 will only set you back $149 so maybe it doesn’t matter.