TCL has just launched a massive new TV in Japan, and it could be coming to the US and Europe next based on the rollout of its 2023 QLED and mini-LED TVs. The TCL 98C955, a 98-inch Quantum Dot mini-LED 4K TV, has a huge specification and a Japanese price tag of JPY980,000. That's roughly USD$6,910.
By comparison, Samsung's new 98-inch QLED 4K TV is $7,999 – and that one isn't mini-LED. If you want a 98-inch mini-LED, which Samsung calls Neo QLED, the 98-inch QN980A is currently $14,999 on Best Buy.
That's quite the price difference. But while the TCL specs aren't quite up there with the Samsung, they're not far off either and are in line with some of the best TCL TVs available right now.
TCL 98C955: what do you get for the money?
As reported by Display Specifications, the new TCL has Quantum Dot tech with Dolby Vision, Dolby Vision IQ, HDR10+ and HLG. The mini-LED backlight has a peak brightness of 2,000 nits and there's a native refresh rate of 120Hz with VRR, rising to 144Hz in gaming and with a Dual Line Gate option to deliver an effective refresh of 240Hz. The TV supports AMD FreeSync Premium Pro, Dolby Vision, DTS-HD and DTS Virtual X, and there's a Google TV OS with Chromecast, AirPlay 2 and HomeKit.
Unlike some rivals not all of the HDMI ports here are HDMI 2.1: you have a pair of those and then two HDMI 2.0. There are also three USB 2.0 ports, and wireless connectivity is Wi-Fi 6.
There's no doubt that the panels in TCL TVs are excellent, but where it perhaps falls behind Samsung is in the hardware and software that powers them. The TCL uses the firm's own AiPQ, while Samsung has its own high-powered picture processor. Reviews of current generation TCL TVs have compared their processor unfavourably with rivals, especially Samsung, whose own processors deliver very impressive performance. And as you can see from our TCL 6 Series Roku TV review, TCL's audio hardware could do with some TLC.
I'm pretty confident that the Samsung is the better TV. But when you look at the difference in prices, even with sales tax on top the TCL would massively undercut the similarly specced Samsung by enough money for you to buy a PS5, a Blu-Ray player and one of the best soundbars, and still have money left over. As sales pitches go, that's a pretty good one.
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.