Hands on: TCL 8-Series 8K QLED Roku TV review

This is TCL's first 8KTV, and it starts at a massive 75 inches

What is a hands on review?
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Early Verdict

The TCL 8-Series 8K Roku TV is the best sign that 8KTVs are about to become more affordable. While we don't have a price for this 8KTV just yet, it'll be in line with the company's pricing history. Its use of mini LEDS and QLED technology provide a noticeable leap over the 6-Series, including better off-angle viewing and a thinner overall design. Just know, while it may be TCL's best, we fully expect it to be TCL most expensive yet without much native 8K content out there.

For

  • Expect a great price... for an 8K TV
  • Mini LEDs offer superb picture quality
  • Thinner TV frame and better sound
  • Improved off-angle viewing

Against

  • Price likely to creep up
  • Make room for 75 inches or bigger

The forthcoming TCL 8-Series 8K Roku TV takes a lot of what we liked about the TCL 6-Series 4K Roku TV and quadruples the pixel count while slimming down the thickness. At the starting size of 75 inches, it's a sight to behold.

At CES 2019, we discovered that the 2019 TCL Roku TV (or TCL X10 QLED outside the US) is also pushing QLED and mini LED technology to improve the picture quality. It's use of these smaller LEDs offers more local dimming, specifically 300% more contrast control zones compared to its last-generation sets.

The result? Deeper blacks, more vibrant colors and, most importantly, better viewing angles. The latter is something we noticed wasn't exactly perfect on last year's TCL televisions and it's good to see that the company is addressing the issue. The new mini LED technology is enough to match OLEDs, while maintaining strong brightness.

With a price expected to be lower than the competition (TCL didn't hint at anything but 'in line with what you'd expect from us'), the company has the power to move more people to the 8K resolution than most manufacturers. It's the No. 2 television maker in the US right now. But it's going to face the same problem as the high-end TV companies: there's very little 8K content out there.

That's why the first feature touted by TCL when it pitches its 8K Roku TV is "upscaling performance." It can skillfully convert today’s 4K and full HD resolution content and delivers a new sense of depth and clarity, says the company. It'll also be future-proofed for when native 8K content does get here thanks to HDMI 2.1 support.

The TCL  8K TV supports a wide color gamut display, approaching 100% of the DCI-P3 color space coverage, Dolby Vision, and more of the ultra-contrast control zones tech we've seen on TCL's higher-end 6-Series televisions.

It has a theater-level soundbar from Onkyo with Dolby Atmos, which may mean you won't need a separate soundbar solution. Yet it'll remain simplistic design, says TCL, with its thinnest point being 14.5mm. It's one of the thinnest 75-inch directly backlit products in the industry, reducing optical distance to 4mm.

When it comes to software, TCL is sticking to the extremely likable Roku TV interface. It's clean-looking, intuitive, and supports a wide variety of apps. Internationally, TCL doesn't use Roku, but the new TV will support Amazon Alexa and Android TV with Google Assistant, and the company is pouring resources into its new AI platform dubbed TCL AI-IN. It's supposed to know which team you're following when you command it to "turn on the football game."

Starting screen sizes are getting bigger with the TCL 8-Series 8K Roku TV. This set starts at 75 inches and will go up, according to the affordable TV manufacturer. But we've only seen the 75-inch version in action so far. The 6-Series was at 55 and 65 inches before CES, where TCL added a 75-inch model. Why so big for the 8-Series? You're not likely to see the benefit of 8K without stretching the screen to huge sizes.

We don't know how much TCL's first 8-Series 8K will cost. On the one hand, TCL consistently offers the best value among 4K sets right now. On the other hand, its new 6-Series at 75 inches costs $1,799, and the 8-Series is a nice leap in technology.

Early Verdict

The TCL 8-Series Roku TV is the best evidence that 8K TVs are ready for 2019 in a big way. Okay, maybe 8K content isn't going to go mainstream this year, but this QLED at the expected reasonable price could push 4KTV early adopters to max out to the latest TV resolution, or 1080p holdouts to finally upgrade. It'll break new ground.

From the show floor, we noticed that its use of mini LEDs thinned out the TV itself, while the picture looked better than ever at 75 inches. It's TCL's first 8K TV in the world, and also its first QLED outside of China. the picture is bright, uniform, and offers better viewing angles than the 6-Series, according to our early impressions. The Roku TV interface in the US is just [icing on] the cake.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.