TCL 6 collection could possibly be essentially the most unbelievable TV worth of 2018

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Ty Pendlebury/CNET

I will not know for positive till I can assessment it, however on paper the TCL 6 collection seems to be like the most effective TV for the cash this yr.

For the final two years that honor has gone to Vizio, the No. 2 TV maker within the US after Samsung. I gave the 2017 Vizio M series our Editors’ Choice award for hitting the elusive candy spot between image high quality and worth. 

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TCL 6 collection seems to be like a video high quality worth winner


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This yr, nevertheless, TCL’s 6 collection is Vizio’s worst nightmare. Available as we speak beginning at a really inexpensive $600, it is available in 55- and 65-inch sizes. Just like its predecessor, final yr’s 55-inch P series, the 6 collection combines the most effective good TV system, Roku TV, with an important image high quality characteristic I search for in an LCD TV: full-array local dimming, one thing TCL calls “distinction management zones.” 

And identical to final yr, TCL reserves the least-expensive fashions solely for Best Buy. Here’s how they break down.

TCL 6 collection fashions and costs

Model Size Dimming zones Remote management Available at Price
55R615 55-inch 96 Basic Best Buy $600
65R615 65-inch 120 Basic Best Buy $950
55R617 55-inch 96 Voice Amazon, others $650
65R617 65-inch 120 Voice Amazon, others $1,00zero

The solely distinction between the 615 fashions at Best Buy and the 617 fashions obtainable at Amazon and elsewhere is the distant — the TVs themselves are precisely the identical. The 617’s distant has a mic for voice search and different voice instructions and likewise makes use of RF (radio frequency) to speak with the TV, so you possibly can level it anyplace. (In case you are questioning, the 2018 clicker is lacking the headphone jack and distant finder options discovered on its predecessor.)

The 615’s distant lacks voice assist — though you possibly can nonetheless concern voice instructions utilizing your cellphone by way of the Roku app — and makes use of customary IR (infrared) communication. If you do not care concerning the distant, the Best Buy model is the higher worth at $50 much less.

Picture high quality containers: Checked

But overlook the distant: the primary enchantment of the 6 collection is its probably wonderful picture high quality. Those “distinction management zones” ought to considerably enhance black ranges and distinction, the constructing blocks of a high-quality house theater image, particularly with HDR (excessive dynamic vary) TV exhibits and flicks. 

Having extra dimming zones does not essentially imply higher picture high quality, however it could actually assist. That’s as a result of smaller, extra quite a few zones permit the picture to gentle up (and dim) extra exactly, higher separating the components of the picture that ought to be brighter from the components that ought to be darker. It helps remove “blooming,” the place a shiny space can lighten one which ought to be darkish. The 6 collection has considerably extra zones than Vizio’s 2018 M and P collection, whereas Sony and Samsung do not disclose their numbers of dimming zones.

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TCL’s particular demo TV, with the LEDs themselves uncovered, reveals its excessive variety of dimming zones. 


Ty Pendlebury/CNET

TCL additionally touts a couple of different picture high quality extras. The 6 collection has WCG (wide color gamut) capabilities, because of NBP Photon expertise (Nano Band Phosphor) — a buzzword meaning colour ought to come nearer to the total DCI-P3 gamut that is splendid for HDR. TCL has additionally added a few HDR (high dynamic range) choices designed to make darkish scenes extra seen in shiny rooms. And identical to final yr, the 6 collection helps each Dolby Vision and HDR10 excessive dynamic vary codecs. 

TCL says the 6 collection can get brighter than the P from final yr, however did not specify a number of nits. It additionally touts a “120Hz clear movement index,” however as usual, that’s a made-up number. The 6 collection has 60Hz native panel.

Why Vizio ought to be shaking in its boots

TV makers like Samsung and Sony make excellent-performing non-OLED TVs, however they reserve their greatest image high quality options, like full-array native dimming, for TVs that price much more than Vizio’s and TCL’s. The Sony X900F presently goes for $2,200 at 65 inches, whereas the Samsung Q8 prices $2,800. On the opposite hand, these TVs have much more model cachet than TCL and Vizio.

If you care much less about model and most about getting the most effective image high quality for the cash, nevertheless, the highest decisions for 2018 are Vizio’s M and P series, and TCL’s 6 collection. That’s as a result of they price about half as a lot as these Sonys and Samsungs. To desk 2!

TCL 6 collection vs. Vizio M- and P-series

Brand Model Size Dimming zones Price
TCL 55R515 55-inch 96 $600
TCL 55R617 55-inch 96 $650
Vizio M55-F0 55-inch 32 $700
Vizio P55-F1 55-inch 56 $900
TCL 65R615 65-inch 120 $950
TCL 65R617 65-inch 120 $1,00zero
Vizio M65-F0 65-inch 40 $1,00zero
Vizio P65-F1 65-inch 100 $1,300
Vizio M70-F3 70-inch 48 $1,500
Vizio P75-F1 75-inch 120 $2,500

On paper, TCL beats Vizio for worth and variety of dimming zones. The solely exception is the 65-inch dimension, the place the TCL R617 prices the identical because the Vizio M65-F0. 

Beyond picture high quality, TCL has a giant benefit in Smart TV. It makes use of the Roku working system, which delivers best-in-class app choice and ease of use. Vizio’s SmartForged system was my least favourite final yr amongst all the main TV makers, and whereas the 2018 model exhibits some enchancment, I severely doubt it is going to be higher than Roku.

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TCL’s Roku TV system runs circles round Vizio’s SmartForged.


Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Vizio does provide fashions bigger than 65 inches, one thing TCL’s 6 collection doesn’t. When I requested TCL’s Senior Vice President Chris Larson the explanation, he mentioned native dimming and actually huge TVs have not caught on as a lot in markets outdoors North America, so it did not make as a lot sense for the corporate to provide an even bigger 6 collection in 2018. He hinted new fabrication facility designed to ship bigger sizes might change that calculation in 2019 or past, nevertheless.

That’s all I do know to date, and why I give the TCL 6 collection the sting over Vizio within the early worth race. Of course I will not know the winner till I assessment the TVs in individual, however judging from final yr, the place the TCL P collection was pretty much as good or higher than the Vizio M in most areas, they need to be very shut. Stay tuned for the ultimate verdict.

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