TCL 6 series (2018 Roku TV) review: Still the best picture quality for the money, period – CNET

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End of 2019 update: new model available

Editor's note, October 10, 2019: The 2018 TCL 6 series tested here has been replaced by one newer 2019 TCL 6 series, The two are very similar, but the new one is a little better. For this reason, I recommend the new one instead, unless you get a significant discount on the 2018 version.

What follows is the 2018 TCL 6-Series test, as last updated at the beginning of this year and which is no longer updated.


More than a year after my first test, the TCL 6 series is still the best TV for the money you can buy. No television in its price range can beat it, and this includes new models from 2019 like that Vizio M8 series I checked recently.

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At this point, the 6 Series is heavily reduced from the original price, making it a better price than ever. The 65-inch model regularly goes down to $ 700and the 55-inch version for only $ 500. Even the massive 75-inch version of the 6-series is a bargain at $ 1,400. However, these prices may differ at the time you read this.

I can say that the 6er is the best since I've tested almost all of its closest competitors, including the 2019 M8 and Samsung Q70, I've also compared it to a number of 2018 TVs, including the one Vizio M series. Vizio P series, the Sony X900F and the Samsung Q8, All five offer similar picture quality overall – in a word, excellent, and each has an 8 for picture quality – so TV buyers who want the best TV for little money should choose the cheapest. And that's the TCL.

Of course, you could pay more for a better picture. LG B8 OLED TV and Vizios P-series Quantum has a 10 or a 9 in overall picture quality and both clearly outperform each of these televisions. If you can afford one and enjoy the image quality, it's worth considering. And if you can wait, there is More new TVs for 2019 are now available, but you'll have to wait until fall 2019 for TV prices to bottom if you want the best deal. Speaking of waiting: TCL has not yet announced a successor to the 6-series model for 2019, but we expect this to happen this summer.

Apart from the picture quality, the 6 series includes my favorite smart TV system Roku TV. It convinces with the apps, the simplicity and the comfort of smart TV systems from LG, Vizio and Sony. Samsung's system has done it in a couple of areas, namely device control and a new cool ambient mode, but overall I still like Roku better.

Among all the large mid-range TVs that I have reviewed, the TCL 6 series is at the top and continues to receive the CNET Editors' Choice Award. For savvy TV buyers who prefer a 55-, 65- or 75-inch size and value to get as much picture quality as possible for as little money as possible, this is a win. For more options and sizes, see CNET's Best TV Lists.

Editor's note: There are two variants of the TCL 6 series. One version ends with the model number "617" and the other with "615". The 615 models are available exclusively from Best Buy, while the 617 models are available from Amazon and elsewhere. The only difference between the two is in their remote controls; See below for details.

Moar metallic

Goodbye and good relief from shiny black plastic, hello to a no-frills metallic finish. The 6 Series highlights the appearance of previous TCLs by wrapping the thin frame in a dark, textured metal. It reflects more than a matte black but not too much, and creates a sleeker, higher-quality feel than last year's model.

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TCL provides a bit more panache with a rounded on / off switch and aggressive, angled legs. The Roku TV logo is subtle and difficult to see at the bottom right, while the glossy TCL under the screen is anything but subtle.

As expected for a full-array TV, the 6 Series is relatively thick in profile, but from the straight line, the frame around the screen is fairly narrow and minimal, with the typical slightly wider bottom edge. Speaking of the edge, the fit and the finish of my test device were not perfect: there were slight gaps in the lower left corner. It's not a big problem (I probably wouldn't return the device myself if I noticed it), but something I should keep an eye on.

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Rah-rah for Roku

I am a fan of Roku TV, for reasons that I have documented extensively in previous reviews. Here is the short version.

  • Frequent updates and functional improvements.
  • Simple menus with quick answers.
  • Complete customization, including naming inputs.
  • Entries on the same homepage as TV apps.
  • More apps (and 4K HDR apps) than any other smart TV system.
  • The categories 4K Spotlight and 4K Apps make it easier to find 4K content.
  • The cross-platform search covers many services and enables price comparisons.
  • Streaming shows are suggested in the antenna program guide for other viewing options.
  • Can stop live TV from an antenna source (and a USB stick).

For more information, see my review of my favorite 4K Roku device, the Roku Streaming Stick Plus, The Review of the P-series 2017 also has a lot more details on the above functions.

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The remote control: fewer extras in the Best Buy version

As already mentioned, the two versions of the 6 series, 615 and 617, have different remote controls.

The 617 Series remote control has other features, including a built-in microphone for voice functions and the ability to communicate with the TV without requiring line of sight. That means you don't have to point the clicker at the TV.

Roku's voice function is nowhere near as robust as that of Amazon Alexa Fire Edition TV for example, but it worked well for searching, app launching, switching inputs and setting an antenna channel. When the TV is switched off, it is switched on by a voice command such as "Start Netflix" and the app is started.

If you are not interested in voice remote control, the 615 series is a better value. It comes with a standard remote control without voice search and uses infrared (IR) technology, so you have to point it at the TV. And if you really want a voice search, you can access it at any time via the Roku phone app, which also offers extras such as Headphone jack for private listening,

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main features

Display Technology

LED LCD

LED backlight

Full array with local dimming

resolution

4K

HDR-compatible

HDR10 and Dolby Vision

screen form

Just

Smart TV

Roku TV

remote control

Voice (617 only)

Full local dimming sets the 6 series apart from many competitors and most TV manufacturers reserve the function for TV sets that cost much more than the 6 series. TCL calls it Contrast Control Zone technology, but it means the same thing. The 6 Series has more zones than Vizio's competitors: 96 zones for 55-inch TVs, 120 zones for 65-inch TVs and a proud 160 for 75-inch TVs.

Having more dimming zones doesn't necessarily mean better image quality, but it can help. This is because smaller, more numerous areas illuminate (and darken) the image more accurately, which makes it easier to separate the parts of the image that should be lighter from the parts that should be darker. It helps eliminate blooming, where a light area can brighten a bright area that should be dark. For more information on performance, see Image Quality.

The 6 series has WCG (wide color space) Ability thanks to NBP Photon (Nano Band Phosphor) technology, but based on our measurements, it is not as wide as many competing sets. Just like the 2017 model, the 6 Series supports both Dolby Vision and HDR10 High dynamic range formats.

The 55- and 65-inch models also announce a "120 Hz Clear Motion Index" As always, this is an invented number, The 6 series has a native 60 Hz panel and cannot match the motion performance of real 120 Hz televisions like the Vizio P series, Samsung Q8 and Sony X900F.

The exception is the 75-inch size, which has a real 120 Hz panel. The result should be better movement performance, although we were unable to test this size to confirm this review. However, as usual, the benefits should be pretty subtle.

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On the back you will find a solid selection of inputs.

  • 3 HDMI inputs (HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2)
  • 1 analog (composite) video input
  • 1 USB port (2.0)
  • Ethernet (wired internet)
  • 1 headphone jack
  • 1 optical digital audio output
  • 1 RF input (antenna)

The HDMIs are state of the art and worked flawlessly with everything I threw at them. The headphone jack is a nice touch, and unlike cheaper Roku devices, it also has Ethernet.