TCL 6-Series (2019 Roku TV) review: the best picture quality for the money – CNET

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It's easy to choose a cheap TV – just Shop by price, And it's relatively easy to choose an expensive TV – just get an OLED, A harder decision, however, is made by the large group of TV buyers in the middle who are willing to pay a little more for an impressive 4K HDR picture, but don't want to hang an arm or a leg on an OLED TV. Let me help you make that decision now.

The best picture quality for the money in 2019 belongs to the middle TCL 6 series. It is currently $ 800 for the 65-inch model and $ 600 for the 55-inch model. Not a TV I've tested in this price range, including the excellent version 2018, does better. And you can definitely pay more for TVs that do worse.

TCL has improved the color for 2019 thanks quantum dots – hence the mention of "QLED" in TCL's marketing material – and the styling a little revised. Otherwise, the Chinese television producer stuck to the same formula for success that it had used last year: great picture quality paired with Roku TV. The 6 series offers excellent contrast, lots of brightness and minimal glare and surpasses other excellent devices like that Vizio M8 and Samsung Q70 through a hair in the overall picture quality. And TCL's built-in Roku, my favorite smart TV system, handles the streaming systems of these TVs handy.

If you want a better picture than this TCL, your next stop in terms of price is something like that TCL 8 series. The Quantum X of the Vizio P series or a straight High-end Samsung QLED, I haven't checked them out yet, so I can't say exactly how much better their pictures will be, but I do know how much they will cost: hundreds more than the 6 series, some of which are approaching the price of OLED TVs like the LG B9, I feel good when I say that none of these TVs come close to the value proposition of this TCL and that no cheaper TV performs better. For this reason, the 2019 TCL 6 series was awarded the CNET Editors & # 39; Choice Award.

design

The TCL 6 series certainly doesn't look cheap. The glass panel in front of the screen extends to the edges at the top and on the sides to achieve a clear, minimalist appearance. The metallic lower edge is thicker and a little lighter gray, matching the legs. Seen from the side, the television is an unapologetic rectangular plate, not the gradually compacting housing of the competition. As a result, the 6 Series looks chunkier and a little less modern from an off-angle perspective.

These legs are at the very edge of the TV, another unusual movement. You'll need a nice wide table top or stand – 57 inches wide for the 65 inch example I've checked – to support this. Of course, you can also mount the 6 series on the wall like any other television.

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Why Roku TV rocks

I am a fan of Roku TV, for reasons that I have documented extensively in previous reviews. Here is the short list of reasons to love it:

  • 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).

My test device has not yet received the latest software from Roku, version 9.2. In this case, however, some other useful functions are displayed, including a voice-activated sleep timer and "zones" for curated content. For more information on Roku itself, see my article on 2019 Roku players and my review of my favorite 4K Roku device, the Roku Streaming Stick Plus.

Apple's AirPlay system is currently lacking on the Roku platform in general and on the TCL television in particular. This function is available on Vizio, Samsung and LG smart TVs. Samsung televisions currently also offer Apple's TV app. Apple says the TV app will be available on Roku at some point.

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The 6 series includes the simple Roku remote control with integrated voice control (in contrast to the previous year, TCL has not announced a cheaper variant that lacks the voice remote control). Roku's voice function is not nearly as robust as that of Amazon Alexa, such as that found on Fire Edition TVs. However, it is ideal for searching, starting apps, 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.

Important TV functions

Display Technology

LED LCD

LED backlight

Full array with local dimming

resolution

4K

HDR-compatible

HDR10 and Dolby Vision

Smart TV

Roku TV

remote control

voice

The most important extra for picture quality is local dimming with full array, which TCL calls Contrast Control Zone technology, but means the same thing. The 6 series offers numerous price zones: 100 zones for the 55-inch and 120 zones for the 65-inch. If you keep the overview, there are four other zones and the same number as last year. It's slightly better than the Vizio M8, which has 90 zones in both sizes.

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. TCL & # 39; s Mini LED The system, which is available for the high-end series 8, takes this to an extreme.

Like Vizio and the Samsung QLED 6-series televisions also use quantum dots – the biggest advantage on paper compared to their predecessor from 2018. These dots are microscopic nanocrystals that light up a certain wavelength (e.g. color) when energy is supplied. They improve the color compared to televisions without QD equipment. My measurements in the 2019 6 Series model showed a slightly better color than last year, and my comparisons looked more accurate.

Just like the 2018 model, the 6 Series supports both Dolby Vision and HDR10 formats with high dynamic range, Today, Samsung is basically the only manufacturer that doesn't.

The TV also advertises a specification called "Natural Motion 240", but as usual That is an invented number, The 6 series has a native 60 Hz panel and cannot keep up with the movement performance of real 120 Hz televisions like the Quantum of the Vizio P series, the Samsung Q70 and Sony X950G,

Note that TCL has not yet announced a 75-inch version of the 2019 6 series. This size was announced separately in January at CES (a television with a refresh rate of 120 Hz). Perhaps this will also be the case at CES 2020.

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There is a healthy row of sockets on the back.

  • 4 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 6 Series 2019 has a fourth HDMI input compared to the three models of the 2018 model. Some of the are missing HDMI 2.1 extras This is the case with some competitors, e.g. B. with variable refresh rate. However, it does have an automatic game mode that automatically activates the low input delay when a compatible game device is connected. The headphone jack is a nice touch, and unlike cheaper Roku devices, it also has Ethernet.