TCL has made a name for itself in recent years by offering some of the best budget-friendly TVs on the market, but the company's newest model, the TCL 8-Series Roku TV, is poised to make TCL a player in the premium space, as well. And the wait for the 8-Series is nearly over, as the new sets are available for preorder this week through Best Buy.
The new 4K smart TV comes in two sizes, with a 65-inch model, the 65Q825 selling for $1,999, and a larger 75-inch model (the 75Q825) selling for $2,999. Both can be ordered today, with delivery anticipated later in October. The 8-series has the potential to crack our best TVs list; here's what you need to know.
TCL 8-Series: A premium QLED 4K TV
When we saw the TCL 8-Series back in August, we were impressed by the premium set, which boasts features like Dolby Vision support for HDR content, Dolby Atmos sound – even without a soundbar – and QLED display enhancement that offers brighter, more vivid color.
With quantum-dot manufacturing experience that predates Samsung's QLED line of TVs, TCL is aggressively pushing back against Samsung's marketing, and some people will be surprised to see the QLED terminology used openly by TCL. Despite Samsung's aggressive marketing, QLED isn't a proprietary term, and simply refers to quantum-dot technology used on LED-backlit displays.
By using the same sort of light-emitting nano-crystals that make Samsung's LCD sets more vibrant and colorful, TCL is positioning the 8-Series quantum-dot features against Samsung's QLED TVs. While they aren't the only company to adopt the technology in recent months, they may be in the strongest position market-wise.
Another cool feature offered on the TCL 8-Series is Auto Game Mode, which senses when a game console is connected to the TV and switches to the low-latency Game Mode without having to navigate through the picture settings to manually make the switch. Just plug in or power on your game console, and the switch happens without so much as picking up the remote control.
The Mini-LED advantage
The biggest difference between the 8-Series and less expensive models, like the TCL 6-Series, is hidden away behind the LCD panel, where a mini-LED backlight delivers as many as 25,000 discrete dimming zones. TCL is the first to bring this mini-LED technology to market, and in our brief time with the 8-Series, it looks to offer a real improvement to the picture quality offered on more affordable LCD TVs.
Mini-LED technology backs the LCD panel with thousands of tiny LED lights, each offering adjustable brightness for a small portion of the display. While LCD backlighting isn't new – it's offered on many TVs today, and is a must-have on any premium LCD set – even the most impressive models will boast dozens, perhaps one or two hundred dimmable zones.
This is because standard LEDs will illuminate several square inches of screen, allowing a handful of LED lights to provide the backlighting needed for the entire display. And by making these individual lights dimmable, it allows LCD displays to offer deeper, darker blacks by turning the lights down or off behind dark portions of the screen. The problem with this approach, however, is that light radiates and diffuses, meaning that light will often illuminate not only the pixels that are meant to be bright, but often the pixels around those ones, even when they're meant to be dark. The resulting halo of unwanted backlight is one of the few obvious deficits seen when comparing LCD panels to OLED models.
TCL hopes to change this the new mini LED backlight, which uses smaller LEDs packed into a tighter backlight array, allowing more precise backlight control. Because these smaller LEDs light up smaller portions of the screen, unwanted light seepage can be minimized. The end result is better backlighting, delivering deeper blacks, brighter highlights, and none of the obvious haloing seen even on premium LCD sets.
TCL 8-Series: Super luxe design
In addition to the mini-LED backlight, quantum-dot enhanced picture and a double dose of Dolby support, the 8-Series also steps up TCL's game in other areas. The design and smart features are also an upgrade from the award-winning 6-Series, which offered one of the best mid-range TVs on the market.
The design is decidedly more luxe, with super-slim display bezels that surround the display with only a few millimeters of bordering material and a stripe of brushed gun-metal finish along the bottom of the LCD panel. A matching stand provides a stable base for the TV while matching the chic gunmetal finish seen on the TV chassis.
The Roku smart platform is familiar to anyone that's used a TCL smart TV, but the 8-Series improves the experience with the new Roku voice interaction. A dedicated microphone button on the remote lets you search for content and control TV features with a word or phrase, and makes the expansive Roku app selection even easier to navigate.
Overall. the TCL 8-series looks like it should be able to give OLED TVs and Samsung's QLED TVs a run for their money. Stay tuned for our full review. In the meantime, check out the best Black Friday TV deals page to get ready for big savings on 4K TVs in all sizes.
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