Model number: 55R635
Screen Size: 55 inches
Resolution: 3840 x 2160
HDR: HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision
Refresh Rate: 120 Hz
Ports: 4 HDMI, 1 USB
Audio: 2x 8-watt w/ Dolby Atmos
Smart TV Software: Roku TV 8.0
Size: 48.3 x 28.1 x 2.8 inches [w/o stand]
Weight: 41.9 pounds [w/o stand]
The TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635) is the 2020 version of TCL's superb 6-Series model line, one of the best value TVs on the market for several years running. Based on our testing, this is easily one of the best TVs of the year.
TCL has outfitted this mid-range set with more premium features than ever before, enhancing the display with quantum dot enhancement and mini-LED backlighting – technology that earned it a 2021 Tom's Guide Award for best TV innovation – and backing it all with their best video processor to date. The TV offers one of the best implementations of Roku TV you can buy, and includes voice search with a microphone built right into the remote for super convenient use.
Our TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635) review makes it clear that the 2020 set is everything we've loved about past 6-Series models, like the 2019 TCL 6-Series Roku TV R625 — but better. The one thing that didn't change? The excellent price.
Editor's Note : Since our initial review in September of 2020, TCL announced that it will keep the TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635) on as it's flagship 4K TV in 2021 and launched the new TCL 6-Series 8K Roku TV (R648), expanding the model line beyond mainstream 4K sets. We've updated the review to reflect this. The rating and overall recommendations of our review remain unchanged.
TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635) review: Pricing and availability
The TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635) is available in several sizes, ranging from 55 up to 75 in. Our review focuses on the 55-in model, but all of our observations and test results should hold consistent across every size in the line.
The only significant differences between these models is the number of mini-LED backlights. The 55-inch model we reviewed boasts 128 backlighting zones made up of hundreds of mini-LED lights. The 65 and 75-inch models offer up to 240 zones and as many as 1,000 mini-LED lights, due to the larger size of the screens.
With such minor differences between the different screen size options, we're confident that our recommendations for the 55-inch model apply equally to the 65 and 75-in versions of the set.
And while most TV makers launched new TVs for 2021, TCL is still be offering the 6-Series R635 as it's mainstream 4K TV in 2021. However, the 6-Series is getting a new model, with a pair of 8K TVs. Check out our TCL 6-Series 8K Roku TV (R648) review to learn more.
TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635) review: Design
The TCL 6-Series is relatively slim, measuring 2.8 inches at the thickest point, but narrowing down to just 1 inch thick around the outside bezel. The design is actually a little bit boxy, but in line with past TCL designs. It emphasizes the display very well, with a frame-like bezel and chassis that's covered in what looks to be brushed metal.
The back of the set protrudes just a bit to house the various TV components and speakers, but it will still mount on a wall without any difficulty using a 300mm x 300mm VESA mount.
The top half of the rear chassis has a slick looking glossy finish, so if you wish to set the TV up in the middle of the room instead of up against a wall, the back side of the set is not the usual drab you'll get on most TVs.
The stand that comes with the TV consists of two feet, which attach at either end of the set. They attach quite easily, and the design is nice in that the brackets are easily marked and only fit in the correct spots, so there's no accidentally attaching the right foot on the left hand side of the set and vice versa. New in 2020 is the addition of cable management in those feet, with clips for power cables and other cords built in.
TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635) review: Ports
On the back right hand side of the TCL 6-Series you'll find a collection of ports, gathered in a single easy-to-reach panel set 5 inches from the edge of the TV. There you will find four HDMI ports, a coaxial connection for cable or antenna, a single USB port, an 3.5 mm headphone jack, a digital optical TOSLINK connection and a small AV input connection.
While TCL doesn't say one way or another whether these are HDMI 2.1 connections, they do claim support for some of the most notable features from the 2.1 spec, like Auto-Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR).
The set has an ethernet jack for wired internet connection, as well as built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Also on the back of the set is a small physical power button.
- Check out our Roku Ultra LT review
TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635) review: Performance
The 55-inch TCL 6-Series has a big, bright 4K panel, with QLED technology enhancing the brightness and colors, and a 120 Hz refresh rate providing smooth action for any content you want to watch.
Color quality was rich and vibrant, with life-like color on a bird's wings and exotic foliage as I watched scenes from Our Planet, Netflix's 4K nature documentary series. There was some minor banding in scenes where color transitions were especially subtle, like bright blue sky, but changes in tone left slightly posterized circles of color as sunlight shifted between shades of blue and yellow.
The backlight performance on the TCL 6-Series is very good, with the set's many discrete dimming zones doing an admirable job of providing high contrast light and dark with minimal haloing. It's not perfect, but neither is any LCD set we've reviewed. However, the halos aren't egregious, and we're only noticeable in scenes with very high contrast and small points of light.
While watching Blade Runner 2049, the TCL 6-Series exhibited some haloing during a scene that shows embers coming up from a campfire and stars in the sky – but the issue was far less pronounced than we anticipated.
Watching the 4K teaser trailer for The Batman, the shadow drenched-scenes offered a great test of how well the set handles black and near-black colors, a common weak point among even the best LCD sets. Whether it was Batman's black-and-gray armor or crowds of black suits and overcoats in a crowd, the TCL 6-Series did well in not only retaining the details in dark shadows, it also did well with all of the subtle variations between black and gray and near black shades of color.
The TCL 6-Series proved equally adept at handling bright color in the 4K trailer for Wonder Woman 1984. A sunlight drenched arena filled with Amazons and a 1980s inflected Times Square filled with bright signs and video billboards looked superb with bright reds, greens and yellows. In normal mode reds and blues were just a touch over saturated, but switching to movie mode solved most of the very minor color issues we saw on the screen.
Highlights like glinting gold armor and jets firing up in a dark airfield also look excellent, and the HDR performance on the set is among the best I've seen on a non-OLED TV. With support for Dolby Vision as well as standard HDR10 and HLG content, most movies will look fantastic.
Despite the TCL 6-Series facing the same challenges as other LCD sets, the combination of the QLED panel and mini-LED backlight reduces or eliminates many of the issues we expected to encounter. We didn’t notice any shadows along the edges or in the corners of the display, and the backlight consistency across the entire screen looks perfect.
Viewing angles on the set are also nice and wide, with only the merest tint of color shifting when viewed at 45-degree angle. That makes this an excellent TV for movie night or the big game, since anyone seated off to the sides of the prime viewing spot will still be able to see everything with full clarity and accurate color.
TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635) review: Test results
My positive impressions of the 6-Series' excellent performance were confirmed by the results of our lab testing, where the R635 showed itself to have excellent color and brightness.
Color gamut, which measures the breadth of colors the display can reproduce, showed an impressive 99.92 percent of the sRGB color space. While we will occasionally see premium OLED sets that exceed 100%, this matches the best we've seen from any mid-range TV. The 2019 TCL 6-Series eked out a slightly higher score (99.95%), but we saw lower numbers in both the Hisense H8G Quantum Series (65H8G) review (99.78%) and the Vizio M-Series Quantum (M658-G1) review from last year (99.91%), despite the fact that all of these sets offer some of the best color in the sub-$1,000 price range.
Color accuracy was just as impressive. When tested with our X-RIte colorimeter and CalMan calibration software, the TCL 6-Series R635 had a delta-E rating of 2.8 (closer to 0 is better). Again, last year's TCL 6-Series Roku TV R625 was ever-so slightly better (2.2), and the Hisense H8G Quantum Series (65H8G) is actually the current accuracy leader (1.2), but the equally superb-looking Vizio M-Series Quantum (M658-G1) was less accurate color overall (3.6).
All in all, the color and image quality on the TCL R635 is excellent, and more importantly, it looks excellent whether you're watching broadcast TV, streaming movies or Ultra HD Blu-rays.
TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635) review: Gaming
The TCL 6-Series is also no slouch in the gaming department. While all modern TVs have a low-latency game mode, the TCL 6-Series R635 is the first to get THX Certified Game Mode, which not only strips out the extra video processing that would slow down the response time for the player, it also meets a bunch of other criteria for high-quality images. These stringent requirements look at everything from color quality and refresh rates to rise time, which looks at how quickly the TV can handle dark-to-light transitions, essential for fast-paced games.
The 6-Series also supports all of the gaming-oriented features of HDMI 2.1 connectivity, like Auto-Low Latency Mode (ALLM), which switches to game mode as soon as the console is turned on, and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), which matches the screen to the frame-by-frame output coming from the TV, synchronizing the two for judder-free gaming.
The overall lag time is also decently fast, clocking at 21.5 milliseconds according to our lag tester. While there are faster sets out there, like the Hisense H8G Quantum (13.8) and the 2019 TCL 6-Series R625 (13.1), it's still more than fast enough for most gamers, and notably faster than either the Vizio M-Series Quantum (29.9) or the Samsung Q60T QLED TV (27.8).
If you want one of the best gaming TVs on the market, this is it. It's also shaping up to be one of the best TVs for PS5 and Xbox Series X later this year -- the combination of great performance, short lag times and HDMI 2.1 gaming support makes it ideal for handling the 4K, high-frame-rate gaming offered by the upcoming consoles.
TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635) review: Audio
The TCL 6-Series weakest front is easily the audio quality offered by the pair of 8-watt speakers inside. They aren't as loud as we would like, and the lack of a subwoofer was noticeable when listening to test tracks, like the Deftone's "Ohms." The pounding drums and crushing guitar sounded good, but the bassline lacked some of the oomph that normally round out the band's sound.
Sure, it will fill a room, and will be pretty clear – I did notice some distortion creeping in when I pushed the volume above 80% – but it's still a far cry from matching the excellent visual quality delivered by the TV.
For bigger sound to match the screen, we recommend adding one of the best soundbars, with Dolby Atmos support to take full advantage of the TCL's capabilities.
TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635) review: Smart features
When it comes to smart TV operating systems, Roku offers some of the best and worst you'll find on modern smart TVs. Frequently found on less expensive models, the Roku interface is easy to navigate, has a huge selection of apps and services, and even offers voice navigation and search. Compared to proprietary software used by companies like Samsung and LG, Roku holds its own with a wider app selection and excellent interface.
But it also is held back by a lack of certain features. As connected devices become more prominent in our lives, the 6-Series' lack of smart home controls is noticeable. You can get some of these capabilities through the TV by pairing the set with an Amazon or Google smart speaker, but using the TV for functions like monitoring camera feeds or checking thermostat settings is very hit or miss.
That said, if you want your smart TV to mostly be a TV, Roku does boast a huge selection of free apps and channels, including popular services like Crackle, Tubi and PlutoTV. The majority of paid services are also readily available, like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, making it a serviceable choice for most users.
TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635) review: Remote control
The remote control that comes with the TCL 6-Series is extremely familiar to anyone that's used a Roku TV in the last few years, with a fairly small, easy to hold shape and simple uncluttered design.
The basic layout remains the same, with a purple plus-shaped directional pad in the center of the remote, though the button has a comfortable rubberized finish instead of the glossy plastic we've seen on many Roku device remotes. Above that are buttons for power, home and a back button, all in the same places they've been for years. Below the plus-shaped pad you will find two rows of control buttons to access settings to reset entirely, as well as media playback buttons.
The media controls again benefit from small tweaks; the buttons are wider, making them easier to distinguish from the other buttons adjacent to them and the play/pause button in the middle is larger than the forward and back buttons to either side. All this makes for a remote that is easier to navigate by feel.
And finally below those are four dedicated app buttons that will take you immediately to the top apps and services. These buttons cannot be reprogrammed, and come pre-assigned to various apps -- in this case Netflix, Disney plus, Hulu, and Sling TV -- but are handy for anyone that uses these services.
TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635) review: Verdict
For a set that's defined as much by it's value as it's features and picture quality, the TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635) is one of the best sets on the market. The 6-Series has a well-earned reputation for premium quality at affordable prices, but the combination of QLED enhancement, mini-LED backlighting and a solid smart TV experience make it the clear winner among TVs that sell for under $1,000.
Even among past top picks, like the Vizio M-Series Quantum (M658-G1) and the 2019 TCL 6-Series (R625), the new R635 is the best value we've seen for the money, delivering excellent picture quality and plenty of features, including supporting next-generation game consoles. The whole package is enough to make the TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635) one of the best TVs of 2020.
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