The TCL 6 Series Roku TV is the bigger, better 2018 version of the much-lauded TCL Roku TV 55P607, a favorite among bargain shoppers and videophiles alike.
With the same Roku smart-TV interface, a slick new design and even better picture quality complete with Dolby Vision support, the TCL 6 Series ($999) is easily one of the best values around.
TCL 6 Series 65-inch Roku TV Specs
3840 x 2160
HDR10, Dolby Vision
3 HDMI, 1 USB
Smart TV Software
Roku TV 8.0
57.1 x 32.9 x 3.0 inches [w/o stand]
52.3 pounds [w/o stand]
The TCL 6 Series updates the design of the previous model with a new premium look and feel. The cabinet now has an elegant metal trim on the outside edges and bezel around the display panel. Embedded in the bottom bezel is a small, round power button for the set.
Rather than trying to hide it, TCL has embellished it – the marketing material actually calls it a jewel – with a glossy metal accent and a glowing ring that indicates power and sensor activity. You can also use the power button to cycle through menus; one tap moves you forward through a menu list, while a long press selects the highlighted item.
The rear panel is a glossy plastic with a faux brushed metal surface. Most of the cabinet is a uniform rectilinear shape that measures 1.2 inches thick, but the bottom third of the rear chassis has added thickness up to 3 inches to house various components. Without the stand, the set measures 57.1 x 32.9 x 3.0 inches.
The TCL 6 Series updates the design of the previous model with a new premium look and feel.
The 6 Series sits on two V-shaped feet, made of molded metal, and with a finish very similar to the metal trim on the TV. These feet add an additional 3 inches of height and bring the total footprint to 10 inches deep. In addition, they mesh so well with TCL's refined design that you may skip the option of VESA mounting. The 65-inch 6 Series is compatible with 300mm mounts.
On the right-hand side of the cabinet is a full collection of ports, set just a few inches in from the edge of the chassis. There are three HDMI 2.0 ports (one with ARC capability), as well as a single USB 2.0 port, an RF connector for antenna or cable, a headphone-jack-style AV input and a optical output for older surround sound systems. Network connectivity is available via 802.11ac Wi-Fi or an Ethernet port.
With only three HDMI inputs and one USB port, the port selection is a bit limited — more premium sets will often have a fourth HDMI and at least two USB — but it's a small complaint.
The 6 Series has almost everything you'd want in a TV, with a 65-inch 60Hz panel that has 4K resolution and support for high dynamic range content, handling both the basic HDR10 and the industry-leading Dolby Vision standards with ease. Even better, it did just about everything right when we spent time watching the set.
In Spider-Man: Homecoming, a dramatic fight on the Staten Island Ferry was punctuated with bright colors, such as Spider-Man's red-and-blue suit, and the orange of the ferry itself. Of particular note were the glowing purple highlights – the "specular highlights" that HDR excels at – of the villains' alien technology blaster. Fast action was also nice and smooth, with none of the blurring or juddering you might see on a less-capable set.
Switching over to Blade Runner 2049, HDR performance was especially pronounced, whether it was the bright lights of the future Los Angeles, or the glowing plugs in Niander Wallace's neck. Low-light scenes had very good visibility, such as shadowy shots of a dilapidated casino.
Testing made it clear that the impressive performance we saw on the 6 Series wasn't purely in the eye of the beholder. According to our measurements (using an X-Rite colorimeter and CalMAN software), the panel produces 99.96 percent of the Rec. 709 color specification, which is a slight improvement over last year's TCL P-Series 55P607 (99.88 percent). It's also on a par with the pricier Sony X900F (99.96 percent) and the midrange Vizio M65-E0 (99.96 percent).
This 65-inch set has almost everything you'd want in a TV, including support for both of the leading HDR formats.
Color accuracy is better than average, with a Delta-E rating of 1.1 (closer to zero is better) when measured in Movie mode. That's better than most competing sets, such as the Vizio M65 (1.4) and the Sony X900F (1.3). It's also a big step up in quality from its predecessor, the TCL 55P607 (2.2).
And while you may not notice it often during use, the backlight is also impressive. The 6 Series had a peak brightness of 607 nits, which is the best we've seen in this price range, topping last year's TCL 55P607 (463 nits) and the Vizio M65-E0 (331). You can find brighter, like the Sony X900F (1276 nits), but the prices are significantly higher. The panel is backed with full-array lighting instead of the edge lighting used in inexpensive models, and features 120 dimmable zones (the 55-inch model is outfitted with 96 such zones). That's a big step up from the 2017 model, which had 72, and the Vizio M65-E0, which had 32.
Those individual lighting zones are used to make bright spots really bright, and can be dimmed or even go dark to provide deeper black levels in the same picture. More lighting zones allow the display to be much tighter in its backlighting, making HDR content better and reducing unwanted haloing when displaying brightly lit objects against dark backgrounds. Watching the opening scenes of Blade Runner 2049, I found that when Ryan Gosling entered a darkened home, the light spilling in from the doorway had only a subtle halo of unwanted light around it. It's not perfect, but one of the best we've seen without opting for a much more expensive OLED set.
If there's a weak spot in the 6 Series' display quality, it's the viewing angles. While 4K movies looked good even when viewed off-axis, single-color test screens (which are far less forgiving) showed subtle but noticeable color shifting even when viewed a foot or so off-center. A blue test screen would shift ever-so-slightly periwinkle, while a violet screen started to go nearly pink at only a 45-degree angle. Although all LCD displays will suffer from this to an extent, we saw wider viewing angles on the Sony X900F.
With a 62-millisecond response time in normal mode, which drops to just 21ms in game mode, the 6 Series should keep most gamers pretty happy. When connected to an Xbox One X, the set supported 4K resolution at 60Hz, as well as HDR10. However, enabling HDR for gaming required digging into the menus to find individual settings for each HDMI input, and enabling it.
Though the TV has support for HDR10 and Dolby Vision content, it's not enabled by default for some external sources.
With everything enabled, the ultra-HD resolution looked fantastic, allowing me to see the rich Egyptian environments of Assassin's Creed: Origins, and lending extra realism to racing through the streets in Forza Horizon 3. Once HDR support was enabled, the games looked richer and more life-like, thanks to the wider dynamic range. It made fires and brake lights glow, and gave shiny supercars a more realistic gleam as they reflected the streetlights whizzing by.
The 6 Series is outfitted with two 8-watt speakers that provide strong volume and a surprisingly good amount of bass. When viewing movies, I found the sound quality clear and well-balanced, whether it was a quiet scene of hushed dialogue between Ryan Gosling's replicant cop and the hulking Dave Bautista, or a crashing, banging battle between Spider-Man and the Vulture.
When I listened to the Monophonics "Bang Bang," the full weight of the instruments came through quite well, with rich, full sound between 30 and 50 percent volume. As volume crept above the 50-percent mark, the clarity of both the low- and high-end stayed relatively distortion-free. But the quality of the bass started to sound uneven, and at 70 percent there was obvious clipping.
The 6 Series is outfitted with two 8-watt speakers that provide strong volume and a surprisingly good amount of bass.
For audio that can deliver clarity and volume to match the excellent 4K display, we'd recommend adding a soundbar and possibly a subwoofer.
TCL is using the latest version of the Roku TV platform, a popular decision among manufacturers, particularly in the budget-friendly models. The Roku platform offers a wide variety of apps and services, with Roku touting impressive streaming options with access to "over 500,000 movies and TV shows." The platform also provides support for a wide number of popular free and paid apps.
Roku uses a tile interface that is easy to navigate, and simple to understand. Of the various Smart TV operating systems, Roku is not only full-featured, it's probably the most approachable to newcomers.
For the 6 Series, TCL has implemented one of the better versions of Roku, including voice search with a microphone built into the remote. Some Roku devices also feature a headphone jack on the remote, for private listening, but TCL has opted not to. That's a bit disappointing, since we loved that feature on last year's TCL 55P607. But both private listening and voice search are available to smartphone users through the Roku app.
The compact Roku remote is still a winner, with a fairly minimalist design that is intuitive to use and offers fairly simple navigation. The most prominent feature is a distinctive purple, plus-shaped navigation pad, along with dedicated buttons for home, back, reset, microphone, settings and simple media playback controls.
On the side you'll find a rocker switch for volume control and a separate button to mute the sound. Also on our remote are four dedicated app buttons for Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV and AT&T Now. The selected apps on these buttons may vary by retailer.
The remote's plastic body has a matte finish with subtle texturing, which is a nice change from the glossy piano black finish offered on other Roku TVs, including the TCL 55P607.
The TCL 6 Series 65-inch Roku TV is more than just a midrange set that ticks a few premium boxes on the feature list. It manages to deliver excellent picture quality, with brightness and color that rivals more premium sets. Add to this the rock-solid Roku TV platform, support for Dolby Vision and a slick-looking new brushed-metal design, and the 6 Series is once again the TV to beat for anyone looking for a great value.
Credit: Tom's Guide