We've reviewed more than 10 TCL TVs in the last couple of years. TCL TVs have shown to offer great value over the past few years. They're a newcomer in the space, but they came in with quite a strong splash by associating themselves with Roku for their smart features (check out our article about the best Roku TVs). We reviewed a few TCL TVs last year, and as they've shown popular, we'll keep reviewing them in the future.
Note: TCL releases different models in different regions. The models we've tested are only available in North America. Models released in other regions are completely different, and we don't know how they compare.
The best TCL TV we've tested so far is the TCL 6 Series/R625 2019. It uses a VA panel that delivers an impressive picture quality suitable for nearly every type of content. It can produce deep, inky blacks thanks to its outstanding contrast ratio and black uniformity, and it has a local dimming feature that performs quite well, with very little blooming. Motion handling is good, and there's also an optional black frame insertion feature to help keep the appearance of motion blur to a minimum. If you're in a well-lit room, this TV can get bright enough to overcome glare, but its reflection handling is only decent.
Unfortunately, there's some dirty screen effect that can be distracting, especially when watching sports, and the TV has poor viewing angles, but that's to be expected of most VA panels. Input lag is exceptionally low for those who want to game on this TV; however, it doesn't support any variable refresh rate technology. Last but not least, Roku's interface is user-friendly, and the app store is likely to have almost everything that you need.
If you're shopping on a budget, the TCL 4 Series/S425 2019 may be a better choice. Like the TCL 6 Series/S625 2019, this TV is great for dark room viewing. Its contrast ratio and black uniformity are both outstanding, but it doesn't have a local dimming feature and can't get as bright. Unfortunately, like most VA panels, viewing angles are quite poor, and out-of-the-box color accuracy is disappointing as well. On the bright side, response time and input lag are exceptionally low for a smooth and responsive gaming experience. Just like other TCL TVs, it runs on Roku, which is easy to use and has a great selection of streaming apps, but you'll have to put up with some ads and suggested content on the home screen.
Overall, the TCL R625 2019 is a better TV overall, but if it's too pricey for you, the TCL S425 can do a decent job.
If you want a cheap secondary TV with great smart features, check out the TCL 3 Series 2019 1080p LED TV, the best TCL TV available in a 1080p resolution. It's available in a variety of sizes, though its picture quality isn't anywhere close to the TCL 6 Series/R625 2019. It can't get too bright, so you're better off placing it in a dim or averagely-lit room like a garage. This TV doesn't support HDR, but on the upside, it has excellent color accuracy in SDR. Finally, it has the same Roku TV smart platform found on the higher-end models, so it'll cover your streaming needs.
Compared to Vizio, TCL's lineup is a lot more budget-oriented. Their budget offerings are quite competitive, with similar picture quality. The Roku TV interface is better than Vizio's SmartCast.
LG's lineup spans far and wide, from budget models to high-end OLEDs. Comparing price-for-price, though, LG TVs usually perform slightly worse than similarly-priced TCL TVs. LG typically has better viewing angles, though.
Overall, TCL TVs offer good picture quality and great features at a low price. Although they aren't as feature-packed or as well-built as more expensive models, their TVs typically offer great value.
TCL TVs use the Roku interface. The interface itself is easy to use, but isn't the most advanced or graphically intense. They have a huge selection of apps, known as streaming channels, covering the vast majority of the common streaming services. Although the interface has remained relatively unchanged over recent years, TCL releases frequent updates and has added some new features recently, even to older models.
The interface is very basic, with simple graphics and limited animations. This results in a very easy to use, fast interface that is relatively bug-free. It's also one of the few smart interfaces that supports themes, so you can customize it a bit.
Unfortunately, the TCL interface has large, intrusive ads in the main home menu, and it is impossible to disable them. The ads generally promote other TCL products or services and sometimes contain suggested content.
The Roku Channel Store is where you'll find all the apps available on Roku, and there are quite a lot of them. All the big ones like Netflix, Amazon Video, HBO GO, Hulu, and many more are available.
Some TCL TVs support voice controls, either from the advanced remote or the remote app, but they only support basic commands. Through voice control, you can launch certain apps, as well as search across multiple apps for content. Unlike some TVs, you can't control the TV's settings through the voice controls.
TCL smart TVs come with a remote you would think was mistakenly placed in the box. This isn’t a bad thing, since it's very comfortable and responsive. The TCL branding is impressively minimal and much like the interface, it’s a carbon copy of the ones you can find with the Roku boxes.
There are two versions of the remote. One is slightly thicker and has an integrated microphone for voice control. This model is found on the 2018 R617, and it doesn't require line-of-sight to the TV. The other model doesn't have voice control and requires a direct line of sight to the TV.
One of the best features of the Roku platform is its remote app you can find on both iOS and Android. It's capable of doing everything that the smart remote found with the P607 can do and more, so it's quite fully featured. All the basic remote controls are available, even powering the TV on and off. You can plug in headphones to your device and listen to the TV privately through the app as well.
TCL's lineup is mostly budget-oriented, and they do very well in that area. Their smart platform rivals the very best, which can't be said of TVs multiple times more expensive. Plus, their picture quality has been consistently good across their models. Overall, it's tough to beat them when it comes to budget TVs, and that makes them a pretty safe bet.