We've bought and tested more than 35 TCL TVs. TCL TVs have shown to offer great value over the past few years, and although they aren't as established in the United States as other brands, they've made a name for themselves. While they're traditionally known for their basic models with limited features, some recent releases feature the latest technology, including Mini LED backlighting and variable refresh rate (VRR) support. They're often available at a lower cost than competitors, and most people will be pleased with their higher-end models. They mainly compete with Hisense but release models to compete with brands like Sony and Samsung.
The best TCL TV we've tested is the TCL QM8/QM850G QLED. It's an impressive TV that delivers amazing picture quality with an impressive selection of extra features. It looks great in any room thanks to its incredible peak brightness in HDR and SDR, excellent reflection handling, and superb contrast, helped by an outstanding local dimming feature. Its black uniformity is also great, with minimal blooming around bright highlights. Its Quantum Dot technology also gives it an impressively wide color gamut for HDR content, although it doesn't have very accurate color reproduction. The TV is also over-brightened on most of its PQ EOTF curve, so overall, there are better choices for people who want their TVs to respect the content creator's intent. The TV has a few quirks, like its otherwise very fast refresh rate functioning in 'brackets', and not being able to have both Game Mode and Chroma 4:4:4 simultaneously, but it's a fantastic performer overall.
It's a stellar gaming TV with extremely low input lag in Game Mode. It supports HDMI 2.1 bandwidth on two ports, although its first port can output up to 4k @ 144Hz, while its second is limited to 4k @ 120Hz. For PC gamers, the TV has issues outputting anything above 120Hz when connected to an NVIDIA graphics card, so it's better suited for PCs with AMD GPUs. Otherwise, the TV supports every variable refresh rate (VRR) technology for nearly tear-free gaming from any source. Finally, it runs Google's popular Google TV OS, which is very easy to use and has many apps.
If you want something cheaper than the TCL QM8/QM850G QLED, the best mid-range TCL TV we've tested is the TCL Q7/Q750G QLED. It's a great TV that delivers similar picture quality to the more expensive model, with a nearly identical feature set but worse performance. Thanks to its superb contrast ratio and fantastic black uniformity, it's a cheaper alternative for watching movies in the dark. However, its local dimming feature isn't quite as effective at making bright highlights stand out. Plus, it doesn't get nearly as bright as the higher-end model, so the QM8 looks much better when a light is turned on.
Still, this is a fully featured gaming TV with two HDMI 2.1 ports, one supporting up to 4k @ 144Hz and the other up to 4k @ 120Hz. It supports variable refresh rate (VRR) technology to help reduce tearing. However, like its more expensive sibling, this TV's response time functions in 'brackets', leading to inconsistent response times when VRR is enabled. It has a wide color gamut, although it's not as colorful as QM8, and its pre-calibration color accuracy is quite poor, so you'll need to hire a calibrator if accurate color reproduction matters to you.
If you want to avoid paying what TCL is asking for the TCL QM8/QM850G QLED or the TCL Q7/Q750G QLED, the best budget TCL TV we've tested is the Best Buy exclusive TCL Q5/Q550G QLED. It's a decent TV with fewer features than the higher-end models, but it still performs admirably for a budget model. It has a great native contrast ratio that results in deep blacks and remarkable black uniformity with minimal blooming. It has no local dimming to emphasize highlights, but it's a decently bright TV that easily handles bright rooms. Unfortunately, it has its siblings' poor image processing, especially regarding low-quality content smoothing, which is inadequate. It has a wide color gamut, almost as wide as the Q7, but it's just as color inaccurate as that model, so a calibrator is required if you care about color accuracy.
What truly sets this model apart, however, is its gaming features. It has three HDMI 2.0 ports and a 60Hz panel, but this TV can output 1080p @ 120Hz and even 1440p @ 120Hz through resolution halving, with a wide VRR range to match, in its 55" and 65" model sizes. It's hard to notice the degradation in image quality of the resolution halving unless you're looking for it, making this one of the cheapest TVs capable of gaming at 120Hz. It has a decent response time overall, with incredibly low input lag, so it's a great choice for competitive gamers wanting to buy a TV on a budget. TCL also sells the slightly more expensive TCL Q6/Q650G QLED, but it performs almost identically to the Q5, so it's not worth the extra cost.
If you want a cheaper basic model, the TCL S4/S450G is the best cheap TCL TV we've tested. If you're getting an inexpensive TV like this one, there are a few compromises you have to make. It doesn't perform well in a bright room as it has low peak brightness, but it has good reflection handling and displays deep blacks if you want to use it in a moderately-lit or dark room. It can't display a wide color gamut, so although it supports Dolby Vision HDR, it's not a good choice for watching movies in HDR as the TV just can't get bright enough to make HDR content pop. Surprisingly, it has acceptable image processing, which is a nice bonus for such a cheap TV.
Like every other TV on this list, it runs the Google TV interface with a huge selection of streaming apps. It also has an inadequate viewing angle, making it a poor choice for a wide seating arrangement. It's not a bad TV for gaming; its response time is okay, although it's worse in dark scenes, so it's not a great TV for fans of horror games. However, the TV's input lag performance is tremendous, leading to an extremely responsive gaming experience.
Hisense and TCL are direct competitors in the budget TV market. Their TVs usually offer the same features and similar performance. They each have flaws; TCL tends to have picture quality issues, while Hisense has motion problems.
Vizio and TCL aim to produce TVs in the budget market, although Vizio makes a few more high-end models. Vizio TVs tend to have better dark room performance and more gaming features, but the Roku platform on the TCLs is much better and easier to use than the Vizio SmartCast system.
Overall, TCL TVs offer good picture quality and great features at a low price. Although some models aren't as feature-packed or as well-built as more expensive options, their TVs typically offer great value compared to similarly-priced options. If you need a simple TV with a good smart system, you'll be happy with most of their offerings.
TCL's 2024 lineup carries over the same naming scheme from 2023: they have their higher-end Quantum Dot-equipped Q-Class TVs and their entry-level S-Series TVs. They also carry mostly the same model names, but their lineup has a few new additions. Along with Hisense, TCL is officially launching the gigantic TV era, starting with their new TCL QM89.
TCL will introduce a massive 115-inch TV in 2024, the TCL QM89. This TV has an impressive 20,000 dimming zones, promising impressive contrast. It will have TCL's top-end AIPQ Ultra Processor for image processing. It will also have a 6.2.2 channel speaker system, although the jury is out as to whether that will compete with an entry-level soundbar. For top performance without the excess of the QM89, TCL will also release a new version of their popular TCL QM8 TV. The new QM8 promises 'only' 5,000+ dimming zones, doubling the count of the top 2023 model. They also promise up to 5,000 nits of brightness and a colorful screen with an anti-glare coating. The TV will have a new processor, the AIPQ Pro Processor, for improved image processing. That model will be available in 65 to 98-inch sizes.
For something more palatable to the mainstream, the TCL QM7 will bring Mini LED backlighting to TCL's lower mid-range model range. This is a big improvement over 2023's TCL Q7/Q750G QLED, as that model had 200+ dimming zones and 1,000 nits peak brightness in its biggest sizes, while TCL promises up to 1,500+ zones and a new backlight capable of up to 2,400 nits of peak brightness in the new QM7. It will otherwise have the same AIPQ Pro Processor as the new QM8. The QM7 will be available in 55 to 98-inch sizes.
Finally, the new TCL Q6 claims to be 28% brighter than 2023's TCL Q6/Q650G QLED due to TCL's new High Brightness Plus LED backlight. The TV still can play games at 1080p and 1440p @ 120Hz with resolution halving with TCL's Game Accelerator 120 feature, and the bigger Q6's, namely 85 inches and bigger, will have a native 120Hz panel for 4k @ 120Hz gaming, or 1080p @ 240Hz gaming with resolution halving. The TV will be available in 43 to 98-inch screen sizes. TCL will release a higher-end version of the Q6, The TCL Q6-Pro, bringing Full Array Local Dimming (FALD) to their budget range for much deeper blacks. The TV will also be even brighter than the Q6, with hands-free voice control, a backlit remote, and adjustable feet. It will be available in 50 to 85-inch sizes.
In 2024, TCL will introduce a new S TV, the TCL S5. The S series is TCL's entry-level TV, but they offer decent performance at a great price point. The S5 will have a high-brightness LED backlight promising up to 25% more brightness over the TCL S4, including an enhanced color space. The S5 will also feature a new TCL AIPQ Processor with AI Super Resolution to help with upscaling. For audio, TCL is taking cues from Sony and will now let users use their S5 as the center audio channel in their speaker setup. The TV will be available in 43 to 85-inch screen sizes.
Learn more about the 2024 TCL lineup here.
While most of TCL's TVs now use Google TV, a few from 2022 use Roku TV. They're both great smart platforms; choosing one depends on personal preference. Generally speaking, Roku is easier to learn and feels quicker than Google TV, but Google is more customizable, and the Google Play Store has even more apps.
TCL's 2023 models use Google TV 11, and the interface is clean and pretty simple to navigate. It's divided into multiple rows, and each row presents content from different apps. These rows can be customized to your liking, as you can choose which apps are disabled and where. However, because there are so many rows, it can feel overwhelming, and it may take some time to fully navigate the interface if you're not used to it.
As for Roku, the interface is very basic, with simple graphics and limited animations. It results in a very easy-to-use, fast interface that's relatively bug-free. It's also one of the few smart interfaces that support themes, meaning you can customize it a bit.
Unfortunately, both Roku and Google TV have large, intrusive ads in the main home menu and throughout the interface, and it's impossible to disable them completely.
TCL TVs use a mix of Roku OS and Google TV, so the app store and channel lineup vary depending on which model you get. Roku-powered TVs give you access to the Roku Channel Store, offering a good selection of streaming channels.
The Android and Google TV-powered TCL TVs give you access to the Google Play Store; if you've ever used an Android-powered phone, you'll find many of the same apps. It's also easy to sideload unofficially supported apps on Google TV, so overall, the platform offers the widest selection of streaming apps available on any smart TV.
Some TCL TVs support voice controls, either from the advanced remote or the remote app, but they only support basic commands. You can launch certain apps through voice control and search across multiple apps for content. Unlike some TVs, you can't control the TV's settings through voice controls.
This is where Google TV has an advantage because the remote supports voice control, and it's also compatible with other Google devices, so you can easily open apps and stream your favorite shows. Some of TCL's Google models even have a mic built into the TV.
The Google TVs have a medium-sized remote, which isn't bad since it's very comfortable and responsive. The TCL branding is impressively minimal, and the remotes are identical across TCL's 2023 range.
TCL's remote for their Roku TVs is different: it's smaller and very similar to remotes that come with Roku boxes. It has quick-access buttons and a circular pad for navigation. There are different versions of the remote, and the differences are usually with the features. Some have better wireless capabilities, so you don't need to point directly at the TV for it to work. Usually, the higher-end models come with a built-in mic on the remote.
One of the best features of the Roku platform is its remote app, which you can find on both iOS and Android. It can do everything the smart remote can and more, so it's 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. Lastly, the app also allows you to access settings that aren't available on the TV, like the calibration settings. Roku is better than Google TV in this regard, mainly because Google TVs let you do everything you need to by just using the remote.
Oct 12, 2023: Replaced the older TCL 5 Series/S555 2022 QLED, TCL 4 Series/S455 2022, and TCL 40S325 with the newer TCL Q7/Q750G QLED, TCL Q6/Q650G QLED, and TCL S4/S450G, respectively. Also refreshed the text in the smart features section, as all 2023 TCL TVs use Google TV for their smart interface.
TCL's lineup is mostly budget-oriented, although they are slowly making their mark in the mid-range. Their smart platforms rival the very best, and TCL offers different smart platforms, which isn't something other brands do. Plus, their picture quality has been consistently good across their models. Overall, it's tough to beat them when it comes to budget and mid-range TVs, and that makes them a pretty safe bet, but if you want a premium TV, you can find more options with other brands.