TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED TV Review

Tested using Methodology v1.6
Reviewed Oct 04, 2021 at 10:36 am
TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED Picture
8.3
Mixed Usage
Value for price beaten by
: none
8.4
Movies
Value for price beaten by
: TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED
8.2
TV Shows
Value for price beaten by
: none
8.0
Sports
Value for price beaten by
: Hisense U6G
8.7
Video Games
Value for price beaten by
: none
8.4
HDR Movies
Value for price beaten by
: none
8.6
HDR Gaming
Value for price beaten by
: none
8.2
PC Monitor
Value for price beaten by
: LG NANO85
Current deal: The TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED has dropped in price on bestbuy.com. See all TVs deals
Type LED
Sub-Type
VA
Resolution 4k

The TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED is a 4k TV with Mini LED backlighting. It's part of the 6 Series lineup that includes the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED, with one of the differences being that the R646 has Google TV while the R635 uses Roku TV. While the TV is an overall improvement from the R635 thanks in part to its better local dimming feature, it's still not as good as other flagship 4k TVs. The Google TV interface is user-friendly, but we've read reports of issues with apps crashing. The TV has a built-in mic that you can use with Google Assistant, but you also have the option to disable the mic if you're worried about privacy. TCL also includes current-gen gaming features like variable refresh rate (VRR) support and two HDMI 2.1 inputs, meaning you can take full advantage of the Xbox Series X and PS5's capabilities.

Our Verdict

8.3 Mixed Usage

The TCL 6 Series/R646 is great for most uses. It's impressive for watching movies because it displays deep blacks, and it has a decent Mini LED local dimming feature, but it doesn't improve the picture quality that much. It's great for watching TV shows or sports because it has fantastic peak brightness and excellent reflection handling, but it has narrow viewing angles. Gamers should appreciate the VRR support, HDMI 2.1 inputs, and low input lag. Lastly, it's impressive for watching HDR content because it displays a wide color gamut and gets bright enough to make highlights pop.

Pros
  • Fantastic native contrast ratio.
  • High peak brightness in SDR and HDR.
  • Excellent reflection handling.
  • Two HDMI 2.1 inputs.
Cons
  • Mini LED local dimming feature is decent, but not as good as other TVs.
  • Some black smearing with fast-moving content.
8.4 Movies

The TCL 6 Series/R646 is impressive for watching movies in dark rooms. It has an outstanding contrast ratio to display deep blacks, and the Mini LED local dimming feature is decent, but it doesn't improve the picture quality that much. It removes 24p judder from any source, and it displays 1080p and 4k content well, so it's great for watching Blu-rays and Ultra HD Blu-rays. However, it can't properly display 480p content, so it's not a good choice for watching DVDs.

Pros
  • Fantastic native contrast ratio.
  • Good black uniformity with minimal blooming.
  • Automatically removes 24p judder from any source.
  • No problem displaying 720p, 1080, or 4k content.
Cons
  • Mini LED local dimming feature is decent, but not as good as other TVs.
  • Can't display 480p content properly.
8.2 TV Shows

The TCL 6 Series 2021 is great for watching TV shows in bright rooms. It gets bright enough to fight glare and has excellent reflection handling, so visibility shouldn't be an issue. The Google TV is great to use and has a ton of apps available to download, and it doesn't have issues upscaling 720p content. Sadly, it has narrow viewing angles, so the image looks washed out from the sides.

Pros
  • No problem displaying 720p, 1080, or 4k content.
  • High peak brightness in SDR and HDR.
  • Excellent reflection handling.
Cons
  • Can't display 480p content properly.
  • Narrow viewing angles.
8.0 Sports

The TCL 6 Series TV is great for watching sports in a well-lit environment. Thanks to its excellent reflection handling and fantastic peak brightness, visibility shouldn't be a problem even in the brightest of rooms. It has a great response time, but some motion may still look blurry. Unfortunately, it's not a good choice for watching sports with a large group of friends because it has narrow viewing angles.

Pros
  • No problem displaying 720p, 1080, or 4k content.
  • High peak brightness in SDR and HDR.
  • Excellent reflection handling.
Cons
  • Narrow viewing angles.
  • Some black smearing with fast-moving content.
8.7 Video Games

The TCL R646 is excellent for gaming. It has a 120Hz panel with HDMI 2.1 inputs, meaning you can take full advantage of the PS5 and Xbox Series X's capabilities. It has VRR support to reduce screen tearing, and the input lag is low. It has a quick overall response time, but there's black smearing with fast-moving objects in dark scenes. It's excellent for dark room gaming because it has high native contrast and decent local dimming.

Pros
  • Fantastic native contrast ratio.
  • Two HDMI 2.1 inputs.
  • Low input lag for responsive gaming.
  • Variable refresh rate support.
Cons
  • Mini LED local dimming feature is decent, but not as good as other TVs.
  • Some black smearing with fast-moving content.
8.4 HDR Movies

The TCL 6 Series is impressive for watching HDR movies. It has a VA panel with a high native contrast ratio, and even though it has a decent Mini LED local dimming, it doesn't improve the picture quality in dark scenes that much. It displays a wide color gamut, and it gets bright enough to make highlights pop. It supports Dolby Vision and HDR10+, so you won't have to worry about which format the HDR content is in before watching.

Pros
  • Fantastic native contrast ratio.
  • High peak brightness in SDR and HDR.
  • Displays wide color gamut.
Cons
  • Mini LED local dimming feature is decent, but not as good as other TVs.
8.6 HDR Gaming

The TCL 6 Series is excellent for HDR gaming. It has a bunch of gaming features like HDMI 2.1 inputs and VRR support to reduce screen tearing. It has low input lag and a quick response time, but you may notice some black smearing. HDR content looks great because it gets bright enough to make highlights pop, displays a wide color gamut, and has high contrast. It has a decent full-array local dimming feature, but it doesn't seem to improve the picture quality all that much in dark scenes.

Pros
  • Fantastic native contrast ratio.
  • High peak brightness in SDR and HDR.
  • Two HDMI 2.1 inputs.
  • Variable refresh rate support.
Cons
  • Mini LED local dimming feature is decent, but not as good as other TVs.
  • Some black smearing with fast-moving content.
8.2 PC Monitor

The TCL 6 Series is great to use as a PC monitor. It has a low input lag for a responsive desktop experience, and it has a quick response time, but you may notice some motion blur. Glare shouldn't be an issue in well-lit rooms because it gets bright enough to combat glare and has excellent reflection handling. It displays proper chroma 4:4:4 with 1080p and 4k signals at 60Hz, but not any other signal. It also has narrow viewing angles, so the image looks inaccurate from the side.

Pros
  • No problem displaying 720p, 1080, or 4k content.
  • High peak brightness in SDR and HDR.
  • Excellent reflection handling.
  • Two HDMI 2.1 inputs.
Cons
  • Narrow viewing angles.
  • Some black smearing with fast-moving content.
  • Proper chroma 4:4:4 limited to certain signals.
  • 8.3 Mixed Usage
  • 8.4 Movies
  • 8.2 TV Shows
  • 8.0 Sports
  • 8.7 Video Games
  • 8.4 HDR Movies
  • 8.6 HDR Gaming
  • 8.2 PC Monitor
  1. Updated Oct 19, 2021: We retook the gradient photo with an uncalibrated port, and checked for resolution halving with certain games. None of our results changed.
  2. Updated Oct 04, 2021: Review published.
  3. Updated Sep 29, 2021: Early access published.

Video

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The TCL 6 Series/R646 is a new TV in TCL's 6 Series Mini LED QLED lineup. The TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED is in the same lineup, and the main difference is that the R646 has Google TV, and the R635 uses Roku. There's also the R648, which is an 8k model that uses Roku. This TV mainly competes with the Hisense U8G, but you can also find the Sony X85J and the Vizio P Series Quantum 2021 in the same price range.

Design
Design
Style
Curved No

This TV looks similar to the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED as it has a silver bottom bezel and the same back panel, but there are a few tweaks. This TV uses different feet that have a more premium feel, and the Google speaker sticks out at the bottom.

Design
Stand

The TCL R646 features new metal feet that don't take up as much space as those on the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED. They support the TV well, and there's minimal wobble. There's 3.5 inches from the table to the bottom of the screen, and even with a soundbar placed in front, we could still use the remote and voice control properly.

Footprint of the 55 inch TV: 40.35" x 12.48"

Design
Back
Wall Mount VESA 300x300

The back is entirely plastic, with a glossy top and textured bottom where the inputs are. There are vents on top of the textured section for airflow. Each of the feet have flaps that you can use for cable management.

Design
Borders
Borders 0.35" (0.9 cm)
Design
Thickness
Max Thickness 3.66" (9.3 cm)

This is a bulky TV that won't sit flush against a wall because the bottom part near the inputs sticks out.

7.5
Design
Build Quality

It has good build quality, and it feels very similar to the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED. It's well-put-together, and it feels sturdy for the most part. The feet are good, as there's almost no wobble. However, the plastic on the back flexes quite easily, and it's noticeable with both the glossy top and the textured bottom.

Picture Quality
9.5
Picture Quality
Contrast
Native Contrast
8,542 : 1
Contrast with local dimming
19,300 : 1

It has an outstanding native contrast ratio. It displays deep blacks, and the local dimming feature helps it achieve high contrast with our checkerboard test pattern. Keep in mind that contrast can vary between units.

Note: As explained in the Local Dimming section, the local dimming feature doesn't seem to improve the picture quality too much in real scenes. We're measuring a high contrast with the checkerboard test pattern, but it's not entirely representative of the performance in real content.

9.0
Picture Quality
SDR Brightness
Real Scene Peak Brightness
800 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
690 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
1,027 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
1,053 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
836 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
804 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
684 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
1,019 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
1,038 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
833 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
800 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.023

The SDR brightness is fantastic, so glare shouldn't be an issue in most bright rooms. It gets brightest with small highlights, as seen in the 10% and 25% windows, and even though brightness varies a bit between scenes, it shouldn't be too distracting.

We tested the SDR brightness after calibration in the 'Movie' Picture Mode with Brightness and Contrast at their max, Local Contrast on 'Low', the Color Temperature set to 'Warm -5', and Gamma on '2.2'.

You can achieve a slightly brighter image by setting Local Contrast to 'High' and Color Temperature to 'Cool 4'. We measured 1,180 cd/m² in the 25% window using these settings, but this comes at the cost of losing image accuracy.

7.0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming
Local Dimming
Yes
Backlight
Full-Array

The TCL 6 Series/R646 has a decent full-array local dimming feature. It has Mini LED backlighting like the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED, but it's an improvement overall. There are 128 zones on the 55 inch model, and the larger sizes may have more. Overall, it helps improve the contrast with our checkerboard pattern, but it doesn't seem as good as other TVs in improving the overall picture quality in dark scenes. There isn't much black crush because it seems that it raises the black level in scenes with bright objects, and it's almost as if the local dimming feature isn't doing enough. However, there's not much blooming around bright objects as the zones average out the black level. Subtitles also look good.

Uniformity is good, and you don't lose many details in scenes like a star field. Fast-moving objects transition between the zones well, and even though you may notice the transitions more with our pattern, it's not as noticeable in real content.

We recommend setting the local dimming, called Local Contrast, to 'Low' because the 'High' setting is more aggressive, resulting in too much black crush and blooming. However, with some real content, the difference is minimal, so you should choose whichever setting you prefer. We also measured the contrast in SDR and HDR with both settings:

  • SDR Contrast
    • Low: 19,300:1
    • High: 15,692:1
  • HDR Contrast
    • Low: 18,952:1
    • High: 18,766:1

However, these measurements are high and don't reflect entirely its performance with real content.

7.0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming In Game Mode
Local Dimming
Yes
Backlight
Full-Array

The local dimming in Game Mode is decent, and it performs the same as out of Game Mode. Once again, we recommend setting Local Contrast to 'Low'.

8.4
Picture Quality
HDR Brightness
Real Scene Highlight
807 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
758 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
1,173 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
1,206 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
941 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
907 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
753 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
1,169 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
1,195 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
938 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
903 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.025

The TCL 6 Series has impressive HDR peak brightness. It doesn't get much brighter than in SDR, but it's still enough to make highlights stand out in HDR. We verified the real scene brightness to make sure the measurement was correct, and it was. The EOTF follows the target PQ curve nearly perfectly until the slow roll off at the peak brightness, so you don't lose too many details in bright scenes.

We measured it using the 'Movie' HDR Picture Mode with the Brightness and Contrast at their max, Local Contrast on 'Low', and Color Temperature on 'Warm -5'. There are two settings called Micro Contrast and Black Stretch that are meant to optimize the contrast and brightness, and we measured our checkerboard pattern with them, and they don't make much of a difference, if any.

If you find the image too dim, use the same settings as above, but with Dynamic Tone Mapping enabled and the Gamma set to '1.8'. This results in a much brighter EOTF, but it doesn't change the peak brightness.

8.5
Picture Quality
HDR Brightness In Game Mode
Real Scene Highlight
815 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
758 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
1,159 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
1,185 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
932 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
899 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
755 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
1,153 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
1,178 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
930 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
897 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.024

The HDR brightness in Game Mode is excellent. It scores 0.1 better than outside of Game Mode because the real scene highlight is slightly brighter, but the visible difference is minimal. We tested it using the same settings as outside of Game Mode.

7.8
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
2.499%
50% DSE
0.165%
5% Std. Dev.
0.983%
5% DSE
0.102%

The gray uniformity is good. There aren't many visible issues here, except for some darker edges, but it's hard to tell. Uniformity is better in near-dark scenes. Keep in mind that uniformity can vary between units.

7.9
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
1.143%
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
0.471%

The black uniformity is good. Without local dimming, there's backlight bleed in the corners, and the local dimming feature helps eliminate that issue. With local dimming, you can see how it doesn't deliver perfect blacks, but there's less blooming than on the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED.

5.4
Picture Quality
Viewing Angle
Color Washout
25°
Color Shift
33°
Brightness Loss
30°
Black Level Raise
13°
Gamma Shift
21°

The TCL 6 Series 2021 has narrow viewing angles, which is expected from a VA panel. The image looks inaccurate if you're viewing it from the sides.

8.5
Picture Quality
Reflections
Screen Finish
Semi-gloss
Total Reflections
3.1%
Indirect Reflections
0.6%
Calculated Direct Reflections
2.5%

The reflection handling is excellent, and it's much better than the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED. It does a much better job at absorbing light, so combined with the high peak brightness, visibility shouldn't be an issue.

7.5
Picture Quality
Pre Calibration
White Balance dE
3.67
Color dE
2.51
Gamma
2.30
Color Temperature
6,239 K
Picture Mode
Movie
Color Temp Setting
Warm
Gamma Setting
2.2

The TCL 55R646 has good out-of-the-box accuracy, but this can vary between units. Most colors are only slightly inaccurate, and the color temperature is close to the 6500K target. However, white balance is off, which affects the shades of gray, and gamma doesn't follow the 2.2 target well, so most scenes are darker than they should be.

9.4
Picture Quality
Post Calibration
White Balance dE
0.26
Color dE
1.46
Gamma
2.20
Color Temperature
6,512 K
White Balance Calibration
20 point
Color Calibration
No

The accuracy after calibration is fantastic. Color accuracy and the color temperature improved, and the white balance is much better too. Gamma is perfect for most scenes, but some really bright scenes are a bit too dark.

See our recommended settings here.

5.0
Picture Quality
480p Input

Unfortunately, the TCL 6 Series 2021 doesn't properly display 480p content. When we try to display an 852x480 resolution with a 16:9 aspect ratio from our PC, it upscales it to an 800x600 resolution with a 4:3 aspect ratio. We tried to change the Aspect Ratio settings on the TV, but everything looked off. The above image is a crop, but you can see the original with the black bars here. You can also see what the 4:3 image looks like here.

8.0
Picture Quality
720p Input

Fortunately, there aren't any issues with 720p content, like from cable boxes.

9.0
Picture Quality
1080p Input

It upscales 1080p content nearly as good as native 4k content.

10
Picture Quality
4k Input

This TV displays native 4k content perfectly as there aren't any issues.

0
Picture Quality
8k Input

This 4k TV can't display an 8k signal.

Picture Quality
Pixels

This TV uses a BGR subpixel layout, which can affect how text is displayed when using the TV as a PC monitor. You can read about it here.

8.3
Picture Quality
Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
Yes
DCI P3 xy
91.67%
DCI P3 uv
96.52%
Rec 2020 xy
69.43%
Rec 2020 uv
74.64%

This TV has a great color gamut for HDR content. It has fantastic coverage of the commonly-used DCI P3 color space, and tone mapping is good, too, so colors look accurate. Coverage of the wider Rec. 2020 is more limited, but it's still decent.

7.5
Picture Quality
Color Volume
Normalized DCI P3 Coverage ITP
84.0%
10,000 cd/m² DCI P3 Coverage ITP
46.1%
Normalized Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
65.4%
10,000 cd/m² Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
36.0%

The color volume is good. Thanks to its high peak brightness, it displays bright colors well, but it can't display extremely dark colors like an OLED because it doesn't have a near-infinite contrast.

7.9
Picture Quality
Gradient
Color Depth
10 Bit
Red (Std. Dev.)
0.120
Green (Std. Dev.)
0.121
Blue (Std. Dev.)
0.090
Gray (Std. Dev.)
0.116

Update 10/19/2021: We retook the gradient photo on an uncalibrated HDMI port, as the calibration appears to have caused a few flaws in the original photo. It didn't result in any changes to our results, but the photo is more consistent with our other reviews.

The TCL R646 has good gradient handling, and it's a significant improvement over the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED. There's obvious banding in the test pattern with the darker shads of each color, but it only seems to be happening at certain steps and not in between. Setting Gradation Clear to 'Low' or 'High' helps improve the banding in the test pattern and real content, but that comes at the cost of losing details.

9.1
Picture Quality
Temporary Image Retention
IR after 0 min recovery
0.33%
IR after 2 min recovery
0.01%
IR after 4 min recovery
0.00%
IR after 6 min recovery
0.00%
IR after 8 min recovery
0.00%
IR after 10 min recovery
0.00%

Unfortunately, there are some signs of temporary image retention after displaying a high-contrast static image, but most of it disappears quickly. However, this can also vary between units, so your experience may be different.

10
Picture Quality
Permanent Burn-In Risk
Permanent Burn-In Risk
No

We don't expect VA panels to experience permanent image retention, as the VA panel in our long-term test appears immune.

Motion
8.3
Motion
Response Time
80% Response Time
3.9 ms
100% Response Time
11.1 ms

The TCL R646 has a great overall response time. There's overshoot in most transitions, but the 0-100% transition is slow, resulting in black smearing, which is typical of VA panels.

9.9
Motion
Flicker-Free
Flicker-Free
No
PWM Dimming Frequency
960 Hz

The TCL R646 uses pulse-width modulation (PWM) to dim its backlight in any picture mode. It flickers at all backlight levels, including at its max. However, the flicker frequency is so high that most people won't notice it.

6.0
Motion
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
Optional BFI
Yes
Min Flicker For 60 fps
120 Hz
60Hz For 60 fps
No
120Hz For 120 fps
Yes
Min Flicker for 60 fps in Game Mode
120 Hz

There's an optional backlight strobing feature, commonly known as black frame insertion. It only flickers at 120Hz and it creates noticeable image duplication, but it doesn't dim the screen much. Our BFI scoring is based on the flicker frequency,

Motion
Motion Interpolation
Motion Interpolation (30 fps)
Yes
Motion Interpolation (60 fps)
Yes

There's a motion interpolation feature to interpolate 30 fps and 60 fps content up to 120 fps. It's not bad overall, but it still creates artifacts in fast-moving scenes. We tried to measure the flicker frequency with the motion interpolation feature, but there's so much noise we couldn't measure it properly.

7.0
Motion
Stutter
Frame Hold Time @ 24 fps
30.6 ms
Frame Hold Time @ 60 fps
5.6 ms

Due to the quick response time, there's some stutter with lower-frame rate content because each frame holds on for longer. Enabling the motion interpolation feature can help reduce this.

10
Motion
24p Judder
Judder-Free 24p
Yes
Judder-Free 24p via 60p
Yes
Judder-Free 24p via 60i
Yes
Judder-Free 24p via Native Apps
Yes

It automatically removes 24p judder from any source, and no extra setting is needed.

7.7
Motion
Variable Refresh Rate
Native Refresh Rate
120 Hz
Variable Refresh Rate
Yes
HDMI Forum VRR
Unknown
FreeSync
Yes
G-SYNC Compatible
No
4k VRR Maximum
120 Hz
4k VRR Minimum
48 Hz
1080p VRR Maximum
120 Hz
1080p VRR Minimum
48 Hz
1440p VRR Maximum
120 Hz
1440p VRR Minimum
48 Hz
VRR Supported Connectors
HDMI

It has variable refresh rate support to reduce screen tearing. TCL doesn't specify which formats it supports, but we confirmed with our Radeon PC that it supports FreeSync. VRR also works with the Xbox Series X, but because the Xbox supports both HDMI Forum VRR and FreeSync, there's no way to know which one is working and if it supports HDMI Forum VRR or not. It's also unclear when VRR is working because no prompt pops up on the TV, but we confirmed with the pendulum test video and in games that VRR works.

Inputs
9.5
Inputs
Input Lag
1080p @ 60Hz
14.0 ms
1080p @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode
138.7 ms
1440p @ 60Hz
13.9 ms
4k @ 60Hz
13.9 ms
4k @ 60Hz + 10-Bit HDR
13.9 ms
4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4
13.9 ms
4k @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode
138.5 ms
4k @ 60Hz With Interpolation
135.2 ms
8k @ 60Hz
N/A
1080p @ 120Hz
5.7 ms
1440p @ 120Hz
5.7 ms
4k @ 120Hz
5.7 ms
1080p with Variable Refresh Rate
6.5 ms
1440p with VRR
15.1 ms
4k with VRR
15.3 ms
8k with VRR
N/A

The TCL 6 Series/R646 has very low input lag in Game Mode. It's an improvement from the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED, and you shouldn't notice any delay when gaming. We had issues with our VRR input lag testing because the HDMI Forum VRR may have been active, so our results were a bit more inconsistent than normal, which is done with FreeSync. However, the results are still in line with what we expect.

9.6
Inputs
Supported Resolutions
1080p @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4
Yes
1080p @ 120Hz
Yes (native support)
1440p @ 60Hz
Yes (forced resolution required)
1440p @ 120Hz
Yes (native support)
4k @ 60Hz
Yes
4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4
Yes
4k @ 120Hz
Yes (native support)
8k @ 30Hz or 24Hz
No
8k @ 60Hz
No

The TCL 6 Series supports any resolution up to 4k @ 120Hz, as long as you set the HDMI Mode to 'HDMI 2.1' to reach the full bandwidth. It displays proper chroma 4:4:4 with 1080p and 4k signals at 60Hz, but it can't do it with any other signal. It accepts a 4k @ 120Hz signal in 10 or 12-bit color depth with chroma 4:4:4, but it doesn't properly display chroma 4:4:4 because text looks a bit fuzzier than what we would expect.

Inputs
Advanced Console Compatibility
Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)
Yes
PS5, 4k @ 120Hz + HDR
Yes
PS5, 4k @ 120Hz
Yes
PS5, 4k @ 60Hz + HDR
Yes
PS5, 1440p @ 120Hz
PS5 can't do 1440p
PS5, 1080p @ 120Hz
Yes
PS5, Variable Refresh Rate
PS5 can't do VRR yet
Xbox Series X, 4k @ 120Hz + HDR
Yes
Xbox Series X, 4k @ 120Hz
Yes
Xbox Series X, 4k @ 60Hz + HDR
Yes
Xbox Series X, 1440p @ 120Hz
Yes
Xbox Series X, 1080p @ 120Hz
Yes
Xbox Series X, Variable Refresh Rate
Yes

Update 10/19/2021: We've received a few requests to check for resolution halving in certain games. We tried it with Destiny 2 on an Xbox Series X and didn't notice any signs of resolution issues; 4k @ 120Hz is displayed properly.

This TV supports any signal from the Xbox Series X and PS5 up to 4k @ 120Hz. As mentioned in the Variable Refresh Rate section, no VRR signal shows up on the screen when it's working.

Inputs
Inputs Specifications
HDR10
Yes
HDR10+
Yes
Dolby Vision
Yes
HLG
Yes
HDMI 2.0 Full Bandwidth
Yes (HDMI 1,2,3,4)
HDMI 2.1 Class Bandwidth
Yes (HDMI 1,2)
CEC Yes
HDCP 2.2 Yes (HDMI 1,2,3,4)
USB 3.0
No
Variable Analog Audio Out Yes
Wi-Fi Support Yes (2.4 GHz, 5 GHz)

The HDMI 2.1 ports support full bandwidth HDMI 2.1, as we confirmed with the CRU. HDMI 1 and 2 support 4k @ 120Hz signals with up to 12-bit color depth and chroma 4:4:4, meaning it supports up to 48 Gbps, which is the maximum allowed under the HDMI 2.1 bandwidth.

Inputs
Input Photos
Inputs
Total Inputs
HDMI 4
USB 2
Digital Optical Audio Out 1
Analog Audio Out 3.5mm 1
Analog Audio Out RCA 0
Component In 0
Composite In 1 (adapter required, not incl.)
Tuner (Cable/Ant) 1
Ethernet 1
DisplayPort 0
IR In 0
SD/SDHC 0

The Composite In input needs an adapter, but it doesn't come with one.

Inputs
Audio Passthrough
ARC
Yes (HDMI 1)
eARC support
Yes
Dolby Atmos via TrueHD via eARC
Yes
DTS:X via DTS-HD MA via eARC
Yes
5.1 Dolby Digital via ARC
Yes
5.1 DTS via ARC
Yes
5.1 Dolby Digital via Optical
Yes
5.1 DTS via Optical
Yes

This TV supports eARC, allowing you to pass DTS:X and Dolby Atmos audio formats to a compatible receiver using a single HDMI connection. During our testing, our receiver wasn't properly playing the Dolby Atmos audio file, but the Dolby Atmos logo popped up on the TV. This is likely an issue on our end, and we expect it to work for most people. Since TCL advertises the Dolby Atmos support, we list it as 'Yes', but if you experience the same issue, let us know.

Sound Quality
7.4
Sound Quality
Frequency Response
Low-Frequency Extension
80.00 Hz
Std. Dev. @ 70
4.97 dB
Std. Dev. @ 80
4.80 dB
Std. Dev. @ Max
4.39 dB
Max
95.1 dB SPL
Dynamic Range Compression
1.87 dB

The frequency response is decent. It's similar to the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED, but it gets louder and has a bit higher deviation, but the sound profile is still well-balanced. It has decent bass, but it's still nothing like a dedicated subwoofer.

8.2
Sound Quality
Distortion
Weighted THD @ 80
0.032
Weighted THD @ Max
0.385
IMD @ 80
0.45%
IMD @ Max
1.23%

The distortion performance is great. Even at the max volume, there's hardly any distortion. However, this depends on the content and not everyone may hear it.

Smart Features
8.0
Smart Features
Interface
Smart OS Google TV
Version 11
Ease of Use
Average
Smoothness
Very Smooth
Time Taken to Select YouTube
2 s
Time Taken to Change Backlight
2 s
Advanced Options
Many

Unlike the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED, the TCL 6 Series/R646 comes with Google TV. TCL uses its own implementation of Google TV, so the settings menu is different than on Sony and Hisense TVs. It may take some time to get used to, but menu navigation feels very smooth.

We read reports of people experience a ton of bugs with the Google TV. We didn't notice any, but if you do let us know.

0
Smart Features
Ad-Free
Ads
Yes
Opt-out
No
Suggested Content in Home
Yes
Opt-out of Suggested Content
No

There are ads on the home page, but we couldn't get a photo of them during testing because they pop in and out, and they're not always there.

9.0
Smart Features
Apps and Features
App Selection
Great
App Smoothness
Very Smooth
Cast Capable
Yes
USB Drive Playback
Yes
USB Drive HDR Playback
Yes
HDR in Netflix
Yes
HDR in YouTube
Yes

The Google Play App store has a massive selection of apps available to download.

7.0
Smart Features
Remote
Size
Small
Voice Control
Many Features
CEC Menu Control
Yes
Other Smart Features
No
Remote App Android TV

The remote is new and is rather simplistic. It has a few shortcut buttons, and the navigation buttons may seem unclear at first as to what they do. There's a built-in mic for voice control, and you can ask it to change inputs, open apps, and search for content, but you can't ask it to change settings.

There's a built-in mic in front of the TV that you can use for the Google Assistant feature, as long as the TV is on.

Smart Features
TV Controls

The power button is on the back of the TV on the right, and you can change inputs with it too. There's the switch to turn the built-in mic on and off above it.

Smart Features
In The Box

  • Remote control (with 2x AAA batteries)
  • Power cord
  • User guide

Smart Features
Misc
Power Consumption 54 W
Power Consumption (Max) 154 W
Firmware V8-T615T02-LF1V023

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

We tested the TCL 55R646, and for the most part, we expect our review to be valid for the 65 inch and 75 inch models. This model is a 4k TV with Google as its smart platform, and it's part of the 6 Series lineup that includes the TCL 6 Series/R648 2021 8k QLED and the 4k R635, both of which include Roku TV. The R635 is a 2020 model that TCL still produces in 2021. Our results aren't valid for those variants.

Size US Model Canada Model
55" 55R646 55R646-CA
65" 65R646 65R646-CA
75" 75R646 75R646-CA

If someone comes across a different type of panel or if their TCL R646 doesn't correspond to our review, let us know, and we'll update the review. Note that some tests, like gray uniformity, may vary between units.

Our unit was manufactured in July 2021. You can see the full label for our unit here.

Compared To Other TVs

The TCL 6 Series QLED is a great 4k TV with quantum dot technology and Mini LED backlighting that doesn't cost as much as Samsung TVs with those features. The inclusion of Google TV is a nice addition for those who aren't a fan of Roku, and it has great gaming features. However, it's just not there yet as a top TV because its local dimming feature isn't as good as the competition.

Also see our recommendations for the best smart TVs, the best TVs for Xbox Series X, and the best TVs for movies.

Hisense U8G
55" 65"

The Hisense U8G and the TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED are both great TVs. They're fairly similar overall, but there are a few differences between them. Even though the TCL has Mini LED backlighting, the Hisense has a better local dimming feature because it doesn't raise the black level as much when there are bright objects. The TCL has better contrast, but the difference isn't as noticeable with real content. The TCL also gets brighter, but the Hisense has better reflection handling. While the Hisense uses Android TV and the TCL has Google, they're very similar, and the only differences are aesthetic.

LG C1 OLED
48" 55" 65" 77" 83"

The LG C1 OLED and the TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED are different types of TVs. The LG is a premium OLED with a near-infinite contrast, perfect black uniformity, and wide viewing angles. It also has much better motion handling than the TCL because it has a near-instantaneous response time. On the other hand, the TCL uses an LED panel that gets much brighter and doesn't suffer from the risk of permanent burn-in. Although they each have HDMI 2.1 inputs and VRR support, the LG has a wider VRR range that lets it go below 20Hz.

Sony X90J
50" 55" 65" 75"

The TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED and the Sony X90J are both great TVs. They each have a VA panel with a high contrast, and even though the Mini LED local dimming feature on the TCL does a better job at improving the contrast on our checkerboard pattern, the local dimming on the Sony performs better overall. The TCL gets brighter and has much better reflection handling, making it a better choice in well-lit rooms. It also has more gaming features like VRR support, but that may come in a future firmware update for the Sony. The Sony has better color accuracy, and it does a much better job at upscaling 480p content, so it's better for watching DVDs.

Hisense U7G
55" 65" 75"

The TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED and the Hisense U7G are both great TVs. The TCL is a flagship 4k TV, so it's better in a few areas, like its higher HDR peak brightness. The TCL has Mini LED backlighting, but the local dimming feature on each are both decent. The TCL gets brighter in SDR and has better reflection handling, so it's a better choice for well-lit rooms. On the other hand, the Hisense has a wider VRR range, and it doesn't have any issues displays 480p content like the TCL.

TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED
55" 65" 75"

The TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED and the TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED sit alongside each other in the TCL 6 Series lineup. The R646 was released a year after the R635, so it improves in a few areas. The main difference is that the R646 has much better local dimming as there's less blooming around bright objects, but it doesn't deliver as deep blacks with local dimming enabled. The R646 also has two HDMI 2.1 inputs, which the R635 doesn't have, meaning you can use it for 4k gaming up to 120 fps. They each have different smart systems, with the R646 using Google TV and the R635 using Roku.

Samsung QN90A QLED
43" 50" 55" 65" 75" 85"

The Samsung QN90A QLED is better overall than the TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED. They each have Mini LED backlighting, but the full-array local dimming feature on the Samsung has more dimming zones, so it produces deeper blacks in real content and has less blooming. It also has wider viewing angles thanks to Samsung's 'Ultra Viewing Angle' technology, but that means the TCL has a better native contrast ratio. The Samsung gets much brighter, especially in HDR, so it makes highlights pop more. TCL has one more HDMI 2.1 input compared to the Samsung, and even though it also has VRR support, its refresh rate range is more narrow than the one on the Samsung.

Hisense U6G
50" 55" 65" 75"

The Hisense U6G and the TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED are both great TVs. They have similar characteristics, but there are a few differences between them. The TCL has Mini LED backlighting that allows it to get much brighter, especially in HDR, making highlights pop more. They each have decent local dimming features, but the one on the Hisense does a better job at displaying deeper blacks than on the TCL. The Hisense also doesn't have issues upscaling 480p content, which the TCL has issues. The main advantage the TCL has over the Hisense is a 120Hz panel with HDMI 2.1 inputs and VRR support, none of which the Hisense has.

Sony X95J
65" 75" 85"

The Sony X95J and the TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED are both great LED TVs. The Sony is a flagship model with Sony's 'X-Wide Angle' technology that allows it to have much better viewing angles than on the TCL. Even though the TCL has Mini LED backlighting, the local dimming is much better on the Sony because it improves the picture quality in dark scenes. Each TV has HDMI 2.1 inputs, but the TCL has more gaming features like VRR support, which the Sony doesn't currently have, and lower input lag.

Sony X85J
43" 50" 55" 65" 75" 85"

The TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED is better overall than the Sony X85J. The TCL has more features like Mini LED backlighting to make it brighter and a full-array local dimming feature, which the Sony doesn't have. The TCL also has better reflection handling, so it's a better choice for well-lit environments. They each have HDMI 2.1 inputs, but the TCL has VRR support, which the Sony doesn't have, but it may come in a future firmware update.

TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED
50" 55" 65" 75"

The TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED is better than the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED. The R646 is a higher-end version, so it has more features like HDMI 2.1 inputs, VRR support, and a 120Hz panel for a superior gaming experience. It uses Mini LED backlighting that lets it get much brighter, especially in HDR, so highlights pop more. They each have decent local dimming features that perform similarly to each other because they raise the black levels in dark scenes to reduce blooming, but that comes at the cost of not having deep blacks.

Sony X950H
49" 55" 65" 75" 85"

The Sony X950H and the TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED are both great TVs. The TCL has a higher contrast ratio than the Sony because the Sony uses viewing angle technology to improve the viewing angles at the cost of the contrast, so the TCL displays deeper blacks. However, the local dimming feature on the Sony still seems to be more effective at improving the picture quality in dark scenes. The Sony has more accurate colors, and it doesn't have issues displaying 480p content like the TCL. However, the TCL comes with more gaming features out-of-the-box like HDMI 2.1 inputs, VRR support, and lower input lag.

Samsung QN85A QLED
55" 65" 75" 85"

The Samsung QN85A QLED and the TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED are both great TVs with different panel types. The TCL has a VA panel that lets it display deeper blacks, while the Samsung has an IPS-like panel with wide viewing angles instead. The Samsung still displays deep blacks thanks to its decent Mini LED local dimming feature, but there's blooming around bright objects. The Samsung also gets brighter and has improved reflection handling, so it's a better choice for well-lit rooms. It doesn't have any issues upscaling lower-resolution content from DVDs either, which the TCL has problems with.

Sony X900H
55" 65" 75" 85"

The Sony X900H and the TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED are two great TVs. The TCL features Mini LED that allows it to get brighter and, combined with the better reflection handling, is a better choice for well-lit rooms. Despite the Mini LED backlighting, the Sony has a better local dimming feature because it doesn't raise the black levels like on the TCL. They both have similar gaming features with HDMI 2.1 inputs, a quick response time, and low input lag. Both TVs have VRR support, but you have to update the Sony to receive it.

Hisense H9G
55" 65"

The TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED and the Hisense H9G are both great. They each have VA panels that display deep blacks, but the local dimming feature on the Hisense is much better at improving the picture quality in dark scenes with minimal blooming. Motion looks smoother on the Hisense thanks to the quicker response time, but the TCL has more gaming features like two HDMI 2.1 inputs and VRR support, meaning you can use the current-gen gaming consoles to their full capabilities. The Hisense is a better choice for watching DVDs because it doesn't have issues upscaling lower-resolution content the way the TCL has.

LG CX OLED
48" 55" 65" 77"

The LG CX OLED is better overall than the TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED, but they use different panel technologies, each with advantages and disadvantages. The LG has an OLED panel with a near-infinite contrast, perfect black uniformity, and wide viewing angles. On the other hand, the TCL uses an LED panel that gets much brighter and doesn't suffer from the risk of permanent burn-in. Even though they each have HDMI 2.1 inputs and VRR support, the LG has a wider VRR range that allows it to go below 20Hz. The LG also has a much quicker response time for smoother motion.

TCL 5 Series/S546 2021 QLED
50" 55" 65" 75"

The TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED sits higher up in the lineup than the TCL 5 Series/S546 2021 QLED, so it has more features and better performance. The main differences are that the R646 has Mini LED backlighting and has HDMI 2.1 inputs, allowing you to play higher frame rate games than the S546. The local dimming features perform similarly as they raise the black level in real content, but there's less blooming on the R646. The R646 also gets brighter and has much better reflection handling, so it's a better choice for well-lit rooms. The built-in speakers are also much better on the R646, but that won't make a difference if you get a soundbar or receiver anyways.

Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED
49" 50" 55" 65" 75" 85"

The Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED and the TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED are both great. They have similar panel types, but the TCL has a better native contrast because the Samsung uses the 'Ultra Viewing Angle' technology to improve the viewing angles at the cost of the contrast. Still, they each have decent local dimming features and very good gray uniformity, making them great for watching movies. They have similar gaming features with HDMI 2.1 inputs and VRR support, but the VRR range is wider on the Samsung because it can drop below 20Hz.

TCL 6 Series/R648 2021 8k QLED
65" 75"

The TCL 6 Series/R648 2021 8k QLED and the TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED are part of the same 6 Series lineup, but they're different TVs. The R648 is an 8k model with Roku TV, while the R646 is a 4k TV with Google built-in. They each have VA panels with high contrast, and even though their local dimming features are both decent, they perform differently. The one on the R648 crushes blacks with minimal blooming and the one on the R646 helps brighten highlights, but it doesn't improve the contrast with real content much. They both don't upscale 480p well, but that's because the R646 can't display the proper aspect ratio, and the R648 is just bad at it.

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