The TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED is a mid-range 4k TV with Mini LED backlighting released in 2021. It sits alongside the TCL 6 Series/R655 2022 QLED as part of the 6 Series lineup, with one of the differences being that the R646 has Google TV while the R655 uses Roku TV. It's a feature-rich TV with advanced gaming features like variable refresh rate (VRR) support and two HDMI 2.1 bandwidth inputs, and it's designed to take full advantage of the Xbox Series X and PS5.
The TCL R646 is excellent for most uses. It's impressive for watching movies in a dark room thanks to its fantastic contrast ratio, and it has a Mini LED local dimming feature to improve dynamic range. It's great for watching TV shows or sports in a bright room because it has fantastic peak brightness and excellent reflection handling, but it has narrow viewing angles. It's also an impressive TV for gaming thanks its variable refresh rate support, HDMI 2.1 bandwidth for 4k @ 120Hz gaming, 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.
The TCL R646 is great for watching TV shows in bright rooms. It gets bright enough to fight glare and has excellent reflection handling, so glare isn't distracting even if you're in a bright room. The Google TV smart interface has a ton of apps available to download. Sadly, it has a narrow viewing angle, so it's not ideal for a wide seating arrangement, or if you like to move around with the TV on, as the image degrades from the sides.
The TCL R646 is great for watching sports in a well-lit environment. Thanks to its excellent reflection handling and fantastic peak brightness, visibility isn't an issue even in the brightest of rooms. It has a great response time, so fast action scenes are clear and it's easy to see what's going on. Unfortunately, it's not a good choice for watching sports with a large group of friends because it has a narrow viewing angle, so only the people sitting directly in front of the TV will enjoy the best image.
The TCL R646 is excellent for gaming. It has a 120Hz panel with HDMI 2.1 bandwidth, so you can take full advantage of the PS5 and Xbox Series X. It has variable refresh rate support to reduce screen tearing, and the input lag is incredibly low, so your actions are in-sync with the action on the screen. 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 contrast
The TCL R646 is impressive for watching HDR movies. It has a high native contrast ratio and a Mini LED backlight feature to improve the dynamic range in HDR content. It displays a wide color gamut, and it gets bright enough to make highlights pop. It supports Dolby Vision and HDR10+, so you'll enjoy the best HDR experience possible regardless of the source.
The TCL R646 is excellent for HDR gaming. It has a bunch of gaming features like HDMI 2.1 bandwidth and variable refresh rate support to reduce screen tearing. It has low input lag and a quick response time, but there's some smearing behind dark areas of the screen. HDR content looks great because it gets bright enough to make highlights pop, displays a wide color gamut, and has high contrast.
The TCL R646 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 there's some blur behind dark areas of the screen in fast motion. Glare isn't an issue in well-lit rooms because it gets bright enough to combat glare and has excellent reflection handling. It displays chroma 4:4:4 properly with 1080p and 4k signals at 60Hz, which is essential for clear text from a PC. Sadly, it has a narrow viewing angle, so the sides of the screen appear non-uniform if you're sitting up close.
We bought and tested the 55-inch TCL R646, and these results are also 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 TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED both of which include Roku TV.
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The unit we bought was manufactured in July 2021. You can see the full label for our unit here.
The TCL R646 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 a great selection of gaming features.
Also see our recommendations for the best smart TVs, the best TVs for Xbox Series X, and the best TVs for movies.
The TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED is better than the Hisense U7H. The TCL delivers much better picture quality overall, with better uniformity, higher contrast, and better reflection handling, so it looks better in both bright and dark rooms. The TCL also has a much faster response time, making it a better choice for gamers, as there's less blur behind fast-moving objects. The TCL also has much better sound quality, with less distortion and better frequency response, and it gets significantly louder than the Hisense.
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.
The LG C1 OLED is much better than the TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED. The LG has a near-infinite contrast ratio, resulting in deep inky blacks in a dark room with no distracting blooming around bright objects. The LG also has much better motion handling than the TCL because it has a near-instantaneous response time. The TCL gets a lot brighter in SDR, meaning it can handle more glare. However, it has worse picture quality overall.
The TCL 6 Series/R655 2022 QLED is slightly better than the TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED. HDR content looks better on the R655 thanks to its higher peak brightness and better gradient handling. The R655 is also better for gaming thanks to its higher refresh rate, and its variable refresh rate feature works better at low frame rates.
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.
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.
The TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED is much better than the LG QNED80. The TCL delivers significantly better picture quality thanks to its higher contrast, better local dimming, and improved black uniformity. It also gets brighter than the LG, meaning it's the better choice for watching content in well-lit rooms and makes highlights pop more in HDR.
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 displaying 480p content like the TCL.
The TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED is much better than the Vizio M Series Quantum X 2022. The TCL has much better reflection handling and slightly higher peak brightness, so it's a better choice for a bright room, as glare is less distracting. The TCL also has much better contrast thanks to its Mini LED backlight, resulting in slightly less noticeable blooming around bright objects in dark scenes.
The TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED is a better TV than the Hisense U6GR. The TCL gets much brighter both in SDR and HDR, and combined with its better reflection handling, visibility isn't an issue in well-lit rooms. It also has a few more gaming features like HDMI 2.1 inputs, a 120Hz panel, and a quicker response time, but they both have VRR support. Even though the TCL has Mini LED backlighting, its local dimming feature isn't better than the one on the Hisense, and it raises the black levels more on the TCL. Sadly, neither TV is good for watching DVDs because they each have the same problem with 480p content stretched out and not upscaled properly.
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.
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.
The TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED is much better than the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED Series. The TCL gets significantly brighter to better fight flare in a bright living room, and it allows for bright highlights in HDR to stand out better. The TCL is also much better for gaming thanks to its 120Hz refresh rate and faster response time, resulting in smoother motion with less blur behind fast-moving objects.
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 FreeSync VRR support, but the Sony is G-SYNC compatible. The Sony has better color accuracy, and it does a much better job at upscaling 480p content, so it's better for watching DVDs.
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.
The TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED and the Hisense U9DG each have their own strengths and weaknesses, so the best one for you depends on your usage. The TCL has much better motion handling and lower input lag, so it's better for gaming or watching sports. The Hisense has much better contrast and better local dimming, so it's a better choice for watching movies in a dark room.
The Samsung QN85A QLED and the TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED are both great TVs, and the best one for you depends on your specific viewing conditions. The TCL has much deeper blacks, resulting in significantly better picture quality in a dark room, with less blooming around bright objects and very little clouding in dark scenes. The Samsung gets brighter and has improved reflection handling, so it's a better choice for well-lit rooms.
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.
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 bandwidth and both have VRR support, but the TCL has FreeSync support while the Sony is G-SYNC compatible.
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.
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.
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 for gaming, but the TCL has lower input lag.
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.
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.
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.
The TCL R646 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.
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 are 3.5 inches from the table to the bottom of the screen so almost all soundbars fit in front of the TV without blocking the screen.
Footprint of the 55-inch TV: 40.35" x 12.48"
The back is entirely plastic, with a glossy top portion that attracts fingerprints easily and a textured bottom half that houses the TV's electronics and inputs. The inputs face to the side, and they're close to one side of the TV, so they're easily accessible even when the TV is wall mounted. There are vents on top of the textured section for airflow. Each of the feet have flaps that you can use for cable management.
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.
Overall, the lighting zone transitions aren't very noticeable. The TV's processing keeps up well with fast-moving objects, so there's almost no noticeable trailing halo effect.
The TCL R646 has impressive HDR peak brightness. It doesn't get much brighter than in SDR, but bright highlights stand out well in HDR.
These measurements are after calibrating the HDR white point, with the following settings:
The HDR brightness in Game Mode is excellent. There's no noticeable difference in peak brightness when you start playing a game.
These measurements are with the following settings:
This TV tracks the PQ EOTF well, ensuring most HDR content is displayed at the brightness level intended by the content creator. Interestingly, the TV tracks the EOTF differently depending on the content. Content mastered at 600 nits is brighter than it should be, especially in midtones, and there's a very sharp cutoff at the TV's peak brightness, with no tone mapping. Only content mastered at 4,000 nits shows any signs of tone mapping, and even then it's very minor, so almost all content loses fine details in bright scenes.
The SDR brightness is fantastic, so glare isn't an issue even in very bright rooms. Brightness varies a bit between scenes, but it's not noticeable with most content.
These measurements are after calibration with the following settings:
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.
The color volume is good. Thanks to its high peak brightness, it displays bright colors well.
The TCL 55R646 has good accuracy before calibration. Most colors are only slightly inaccurate, and the color temperature is close to the 6500K target. However, white balance is off, which affects shades of gray, and gamma doesn't follow the 2.2 target well, so most scenes are darker than they should be.
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 full calibration settings here.
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, glare isn't an issue even in very bright rooms.
This TV has excellent gradient handling in HDR. There's a bit of banding in very dark grays, but other than that there are hardly any noticeable issues.
Like most TVs on the market, this TV uses a BGR (Blue-Green-Red) subpixel layout instead of the traditional Red-Green-Blue layout. For video content, it doesn't cause any issues, but if you're planning on using this TV as a PC monitor, this reduces text clarity a bit, although there are easy workarounds for it. You can read about it here.
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.
Due to the quick response time, there's some stutter with lower-frame rate content because each frame holds on for longer.
This TV automatically removes 24p judder from any source ensuring a smooth movie-watching experience.
This TV supports variable refresh rate technology with both FreeSync and HDMI Forum VRR sources, including the Xbox Series X and the PS5. Unfortunately, despite its high max refresh rate, low framerate compensation (LFC) doesn't appear to work properly with any source, so there's tearing at low frame rates.
The TCL R646 has very low input lag in Game Mode, ensuring a smooth gaming experience with very little delay between your actions and the image on the TV.
The TCL R646 supports any resolution up to 4k @ 120Hz. It displays chroma 4:4:4 properly with 1080p and 4k signals at 60Hz, which is essential for clear text from a PC. It accepts a 4k @ 120Hz signal in 10 or 12-bit color depth with chroma 4:4:4, but it has the same problem as many other 2021 models, as 4k @ 120Hz isn't displayed properly.
Thanks to its high bandwidth HDMI ports, this TV can take full advantage of the PS5. It also supports Auto Low Latency Mode, so you don't have to worry about switching to 'Game' mode for the lowest input lag when you start gaming.
The Composite In input needs an adapter, but it doesn't come with one.
The TCL 6 Series Google 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.
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.
Unlike the TCL 6 Series/R655 2022 QLED, which runs the Roku TV smart interface, the TCL 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.
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.
The remote is rather simplistic. There's a built-in mic for voice control, and you can ask it to change inputs, open apps, and search for content. However, you can't ask it to change settings. There's also a built-in mic in front of the TV that you can use for the Google Assistant feature.