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To try to better understand how long a TV should last, we're running 100 TVs through an accelerated longevity test for the next two years. We've just posted our 1-year video update with our latest findings on temporary image retention, burn-in, and more!

TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED TV Review

Tested using Methodology v1.11
Review updated Feb 23, 2023 at 03:25 pm
Latest change: Retest May 02, 2024 at 12:47 pm
TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED Picture
8.0
Mixed Usage
Value for price beaten by
: no price info
7.5
TV Shows
Value for price beaten by
: no price info
7.6
Sports
Value for price beaten by
: no price info
8.7
Video Games
Value for price beaten by
: no price info
8.1
HDR Movies
Value for price beaten by
: no price info
8.7
HDR Gaming
Value for price beaten by
: no price info
8.4
PC Monitor
Value for price beaten by
: no price info

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.

Our Verdict

8.0 Mixed Usage

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.

Pros
  • Fantastic contrast for deep blacks.
  • Good black uniformity with minimal blooming.
  • Automatically removes 24p judder from any source.
  • High peak brightness in SDR and HDR.
  • Excellent reflection handling, so glare isn't distracting.
  • HDMI 2.1 bandwidth on two inputs.
Cons
  • Some black smearing with fast-moving content.
7.5 TV Shows

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.

Pros
  • Good black uniformity with minimal blooming.
  • Automatically removes 24p judder from any source.
  • No problem displaying 720p, 1080, or 4k content.
  • High peak brightness in SDR and HDR.
  • Excellent reflection handling, so glare isn't distracting.
Cons
  • Narrow viewing angle.
7.6 Sports

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.

Pros
  • Good black uniformity with minimal blooming.
  • Automatically removes 24p judder from any source.
  • No problem displaying 720p, 1080, or 4k content.
  • High peak brightness in SDR and HDR.
  • Excellent reflection handling, so glare isn't distracting.
Cons
  • Narrow viewing angle.
  • 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 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

Pros
  • Fantastic contrast for deep blacks.
  • Good black uniformity with minimal blooming.
  • Automatically removes 24p judder from any source.
  • HDMI 2.1 bandwidth on two inputs.
  • Low input lag for responsive gaming.
  • Variable refresh rate support.
Cons
  • Some black smearing with fast-moving content.
8.1 HDR Movies

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.

Pros
  • Fantastic contrast for deep blacks.
  • Good black uniformity with minimal blooming.
  • Automatically removes 24p judder from any source.
  • High peak brightness in SDR and HDR.
  • Displays wide color gamut.
Cons
8.7 HDR Gaming

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.

Pros
  • Fantastic contrast for deep blacks.
  • Good black uniformity with minimal blooming.
  • Automatically removes 24p judder from any source.
  • High peak brightness in SDR and HDR.
  • HDMI 2.1 bandwidth on two inputs.
  • Variable refresh rate support.
Cons
  • Some black smearing with fast-moving content.
8.4 PC Monitor

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.

Pros
  • Good black uniformity with minimal blooming.
  • Automatically removes 24p judder from any source.
  • No problem displaying 720p, 1080, or 4k content.
  • High peak brightness in SDR and HDR.
  • Excellent reflection handling, so glare isn't distracting.
  • HDMI 2.1 bandwidth on two inputs.
  • Chroma 4:4:4 signals are displayed properly for clear text from a PC.
Cons
  • Narrow viewing angle.
  • Some black smearing with fast-moving content.
  • 8.0 Mixed Usage
  • 7.5 TV Shows
  • 7.6 Sports
  • 8.7 Video Games
  • 8.1 HDR Movies
  • 8.7 HDR Gaming
  • 8.4 PC Monitor
  1. Updated May 02, 2024: We uploaded the latest brightness measurements and uniformity photos for the Accelerated Longevity Test.
  2. Updated Feb 13, 2024: We uploaded the latest brightness measurements and uniformity photos for the Accelerated Longevity Test.
  3. Updated Dec 05, 2023: We uploaded the latest brightness measurements and uniformity photos for the Accelerated Longevity Test.
  4. Updated Oct 12, 2023: We uploaded the latest brightness measurements and uniformity photos for the Accelerated Longevity Test.
  5. Updated Aug 09, 2023: We uploaded the latest brightness measurements and uniformity photos for the Accelerated Longevity Test.
  6. Updated Jun 07, 2023: We uploaded the latest brightness measurements and uniformity photos for the Accelerated Longevity Test.
  7. Updated Apr 28, 2023: We updated the text to match the latest changes to our test methodology and scores.
  8. Updated Apr 28, 2023: Converted to Test Bench 1.11. With this update, we've added a new Upscaling: Sharpness Processing test and revamped our Blooming test so the scores and picture better match the real world experience. With this change, it was necessary to remove the Black Crush test. Finally, we've updated our usage scores to better align our scores with user expectations.
  9. Updated Apr 03, 2023: We uploaded the brightness measurements and uniformity photos after running the TV for four months in our Accelerated Longevity Test.
  10. Updated Feb 28, 2023: We decreased the blooming score slightly for better consistency with our other TV reviews.
  11. Updated Feb 23, 2023: We've updated the text in the review to reflect our latest test methodology updates.
  12. Updated Feb 16, 2023: We uploaded the brightness measurements and uniformity photos after running the TV for two months in our Accelerated Longevity Test.
  13. Updated Feb 16, 2023: Converted to Test Bench 1.10. With this update we've revamped our Gradient testing, added a new test for Low Quality Content Smoothing, and expanded our Audio Passthrough testing.
  14. Updated Dec 12, 2022: Updated to Test Bench 1.9, modifying our Contrast testing and splitting our local dimming testing into multiple sections covering Blooming, Black Crush, and Lighting Zone Transitions. You can see our full changelog here.
  15. Updated Nov 24, 2022: We bought and tested the TCL 6 Series/R655 2022 QLED, and added a few relevant comparisons to this review.
  16. Updated Nov 17, 2022: We uploaded the initial brightness measurements and uniformity photos for the Accelerated Longevity Test.
  17. Updated Sep 06, 2022: Since this TV works with the PS5's variable refresh rate feature, which only supports HDMI Forum VRR, we've been able to confirm that this TV does in fact support HDMI Forum VRR.
  18. Updated Sep 02, 2022: Checked to see if the TV upscales 480p properly, which it still doesn't.
  19. Updated Aug 01, 2022: We discovered a flaw with the equipment used to force an HDR signal when measuring color volume and the color gamut. We've switched to a new tool and updated our measurements. The color gamut and volume have changed slightly.
  20. Updated Jul 28, 2022: Updated to Test Bench 1.8, adding a new box for PQ EOTF tracking and updating our Color Volume and Color Gamut tests to better reflect real world usage. You can see our full changelog here.
  21. Updated Jul 14, 2022: Updated to Test Bench 1.7 with an updated HDR Brightness test that better reflects real world usage. We've also split the console compatibility boxes into separate PS5 Compatibility and Xbox Series X|S Compatibility tests. You can see our full changelog here.
  22. Updated Jan 28, 2022: We retested the input lag with the latest firmware.
  23. Updated Dec 15, 2021: We added more information about the local dimming performance, and checked if CEC was still working properly.
  24. 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.
  25. Updated Oct 04, 2021: Review published.
  26. Updated Sep 29, 2021: Early access published.
  27. Updated Sep 15, 2021: Our testers have started testing this product.
  28. Updated Sep 15, 2021: The product has arrived in our lab, and our testers will start evaluating it soon.
  29. Updated Aug 28, 2021: We've purchased the product and are waiting for it to arrive in our lab.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

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.

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

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

Compared To Other TVs

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.

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.

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

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.

TCL 6 Series/R655 2022 QLED
55" 65" 75" 85"

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.

Hisense U7H [U7, U75H]
55" 65" 75" 85"

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.

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.

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED Series 2022
65" 75"

The TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED is much better than the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED Series 2022. 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.

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.

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.

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 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 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.

LG QNED80 2022
50" 55" 65" 75" 86"

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.

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 displaying 480p content like the TCL.

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.

Samsung QN90A QLED
43" 50" 55" 65" 75" 85" 98"

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.

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.

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 bandwidth and both have VRR support, but the TCL has FreeSync support while the Sony is G-SYNC compatible.

Samsung QN85A QLED
55" 65" 75" 85"

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.

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.

Vizio M Series Quantum X 2022
50" 65" 75"

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.

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 for gaming, but the TCL has lower input lag.

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.

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 U6GR
55" 65"

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.

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.

Hisense U9DG
75"

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.

+ Show more

Video

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
Curved No

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.

Design
Accelerated Longevity Test
Uniformity Pictures

Update 08/09/2023: After running on the longevity test for eight months, this TV is now showing signs of image retention or potentially burn-in. It's not visible in most real content, but in near-dark scenes, like this 5% gray uniformity slide, the CNN logo, breaking news banner, and even some text is clearly visible. It's an unexpected result for this type of TV panel. We're looking into it more to determine the nature of the image retention.

Update 02/06/2023: Unfortunately, the brightness of this TV has started to drop after running for two months on our accelerated longevity test.

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 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"

Design
Back
Wall Mount VESA 300x300

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.

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
8.9
Picture Quality
Contrast
Contrast
39,900 : 1
Native Contrast
7,778 : 1

This TV has an outstanding native contrast ratio. Even with local dimming fully disabled, blacks are deep and don't look washed out at all. The local dimming feature is very effective at reducing black levels in dark parts of the screen.

7.5
Picture Quality
Blooming

Thanks to the relatively small size of the dimming zones, there's very little blooming around bright areas of the screen, like the subtitles at the bottom of the test scene or the lights on the roof.

8.0
Picture Quality
Lighting Zone Transitions
Local Dimming
Yes
Backlight
Full-Array
Dimming Zones Count Of Tested TV
128

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.

8.5
Picture Quality
Contrast And Dark Details In Game Mode

Switching to 'Game' mode doesn't result in any noticeable difference in dark scene performance.

8.2
Picture Quality
HDR Brightness
Hallway Lights (~1950 cd/m²)
523 cd/m²
Yellow Skyscraper (~700 cd/m²)
377 cd/m²
Landscape Pool (~300 cd/m²)
240 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
660 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
1,051 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
1,085 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
872 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
851 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
656 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
1,035 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
1,069 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
869 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
848 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.025

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:

  • Picture Mode: Movie
  • Brightness: Max
  • Local Contrast: Low
  • Contrast: Max
  • Color Temperature: Warm -5

8.2
Picture Quality
HDR Brightness In Game Mode
Hallway Lights (~1950 cd/m²)
523 cd/m²
Yellow Skyscraper (~700 cd/m²)
393 cd/m²
Landscape Pool (~300 cd/m²)
232 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
639 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
1,038 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
1,094 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
886 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
870 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
637 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
1,022 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
1,084 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
882 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
868 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.024

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:

  • Picture Mode: Game
  • Brightness: Max
  • Local Contrast: Low
  • Contrast: Max
  • Color Temperature: Warm -5

8.0
Picture Quality
PQ EOTF Tracking
600 Nit Tracking Delta
0.0168
1000 Nit Tracking Delta
0.0134
4000 Nit Tracking Delta
0.0134

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.

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 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:

  • Picture Mode: Movie
  • Brightness: Max
  • Local Contrast: Low
  • Contrast: Max
  • Gamma: 2.2
  • Color Temperature: Warm -5

8.3
Picture Quality
Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
Yes
DCI P3 xy
91.53%
DCI P3 uv
96.50%
Rec 2020 xy
69.61%
Rec 2020 uv
74.75%

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.

7.9
Picture Quality
Color Volume
1,000 cd/m² DCI P3 Coverage ITP
75.4%
10,000 cd/m² Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
34.5%
White Luminance
668 cd/m²
Red Luminance
160 cd/m²
Green Luminance
450 cd/m²
Blue Luminance
54 cd/m²
Cyan Luminance
501 cd/m²
Magenta Luminance
207 cd/m²
Yellow Luminance
616 cd/m²

The color volume is good. Thanks to its high peak brightness, it displays bright colors well.

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 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.

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 full calibration settings here.

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.

9.1
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Std. Dev.
0.471%
Native Std. Dev.
1.143%

The black uniformity is fantastic. Without local dimming, there's backlight bleed in the corners, and the local dimming feature helps eliminate that issue.

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 a narrow viewing angle, so it's not well-suited for a wide seating arrangement. The image fades and looks washed out as you move off-center.

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, glare isn't an issue even in very bright rooms.

8.5
Picture Quality
HDR Native Gradient
100% Black to 50% Gray
6.0
50% Gray to 100% White
10
100% Black to 50% Red
8.0
50% Red to 100% Red
10
100% Black to 50% Green
8.0
50% Green to 100% Green
8.0
100% Black to 50% Blue
8.0
50% Blue to 100% Blue
10

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.

8.1
Picture Quality
Low-Quality Content Smoothing
Smoothing
9.0
Detail Preservation
6.0

The TV's processing features do a great job of cleaning up low-quality content. There's very little remaining pixelization or macro blocking, but sadly, it loses a lot of fine details in the process.

3.0
Picture Quality
Upscaling: Sharpness Processing

Unfortunately, this TV has bad sharpness processing with low-resolution or low-bitrate content. Text is hard to read, and fine details are lost.

The optimal sharpness settings for low-resolution or low-bitrate content, with no over-sharpening, are as follows:

  • Sharpness: 30

Picture Quality
Pixels
Subpixel Layout
BGR
Type LED
Sub-Type
VA

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.

Motion
8.4
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.

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.

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.

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.

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

This TV automatically removes 24p judder from any source ensuring a smooth movie-watching experience.

7.7
Motion
Variable Refresh Rate
Native Refresh Rate
120 Hz
Variable Refresh Rate
Yes
HDMI Forum VRR
Yes
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 + Local Dimming Yes

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.

Inputs
9.4
Inputs
Input Lag
1080p @ 60Hz
14.2 ms
1080p @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode
138.8 ms
1080p @ 120Hz
5.8 ms
1080p @ 144Hz
N/A
1440p @ 60Hz
14.2 ms
1440p @ 120Hz
5.8 ms
1440p @ 144Hz
N/A
4k @ 60Hz
14.4 ms
4k @ 60Hz + 10-Bit HDR
13.9 ms
4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4
14.2 ms
4k @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode
138.6 ms
4k @ 60Hz With Interpolation
131.9 ms
4k @ 120Hz
5.8 ms
4k @ 144Hz
N/A
8k @ 60Hz
N/A

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.

9.3
Inputs
Supported Resolutions
Resolution 4k
480p @ 59.94Hz (Widescreen)
Yes
720p @ 59.94Hz
Yes
1080p @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4
Yes
1080p @ 120Hz
Yes
1080p @ 144Hz
No
1440p @ 60Hz
Yes (forced resolution required)
1440p @ 120Hz
Yes
1440p @ 144Hz
No
4k @ 60Hz
Yes
4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4
Yes
4k @ 120Hz
Yes
4k @ 120Hz @ 4:4:4
No
4k @ 144Hz
No
8k @ 30Hz or 24Hz
No
8k @ 60Hz
No

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.

Inputs
PS5 Compatibility
Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)
Yes
4k @ 120Hz
Yes
1440p @ 120Hz
Yes
1080p @ 120Hz
Yes
HDR
Yes
VRR
Yes

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.

Inputs
Xbox Series X|S Compatibility
Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)
Yes
4k @ 120Hz
Yes
1440p @ 120Hz
Yes
1080p @ 120Hz
Yes
HDR
Yes
VRR
Yes

This TV is fully compatible with everything the Xbox Series S and X have to offer.

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)
ATSC Tuner
1.0
USB 3.0
No
Variable Analog Audio Out Yes
Wi-Fi Support Yes (2.4 GHz, 5 GHz)
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

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

Inputs
Audio Passthrough
ARC/eARC Port
eARC
eARC: Dolby Atmos Over Dolby Digital Plus
Yes
eARC: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
Yes
eARC: LPCM 7.1 Over Dolby MAT
Yes
eARC: Dolby TrueHD 7.1
Yes
eARC: DTS:X Over DTS-HD MA
Yes
eARC: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
Yes
eARC: LPCM Channels (Bitstream)
2.0
ARC: Dolby Digital 5.1
Yes
ARC: DTS 5.1
Yes
Optical: Dolby Digital 5.1
Yes
Optical: DTS 5.1
Yes

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.

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.

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/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.

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 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.

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