TCL 8 Series 2019/Q825 QLED TV Review

Tested using Methodology v1.5
Updated Feb 10, 2021 at 01:57 pm
TCL 8 Series 2019/Q825 QLED Picture
8.0
Mixed Usage
Value for price beaten by
: Hisense H9G
8.4
Movies
Value for price beaten by
: Hisense H9G
7.9
TV Shows
Value for price beaten by
: Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED
7.8
Sports
Value for price beaten by
: Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED
7.7
Video Games
Value for price beaten by
: Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED
8.4
HDR Movies
Value for price beaten by
: Hisense H9G
7.6
HDR Gaming
Value for price beaten by
: Vizio P Series Quantum 2020
7.4
PC Monitor
Value for price beaten by
: Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED
Type LED
Sub-Type
VA
Resolution 4k

The TCL 8 Series 2019/Q825 QLED is a great 4k TV that performs well for most uses. It comes with Roku TV built-in, and it stands out among LED TVs thanks to its impressive HDR performance. Highlights pop as they should because of the TV's wide color gamut and high peak brightness in HDR. It also has an exceptional contrast ratio and local dimming to help produce deep inky blacks that look amazing in the dark. It gets very bright and has good reflection handling, so it can easily overcome glare in well-lit rooms. Its response time is also very good, so motion looks clear in fast-moving content. However, it doesn't support variable refresh rate (VRR) to reduce screen tearing in games, and while its input lag is decent, it may be too high for competitive gamers. Unfortunately, it also has narrow viewing angles, making content look washed out from the side.

Our Verdict

8.0 Mixed Usage

The TCL 8 Series is a great overall TV. It performs well in both bright and dark rooms thanks to its high peak brightness and outstanding contrast ratio, respectively. Motion also looks clear thanks to the fast response time, which is good for fast-moving content like sports or video games. Unfortunately, it doesn't have VRR, and its input lag is higher than some TVs, so competitive gamers may be disappointed. On the upside, HDR content looks great thanks to the high HDR brightness and wide color gamut.

Pros
  • Exceptional peak brightness in SDR and HDR.
  • Outstanding contrast ratio and black uniformity.
  • Fast response time with minimal motion blur.
Cons
  • Local dimming crushes highlights in dark scenes.
  • Narrow viewing angles.
8.4 Movies

The TCL 8 Series is impressive for movies. It has an exceptionally high contrast ratio, making blacks look deep and inky in the dark. It has an okay local dimming feature, but it can crush small highlights in dark scenes. Black uniformity is fantastic, though, and the TV has no issues upscaling lower-resolution content like DVDs or Blu-rays.

Pros
  • Upscales content without issue.
  • Fantastic black uniformity.
  • Outstanding contrast ratio.
Cons
  • Local dimming crushes highlights in dark scenes.
7.9 TV Shows

Watching TV shows on the TCL 8 Series is a good experience. You can place the TV in a bright room as it can handle reflections well and overcomes glare with ease. It upscales lower resolution content well, but it's not the best choice if you have a wide seating arrangement because of its narrow viewing angles. On the upside, the Roku TV smart interface has many of the latest apps available to download.

Pros
  • Bright enough to overcome glare.
  • Upscales content without issue.
  • Good reflection handling.
Cons
  • Poor gray uniformity on dark scenes.
  • Narrow viewing angles.
7.8 Sports

The TCL 8 Series is good for watching sports. It has a fast response time that makes fast-moving content look smooth. It also gets very bright and handles reflections well, so it easily overcomes glare in bright environments. Unfortunately, the TV has some noticeable dirty screen effect, which can be distracting while watching sports. It also has poor viewing angles, so it's not the best for watching with a large group.

Pros
  • Bright enough to overcome glare.
  • Fast response time with minimal motion blur.
  • Good reflection handling.
Cons
  • Narrow viewing angles.
  • Dirty screen effect can be distracting.
7.7 Video Games

The TCL 8 Series is good for playing video games. It has a decent input lag which should suit most people but may be too high for competitive gamers. The response time is fast, so it displays fast-moving content with minimal blur. It also has a high contrast ratio that produces deep blacks, which is great if you like gaming in the dark. Unfortunately, there are no advanced gaming features like VRR support.

Pros
  • Outstanding contrast ratio and black uniformity.
  • Decent input lag.
  • Fast response time with minimal motion blur.
Cons
  • Poor gray uniformity on dark scenes.
  • No VRR support to reduce screen tearing.
8.4 HDR Movies

The TCL 8 Series delivers an impressive HDR movie experience. It has an exceptional contrast ratio that produces deep uniform blacks in dark rooms, but its local dimming feature tends to crush highlights in dark scenes. On the upside, it has a wide color gamut and a high HDR peak brightness, which produces vivid colors and makes highlights pop in HDR content.

Pros
  • Outstanding contrast ratio and black uniformity.
  • Bright enough to bring out highlights in HDR.
  • Wide color gamut.
Cons
  • Local dimming crushes highlights in dark scenes.
7.6 HDR Gaming

The TCL 8 Series is good for gaming in HDR. It has a decent input lag and a fast response time, delivering a good gaming experience. Its contrast ratio is exceptional, so blacks look deep and inky. It also has a wide color gamut for HDR, and it gets bright enough to bring out highlights in HDR content.

Pros
  • Bright enough to bring out highlights in HDR.
  • Decent input lag.
  • Fast response time with minimal motion blur.
Cons
  • Local dimming crushes highlights in dark scenes.
  • No VRR support to reduce screen tearing.
7.4 PC Monitor

The TCL 8 Series is decent as a PC monitor. It supports most common resolutions and displays proper chroma 4:4:4, so text looks clear. It also has a decent input lag, making for a fairly responsive desktop experience. Unfortunately, it has poor viewing angles, so the image may look washed out at the edges if you sit up close.

Pros
  • Displays chroma 4:4:4 properly.
  • Decent input lag.
Cons
  • Narrow viewing angles.
  • No VRR support to reduce screen tearing.
  • 8.0 Mixed Usage
  • 8.4 Movies
  • 7.9 TV Shows
  • 7.8 Sports
  • 7.7 Video Games
  • 8.4 HDR Movies
  • 7.6 HDR Gaming
  • 7.4 PC Monitor
  1. Updated Feb 10, 2021: Updated review for accuracy and clarity.
  2. Updated May 21, 2020: Converted to Test Bench 1.5.
  3. Updated Feb 21, 2020: Converted to Test Bench 1.4.
  4. Updated Nov 29, 2019: We retested the Q825 on the latest firmware version (9.1.2 build 6471-88), and found that it does have a 120Hz panel, and can interpolate motion up to 120Hz.

Video

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The TCL 8 Series is the flagship of TCL's 2019 lineup, right above the TCL 6 Series/R625 2019. Its main competitors are the more premium models of other brands, like the Vizio P Series Quantum X 2019, the LG SM9500, and the Samsung Q80/Q80R QLED.

Design
8.5
Design
Style
Curved No

The TCL 8 Series has an excellent overall design. It looks sleek and premium with thin bezels and a large, heavy stand. The back is simple with a premium-looking glossy finish over the top half.

Design
Stand

The TV's stand is made of metal. It's very heavy, feels solid, and supports the TV well, preventing most wobble.

Footprint of the 65 inch model: 33.9"x13.8"

Design
Back
Wall Mount VESA 300x300

The back of the TV is plastic. It resembles the TCL 6 Series/R625 2019's back, thanks to the glossy upper half, which gives the TV a more premium look. Similar to other TCL TVs we've tested, the TCL 8 Series has no cable management.

Design
Borders
Borders 0.35" (0.9 cm)

The borders are made of metal and are fairly thin. They feel solid, which adds to the TV's premium look.

Design
Thickness
Max Thickness 3.19" (8.1 cm)

This TV is relatively thin overall. The upper half is really thin, while the bottom half is thicker as it houses the electronics. It won't stick out much if you wall-mount it.

8.0
Design
Build Quality

The TCL 8 Series has very good build quality. It feels sturdy and solidly built with no obvious gaps. It's rather heavy but has a premium feel.

Picture Quality
9.4
Picture Quality
Contrast
Native Contrast
6649 : 1
Contrast with local dimming
39812 : 1

The TCL 8 Series has an outstanding contrast ratio, so blacks look deep in a dark room. When local dimming is enabled, this TV delivers the deepest blacks we've measured so far on an LED TV.

6.5
Picture Quality
Local Dimming
Local Dimming
Yes
Backlight
Full-Array

This TV has okay local dimming. The backlight consists of a large array of Mini LEDs that create a large number of local dimming zones. This is good, as it allows the TV to minimize blooming around bright objects. At the same time, due to the large number of zones, it's very noticeable when they turn on and off, and this creates a checkered/golfball effect. To activate local dimming, you must set the Local Contrast setting to 'High' as the 'Medium' or 'Low' settings didn't seem to do much on our unit in real content.

The local dimming works well, and the image looks very good when watching medium-to-high brightness scenes. However, the local dimming algorithm is very aggressive and crushes details in very dark scenes, like the intro scene of Netflix's Our Planet, which is displayed with almost no stars. Subtitles don't have much noticeable blooming mainly because they're very bright, and your eyes can't distinguish the blooming.

Finally, the zone transitions can be distracting, depending on the scene. At about 1:06 of the above video, the small ball almost disappears as the slow zone transitions can't keep up with the speed of the fast-moving object. Another example where the transitions and the golfball effect is more visible is in this Earth video from space, shown here.

9.2
Picture Quality
SDR Peak Brightness
SDR Real Scene Peak Brightness
907 cd/m²
SDR Peak 2% Window
1419 cd/m²
SDR Peak 10% Window
1800 cd/m²
SDR Peak 25% Window
1861 cd/m²
SDR Peak 50% Window
1199 cd/m²
SDR Peak 100% Window
656 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 2% Window
1322 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 10% Window
1760 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 25% Window
1818 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 50% Window
1185 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 100% Window
654 cd/m²
SDR ABL
0.052

The TCL 8 Series has outstanding SDR peak brightness. The TV is suitable for very bright rooms as it can fight glare with ease.

We measured the peak brightness after calibration, with the 'Brighter' backlight setting, with the Backlight slider set to '100' (max) in the 'Movie' Picture Mode and the 'Warm' Color Temperature, as these are the most accurate settings. These are also the settings that deliver the highest peak brightness.

9.2
Picture Quality
HDR Peak Brightness
HDR Real Scene Peak Brightness
1379 cd/m²
HDR Peak 2% Window
1414 cd/m²
HDR Peak 10% Window
1822 cd/m²
HDR Peak 25% Window
1884 cd/m²
HDR Peak 50% Window
1215 cd/m²
HDR Peak 100% Window
664 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 2% Window
1311 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 10% Window
1775 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 25% Window
1836 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 50% Window
1199 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 100% Window
661 cd/m²
HDR ABL
0.052

This TV has exceptionally high peak brightness in HDR, delivering HDR content with very bright highlights.

We measured the peak brightness in HDR before calibration, with the 'Brighter' backlight setting, and the 'Dark HDR' Picture Mode. These are the most accurate and the brightest settings.

6.9
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
2.125 %
50% DSE
0.207 %
5% Std. Dev.
2.381 %
5% DSE
0.131 %

Our TCL 8 Series has okay gray uniformity. Unfortunately, there's some noticeable dirty screen effect both in bright and in dark scenes. Furthermore, the overall uniformity in the darker scenes is one of the worst we've encountered so far. Note that gray uniformity can vary between units.

5.5
Picture Quality
Viewing Angle
Color Washout
25 °
Color Shift
25 °
Brightness Loss
35 °
Black Level Raise
18 °
Gamma Shift
19 °

The TCL 8 Series has disappointing viewing angles. The image quickly loses accuracy as you move off-center. If you want a TV with wide viewing angles, then check out an IPS TV like the LG SM9500 or an OLED TV like the LG B9 OLED.

9.3
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
0.618 %
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
0.301 %

The TCL 8 Series has fantastic black uniformity. While there's still a bit of blooming around bright objects, on the whole, blacks are very uniform with virtually no clouding. That said, we experienced a bug that raised the overall black level after displaying our test picture with Local Dimming on 'High', leaving only a row of backlights turned off at the top and bottom of the screen. You can see that here.

7.6
Picture Quality
Reflections
Screen Finish
Semi-gloss
Total Reflections
4.9 %
Indirect Reflections
0.4 %
Calculated Direct Reflections
4.5 %

The TCL 8 Series has good reflection handling. The TV has a semi-gloss finish that diminishes reflections and makes them less distracting. If you place this TV in a bright room, you shouldn't have issues, thanks to its excellent peak brightness.

4.8
Picture Quality
Pre Calibration
White Balance dE
6.02
Color dE
4.25
Gamma
2.45
Color Temperature
5526 K
Picture Mode
Movie
Color Temp Setting
Warm
Gamma Setting
2.2

The TCL 8 Series has poor out-of-the-box accuracy. The color temperature is significantly warmer than the 6500K target, so images have a reddish/yellow tint. Colors and shades of gray are very off, and the gamma doesn't follow the target at all, making scenes appear much darker than they should be.

Changing the Gamma setting from the default '2.2' to '2.0' makes the picture more accurate overall, as you can see in the white balance, gamma curve, and color space.

9.6
Picture Quality
Post Calibration
White Balance dE
0.19
Color dE
0.81
Gamma
2.20
Color Temperature
6501 K
White Balance Calibration
11 point
Color Calibration
Yes
Auto-Calibration Function
Yes

The TCL 8 Series has outstanding accuracy after calibration. Any remaining inaccuracies require the use of a colorimeter to spot, and the gamma follows the target flawlessly. To achieve these results, we calibrated with Gamma set to '2.0', but we continue to recommend setting Gamma to '2.2' as this is the manufacturer's recommendation.

There's an auto-calibration function that requires the use of an app. Although the app helps improve image accuracy significantly, it's less accurate than a colorimeter.

See our recommended settings for this TV here.

8.0
Picture Quality
480p Input

480p content, like DVDs, looks great on the TCL 8 Series, with no obvious issues.

8.0
Picture Quality
720p Input

The TV upscales 720p content, like from a cable box, well.

9.0
Picture Quality
1080p Input

The TCL 8 Series upscales Blu-rays and other 1080p content without issue.

10
Picture Quality
4k Input

4k is displayed perfectly with no issues.

0
Picture Quality
8k Input

This TV does not support an 8k signal.

Picture Quality
Pixels

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

8.4
Picture Quality
Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
Yes
DCI P3 xy
90.40 %
DCI P3 uv
93.82 %
Rec 2020 xy
70.05 %
Rec 2020 uv
80.47 %

The TCL 8 Series has an impressive color gamut, considered wide enough for HDR content. It has excellent coverage of the more common DCI P3 color space and good coverage of the wider Rec. 2020 color space. Unfortunately, the EOTF doesn't follow the target curve very closely, so most scenes appear darker than they should be. 'Game' mode is nearly identical, as shown here.

Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do to make HDR brighter without messing with picture quality. Changing the Brightness setting from its default value will brighten HDR but also ruin the picture quality, so it isn't recommended.

8.1
Picture Quality
Color Volume
Normalized DCI P3 Coverage ITP
88.0 %
10,000 cd/m² DCI P3 Coverage ITP
56.3 %
Normalized Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
73.4 %
10,000 cd/m² Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
46.5 %

This TV has a great color volume. It's capable of displaying its color gamut at various luminosities, delivering saturated colors thanks to its high contrast ratio.

7.0
Picture Quality
Gradient
Color Depth
10 Bit
Red (Std. Dev.)
0.139 dE
Green (Std. Dev.)
0.156 dE
Blue (Std. Dev.)
0.105 dE
Gray (Std. Dev.)
0.172 dE

The TCL 8 Series has decent gradient handling. Some banding is visible in most colors and unfortunately, the TV doesn't offer any gradient smoothing option.

10
Picture Quality
Temporary Image Retention
IR after 0 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 2 min recovery
0.00 %
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 %

The TCL 8 Series doesn't show any signs of temporary image retention, even immediately after displaying our high-contrast static test image for ten minutes. Note that this can vary between units.

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
7.9
Motion
Response Time
80% Response Time
5.5 ms
100% Response Time
11.9 ms

The TCL 8 Series has a very good response time. Fast-moving content is displayed with minimal blur.

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

The TV uses Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) to dim its backlight. For the most part, the flicker frequency is very high and very hard to notice. However, in certain bright modes, and when the backlight is above 81/100, the flicker frequency drops to 120Hz. Because this is a very bright TV, we expect most people not to use it at such high brightness levels so flicker shouldn't be an issue for most.

10
Motion
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
Optional BFI
Yes
Min Flicker for 60 fps
60 Hz
60 Hz for 60 fps
Yes
120 Hz for 120 fps
Yes
Min Flicker for 60 fps in Game Mode
60 Hz

This TV has an optional Black Frame Insertion feature to make motion look crisper. However, this creates duplications that may be distracting to some. To enable BFI, set the LED Motion Clarity to 'On'. Note that our score for BFI takes into account whether BFI is present but doesn't necessarily reflect how well it performs.

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

Update 11/29/2019: The firmware we initially tested only supported motion interpolation up to 60 fps. We've retested the TCL 8 Series and updated the review.

The TCL 8 Series can interpolate low fps content up to 120 fps. To enable motion interpolation, set the Action Smoothing to 'On'.

7.1
Motion
Stutter
Frame Hold Time @ 24 fps
29.8 ms
Frame Hold Time @ 60 fps
4.8 ms

There's some stutter with this TV because of its fast response time, especially with lower frame rate content like movies. This is most noticeable in panning shots.

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

The TCL 8 Series can remove 24p judder from any source. This is done automatically, and there's no special setting that you must enable.

0
Motion
Variable Refresh Rate
Native Refresh Rate
120 Hz
Variable Refresh Rate
No
HDMI Forum VRR
No
FreeSync
No
G-SYNC Compatible
No
4k VRR Maximum
N/A
4k VRR Minimum
No VRR support
1080p VRR Maximum
N/A
1080p VRR Minimum
No VRR support
1440p VRR Maximum
N/A
1440p VRR Minimum
No VRR support
VRR Supported Connectors
No VRR support

The TCL 8 Series has a native refresh rate of 120Hz and doesn't support any advanced gaming features like FreeSync.

Inputs
7.3
Inputs
Input Lag
1080p @ 60 Hz
26.8 ms
1080p @ 60 Hz Outside Game Mode
135.1 ms
1440p @ 60 Hz
27.0 ms
4k @ 60 Hz
26.2 ms
4k @ 60 Hz + 10 bit HDR
28.8 ms
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4
26.4 ms
4k @ 60 Hz Outside Game Mode
118.1 ms
4k @ 60 Hz With Interpolation
127.2 ms
8k @ 60 Hz
N/A
1080p @ 120 Hz
N/A
1440p @ 120 Hz
N/A
4k @ 120 Hz
N/A
1080p with Variable Refresh Rate
N/A
1440p with VRR
N/A
4k with VRR
N/A
8k with VRR
N/A
Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)
Yes

The TCL 8 Series has a decent input lag, as long as you're in 'Game' mode. However, it's not as low as the input lag found on other TCL models and might not be suitable for competitive gaming. On the upside, the TV has an Auto Low Latency Mode, which allows it to detect when you're gaming on a compatible device and automatically switches to 'Game' mode. There are no special settings to do this.

8.3
Inputs
Supported Resolutions
1080p @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4