TCL C Series/C807 2017 TV Review

Tested using Methodology v1.2
Reviewed Aug 28, 2017 at 09:28 am
TCL C Series/C807 2017 Picture
7.1
Mixed Usage
Value for price beaten by
: Not at the latest test bench
6.3
Movies
7.2
TV Shows
6.9
Sports
8.0
Video Games
6.7
HDR Movies
7.7
HDR Gaming
7.7
PC Monitor
Type LED
Sub-Type
VA
Resolution 4k

The TCL C807/C803 4k Roku TV is a decent LCD/LED TV with better than average build quality and design. It features a wider color gamut for vibrant HDR content and very low input lag for responsive gaming. Unfortunately, its blacks are not very uniform, and its picture quality deteriorates even at a slight angle.

Our Verdict

7.1 Mixed Usage

The TCL C807/C803 is decent for a mixed usage. Its contrast is good, and it features a wide color gamut for HDR. Unfortunately, though, its motion and uniformity of the blacks leave a lot to be desired.

Pros
  • Sturdy, nicely finished design
  • Roku smart platform is both simple and quick
Cons
  • Could be brighter for HDR
  • Poor black uniformity
  • Picture quality degrades at an angle
6.3 Movies

Mediocre TV for movies in a dark room. The TCL C803/C807 does have a good contrast ratio, but its poor black uniformity and lack of local dimming cause letterboxes to look cloudy and distracting.

7.2 TV Shows

Decent TV for watching series or broadcast TV in a bright room. The TCL C Series' brightness is decent, and its Roku smart OS gives very easy access to content. Unfortunately, though, it's not great at handling reflections.

6.9 Sports

The TCL C Series' sports watching capabilities are average. It's relatively uniform, so green fields or ice rinks don't look dirty or blotchy, but its narrow viewing angle and mediocre motion handling reduce the viewing experience by a significant margin.

8.0 Video Games

Better than average for playing video games. The TCL C807's impressively low input lag keeps inputs and gameplay responsive. Its motion blur could be a bit better though.

6.7 HDR Movies

Mediocre TV for HDR. While the TCL C807/C803 has a wide color gamut and can reproduce smooth gradients, it cannot get bright enough to create a good HDR effect.

7.7 HDR Gaming

Decent HDR gaming capabilities. The TCL C807's input lag does not change depending on the type of input, so even HDR games are responsive. The wide color gamut helps make lush environments vibrant as well.

7.7 PC Monitor

Passable PC Monitor. The C Series's low input lag and support for chroma 4:4:4 is good, but its slow pixel response time and narrow viewing angle make it less suitable for use as a PC monitor.

  • 7.1 Mixed Usage
  • 6.3 Movies
  • 7.2 TV Shows
  • 6.9 Sports
  • 8.0 Video Games
  • 6.7 HDR Movies
  • 7.7 HDR Gaming
  • 7.7 PC Monitor
  1. Update 3/12/2018: Converted to Test Bench 1.2.
  2. Update 3/12/2018: There is a problem with how the Xbox One, Xbox One S and Xbox One X detect the audio passthrough capabilities of TCL TVs; a workaround is detailed in the Additional Review Notes.

Test Results

Design
9.0
Design
Style
Curved No

The design of the TCL C Series is excellent. It looks sleek and professional, with a front-facing soundbar and metal borders. The stand also looks great and supports well the TV. 

Design
Stand

Like other TCL TVs, the stand is almost as wide as the TV itself and so requires a large tabletop. The metal feet feel high quality and provide good, stable support.

Footprint of the 55" TV stand: 9.4" x 45.2"

Design
Back
Wall Mount VESA 200x200

The rear of the TV is quite simple, and a 50/50 split between plastic and metal. It looks good, and all of the inputs are located at the side, providing easy access if placed close to a wall. There are also covers which hide the inputs.

Design
Borders
Borders 0.55" (1.4 cm)

The borders are made of metal. Joints are flush, but there is a bit of a gap between the border and the pixels.

Design
Thickness
Max Thickness 2.28" (5.8 cm)

The thickest part of the TV is near the base, but it is overall quite thin and looks good from the side.

Design
Temperature
Maximum Temperature
108 °F (42 °C)
Average Temperature
93 °F (34 °C)

The TV stays fairly cool overall, but the screen gets quite warm near the bottom where the edge-lit backlight LEDs are. Fortunately, the bottom of the TV never gets hot, because the sound bar below the screen isolates the bottom. The warmest parts of the TV that can be touched are the two sides of the TV near the bottom. However, these only get a little warm to the touch.

8.0
Design
Build Quality

The build quality of the C Series is great. All of the parts feel high quality, and the TV is built with plenty of screws so it feels very sturdy.

Picture Quality
8.8
Picture Quality
Contrast
Native Contrast
5174 : 1
Contrast with local dimming
N/A

The TCL C807/C803 has an excellent native contrast ratio. With a contrast ratio of more than 5000:1, this means the TV can display dark scenes very well and with a lot of detail, and this will be even more obvious when the TV is set in a dark room.

0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming
Local Dimming
No
Backlight
Edge

There is no local dimming feature on the TCL C Series line of TVs. Video for reference only.

8.0
Picture Quality
SDR Peak Brightness
SDR Real Scene Peak Brightness
345 cd/m²
SDR Peak 2% Window
373 cd/m²
SDR Peak 10% Window
375 cd/m²
SDR Peak 25% Window
376 cd/m²
SDR Peak 50% Window
376 cd/m²
SDR Peak 100% Window
376 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 2% Window
373 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 10% Window
374 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 25% Window
375 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 50% Window
375 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 100% Window
376 cd/m²
SDR ABL
0.000

Plot over time

Very good SDR peak brightness. Because the TV lacks local dimming and CE dimming, the brightness stays constant no matter the content played, which is great. The TV is a little brighter overall than the rival Vizio M Series 2017, however, the TCL P607 is much brighter in nearly every test.

6.5
Picture Quality
HDR Peak Brightness
HDR Real Scene Peak Brightness
354 cd/m²
HDR Peak 2% Window
374 cd/m²
HDR Peak 10% Window
374 cd/m²
HDR Peak 25% Window
375 cd/m²
HDR Peak 50% Window
376 cd/m²
HDR Peak 100% Window
376 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 2% Window
373 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 10% Window
374 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 25% Window
375 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 50% Window
375 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 100% Window
375 cd/m²
HDR ABL
0.000

Plot over time

Mediocre HDR peak brightness. Even though the SDR and HDR peak brightnesses are essentially identical, HDR content demands higher brightness, as highlights are mastered to hit 1000-4000 cd/m², much higher than this TV is able to produce. The lack of local dimming really hurts here, as the TV isn't able to increase the backlight area behind highlights to make them brighter. Its rivals, the TCL P607 and Vizio M Series 2017, use their local dimming to reach much higher peak brightness.

6.7
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
4.312 %
50% DSE
0.205 %
5% Std. Dev.
1.824 %
5% DSE
0.111 %

The overall gray uniformity is average on the TCL 55C803/55C807. The 50% gray uniformity test picture does show some uniformity problems, especially near each corner, where the screen is darker. The top of the screen is also a bit darker and warmer than the bottom. In the middle of the screen, there is also a darker band with a strange dark patch. Unfortunately, dirty screen effect is visible when watching content like sports.

Looking at the 5% gray uniformity test picture, some uniformity issues can be noticed, especially the darker horizontal band near the center of the screen, but the more obvious issues (the brighter sides) are due to the narrow viewing angle effect on the camera.

3.8
Picture Quality
Viewing Angle
Color Shift
18 °
Brightness
28 °
Black Level
6 °

Terrible viewing angle, even for a TV with a VA panel. Blacks turn gray and colors shift when the TV is viewed from even a small angle, while brightness decreases not long after. This TV is not a good fit for a room where people will often be sitting to the side of the TV and viewing it at an angle.

5.2
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
2.544 %
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
N/A

The black uniformity of the TCL C807 is disappointing. Most of the uniformity issues are due to the visible clouding near each corner of the screen. Note that here, the narrow viewing angle of this TV does affect the black uniformity a bit, as even when sitting right in front of the TV, the black level change on both sides of the TV, which in turn affect the black uniformity.

7.4
Picture Quality
Reflections
Screen Finish
Semi-gloss
Total Reflections
5.8 %
Indirect Reflections
0.7 %

The TCL 55C803/55C807 is decent at handling reflections. It has a semi-gloss finish which diffuses reflections across the screen, reducing their intensity. It is fine for a dark or average room, but in a bright room, it may be an issue.

5.8
Picture Quality
Pre Calibration
Picture Mode
Movie
White Balance dE
5.43
Color dE
3.51
Gamma
2.18
Color Temperature
5826 K

The TCL C807 accuracy is disappointing. Even when set to the 'Movie' picture, which is the most accurate of all the available picture mode, the overall accuracy is still pretty off target and most enthusiasts could notice it.

The white balance dE, even when set to the 'Warm' color is a bit high and on the warm side even though this color temperature setting is the most accurate. The higher IRE values (brighter) are less accurate, where the red is the most prominent. When set to other color temperature, the white balance dE was more than double of what is the dE of the 'Warm' color temperature.

The Color dE is a bit high too, and most of the color has a high dE, especially the white point, which is off target and seem to drag all the rest of the colors with it. Here once again the 'Warm' color was the most accurate, with the 'Normal' following it with a color dE of 6.38.

9.8
Picture Quality
Post Calibration
Picture Mode
Movie
White Balance dE
0.12
Color dE
0.42
Gamma
2.20
Color Temperature
6510 K

After calibration, the TCL C807 accuracy is outstanding and the mobile app helps a lot at obtaining this result since you can do all the calibration into the app, with a high level of precision. One benefit is that all this can be done off-screen and in real-time, so you don't need to go in and out of the menu to take readings, which make the whole process faster.

All the inaccuracies of the white balance were easily corrected and each IRE points were very responsive and did not affect neighboring value. As the result of this correction, the white balance dE is not only 0.12 and the gamma curve was flattened and the gamma is now tracker our 2.2 target almost spot on.

The color dE was also brought down to a negligible 0.42, which at this level, inaccuracy are not even perceivable by the human eye and all the issues that were present before calibration were easily fixed

You can see our recommended settings here.

8.0
Picture Quality
480p Input

Upscaling of low-quality content is good. The image appears slightly more blocky than most other TVs, but this is a marginal difference.

8.0
Picture Quality
720p Input

720p content such as cable is upscaled well. Some camera artifacts are visible in this image but not in person, and the result is clear and detailed.

9.0
Picture Quality
1080p Input

Full HD content such as Blu-rays look good once upscaled. Details are preserved well.

9.5
Picture Quality
4k Input

Native 4k sources look great, however, when viewed from very close some pixel dimming artifacts are visible. This mostly affects PC use and is similar to other TCL TVs such as the P607 visible in a pixel photo here.

7.8
Picture Quality
Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
Yes
DCI P3 xy
88.46 %
DCI P3 uv
91.74 %
Rec 2020 xy
64.48 %
Rec 2020 uv
68.62 %

Very good wide color gamut. Looking at the Rec 2020 gamut, fully saturated red and blue get fairly close to their targets, but green falls quite short, as is common for modern TVs. However, the DCI P3 gamut shows how the TV starts sacrificing color accuracy for brightness when it's showing very bright colors. These two tests were done with 75% bright stimulus colors, which are very bright. The same tests done with 50% stimulus, shown here for P3 and here for 2020, show much better color accuracy, because the TV can easily reach this brightness.

The TV's HDR EOTF in the 'Dark' picture mode follows the target PQ curve very closely, up until it rolls off to meet its peak brightness. The EOTFs in Game and PC mode are nearly identical to that of the 'Dark' picture mode.

6.7
Picture Quality
Color Volume
Normalized DCI P3 Coverage ITP
74.4 %
10,000 cd/m² DCI P3 Coverage ITP
32.7 %
Normalized Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
60.4 %
10,000 cd/m² Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
26.6 %

Decent color volume. While the volume is mostly limited by the TV's color gamut, its lack of local dimming prevents it from making colors very dark like the TCL P607 can, so it loses some volume at low brightness. The TV also struggles to show very bright DCI P3 colors, as it starts to sacrifice color saturation in order to make the colors brighter.

8.8
Picture Quality
Gradient
Color Depth
10 Bit
Red (Std. Dev.)
0.086 dE
Green (Std. Dev.)
0.086 dE
Blue (Std. Dev.)
0.077 dE
Gray (Std. Dev.)
0.090 dE

The 55C803/55C807 can display our gradient test image remarkably. Overall, the gradient is very smooth and 8-bit banding it not visible at all, which is great news, especially for HDR content. Banding in the colors is slightly noticeable in the very dark part of the image, but only to a couple of places in the dark gray and in the darker shade of color. Banding is not problematic at all when watching normal content though.

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 %

No image retention could be noticed on this TV, which is excellent and in line with other VA TVs.

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.

Picture Quality
Pixels
Motion
7.1
Motion
Response Time
80% Response Time
9.5 ms
100% Response Time
25.3 ms

The response time is ordinary, and a trail of blur can be seen following fast-moving objects. The panel response is quite similar to that of the TCL UP130 from 2016, and worse than the P607 and S405.

4.0
Motion
Flicker-Free
Flicker-Free
No
PWM Dimming Frequency
120 Hz

The TCL C803/C807 uses PWM at 120Hz to dim the backlight, starting at 28/100 backlight setting. Lowering the setting from 100/100 to 29/100 reduces backlight amplitude, and lowering it from 28/100 to 0/100 shortens the PWM duty cycle while amplitude remains constant. The use of PWM at lower backlight settings results in duplications following fast-moving objects.

5.4
Motion
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
Optional BFI
No
Min Flicker for 60 fps
120 Hz
60 Hz for 60 fps
No
120 Hz for 120 fps
N/A
Min Flicker for 60 fps in Game Mode
120 Hz

Like with other TCL TVs, there is no option to reduce the flicker frequency to 60 Hz, although its 120 Hz PWM does help somewhat to clear up fast-paced content.

0
Motion
Motion Interpolation
Motion Interpolation (30 fps)
No
Motion Interpolation (60 fps)
No

The TCL C803/C807 is unable to produce any motion interpolation, so viewers who enjoy the smoother motion of the soap opera effect may be disappointed.

8.9
Motion
Stutter
Frame Hold Time @ 24 fps
16.4 ms
Frame Hold Time @ 60 fps
0.0 ms

This TCL TV can display content with very little stutter, which is great. 60 fps content appears completely smooth as the pixel response time means that some parts of the image are always in motion. For 24 fps content such as movies, the image is also relatively smooth, as it only remains static for ~16ms between ~41ms frames.

7.8
Motion
24p Judder
Judder-Free 24p
Yes
Judder-Free 24p via 60p
No
Judder-Free 24p via 60i
No
Judder-Free 24p via Native Apps
Yes

The TCL C series can play 24p movies from 24p sources like DVDs and Blu-rays without judder and no specific option needs to be turned on. For 24p movies playing from 60p/60i sources like cable or satellite boxes, the TV can't display them correctly without judder and there is not any option in the TV picture setting to remove judder from 24p movies on those sources, unfortunately.

0
Motion
Variable Refresh Rate
Native Refresh Rate
60 Hz
Variable Refresh Rate
No
4k VRR Maximum
N/A
4k VRR Minimum
N/A
1080p VRR Maximum
N/A
1080p VRR Minimum
N/A
VRR Supported Connectors
N/A

The TCL C807/C803 doesn't have any variable refresh rate implementation, which is normal for 2017 TVs.

Inputs
9.6
Inputs
Input Lag
1080p @ 60Hz
15.5 ms
1080p @ 60Hz + HDR
15.4 ms
1080p @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode
46.3 ms
1080p @ 120Hz
N/A
4k @ 60Hz
15.7 ms
4k @ 60Hz + HDR
15.4 ms
4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4
15.3 ms
4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4 + 8 bit HDR
15.4 ms
4k @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode
32.3 ms
4k With Interpolation
N/A
4k @ 120 Hz
N/A
4k with Variable Refresh Rate
N/A
1080p with Variable Refresh Rate
N/A

Amazing low input lag, which will please nearly any gamer. All picture modes have the same input lag when the 'Game mode' setting is 'On'. 4:4:4 color is only shown properly when the input's icon is set to 'Computer' (or the TV detects a PC input). This input lag is nearly identical to that of the TCL P607 and S405, and significantly better than the Vizio M Series 2017.

8.3
Inputs
Supported Resolutions
1080p @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4
Yes
1080p @ 120Hz
No
1440p @ 60Hz
Yes
4k @ 30Hz @ 4:4:4
Yes
4k @ 60Hz
Yes
4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4
Yes
4k @ 120Hz
No

Most common resolutions are supported, except for 120 Hz because the TV has a 60 Hz panel. 4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 or 4:2:2 color is only supported when the input has been set to 'HDMI 2.0'. 4:4:4 color is only shown properly when the input's icon has been set to 'Computer'. The TV also detects when the signal is coming from a PC, and invisibly forces the 'Computer' mode without changing the icon, meaning that 4:4:4 color is shown properly and the sharpening setting has no effect.

Inputs
Side Inputs
Inputs
Rear Inputs
Inputs
Total Inputs
HDMI 3
USB 1
Digital Optical Audio Out 1
Analog Audio Out 3.5mm 2
Analog Audio Out RCA 0
Component In 0
Composite In 1 (incl. adapter)
Tuner (Cable/Ant) 1
Ethernet 1
DisplayPort 0
IR In 0
SD/SDHC 0

The C series has two 3.5mm analog audio jacks. One is situated out of the side of the TV and the other one is on the left side of the remote. This wireless solution is very practical for those who want to listen to the TV privately.

Update 01/24/2018: There is a problem with how the Xbox One, Xbox One S and Xbox One X detect the audio passthrough capabilities of TCL TVs; a workaround is detailed in the Additional Review Notes.

Inputs
Inputs Specifications
HDR10
Yes
Dolby Vision
Yes
HLG
No
3D
No
5.1 Passthrough ARC Dolby Digital
Yes
5.1 Passthrough ARC DTS
Yes
5.1 Passthrough Optical Dolby Digital
Yes
5.1 Passthrough Optical DTS
Yes
HDMI 2.0 Full Bandwidth
Yes (HDMI 1,2,3)
HDMI 2.1 Full Bandwidth
No
ARC
Yes (HDMI 3)
USB 3.0
No
HDCP 2.2 Yes (HDMI 1,2,3)
CEC Yes
MHL No
Variable Analog Audio Out Yes
Wi-Fi Support Yes (2.4 GHz, 5 GHz)

To enable Dolby Digital passthrough, 'S/PDIF and ARC' must be manually set to 'Dolby D, DTS'. Strangely vanilla Dolby Digital doesn't work when 'S/PDIF and ARC' is set to 'Dolby D+, DTS'.

Sound Quality
5.9
Sound Quality
Frequency Response