TCL unveils an 8K 6-Series TV and a wireless Roku soundbar

Roku TVs are getting huge upgrades this year.

The TCL R648 8K mini-LED TV Credit: TCL

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Today marks the first official day of CES 2021, and TCL—the company behind some of our favorite Roku TVs—is announcing a slew of new home theater products including an 8K 6-Series TV and an all-new wireless soundbar.

TCL is also doubling down on its mini-LED backlight technology this year, which will compete with LG's mini-LED TVs and Samsung's Neo QLED TVs, both of which feature technology similar to what TCL is showcasing.

An 8K 6-Series

TCL 8K 6-Series R648
Credit: TCL

In 2021, TCL is releasing an 8K version of the TCL 6-Series.

Last year, the TCL 6-Series took home our Best of Year award for TVs under $1,000 thanks to its superb performance and tremendous value. This year, the 6-Series is getting a huge upgrade: 8K resolution.

Although there's a dearth of native 8K content for most folks to choose from, the prospect of 8K is nevertheless alluring to A/V enthusiasts. The 8K 6-Series also features a new version of TCL's mini-LED technology.

Mini-LEDs for the masses

TCL will be outfitting select TV series with the third generation of its mini-LED display tech this year. Dubbed OD Zero, this iteration of mini-LED packs tens of thousands of contrast control zones into an ultra-slim profile.

In 2019, TCL introduced mini-LEDs to the United States with the release of the TCL 8-Series. The benefits of the display technology, which consists of thousands of ultra-small LEDs grouped together into contrast control zones, was apparent immediately. While most contemporary LED TVs feature dozens or hundreds of local dimming zones, the 8-Series' panel features thousands, which makes for better contrast and cuts down on light bloom (the halo of light that surrounds bright-on-dark picture elements).

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TCL 8-Series
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The 2019 TCL 8-Series (seen here) wowed us with its contrast. This year, an improved version of the 8-Series' mini-LED display tech is making its way into select TCL TVs.

The proof was in the pudding—we thought the 8-Series' contrast was second only to OLED. The following year, TCL added the display tech to the incredibly successful TCL 6-Series (this time with far fewer mini-LED zones).

This year, the version of mini-LED technology that will be finding its way into select TCL TVs is the most advanced we've seen thus far from TCL.

The XL Collection

Credit: TCL

The TCL 85R745

Display resolution isn't the only thing getting an upgrade this year. TCL also announced three 85-inch TVs as part of a new "XL Collection," with each size representing a different performance tier.

The most affordable of the collection is the ever-popular TCL 4-Series, which will be available in an 85-inch model and retail for $1,599 later this quarter. Being a Roku TV, the extra-large 4-Series comes with the Roku smart platform pre-installed.

The mid-tier Roku TV in the XL Collection, the 85R745, features quantum dots and Variable Refresh Rate (120 Hz), while the most premium TV in the collection will feature quantum dots, mini-LEDs, and 8K resolution. The pricing and release date of these models haven't been announced.

The TCL Alto R1 soundbar

TCL Roku Alto Soundbar
Credit: TCL

The Alto soundbar line is getting a few key upgrades in 2021.

As usual, TCL had a lot more to say about its 2021 TVs than it did about soundbars, but we do know that the Alto soundbar line is getting a few key upgrades. For one, TCL is folding in Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa integration, but more exciting is new wireless functionality with TCL's very popular Roku TVs.

First teased back during CES 2020, these "Roku Ready" soundbars (like the new Alto R1) utilize a proprietary WiFi technology to stream the TV's audio—no cables required, though you'll probably still need to plug the soundbar in. This not only de-clutters your living room space, it pushes the soundbar's software and remote control solutions right into the TV's UI, seriously streamlining the process.

TCL also showed off the new Alto 82i bar—one of the first TCL Alto options that includes Dolby Atmos and built-in subwoofers, coming in Q3 this year—as well as the Alto 8e, a 3.2.1 configuration bar that includes a wireless subwoofer and upfiring speakers.

We'll update this story if any new information comes to light in the coming days.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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