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Once upon a time, quantum dot TVs (also known as "QLEDs") were reserved for the folks who could afford a top-tier, premium TV experience. Not so much anymore. The 2019 TCL 6-Series (available at Amazon for $549.50) is part of a new breed: affordable, mid-range TVs that harness the power of quantum dots without costing an arm and a leg. The 6-Series is just an all-around great TV, particularly if you've got a bright living room or if you're hoping to get a taste of the high-end QLED experience.
There are, however, some caveats. For one thing, the 6-Series' viewing angles are limited, making it a tough sell for folks whose living rooms get a lot of foot traffic. There's also the fact that the 6-Series isn't the only budget-friendly QLED TV upending the market this year—the VIzio M Series Quantum looms large, proposing a similar pitch as the 6-Series, but doing so at a slightly lower asking price.
The bottom line? The TCL 6-Series is a value-packed TV with enough upside to warrant a closer look.
About the TCL 6-Series (2019)
About the TCL 6-Series (2019)
The 2019 TCL 6-Series is available in just two sizes: 55 inches and 65 inches, and our review unit is the 55-inch model. Being a quantum dot TV, TCL refers to the 6-Series as a "QLED" TV—a term commonly associated with Samsung's quantum dot TVs.
Here’s how the sizes compare in terms of price:
• 55-inch TCL 6-Series (55Q625): MSRP $599.99
• 65-inch TCL 6-Series (65Q625): MSRP $899.99
Different sizes of TVs in a series tend to perform similarly to one another, unless elements of the TV's hardware change drastically between sizes. This often is the case with backlit TVs whose total number of local dimming LED zones is dependent on panel size. The smaller of the two 6-Series models, the 55-inch version, is reported to have 100 LED zones, whereas the 65-inch model houses 120 LED zones.
Because of the difference in zones, it's possible that there are minor differences in performance between each size, particularly when it comes to the contrast. That said, I don't expect these differences—if any—to be substantial.
Here are some of the key features shared by both the 55- and 65-inch versions of the TCL 6-Series:
• 4K (3,840 x 2,160) resolution
• Quantum dot color
• Full-array backlight with local dimming
• Supports High Dynamic Range (HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision)
• Native 60 Hz refresh rate
• Built-in Roku smart platform
• DCI-P3/10-bit color space
The 6-Series isn't housing a geek-approved number of inputs, but for most people, there are enough connectivity options to satisfy. Here's what you'll find in on the back of the panel:
• 4x HDMI 2.0 (1x ARC)
• 1x USB 2.0
• Composite, LAN ethernet port, RF input, optical audio output
The TCL 6-Series' Roku remote control also features a 3.5mm headphone jack for private listening.
Before testing each TV, we make sure the panel is on and receiving a continuous signal for at least 24 hours, allowing the pixels plenty of time to warm up.
For SDR tests, we used the TCL 6-Series’ “Movie” picture setting. For HDR tests, we used the TCL 6-Series’ “Bright” picture setting. Test results might vary from one picture setting to the next.
We use a standard ANSI checkerboard pattern for most of our basic contrast tests (including the ones reported below), but we also use white and black windows ranging from 2% to 90% to test how well the contrast holds up while displaying varying degrees of brightness.
I'll expand on our test results throughout the review, but for now, here are some key takeaways:
• HDR contrast (brightness/black level): 450.7 nits/ 0.148 nits (ANSI checkerboard)
• SDR contrast (brightness/black level): 402.5 nits/ 0.073 nits (ANSI checkerboard)
• HDR peak brightness: 889.2 nits (50% white window)
• HDR color gamut coverage: 94% (DCI-P3/10-bit)
• SDR color gamut coverage: 93% (Rec.709)
• Viewing angle: ±30°
What We Like
What We Like
The advent of budget-friendly quantum dot TVs is exciting, and the TCL 6-Series is proof that this fancy-seeming display tech can find a home in a mid-range TV. While its picture isn't as dazzling to behold as those on higher-end, better-engineered QLED TVs like the Samsung Q90R or the Vizio P Series Quantum X, you're still getting the basic benefits of quantum dots, namely a boost in brightness and richer-looking color.
In SDR, the 6-Series is brighter than your average mid-range TV, putting up peak brightness numbers in the 400- to 450-nit range. In HDR, however, the TCL 6 Series can get as bright as 900-1,000 nits, depending on the content and picture settings. The TV's black levels—in SDR and HDR—aren't as deep as you'll find on the higher-end TCL 8-Series (also a QLED TV), but overall contrast is nevertheless impressive.
The 6-Series' performance value gets harder to deny when you consider that it covers roughly 94% of the expanded DCI-P3/10-bit color space. It's performs almost as well in this category as the quantum-dot-enhanced 2019 Vizio P Series Quantum, with the added bonus of costing significantly less.
The P Series Quantum is a better performer overall, but the 6-Series isn't that far behind, at least when it comes to the all-important contrast and color categories.
One of our favorite things about TCL TVs is that they typically come with a Roku smart platform built right into the TV's software. Essentially, it's everything we love about our favorite streaming box without a Roku box or stick clogging up one of your TV's HDMI ports.
The built-in smart features of Roku TVs are a great way to squeeze a ton of value out of a mid-range TV like the 6-Series. Roku is quick to boot, easy to navigate, and as flexible as any smart platform available today.
Speaking personally, I dig the design of the TCL 6-Series more than the design of its higher-end sibling, the TCL 8-Series. The panel sits on top of two pointy feet that couldn't be further apart, and together with the displays narrow bezels, frees the TV's base area of distracting design elements. It's not the sleekest looking TV on the block, but the simplicity works in its favor.
One thing to keep in mind, however: When I say that the 6-Series' feet couldn't be further apart, I mean it. These stands are pushed all the way to the corners, so you better have a wide enough surface if you don't want your TV falling off a table.
What We Don't Like
What We Don't Like
Like a number of TVs with VA-type panels, the Achilles heel of the TCL 6-Series is how easily the picture degrades when viewed at off angles. Even in a dark room, the 6-Series' contrast starts to suffer when viewed from just three or four feet away from a direct, head-on angle, and finer details will be crushed if you move further from the center. The TV's reliance on quantum dots also makes the color-shifting effect of off-angle viewing even more noticeable.
To be fair, the 6-Series' viewing angles are close to the average for mid-range backlit TVs with VA panels, but it's definitely something to be mindful of if you're planning on entertaining a crowd (or if you're a stickler for these sorts of things, like myself).
Another performance note to be mindful of is the 6-Series' motion handling, which, while not distractingly bad, might leave a bad taste in your mouth, depending on how sensitive you are to judder and trailing. The 6-Series comes equipped with motion-enhancements ("Action Smoothing" for motion interpolation and "Motion Clarity" to reduce flicker), and depending on your preferences you might find them useful, but I was unable to find a use for them outside of gaming.
Should You Buy It?
Should You Buy It?
Yes, but take a good hard look at the Vizio M Series Quantum before you make the final call.
I appreciate the TCL 6-Series for the same reason I appreciate Vizio's M Series: Both TVs aim to bring the benefits of quantum dots to a price bracket that most of us find manageable. Although the 6-Series gets significantly brighter than the M Series, the M Series is more affordable and comes in a wide variety of size options. On the other hand, the 6-Series' built-in Roku software is far better (and more flexible) than Vizio's.
If you're hunting for the best possible value, it's hard to argue against the M Series. If you're planning on putting your new TV in a bright room, or if a flexible, easy-to-use smart platform is a must-have, I would go with the 6-Series.