THE CHOICE FOR YOUR NEXT ROOM-FILLING, 4K HDR PANEL JUST GOT A BIT TOUGHER WITH TCL’S MID-WEIGHT SERIES.
Not that long ago, a 4K 65-inch TV with HDR would’ve cost you twice the ticket price here.
The tech has trickled down to the point where a few hundred bucks either side of $2,000 will get you a panel that’s not only futureproof - especially with new consoles like the 4K totin’ HDR-packin’ Xbox One X coming out soon - but also one that’s stylish and offers fantastic performance.
Funnily, not that long ago a TCL TV would’ve been one with a lot of compromises, whether in the design, the picture performance or how the thing works. With their mid-range series, the C2 on test here, TCL has learned from its past efforts and the success of what LG and Sony are doing and applied its own take.
The result may not be exciting but it’s by no means lacklustre. A thin silver bezel lines the perimeter and two splayed feet keep the panel well-anchored, with an option to wall mount if you wish.
A Harman Kardon sound bar is built into the frame, offering capable sound with enough oomph to fill a large living room and with good clarity up to half of its maximum volume - after that you’ll want to turn the bass down to avoid distortion. Smartly, the speakers fire out from the front, and while the material grille adds to the bezel it anchors the thin-edged frame nicely. You’ll want to add a surround system (which you can do via the ARC HDMI port, or the optical out) but the speakers do a far better job than you’d ever expect.
Turn it on and the Android logo animates, before punting you to the front end. Previous TCL units used its own OS to a fairly poor degree – having access to new streaming apps was a lottery. Android M is implemented well here, though TCL has put its own touch and bundled in some streaming services. The choice is eclectic, so you’ll either be rapt or ambivalent to see Golive TV and Yupp TV in the apps choices. Chromecast is built in – a boon.
At the rear there are three HDMI ports, and a bespoke port for analogue sources. A USB port lives next to it, used for recording free-to-air TV or to play back media files. Our test unit happily read a 16GB USB stick, but had trouble picking up a 320GB flash drive. Media streaming over a network needs Windows Media Player.
The LCD panel is the star here. While it can’t claim to scream about edge lighting, or quantum dots, it does give a consistent picture from corner to corner. We didn’t notice any dark patches or uneven colour reproduction, and the screen is pleasing without leaving you gasping. Do be prepared to go in and alter the colour settings, especially for games, as the default is okay for movies, but needs a bit of bump to really bring colours to life.
Partner all of this with a stylish, slim-line remote sporting a dedicated Netflix button and you have a 4K, HDR TV you’d be happy to have in your lounge room.
ABOVE A removable rear panel gives access to the ports, and clipped on it keep cables tody and in order ABOVE RIGHT The built-in Harman Kardon soundbar is a powerful unit, though it gets a bit loose at the top end