The Mercury News

TCL 6-Series 4K TV stands alone as product of year

- Contact Don Lindich at www.soundadvic­ and use the “submit question” link on that site.

My annual product of the year goes to the single product that impressed me the most over the prior 12 months.

This year there were several standouts but only one clear winner: the latest TCL 6-Series 4K smart television. Incorporat­ing advanced technologi­es like a QLED display, Mini-LED backlighti­ng along with excellent industrial design, the 6-Series brings a high-end television to the masses for little more than the cost of something ordinary.

You might get a better picture by spending much more, and serious enthusiast­s may find that extra bit of performanc­e worth the extra investment.

Many of them do not, and accordingl­y the 6-Series has found an enthusiast­ic following in the audio-video hobby. Hobbyists tend to splurge, but I know from communicat­ing with newspaper readers over the past 20 years that the general public is very sensitive to the law of diminishin­g returns. This TV takes the law of diminishin­g returns up to the bleeding edge.

Like any television, proper picture settings are essential to achieve optimal image quality. I found it most critical (as always) to set the color temperatur­e to warm and to turn off the motion settings with every input and every streaming channel. A tiny bit of tweaking to the brightness and color and you will be rewarded with an image that will likely exceed your expectatio­ns by a great deal. Close friends of mine purchased one on my recommenda­tion and they still spontaneou­sly remark, “look at that picture!“We watched “The Orville” streamed from Disney+ and marveled at the luscious colors, dark starfields and fine detail rendered with pinpoint accuracy and realism. It made you want to sit there and stare. By the way, if you have not seen “The Orville,” do yourself a favor check it out. It has interestin­g characters, a whole new sci-fi universe with fascinatin­g worlds and unique aliens and cultures, is brilliantl­y written (especially in the second and third season, where humor is less emphasized) and most of all, it just has heart. It gives “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” a run for their money as the best sci-fi on television.

The styling and constructi­on of the 6-Series are top-shelf, with modern design highlighte­d by the beautifull­y crafted back panel that looks like it could have come from Denmark's Bang & Olufsen and the cable hiding system that works in conjunctio­n with the singlefoot stand. (The 85-inch has stands at each end of the TV.) Add in the Roku smart television interface and you have a television that satisfies in absolutely every respect.

It has been over 10 years since I have been as excited about a television and what it represents to the general public. The last time was the Panasonic ST30 plasma, which started at $1,100 for the 42-inch size. The TCL 6-Series starts at $699.99 for a 55-inch up to $1,999.99 for the 85inch. If you are patient you can find them on sale and with TCL as the new TV partner of the NFL, the next few weeks are likely to have some Super Bowl promotions. But even at list prices, this TV is a supreme bargain. Congratula­tions on a masterful job, TCL!

Q The VCR in my Phillips combo DVD/ VCR has quit working. It will not play, fast forward or rewind. Should I try to get it fixed, buy a new one or buy a used one on eBay? — J. W., Minneapoli­s

A New VCRs have not been made since July 2016, so I suggest looking for a used one. Thrift shops are a good place to shop for them, as is Craigslist.

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