TCL 2019 6- and 8-Series hands-on: the only TV you need this year

The switch to QLED is a game-changer for TCL, and a boon to the already popular Roku TV platform

TCL 8-Series 2019

The 2019 TCL 8-Series.

Over the past few years, TCL have become a household name when it comes to TVs. The company makes the best value-for-money TVs you can buy right now, and unless you're buying an LG OLED, it's widely accepted that you should probably buy a TCL TV. They've always had one big issue; the LCD-based panels just don't compare to a QLED or OLED panel, making it really hard to recommend them over the more expensive TVs on the market.

Today, that's all changed and if you're buying a new TV in 2019, you should look no further than TCL's new 2019 TV lineup. The big change for these models? LCD has been replaced by QLED — that means Quantum Dots — and mini-LED, resulting in one of the most immersive TV experiences I've ever seen.

And on top of that, it's still powered by Roku — which now sells one of every three smart TVs in the United States.

Here's TCL's 2019 TV line up, and everything you should know about the new 6-series and 8-series TVs.

TCL 6-series (2019)

TCL 6-series

The 6-series is TCL's most successful TV, and if you've looked at buying a TV below a $1,000 in the past few years, chances are you've stumbled across the 6-series. Combining the latest technology and display standards – such as HDR10, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision – with 4K resolution results in an excellent experience.

New for 2019 is the addition of a QLED panel, which will solidify the 6-series' position in the market as the best value for TV money. Combining QLED technology with a slim bezel results in an incredibly immersive experience, which is only magnified further when you launch a game on your console. As you do so, the TV will automatically switch the display to gaming mode, and either honor the settings you've previously configured, or use AI to fine tune the experience.

It doesn't have the mini-LED technology of the 8-series — more on that below — but the 6-series is the best bang for your buck TV in 2019. It was already this before the addition of QLED technology, and the new 6-series – which is available in 55-inch and 65-inch sizes — makes a great TV even better!

And it'll land at under $600.

TCL 8-series (2019)

TCL 8-series

This is going to be my new TV. Over the past three months, I've reviewed the incredible Vizio P-Series Quantum X and then switched to TCL's 75-inch 6-series. Although the latter has the best TV software — thanks, Roku! — the panel itself just fell short of the experience offered by the Vizio TV.

Why is the 8-series my new go-to recommendation for a TV? Simple — it's a QLED panel. Actually, it's much more than that — it also heralds in a new era in TVs thanks to mini-LED technology, which allows the TV to display much deeper and darker blacks than on any other TV.

With traditional LCD or LED TVs, you have either a single (in the case of LCD) or a few dozen (in the case of most QLED TVs) LEDs behind the screen. These can then be turned on and off as needed, so for the black parts of a screen, they would be turned off. The key issue is that, unlike an OLED TV, QLED technology hasn't allowed companies to precisely turn off individual pixels to ensure that a black background is actually black. Until now that is.

Mini-LED allows TCL to form a much more precise backlighting pattern, that mirrors the image on the screen. As a result, blacks are actually black. To prove this, the company put the latest Samsung QLED side-by-side with its 8-series TV and the result was the latter is able to actually turn off the LED diodes behind the black parts of the screen. Look at a Samsung QF9N QLED closely and you'll see that the black parts aren't actually black, especially when you tap on them and you can see the LED diode behind respond with a bubble-like effect. With the TCL 8-series, blacks are actually black, and when you tap the screen with your knuckle, it doesn't bubble like on other QLED devices.

TCL 8-series mini LED

The new mini-LEDs up close

The 8-Series will start at $1,999 for a 65-inch 4K model, and hit $2,999 for a 75-inch set.

What about a TCL 8K TV?

Not to be outdone when it comes to new technology, TCL is also working on an 8K TV, and it's absolutely glorious. The 4K 8-series is incredible – sadly, yes there are two versions of this and only the 4K is launching this year – but the 8k takes it to another level. The sheer number of pixels combined with the beautiful QLED technology results in a viewing experience that's only matched by LG's 8K OLED that it demonstrated at CES this year.

The TCL 8-series QLED TV is the TV you should buy this year

For me, the disappointment is that the 8K version isn't likely to launch this year. Of course, there's almost no 8K content and you won't recognize the difference between 4k and 8k but knowing there is the next generation of TVs on the horizon does take some of the allure of the 8 series away for me. That said, the TCL 8-series QLED TV is definitely the TV you should buy this year.

Calibrate your TV … using your phone

Any device with a display will have variations between different units, and also with time and usage. Sadly, it's quite hard for most people to recalibrate their devices. As a reviewer, I often test the display on my phone, TV or other screen for imperfections and impurities. To do so, requires a spectrophotometer – which costs about $250 – and a piece of software that costs over $1,000. It's relatively straight forward for me to calibrate a screen, but what do you do if you need to set your TV to the optimum settings?

If you have the latest TCL TVs, you won't need to worry. The new TCL iPQ Engine Mobile App allows you to do just this. It's limited to very specific phones – any Pixel phone, or iPhone 6 or later – but essentially, you fire up the app on your phone, capture a picture on your phone and the app will walk you through taking a photo of your screen. Once done, it'll help you calibrate your screen so it's accurate and offers a great viewing experience.

Make no mistake about it – this is revolutionary. No other TV offers this right now, and having had to recalibrate my OLED TV twice over the past 12 months, I truly appreciate what TCL is trying to do here.

Why does it not work on other Android phones I hear you ask? Simple: using a phone camera requires a specific white balance – otherwise your TV calibration could result in a really bad experience – and TCL found these were the only phones that were accurate enough to be used for calibration. Considering most people would need to spend $1,000+ on equipment just to calibrate their TV, this is a fantastic app for owners of compatible TVs.

Why TCL's new TVs are the only TV you need

When I switched to the TCL 6-series from a Vizio QLED, I loved every part of it except for one thing; it was noticeably not as good as the QLED or my trusty OLED. The new QLED TVs fix my biggest complaint with the TCL 6-series, and alongside it, offer an experience that's unrivalled. Yes, it's not an OLED but the mini-LED based QLED is actually better in several ways. The TCL 8-series is my new go-to TV, and the TV I recommend to everyone in 2019.

TCL Reveals its Powerful 2019 TV Lineup with Revolutionary Technology

America's Fastest-Growing TV Brand® Establishes Next-Level Home Theater Performance with the All-New 8-Series and Announces Enhancements for the Award-Winning 6-Series

CORONA, CA, August 15, 2019 - TCL®, one of the world's best-selling and America's fastest-growing television brand, today announced pricing and U.S. availability of its new TCL Roku TV models within the company's all-new 8-Series, as well as the popular 5- and 6-Series. TCL's much-anticipated TV portfolio continues to raise the bar for home entertainment experiences and performance solutions, delivering pure and rich colors in the biggest of TV screens.

In 2019, both 8- and 6-Series Roku TV models are adopting Quantum Dot (QLED) color technology for even wider and more vibrant performance. With a measured 100% color volume in the DCI-P3 Hollywood reference color space, the QLED color technology in both 8-Series and 6-Series will deliver deeply saturated reds, stunning greens and spectacular blues without the limitations of lower color volume or shorter life found in other color technologies. Based on research into how people perceive both color and brightness in television displays, there is a clear advantage to QLED color technology when combined with a powerfully bright TV.

"After a very strong 2018, TCL remains steadfast in driving larger screen sizes and leveraging our vertical integration to bring better products to consumers who want more from their TVs. While TCL has a long history using QLED technology in markets outside North America, launching the world's first big-screen TV with Quantum Dot in China over five years ago, we feel that it's a perfect time to bring this new level of performance to our users in the US market. With the 8- and 6-Series powered by the latest QLED color technology, there are few TVs available that can match their cinematic picture quality," said Chris Larson, Senior Vice President, TCL. "And with so much great new video content rolling out, this world-class entertainment deserves to be seen on a high-performance TCL TV that showcases every detail. That's where the groundbreaking 8-Series and award-winning 6-Series – two powerful new TV lines that are designed to play your favorite programming in the best way possible – come in. We are confident that these additions will further solidify TCL's position as a leader in North America and the global consumer electronics industry."

TCL's new 8- and 6-Series Roku TV models are engineered to push the boundaries of HDR using the latest technologies combined with TCL's broad expertise in designing end-to-end high-performance display systems. Embraced by all the major Hollywood studios, leading content providers such as Amazon, Netflix, VUDU and more, as well as video sources like Xbox One and Apple TV, the Dolby Vision™ HDR technology supported on the 8- and 6-Series TVs delivers spectacular visual experiences that bring all forms of entertainment to life.

Driven by machine-learning algorithms matched with vast knowledge in human visual perception, TCL's AiPQ Engine™ optimizes color, contrast and clarity for an unrivaled 4K HDR experience. AiPQ Engine features three core picture quality algorithms - Smart HDR for vibrant color, Smart 4K Upscaling for sharp clarity and Smart Contrast for dramatic depth. Every video frame is carefully monitored and referenced to an AI curated library of high-quality video content to ensure delivery of maximum color accuracy and dynamic impact.

With TCL's deep supply chain vertical integration, TCL Roku TV models can intelligently compensate for any small performance variations of components used in each TV to optimize the color accuracy. This smart performance control called iPQ Engine® was first introduced in 2018 TCL TVs and in 2019, TCL is expanding the capabilities beyond an algorithm running on the TV, adding functionality that allows an app for select mobile phones to improve the performance even more. This new concept will allow customers to apply a simple, automatic TV color calibration to deliver more color accuracy than ever before. In the fall of 2019, the new iPQ Engine Mobile app will be available in the Google Play store for Android devices and in the Apple store for iOS devices.

In addition to a striking bezel-less design called "FullView," all 2019 5-, 6- and 8-Series televisions come equipped with a convenient Auto Game Mode feature that works with the latest generation of game consoles to automatically enable the TV's Game Mode when a video game is played. Auto Game Mode is designed to deliver some of the lowest input lag performance for fast-trigger response and helps ensure that the TV picture always looks its best with all types of video content.

While picture quality is consistently the main driver of a TV's performance, its audio quality allows for real immersion in stories and true emotional connection to what's on the screen. New for 2019 in both 8- and 6-Series Roku TV models, Dolby Atmos audio technology delivers a new dimension of enveloping audio performance. Atmos audio delivers an object-based surround-sound experience where sounds are precisely assigned to any position around or above the listener. That said, 8- and 6-Series TVs can produce a powerfully moving experience by creating a virtual surround effect using the exact position of each sound within an Atmos audio stream.

With over 5,000 streaming channels featuring access to 500,000+ movies and TV episodes, TCL Roku TV models are even more versatile with Easy Voice Control which allows compatibility with popular voice assistants to give users additional options to control the TV. In addition, Roku Voice makes it easy to launch streaming channels, search for entertainment, turn the TV on and off, switch inputs and more. Now, when customers use their voice to search for specific movies and TV shows on more than 20 channels, their TV will begin playback rather than display search results. The Roku OS delivers regular software updates with new features over time.

TCL Roku TV 8-Series

TCL's 8-Series delivers groundbreaking new technology for an experience of color, contrast and clarity that's unmatched by any other television. Because contrast performance is so fundamental to strong TV picture performance, a completely new contrast technology has been developed and is being deployed for the first time in the 2019 8-Series TCL Roku TV models. Quantum Contrast is technology powered by newly developed high-performance mini-LED back-lights. A new standard in TV performance is being defined with more than 25,000 individual mini-LEDs powering the 75" 8-Series TV, compared to only a few hundred traditional LEDs found in standard big-screen TVs.

Taking the lead with this first-to-market Quantum Contrast technology, the 8-Series has the stunning ability to produce brilliant whites shining next to deep blacks and now sets a new benchmark for LCD TVs to directly take on high-contrast OLED TVs in delivering a superior overall viewing experience. Quantum Contrast yields a major improvement in picture performance with advantages over traditional TVs that have standard LED technology, including a significant jump in total TV brightness, substantial increase in Contrast Control Zones (local dimming zones), smoother and improved even light distribution throughout the screen, enhanced uniform reproduction of color across the screen, wider viewing angles and a slimmer design.

The TCL 8-Series will be available this fall in a 65" 4K resolution model (65Q825) for $1999 and in a 75" 4K resolution model (75Q825) for $2999 at your favorite retailer. 8K resolution models will be available in screen sizes of 75" and larger soon.

TCL Roku TV 6-Series

Responding to demand for the award-winning TCL Roku TV, the 6-Series will continue to offer one of the best contrast performances among mainstream LCD TVs available in the market. Using Contrast Control Zone technology to drive individual zones of LED lights behind the TV's LCD panel, this lighting technology allows each zone of the TV to be brighter or darker depending on the image that's on the screen. The 6-Series line will build on its well-earned reputation for great contrast performance with 100 Contrast Control Zones in the 55", and the number of zones increasing in larger sizes.

The TCL 6-Series will be available this summer starting at under $600.

TCL Roku TV 5-Series

TCL's 5-Series combines a premium FullView bezel-less design with the latest technologies to power an impactful 4K HDR experience. The 2019 5-series will be available this summer in 43", 50", 55" and 65" models starting under $300.