TCL’s 55″ P-Series 4K HDR Roku TV ($599) is a new picture quality-centric, yet affordable and easy to use flat panel. It is one of the most interesting 4K HDR TVs of the year, thanks to its amazingly low price and features. The 55P607 is loaded with many of the goodies video enthusiasts seek in a premium TV, including Dolby Vision support and a 72-zone FALD backlight.
Not only is the 55P607 equipped to deliver excellent image quality, it uses the Roku platform to deliver a smart TV experience. Because this 55-incher looks so promising, I expedited the calibration and profiling process to offer this first look.
The 55P607 is a 55″ LED-lit LCD TV that features a 72-zone FALD (full-array local-dimming) backlight and support for HDR with WCG (wide color gamut). It uses a VA (vertically aligned) LCD panel for high contrast—when viewed at an optimal angle. TCL’s “NBP Photon” phosphor-LEDs provide the 55P607’s expanded color palette and HDR brightness levels.
This TV supports HDR playback of both HDR10 and Dolby Vision content. It is fully calibratable in both SDR and HDR modes. It has multiple picture modes to accommodate all kinds of content and viewing conditions.
The three HDMI ports all support HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2, and one offers HDMI ARC. There is also an optical digital audio output.
Since this is a Roku TV, when you are connected to the Internet you get access to 4000 streaming channels with over 400,000 movie and TV episodes, delivered straight to the viewer. It comes with a Roku remote that has a headphone jack as well as voice search capabilities.
Thanks to the built-in Roku OS, you can fully control this TV using either the provided remote or the Roku app that’s widely available for smartphones and tablets.
Unpacking and Setup
The 55″ TCL P-Series is very light, which makes it easy to handle. Assembly was faster and took less effort than any flat panel I’ve reviewed before. The feet attach with a total of four screws; the total time from opening the box to plugging the TV and setting it up was less than five minutes.
The moment you plug it in, the 55P607 turns on and the setup process begins. Once you establish an Internet connection either sign up for Roku or log into an existing Roku account, you are good to go.
I won’t get deep into the Roku user experience in this preview, but suffice to say it’s polished and responsive and intuitive; if you’ve used a Roku then everything will be familiar. What’s clear is the company understands user interfaces and provides a solid foundation to build a TV around.
Crucially, while the picture controls that are accessible using the remote control are simplified, the app offers 11-point gamma and CMS adjustments. The best part is this feature does not require on-screen menus to use, and the settings are displayed in a grid. This made achieving an accurate calibration fast and easy.
Calibration and Performance
For this first look, I selected the TV’s Movie mode, profiled it, and calibrated it. The results are very promising with default settings providing a faithful, accurate, and engaging viewing experience in both SDR and HDR modes. Furthermore, a full 11-point calibration resulted in clear improvements in color fidelity. Once everything is dialed in, it produces extremely rich and accurate colors.
Profiling and calibration were performed using CalMAN software and a CR-100 colorimeter from Colorimetry Research. A CR-250 spectrophotometer was used to profile the CR-100 to the LED-phosphor backlight used by TCL.
For BT.709 SDR video such as broadcast TV and HD Blu-rays, this TV’s post-calibration performance knocked my socks off. Combined with the effective 72-zone FALD, the SDR picture quality is such that it raises the bar in terms of what to expect from a 55″ TV at anywhere near its price point.
The HDR peak luminance of this TV exhibited an interesting behavior. It’s a lot more predictable than what I see with many TVs. I measured Movie mode (Room Brihgtness Dark ) and found the peak brightness was 630 nits. That’s on-par with OLEDs and a below some high-end HDR LCDs. But, the P-Series can deliver that brightness at any window size: 2%, 5%, 10%, 18%, 25%, 50%, and even full-screen. Furthermore, it can do so indefinitely. After adjusting some settings I was able to get a 745-nit reading using a 25% window by changing the Room Brightness setting to high, but full-screen brightness dropped to 635 nits.
Color volume measurements provided a glimpse into the benefits of the 72-zone FALD array’s ability to illuminate the whole screen. I measured 89% coverage of the DCI/P3 gamut that’s used in commercial cinema. That translates to 132.5% of the BT.709 gamut used for SDR mastering, meaning this TV has no issue showing broadcast TV as well as HD Blu-ray and video games with 100% color fidelity.
Here’s a color volume measurement of the 55P607 using CalMAN software.
While that’s short of the 1000 nits that much HDR10 content is mastered to, it’s a match for what OLED displays offer when measuring a 10% window. Furthermore, the 55P607’s ability to get bright over a large part of the screen—something emissive OLED displays struggle with—should translate well to playback of Dolby Vision HDR content.
Native contrast is exceptional for an LED-LCD. In SDR, using a 3X3 ANSI checkerboard pattern and measuring a single square, contrast was 7800:1 with no local dimming, 13,100:1 with local dimming set to high. With the tougher 4X4 ANSI pattern, again measuring a single square, contrast was 7900:1 with no local dimming, 10,850:1 with local dimming set to high. The means native contrast is around 7800:1, which is fantastic for a VA LCD panel.
Input lag is extremely good; I expect this TV will be popular with gamers. I can’t test 4K lag, but with 1080p I measured lag times in Movie mode at 26.4 milliseconds (top of screen) and 34 milliseconds (middle of screen). Turning on Game mode within Movie mode resulted in lag times of 10.3 milliseconds (top of screen) and 14.5 milliseconds (middle of screen), which are exceptional for a TV.
Switching to HDR, input lag (again 1080p) was an astonishingly low 6.5 milliseconds (top of screen) and 14.1 milliseconds (middle of screen). I quadruple-checked that result, given how great those numbers are. I have not yet gamed on this TV, but I expect a fluid experience. I also appreciate how Game mode preserves the calibrated colors.
Notably, SDR Movie mode input lag is so low, you don’t need to engage to have a great gaming experience in SDR. You can opt for optimal picture quality without adding noticeable latency.
The longest measured lag came from 1080p HDR content and Game mode turned off. That combination measured 57.4 milliseconds (top of screen) and 68.1 milliseconds (middle of screen).
Calibration reports created with Portrait Displays Spectracal CalMAN software and Colorimetry Research CR-100 plus CR-250 meters. Pattern generation used a DVDO AVLab TPG 4K pattern generator and a HDFury Integral video processor to convert the SDR output of the DVDO to HDR.
The 55P607 performs so well, it genuinely qualifies as disruptive. TCL packed it full of goodies like Dolby Vision HDR support and married it to the excellent Roku smart TV platform. The result is a TV the brings next-generation picture quality into the realm of affordability for the masses.
If you are a videophile on a budget looking for a full-featured 55″ flat panel right now, based on what I’ve seen so far the TCL 55″ P-Series 4K HDR Roku TV should be on your short list.
As a follow-up to this first look, I posted about using the 55″ P Series TCL as a gaming TV. Check out that review here: TCL 55″ P-Series 4K HDR TV is Great for Gaming