One week ago I took delivery of a TCL 75R615. Overall this display exceeded my expectations. Read on for my detailed, if somewhat lengthy, review.
The 75R615 is intended to be a bridge product between my well-loved 10yr old plasma and technologies that become mainstream in 3-4 years (top-emission OLED, Micro-LED). Relying on the expert opinion and objective observation of those on AVS, RTINGS, HDTV Test and other sites that cater to the most discriminating video enthusiasts, I made a list of selection criteria important to my family’s viewing habits. Current technology is imperfect, so I just wanted a good-enough match to my list at a cost that justifies replacement in 4-5 years.
My list, in order of priority: (1) Crisp, bright image devoid of ABL (perceived dimming of outdoor scenes), (2) Deep blacks with good dark scene detail, (3) Good motion handling & 24 fps film rendering without flickering, (4) Little or no DSE & banding artifacts, (5) Upscaling, and (6) Smart TV interface that everyone can use without a lot of hand-holding. My family primary watch streamed & Blu-ray (Oppo 203) movies and documentaries, laced with occasional live sports and news events. No gaming. 75” Displays that met our criteria were the Samsung 75Q80R and Sony 75X950G. 77” LG & Sony OLEDs were eliminated due to ABL and cost. The 75” TCL became a candidate after seeing it at BB and comparing the PQ to Q80R and X950G. BB’s recent price drop motivated me to pull the trigger on the TCL.
My 1-week TCL experience: BB did an excellent job delivering to my challenging hill-side location. There was water damage to a foot-long section along the bottom of the box. BB delivery team offered to return it. They waited while we opened it up for inspection. The set was wrapped in plastic and sat high enough in the Styrofoam packing that it seemed unaffected. BB took photos and said to call for a return if there were any problems. After they left, I completed unboxing and kept the set vertical while attaching the leg sections. The outside stance of the legs was 62 1/4”, just short of my 64” entertainment center. I completed just enough on-screen setup to attach my Dell notebook without connecting the set to a network. 4k solid-color black, grey & RGB images confirmed no stuck/dead pixels and no detectable DSE/banding. After a hardwired GB connection and 10 minutes, the set got firmware updates and all my Roku Ultra settings were copied to the TCL. After turning off local dimming and all optional processing I checked brightness/contrast using YouTube, AVS 709 & S&M video calibration feeds. TCL was spot-on and needed no adjustment. Color/Tint got minor tweaks to dial them in. Next was the test I dreaded – Black Screen uniformity. Using RTINGS white-cross-on-black image, I photographed the TCL in a completely blacked-out basement room using a tripod mounted Nikon D90 with all image processing turned off, set to the RTINGS recommended ISO 200, f 4.0 and 2 seconds. The TCL backlight was set to “Darker” and LD turned off. Resulting BlackUniformity4K-TCL75R615.jpg is attached (slight halo around middle is the camera, not observed image). I was really impressed that the 75” TCL Black Screen uniformity matched (maybe exceeded) the 55Q80R results posted on RTINGS. Playing the YouTube Sony OLED Las Vegas demo video confirmed these results. Bright color highlights on black background are stunning on the 75” TCL. For bright image performance I used Netflix Our Planet E1 sea-side cliff scene at 03:37. Jaw-dropping – smooth, bright gradients in rendering of sky and sea reflections, fluid stutter-free motion of birds in flight, rich colored cliffs and crisp detail of birds nested on them. (set @ Bright/Normal DV/Warm/LD Low/Smoothing off). My media room has large windows on two sides. Stepping backlight from Brighter thru Dark easily adapts the display to our day and night time viewing. Similar or better results were achieved when our Oppo 203 was pushing 12bit 4K HDR to the TCL. I could not detect the subpixel dithering (ChromaSubpixelDithering.jpg) RTINGS found in their testing of a smaller model of this display. Moving on to scaling, the 75” TCL delivered 4K SDR like images when fed 1080 content from Spectrum, and did a good job of making 480 and 720 content as watchable as our plasma displays – just not at the level plasma can render nuances of facial coloring. The TCL Roku interface is intuitive, quick and robust in its support of applications. A bonus is the Roku app that gives our iPads and phones access to the TCL’s Roku’s remote functions with voice control, private listening and advanced settings including 11-pt WB adjustment. The Roku Media Player app nicely upscales and displays phone video and photos loaded on a thumb drive plugged into the USP port. The set’s speakers sound better that most displays and are more than adequate for Spectrum app content. At least a soundbar plugged into the headphone/SPDIF jack is needed for anything more.
Minor annoyances (with no obvious workarounds). The TCL needs (1) an “Info” button to display the resolution and SDR/HDR status of apps played though the Roku apps, (2) a way to save backlight settings individually for each app, (3) built in Bluetooth support for headphones & soundbars (vs Bluetooth dongle plugged into headphone jack), (4) a way to adjust the settings menu time-out after * is pressed.
Overall, I’m impressed with the picture quality and features the TCL 75R615 offers for the price – exceeding my expectations. My preferred alternatives (950G & Q80R) may be better, but not enough to justify nearly 3x the cost. If my TCL continues to perform over the next 4 years I’ll be a real happy camper.