TCL 55″ 6-Series 4K QLED Dolby Vision HDR Roku TV Review (2019 Model)

Introduction

TCL has made an indelible mark in the U.S. TV market with its 6-Series Roku TVs that offer excellent performance for the money, not to mention and attractive design. TCL’s 2019 6-Series Roku TV (R625) is a significant leap forward from the 2018 models (R617) thanks to the introduction of QLED (quantum dots) to achieve picture quality typically associated with more expensive TVs.

2019 TCL 6 Series TVs will appeal to Netflix bingers, gamers, movie lovers, and anybody who appreciates a high quality picture plus a smart TV platform that is easy-to-use, thanks to Roku. TCL 6-Series Roku TVs are available in 55″ ($599.99) and 65″ ($799.99) screen sizes. A 55″ model (55R625) was used for this review.

The 2019 55″ TCL 6-Series TV is a testament to how quickly the company has risen to become one of the top three TV brands in the U.S. This model handles all the latest 4K HDR formats including Dolby Vision and has the picture quality needed to reproduce Hollywood movies and TV (including 4K HDR streaming) faithfully, with vivid colors, brilliant highlights and deep blacks.


Features and Specifications

The TCL 55″ 6-Series TV features a 100-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—especially when viewed at an optimal angle. The use of QLED technology results in a wide color palette and high HDR brightness levels. This TV supports HDR playback of both HDR10 and Dolby Vision content.

TCL’s 6-Series TVs are easy to calibrate thanks to a clear and logical app interface that lets you enter values into a spreadsheet instead of crawling through menus. This is both more efficient and avoids on-screen menus that could interfere with a calibration. You can calibrate both the SDR and HDR modes. This model also comes with picture mode presets you can use right out of the box to accommodate all kinds of content and viewing conditions. The TV’s four HDMI ports (up from 3 in 2018) all support HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2, and as you’d expect one offers HDMI ARC. Furthermore, there’s an optical digital audio output and a USB port for plugging in drives. Finally, there’s an Ethernet port if you want to hard-wire Internet access instead of relying on the built-in Wi-Fi.

Since this is a Roku TV, when you are connected to the Internet you get access to thousands of streaming channels, with hundreds of thousands of movie and TV episode at your fingertips. Or if you prefer, voice serach is available—this TV comes with a Roku remote featuring a built-in mic. Roku will even set up “Antenna TV” for you so you can enjoy free OTA broadcasts.

Thanks to the built-in Roku OS, you can fully control this TV using either the provided remote, or the Roku app available for smartphones and tablets.

Key feature list:

  • Wide Color powered by Quantum Dot technology
  • Dolby Vision HDR
  • Contrast Control Zone technology maximizes contrast
  • Auto Game Mode for a responsive gaming experience
  • FullView edge-to-edge glass display
  • Dolby Atmos cinema sound
  • AiPQ Engine with Smart HDR, Smart 4K Upscaling, and Smart Contrast
  • Thousands of streaming channels
  • Stream over 500,000 movies & TV episodes
  • Enhanced Remote with Voice Control
  • 4 HDMI ports (1 ARC)
  • High-speed 802.11ac wireless and Ethernet networking
  • Easy Voice Control with Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility

Unpacking and Setup

Unpacking and setup is fast and easy, which is consistent with experiences with TCL TVs. The new design puts the legs on the ends of the panel which makes for easy assembly but it does mean you’ll want to measure your TV stand to ensure it fits.

This TV weights 38.6 pounds with the legs attached and therefore was easy to handle. The moment you plug it in, the 55″ R625 turns on and the setup process begins. Once you establish an Internet connection, you can choose to sign up with Roku or log into an existing Roku account. Either way, once you are signed the Roku smart TV experience is intuitive and snappy.

I did not calibrate this TV and instead relied on the built-in picture modes. Mainly, I used the “Movie” mode with TV brightness set to “Normal” which is pretty much a “set it and forget it” mode that you can tweak based on how much ambient light there is in your space. Anyone looking for “optimized” settings should take a peek at the settings rtings.com used for testing this same model.

If you want to get right to viewing 4K including HDR, Roku’s 4K Spotlight feature makes finding shows and movie titles easy with a dedicated subsection for Dolby Vision movies.


Performance

For 2019, TCL took an already good TV in its 6-Series and made it even better. The step up to QLED is immediately clear in the rich red tone of the background to the Roku logo. Also evident is better FALD performance, which manifests as higher measured contrast than what its predecessor achieved (per rtings.com measurements). Viewing angles are as you’d expect from VA FALD LCD, with a loss of saturation and contrast the further off-axis you are. Gray uniformity (which varies from unit to unit) was good (i.e. visible with a test pattern but not distracting with real content) on the loaner.

For a full rundown of the 6-Series performance I suggest checking out the review on rtings.com. It has all the measurements and comparisons to other TVs you need to make an informed decision. The fact is this TCL holds up very well against the competition at its price point.

Even without a calibration, the performance of this TCL is impressive. The better the content you feed it, the better it looks right up to Ultra HD Blu-ray and 4K gaming graphics, which look razor sharp and crisp. The high contrast achieved by the TCL 6-Series was clear in how well it handled illuminating bright objects over black backgrounds without noticeable halo artifacts. Even the IMAX documentary Space Station exhibited outer space scenes with pitch black backdrops while rendering the ISS in vivid sunlit HDR and maintaining a sharp transition from bright to dark.

I popped in the Spears & Munsil UHD HDR Benchmark disc and played some test patterns and demo videos. One clip in particular, of honey dripping with a black backdrop, looked uncannily real and remarkably like I’d expect an OLED to render the scene—when viewed head-on. The one thing that did trip up the FALD array, at least for a few moments, was the starfield loop. This is the toughest test for any transmissive-panel TV and you can see the stars are dimmer than other peak highlights.

This TV is at its best playing 4K HDR content. I checked out Netflix shows including Stranger Things where even the opening credits looked amazing thanks to the rich reds and deep blacks of this TV. For movies, I played Captain Marvel, Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse and Glass streaming through Vudu and also John Wick: Chapter 3 Parabellum on Ultra HD Blu-ray. With the 55″ screen, that translated to a razor-sharp picture that virtually popped off the screen. And crucially, I did not see any issues with judder when playing back 24p content.

I also watched a mix of sports (Sixers basketball, Eagles football) and HD TV shows (It’s Always Sunny, South Park, The Orville). As long as you play with the picture mode settings and adjust brightness for your room, you’ll find this TV adapts to just about any environment, from a dark bedroom or den to a bright living room in the daytime. This TV features BFI (black frame insertion) that’s labeled as LED Motion Clarity in the menu. This setting seemed to make sports look just a bit more detailed during fast action.

On the gaming side, this TCL brings input lag levels down to around 10 milliseconds. Refresh rates are limited to 60 Hz, but if you play 4K games then you’ll need quite a system to just get to that point. Measured response is in the 10 millisecond range, so you can’t blame the TV if you are too slow on the draw. This speed is only available in Game Mode, which (necessarily) turns off some picture processing, and therefore is not a “pretty” as Movie Mode. Nevertheless, it still has plenty of “pop” thanks to the high native contrast of the screen and QLED color.

While I wait for the next generation of consoles, I’m keeping to the PC side and running an Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti. At this level it’s still a choice between nicer graphics and higher frame rates, but overall the look of many games exceeded what I saw coming from consoles (title dependent). Anyhow, this TV has the fidelity needed to appeciate the quality a decent PC gaming rig offers. I found the 55R625 makes an excellent, giant 4K PC monitor since it will accept a 60 Hz 4K 4:4:4 chroma signal that results in razor-sharp text and graphics. The TCL 6-Series continues to be a great choice for gamers looking for a big screen with notably excellent picture quality.


Conclusion

TCL continues to push price/performance barriers with its 6-Series TVs. The 2019 55R625 model has great picture quality that stands up to various uses, including watching space films in a dark room but also watching sports or playing video games in a bright room on sunny weekend afternoon. TCL has already shown it can build a great, yet affordable TV. The company shows no sign of slowing down.

If you are looking for an affordable 55″ TV that performs above its price point and comes loaded with features, the 55R625 55″ TCL 6-Series Roku TV with Dolby Vision is a clear Top Choice selection.


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