TCL LCD TVs at CES 2018

tcl lcd tvs

TCL LCD TVs had a great year in 2017. According to market research firm IHS, they rose to the #3 position in global shipments to retailers behind Samsung and LG, the #2 position in North American shipments of smart TVs behind Samsung, and the #4 position in North American shipments overall and in large sizes (48″ and above) behind Samsung, Vizio, and LG. Even more impressive, the North American numbers reflect 87-104% growth compared with 2016. On the consumer side, TCL achieved the #2 share of the US television market in September and October, but the company ended the year as the #4 selling brand in the US behind Samsung, Vizio, and LG.

One reason for this success is the fact that TCL is one of only three global TV brands—and the only one in China—that are fully vertically integrated. The company makes its own panels, backlights, electronics, and finished TV sets. Also, TCL has made significant investments in TV-panel production, including $3.6 billion in 2016 and another $7 billion in a next-generation factory that will open in 2019 and focus on 65″ and 75″ screen sizes for the Chinese and North American markets.

From a product perspective, the 55P607—commonly called the P-Series, even though TCL calls it the 6-Series or P60—was a real winner in 2017. AVS Forum Senior Editor Mark Henninger praised it in this First Look and again as a great gaming display, especially for its FALD (full-array local-dimming) backlight and support for Dolby Vision as well as HDR10 at an amazingly low price. However, it was available in only one size—55″—leaving those who want a larger screen to look elsewhere.

At CES 2018, two new lines of TCL LCD TVs have been unveiled. Both 4K/UHD lines continue to support Dolby Vision and HDR10. TCL is keeping an eye on HDR10+ and HLG, but they are not supported in the 2018 models. Also like last year’s P607, the smart-TV functionality of the new models is based on the Roku platform with voice control, and they provide 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity.

The new 6-Series (seen above) replaces the P60 and will be available in 55″ and 65″ screen sizes. Like its predecessor, the new 6-Series has a FALD backlight—which TCL calls Contrast Control Zone Technology—but the number of dimming zones has been increased from 72 to 96 in the 55″ model and 120 in the 65-incher. It achieves nearly 100% of the DCI/P3 color gamut using TCL’s NBP Photon technology, which is a phosphor-based approach within the LEDs, not quantum dots.

Perhaps the most intriguing new features are iPQ Engine and HDR Pro Gamma. Amazingly, iPQ Engine claims to deliver accurate color from every set without calibration! That seems pretty farfetched to me, but I was unable to learn anything more about it as of this writing. Another touted feature called HDR Pro Gamma lets you adjust the look of HDR content depending on the lighting in the room. Again, I don’t have any other info about it as of this writing. When I learn more about both features, I’ll add them to this article.

Unlike most product announcements at CES, TCL revealed that the 55″ 6-Series will carry the same price tag as the 55P607—$649! Pricing for the 65-incher was not revealed.

Brand new for 2018 is the 5-Series, which will be available in screen sizes of 43″, 49″, 55″, and 65″. Instead of a FALD backlight, the 5-Series uses edgelighting, which TCL calls HDR Dynamic Contrast. Otherwise, it shares many features with the 6-Series, including NBP Photon wide color gamut, iPQ Engine, and HDR Pro Gamma.

The big story here is the price—the 55″ model will be less than $500! Pricing for the other sizes was not revealed.

Both lines of 2018 TCL LCD TVs are scheduled to launch at retail in the first quarter of 2018. Meanwhile, the 2017 8-Series (aka C-Series or C80) and 4-Series (aka S40) will remain in the TCL lineup through much or all of 2018.

TCL also made an announcement that it’s working on implementing quantum-dot technology. The goal is to offer QD-based displays at more mainstream price points, with products expected in the second half of 2018.

Check out my interview with Aaron Dew, TCL’s Director of Product Development, about the TCL 6-Series as well ask the TCL Roku soundbar:

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