TCL 6-Series (2019 Roku TV) review: The best TV picture quality for the money

Update September 11, 2020: There is a new version of this TV. Check out our TCL 6 series 2020 full review for all the details, including comparisons with the 2019 model described below.


It’s easy to pick a cheap TV – just shop on price. And it’s relatively easy to choose an expensive TV – Just get an OLED. A more difficult decision, however, is made by the large group of TV buyers in the middle who are willing to pay a little more for a stunning 4K HDR picture but don’t want to drop an arm or leg on an OLED TV. Now let me help you make that decision.

The mid-priced TCL 6 series offers the best image quality for the money in 2019. It is currently $ 800 for the 65-inch model and $ 600 for the 55-inch model. Not a TV I’ve tested in this price range including the excellent version 2018, performs better. And you can definitely pay more for TVs that do worse.

TCL has improved the color for 2019 thanks Quantum dots – hence the mention of “QLED” in the marketing material of TCL – and the styling a little revised. Otherwise, the Chinese TV manufacturer stuck to the same formula for success that it had used last year: excellent picture quality paired with Roku TV. The 6 has excellent contrast, lots of brightness, and minimal bloom, and beats other excellent sets like that Vizio M8 and Samsung Q70 through a hair in overall picture quality. And the Roku built into TCL, my favorite smart TV system, clearly outperforms the streaming systems on these TVs.

If you want a better picture than this TCL, your next stop in terms of price is something like this TCL 8 series, Vizios P-Series Quantum X. or one straight High-end Samsung QLED. I haven’t checked these out yet so I’m not sure how much better their pictures will be, but I know how much they cost: hundreds more than the 6s, some approaching the price of OLED televisions like the LG B9. I feel comfortable saying that none of these TVs come close to this TCL’s value proposition, and that no cheaper TV will perform better. For this reason, the TCL 6 series will receive the Tips Clear Editors’ Choice Award in 2019.

design

The TCL 6 series certainly doesn’t look cheap. The glass panel in front of the screen extends to the top and sides for a clean, minimalist look. The metallic lower edge is thicker and a little lighter gray and matches the legs. Seen from the side, the television is a non-excusing rectangular panel, not the gradually thickening case of the competition. As a result, the 6 Series looks clunkier and a little less modern from the point of view.

These legs sit on the very edges of the TV, another unusual move. You’ll need a nice wide tabletop or stand – 57 inches wide like the 65-inch example I tested – to support this. Of course, you can also mount the 6 series on the wall like any television.

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Sarah Tew / Tips Clear

Why Roku TV rocks

I’m a fan of Roku TV, for reasons I’ve documented extensively in previous reviews. Here is the short list of reasons to love it:

  • Frequent updates and feature improvements.
  • Simple menus with quick answers.
  • Complete customization, including input naming.
  • Entries on the same homepage as TV apps.
  • More apps (and 4K HDR apps) than any other smart TV system.
  • The 4K Spotlight and 4K Apps categories make it easier to find 4K content.
  • The cross-platform search covers many services and enables price comparisons.
  • Other options for viewing are suggested by streaming shows in the antenna program manual.
  • Can pause live TV from an antenna source (and a USB stick).

My test device has not yet received the latest version 9.2 software from Roku. In this case, however, you will see some other useful features, including a voice-activated sleep timer and curated content zones. For more details on Roku itself, check out my description of the Roku players for 2019, as well as my review of my favorite 4K Roku device, the Roku Streaming Stick Plus.

One thing that is currently missing on the Roku platform in general, and on this TCL TV in particular, and available on competing smart TVs from Vizio, Samsung, and LG, is support for Apple’s AirPlay system. Samsung TVs currently also offer Apple’s TV app. Apple says the TV app will be available on Roku at some point in the future.

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Sarah Tew / Tips Clear

The 6 series contains the simple Roku remote control with integrated voice control (unlike last year, TCL did not announce a cheaper variant that lacks voice remote control). Roku’s voice functionality isn’t nearly as robust as that of Amazon Alexa found on Fire Edition TVs, for example. However, it works well for searching, launching apps, switching inputs, and setting an antenna channel. When the TV is turned off, a voice command such as “Start Netflix” turns it on and starts the app.

Important TV functions

Display technology

LED LCD

LED backlight

Full array with local dimming

resolution

4K

HDR compatible

HDR10 and Dolby Vision

Smart TV

Roku TV

remote control

voice

The most important additional picture quality extra is local dimming with full arraywho have favourited TCL as Contrast Control Zone technology but means the same thing. The 6 has many zones for the price: 100 zones for the 55 inch and 120 zones for the 65 inch. If you keep track of things, that’s four more zones and the same number as last year. It’s slightly better than the Vizio M8, which has 90 zones in both sizes.

More dimming zones don’t necessarily mean better picture quality, but they can be helpful. This is because smaller, more numerous zones allow the image to be more precisely lit (and dimmed), which should better separate the parts of the image that should be lighter from the parts that should be darker. It helps avoid “blooming” where a light area can lighten one that should be dark. TCLs Mini LED The high-end 8-series system takes this to an extreme.

So Vizio and the Samsung QLED Quantum dots are also used in televisions of the 6 series – the biggest advantage on paper compared to the predecessor from 2018. These dots are microscopic nanocrystals which, given a given energy, let a certain wavelength (e.g. color) shine. They improve the color compared to TVs without QD. My measurements in the 6th 2019 showed a slightly better color than last year, and in my comparisons it looked more accurate.

Just like the 2018 model, the 6 Series supports both High dynamic range Dolby Vision and HDR10 formats. These days, Samsung is basically the only manufacturer that doesn’t.

The TV also advertises a specification called “Natural Motion 240” but as usual It’s a made up number. The 6 Series has a native 60Hz panel and can’t compete with the motion performance of true 120Hz TVs like the Vizio P-Series Quantum, Samsung Q70, and Samsung Q70 Sony X950G.

Note that TCL has not yet announced a 75-inch version of the 2019 6 Series. This size was announced separately in January at the CES (a television with a refresh rate of 120 Hz). Maybe this will be the case again at CES 2020.

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Sarah Tew / Tips Clear

There’s a healthy set of jacks on the back.

  • 4 HDMI inputs (HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2)
  • 1 analog (composite) video input
  • 1 USB port (2.0)
  • Ethernet (wired internet)
  • 1 headphone jack
  • 1 optical digital audio output
  • 1 RF input (antenna)

The 2019 6 series has a fourth HDMI input compared to the three models of the 2018 model. Some of the are missing HDMI 2.1 extras This is the case with some competitors, e.g. B. at the variable refresh rate. However, the automatic game mode offers automatic input delay adjustment when connected to a compatible gaming device. The headphone jack is a nice touch, and unlike cheaper Roku devices, this one too has Ethernet.

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