There was a time that finding a decent 4K TV for under $1000 was a Herculean task that often involved long lines or incredible patience. But with brands like TCL now making big strides, those days seem to be over. Offering stunning picture, simple yet stylish design, and an easy-to-use Roku interface; the 55-inch TCL 6-Series stands as an exceptional offering at an incredible price for all but the most selective buyers.
With a QLED screen, fantastic contrast ratios, and an overall crystal clear image; the TCL 6-Series TV is one of the best offerings of 2020. While there are plenty of TV’s that push the bar on features, or utilize new or more advanced display technologies—even at potentially double the price with OLED—you would only see a slight improvement in quality and may sacrifice usability for your trouble.
For 2020, the TCL 6-Series brings with it a few new features that makes it even more attractive and a better value for anyone looking to upgrade. Offering an overall brighter picture than before (700 nits in HDR), the new 2020 6-Series is staggering to watch on. From gaming to media, it offers a crystal clear, vibrant 4K image that will make even the most discerning watchers happy.
This year’s TV also offers a THX Certified Game Mode for 1440p/120Hz gaming and if that were not enough, it now includes a handy cable management system within the legs of the TV, making for a stylish and clean looking unit that feels modern, and stylish in most environments. Bringing with it a modern Roku interface, and all the bells and whistles that entails, the TCL 6-Series feels well set for the modern TV world.
For the price, the TCL 6-Series TV has a stylish, minimalist design throughout. With a brushed, dark-aluminum body, and few bezels around the screen; the 6-Series will fit in with most home setups. But as this is a QLED screen, it is bigger and has a bit more heft when compared to OLED options currently on the market.
The legs for the TV are sturdy and as mentioned before, allow for cable management while offering fantastic stability even with kids or other aspects that could rock the unit. The legs are mounted on the sides and fit beneath the footprint, so as long as the screen fits on your current stand, you should have little to no problems finding a place for the 6-Series in your home.
On the back of the unit you will find four HDMI 2.0b ports, one with eARC support, plus an AV In port that takes your standard composite (Red-White-Yellow RCA) input, USB and optical audio. Sadly there are no HDMI 2.1 ports, so you will not be able to enjoy 4K/120Hz with the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X/S, but 4K/60 or 1440p/120 are still very much possible with the 2020 6-Series.
As this is a thin TV, the sound on offer is acceptable but nothing to write home about. It will give you a basic TV experience, and can be used in a small room with little outside noise, but realistically, if you want to use the 6-Series for anything beyond local news, you will want to invest in a soundbar, or other external audio offering, since you will be missing out on a major part of the TV experience otherwise.
The Roku Experience
I am pleased to see the familiar Roku at the core of the 6-Series experience. We have written about how Roku is one of the more interesting Smart TV OS’s on the market. It is a dead simple system to use and offers a wide selection of compatible apps. While there are many Smart TV interfaces in the wild—many built by the TV brands themselves—if you are a viewer that goes beyond the selection of apps such Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or YouTube; you will find more apps that just work better on Roku, and overall, feel more complete and feature rich. Furthermore, with a countless selection of Roku devices, there is more incentive to put resources into the platform, and everything feels more complete overall.
As with all Roku devices, the TCL 6-Series comes with the standard Roku remotes that comes complete with voice search and all the buttons you would expect from a simple but functional little device. With the simple menu system, and the main functionality of the interface based on the main home screen and the app selection, it is easy to learn and overall very easy to understand after a few minutes of using the TV.
I will say, as with many interfaces that try to streamline the experience, finding settings can be a process, especially if you are looking for something very specific—with settings for video being easily accessible while watching content with the “*” button. For anyone that is not used to Roku, this can feel less than intuitive and may confuse new users; especially with a range of settings only accessible through this menu, including motion smoothing, and different video modes. You will also find that adjusting settings for HDR and non-HDR content needs to be done separately.
While features and design are important, when it comes to a new TV, picture and quality are the biggest selling points. This is where the TCL 6-Series really shines, and delivers the value to buyers. With the selling point of Mini-LED backlighting, the 6-Series offers better, more focused local-array dimming that will keep sections of the screen in sync with what you are watching, a feature that you can’t find on comparably priced options.
With thousands of small back lights throughout the screen, the TCL 6 Series delivers a more dynamic image without frustrating haloing or light bleed around brighter objects. It yields a staggering level of contrast and will make other similarly priced TV’s feel lacking in comparison. While yes, it is still an LED TV, and you will never get the true blacks seen on OLED, it manages something that feels good, especially for the price.
This looks amazing even in dark movies and media. While testing with several movies within the Star Wars franchise; even dark scenes remained visible and easy to watch. From action set pieces to low-key dialog in low-lit rooms, the TCL 6-Series managed to remain vibrant, crisp and dynamic, and beautiful to watch.
The TCL 6-Series boasts an onboard AiPQ engine that does a fantastic job upscaling standard HD content to something that will look acceptable on a 4K screen. While it works in most situations, I found it did struggle with select high action scenes or with some games that involved a lot of movement, especially if you have motion smoothing enabled (something I always turn off when I first set up my TV, although I did use it for testing).
As mentioned before, the TCL-6 Series offers many great features, but it does not allow for all the features your new Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5 can deliver. With a limitation of the HDMI 2.0 spec, you won’t be able to go past 1440p if you want 120Hz, and this TV does not support AMD Freesync or Nvidia G-Sync, so for people looking to use this as a monitor for your gaming PC, you will be out of luck on these features. But past gen games looked stunning, and if you are accepting of the frame rate limit, the PlayStation 5 and Series X still deliver a staggering picture that gives a taste on what the systems can do.
TCL has improved on the 6-Series yet again, delivering a fantastic 4K TV experience that is hard to beat, especially for the price. It looks good, has a great user experience, and delivers enough in terms of features, to keep even the most tech-obsessed buyers happy. While I would have liked to see more future-proof features to make the new Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 owners happy, for most buyers, the 2020 TCL 6-Series delivers unparalleled features at a price that few brands can even come close to.