TCL aims to make 8K mainstream with its 2021 TV range
Chinese brand TCL’s knack for combining good quality with great value has seen it rocket from relative obscurity to the world’s number two TV brand in what feels like the blink of an eye.
Having seen what the brand has just announced for 2021, there seems little reason to think it’s going to lose momentum any time soon.
Particularly headline-grabbing is TCL’s announcement that it will be introducing a whole new 8K range of its acclaimed 6-series Roku TVs. Given how popular and widely acclaimed TCL’s 4K 6-series Roku sets have been thanks to their combination of good performance and aggressive pricing, the expectation has to be that the 8K Roku TV models will have their sights set on making 8K more affordable than it’s ever been before.
Just making 8K cheaper won’t, of course, solve the ongoing shortage of native 8K content to watch on a shiny new 8K TV. However, the new 8K 6-Series Roku TVs will benefit from TCL’s AiPQ processor, to improve upscaling of today’s HD and 4K content to the screen’s 8K pixel count.
Of course, opting to ‘future proof’ yourself by buying an 8K now becomes a whole lot easier decision to make if the price is right. Here’s hoping that TCL lives up to our value expectations when it formally announces pricing for its new 8K 6-series Roku TVs in the coming weeks.
TCL’s other main picture quality announcement for CES concerns a new twist on a technology it was first to market with in 2019: Mini-LED. Mini-LED illuminates LCD TVs using much smaller, much more numerous LEDs than standard LED backlight technology, and for 2021 TCL is introducing a new mini-LED variation that makes it possible to deliver drastically slimmer TV designs without compromising picture performance. In fact, TCL’s so-called OD Zero technology is claimed to actually deliver the brand’s best mini-LED picture performance yet.
The innovation behind OD Zero finds TCL doing away with the usual gap between the mini-LED layer and main LCD display layer. As well as enabling much slimmer designs, this new mini-LED approach lets the OD Zero TVs control light much more precisely, as there’s less room for accidental light leakage. Which should result in much better localised contrast, and greatly reduced backlight blooming when bright objects appear against dark backgrounds.
On paper, TCL’s new technology sounds similar to the mini-LED system Samsung is introducing into its premium 2021 Neo QLED TVs. Time will tell which brand uses its best - or which offers the best value.
While TCL’s TV division is not just retaining but expanding its relationship with Roku going into 2021, one last key new feature revealed during the brand’s CES 2021 showing was Google TV support on various series from its upcoming range.
Google TV is the latest version of the Android TV platform, introducing a much bigger focus on truly personalised content recommendations than you get with the older, rather dictatorial Android interfaces.
TCL only provided a few specific model details to go with the range overview highlights we’ve just covered. These kicked off with a new C825 mini-LED series. Boasting mini-LED lights as small as 100 micrometers, Quantum Dot colours, Dolby Vision HDR support, a 120Hz panel and next-gen HDMI 2.1 gaming features, the C825s will replace last year’s 4K C815 models.
The step-down C725s, meanwhile, lose the mini-LED lighting and, it seems, some next-gen gaming features. They keep the QLED colour system, though, as well as Dolby Vision HDR and TCL’s AiPQ picture processing. These sets also carry an Onkyo-designed speaker system and built-in Dolby Atmos decoding.
The last bit of confirmed TCL 2021 model information is for a new cheaper P725 series that loses the Quantum Dot colour support and most if not all HDMI 2.1 features. Even at this level of TCL’s range you still get both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support.
I’ve spent the past 25 years writing about the world of home entertainment technology. In that time I’m fairly confident that I’ve reviewed more TVs and projectors than any other individual on the planet, as well as experiencing first-hand the rise and fall of all manner of great and not so great home entertainment technologies.