TCL 8K 6-Collection (R648) TV evaluate: Far more than 8K

MSRP $three,00zero.00

“A fully beautiful TV for the value.”

Execs

Glorious image high quality

Surprisingly good sound

Improved Roku TV distant

Simple setup

Glorious for gaming

Cons

Poor off-axis efficiency

Lofty value

Given how well-liked TCL’s 6-Collection 4K TVs have develop into over the previous few years, it is likely to be straightforward to dismiss the corporate’s transfer so as to add an 8K mannequin as a trend-based money seize. Thankfully, that’s by no means the case. The brand new 8K model of TCL’s 6-Collection (collection mannequin R648) packs vital upgrades in all the proper locations over the 4K-based R635 model, which I reviewed fairly favorably.

That the R648 is the lowest-priced 2021 8K TV you should purchase is simply icing on the cake. Learn on to be taught why this is among the greatest TVs you should purchase this yr, 8K or no 8K.

Video evaluate

Out of the field

Dan Baker/Digital Developments

The TCL 8K 6-Collection TV received nicely extra than simply an 8K decision display screen, and that was obvious upon first look at its field. A colourful graphic exhibits the TV with a centralized, brushed steel stand versus the impartial pedestal toes we’ve seen put in on the far sides of earlier TCL TV fashions. That is nice information for anybody serious about a big TV display screen measurement however quick on media stand area.

The 75-inch 75R648 mannequin I obtained for evaluate was packed extraordinarily nicely. Whereas this made unboxing the TV just a little extra concerned than I’m used to, the chance of the TV sustaining any harm in transit is extraordinarily slim.

Within the field with the TV, I discovered the aforementioned TV stand, screws to affix the stand to the TV, some product literature, two AAA batteries for the distant, and a totally redesigned Roku TV distant management.

Dan Baker/Digital Developments

Take into account the R648’s audio system duly upgraded.

As I eliminated a protecting plastic bag from the TV, I took be aware of one other key design improve: The presence of a subwoofer driver on the again of the TV. The subwoofer is shiny, black, uncovered (not lined by a plastic grill) and has a flat face quite than a standard conical form.

Seeing the subwoofer up prime, I couldn’t assist however look past the plastic grill grates lining the underside of the TV whereas putting in the stand (which took 4 screws, a screwdriver, and all of about 30 seconds of my time). To my shock, TCL has outfitted the R648 with impartial tweeters to go together with two oval, down-firing midrange drivers.

Dan Baker/Digital Developments

It’s uncommon sufficient to see an impartial subwoofer on a TV, however one which has stereo tweeters and midrange drivers is nearly unprecedented. Take into account the R648’s audio system duly upgraded.

With the TV in place and plugged in, I clicked the facility button on the distant and settled in for what I anticipated to be a 20-minute setup routine.

TCL 8K 6-Collection (R648) TV particulars

Whereas we reviewed the 75-inch 75R648 mannequin, our evaluate additionally applies to the 65-inch mannequin.

Display Dimension
Mannequin Quantity
 MSRP
65-inch
65R648
$2,200
75-inch
75R648
$three,00zero

Setup

I’ve complained at size in previous TCL TV opinions about how getting the TVs’ Roku TV OS up and operating was a time suck, and that getting the TV’s image settings optimized and utilized throughout apps and all HDMI inputs was each a big trouble and never in line with Roku’s traditionally user-friendly strategy. To my delight, my complaints had been heard and the R648 now helps a remarkably fast Roku TV setup course of together with one of the crucial intuitive image settings functions I’ve skilled in 10+ years of reviewing TVs.

As soon as the 75R648 was powered up and related to the web, it set about operating its personal Roku TV software program replace. This took simply a few minutes. From there, I used to be prompted to enter the e-mail deal with hooked up to my Roku account and was despatched an activation hyperlink. As soon as I clicked the hyperlink, the TV did ask if I needed to put in just a few apps (a few of that are already a part of my Roku profile) which felt just a little bit like a sponsored promotion, however was over shortly. Then, when it was time for the TV to obtain apps or replace any pre-installed apps, I anticipated to have the ability to stroll away and get lunch. Fortunately, that course of solely took a few minutes as nicely.

Dan Baker/Digital Developments

What actually happy me, nevertheless, was how shortly I used to be in a position to get my most popular image settings utilized throughout a number of HDR codecs and throughout a number of inputs. After choosing the Film image mode for its extra correct shade temperature and lack of movement smoothing settings, I famous that I might change the backlight depth from regular, to shiny, to brighter, relying on how a lot ambient mild was coming into the room, or relying on how shiny I needed the general image to look.

This can be a good begin, however I anticipated to must repeat this course of once more for prime dynamic vary (HDR) and once more after that for Dolby Imaginative and prescient; and never only for every particular person app that I needed to make use of, however for every particular person HDMI enter that I supposed to make use of. As you’ll be able to think about, that’s a variety of work.

However the R648 collection discovered what I used to be as much as and had already chosen the suitable HDR and Dolby Imaginative and prescient mode primarily based on my choice for the Film preset in SDR for the Netflix app. It additionally made related settings for YouTube and all the opposite apps I like to make use of. It was the same story for HDMI inputs, which globalized the settings for all inputs by default, however let me modify them if I needed to. That is the way it needs to be finished, people.

At any fee, it needs to be famous that, for as difficult as TV setup might be for these of us who take pleasure in peaking and tweaking our image settings, the R648 made the method a relative breeze.

Specs and measurements

Proper out of the field, I knew this TV was one thing particular. I evaluate sufficient TVs that I can simply inform earlier than I begin breaking out the measurement gear or making any calibration changes. The HDR imagery simply popped off the display screen, shade was nicely saturated, shiny highlights had been leaping out at me, and possibly most significantly, the black ranges and shadow element appeared actually good.

Dan Baker/Digital Developments

Confusingly, although, a look at TCL R648’s spec sheet has the TV trying so much just like the 4K R635 TV, however with an 8K decision improve. The processor seems to be the identical, the mini-LED backlighting seems to be the identical, the Roku OS seems to be the identical. Nonetheless, as soon as I began measuring the TV’s efficiency, it turned instantly clear that the R648 is operating on considerably extra horsepower than its 4K cousin.

Utilizing a C6 colorimeter profiled to an xRite I1Pro and Calman software program, I measured the R648’s peak brightness efficiency within the Film image mode with the backlight setting at Regular, Vivid, and Brighter. Right here’s what I received.

In Regular, I measured 256 nits in SDR and 910 nits in HDR. That’s nice for a darkish or dim room. In Vivid mode, I received 346 nits in SDR and 1,226 in HDR. In Brighter, the TV was pulling off 460 nits for SDR and 1,563 nits for HDR which, imagine me, was greater than sufficient in my testing room with a good quantity of daylight beaming in. These are very respectable numbers throughout the board, and so they point out the TV is flexible sufficient for a large variance in room environments.

For those who care about backlight zone depend: The R648 affords 240 zones within the 75-inch mannequin and 160 zones within the 65-inch mannequin.

Image high quality

Dan Baker/Digital Developments

It’s clear that despite the fact that TCL is utilizing the identical backlighting hardware, the R648 has been tuned for greater efficiency. The height brightness measurements I took are considerably higher than these I measured from the R635. Nonetheless, the enhancements aren’t restricted to greater brightness.

I noticed the R648 dealing with darkish areas of the display screen significantly better than the R635 did as nicely, providing deeper blacks, even round shiny objects on darkish backgrounds — a tricky trick to drag off with greater brightness readings throughout the board.

The upper distinction efficiency afforded by that combo prolonged into shade efficiency as nicely, yielding better-saturated colours at greater brightness ranges than I noticed with the 4K R635. Different efficiency metrics roughly remained the identical, although. Movement decision was stable with no movement smoothing, with little stutter or judder in 30 frames per second and 60 fps content material, and no perceivable judder in 24 fps movie content material. Dealing with of low bit-depth content material, like YouTube movies, was dealt with the identical because the R635, which is to say that it smoothed out shade gradients pretty nicely, although not as easily as, say, Sony’s televisions do.

Upscaling gave the impression to be dealt with with the identical prowess as nicely, although the job of upscaling 720p and 1080p content material all the way in which as much as 8K is clearly tougher than it’s to upscale it to 4K. Total, I’d say the R648 does an admiral job with 8K upscaling, offering as sharp an image as might be anticipated with minimal artifacts. With that mentioned, no TV is a miracle employee, and most cable/satellite tv for pc content material delivered in 720p appeared clearly inferior to greater decision content material from streaming apps like Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, and HBO max.

I completely loved watching this TV each second I sat in entrance of it. 

Upscaling of high-quality 4K content material was excellent, with no perceivable artifacts launched. Acquainted scenes from 4K Extremely HD Blu-ray discs appeared expertly rendered on the 8K display screen. Even sitting simply 7 toes away from the 75-inch R648, I wasn’t in a position to make out particular person pixels. This made for a extremely immersive expertise.

The R648’s Achilles heel is its off-axis efficiency. Sometimes, TVs that use a VA-type LCD panel battle with sustaining distinction and shade saturation as you progress off to the edges or nicely above/under the TV. Whereas the R648’s vertical axis efficiency is ok, its horizontal axis efficiency is restricted to a really slender window, and its off-axis efficiency is bordering on deplorable. If in case you have a large viewing space and people steadily sit nicely off to the facet of the TV, they won’t be getting the identical stellar image high quality these sitting immediately in entrance of the display screen take pleasure in.

Getting away from all of the strict efficiency evaluation, I can say this in regards to the TCL R648: I completely loved watching this TV each second I sat in entrance of it. As an enormous fan of OLED TVs and their excellent black ranges and full lack of backlight anomalies, I used to be shocked at how nicely the R648 was in a position to captivate me with out triggering my over-heightened sense of backlight consciousness and milky black ranges. Is the R648 an alternative choice to OLED in a setting with managed lighting? No, not by way of distinction and shade. However in a brighter room, it should provide considerably higher efficiency than most OLEDs in the marketplace, save maybe the Sony A90J or LG G1 OLED TVs.

Sound high quality

Dan Baker/Digital Developments

The R648 has a beefy sound system that solely provides worth to the tv. The included subwoofer affords stable bass and a room-filling presence supplied by few up to date TVs. Dialog intelligibility is great whereas stereo results are current if not completely convincing. My solely grievance is that the tweeters appear to have been pumped up a bit, offering some harshness within the treble that I might do with out. Admittedly, this harshness was extra noticeable when listening to music than it was when watching TV exhibits or motion pictures.

Gaming

If it wasn’t clear by now that the R648 affords excess of simply an 8K display screen, let me add this little tidbit on prime: The R648 affords two HDMI 2.1 ports, and as a bonus, they’re impartial of the TV’s eARC port.

Utilizing an Xbox Collection X dashboard, I used to be in a position to verify that the R648 can ship 4K120/Hz and 8K/60Hz gaming with a variable refresh fee (VRR), auto low latency mode (ALLM), and HDR, all on the similar time. Like most TVs, 4K /20Hz gaming in Dolby Imaginative and prescient shouldn’t be accessible.

Pair these image efficiency features with the respectably low enter lag and picture enhancements offered by THX Recreation Mode, and you’ve got among the best gaming TVs you should buy. That the eARC port stays free to serve those who have an elaborate house theater system with out proscribing a type of HDMI 2.1 ports is an absolute bonus. Solely LG can lay declare to having extra gaming-friendly TVs due to providing 4 HDMI 2.1 ports in choose fashions.

Our take

The TCL R648 is an impressive TV and really deserving of flagship standing amongst TCL’s product lineup. Its excessive brightness, stable black ranges, excellent out-of-box shade efficiency, clean movement, and wonderful gaming chops make it among the best TVs you should purchase this yr. The 8K decision? That’s a bonus. Like most TV producers, TCL is reserving its greatest TV efficiency for its 8K TV lineup, making the query of whether or not 8K actually issues, moot.

Is there a greater various?

Not at this value. Samsung’s 8K Neo QLED TVs and LG 8K QNED TVs could provide related efficiency in some features however at a considerably greater value. With the R648 punching nicely above its value level, it makes essentially the most sense for anybody trying to buy a high-end TV, 8K decision, or no.

How lengthy will it final?

With its two HDMI 2.1 ports, mini-LED backlighting, quantum dot shade, and vast help for various HDR codecs, the R648 ought to final nicely into the longer term. Forthcoming upgrades will possible be incremental. As for reliability, TCL’s foothold within the TV area continues to get stronger as TVs from prior years proceed to function nicely.

Guarantee

TCL affords a one-year components and labor guarantee for the R648. You may navigate to TCL’s registration and guarantee data right here.

Do you have to purchase it?

Sure. The TCL R648 affords super worth with wonderful efficiency paired with a aggressive value. Whereas the 8K decision isn’t actually what makes this TV stand out, it does provide a sure ingredient of future-proofing. You’ll pay a premium for this TV however get each cent again in efficiency.

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