Every month, Engadget appearance what our editors are currently into, whether it be video games, podcasts or gadgets. These are not official reviews; they’re artlessly our contiguous experiences. This week, Senior Editor Devindra Hardawar gives his thoughts on his latest apparatus baby, TCL’s 65-inch 8-series TV.
So I bare a bigger TV. A aboriginal apple problem, I know. But afterwards jumping address from NYC to an Atlanta suburb (which additionally led me to buy a car via Carvana), my authentic 55-inch LG OLED aloof acquainted tiny. It was accomplished in a comfortable Brooklyn apartment, abnormally aback I additionally had a projector adjacent for big-screen viewing. But it aloof couldn’t cut it in a above active room, area we’re sitting alert as far away.
I knew I had to accomplish the jump to a 65-inch set. I additionally accomplished I didn’t accept the annual to get accession OLED, abnormally not aback 65-inch QLED sets (TVs with breakthrough dot LED screens) are about added than bisected the price. I’d rather get a above “good enough” TV for ancestors examination and save a bit of banknote for approaching gear. At first, I ample I would delay until the assured Atramentous Friday sales afore upgrading. But again our business editor, Valentina Palladino, dug up some absurd deals for TCL’s exceptional 8-series sets at Best Buy. How could I say no to a $1,000 65-inch TV (down from $2,000!) with some of the latest affectation technology around?
Over the accomplished decade, TCL rose from a aggregation alike with bargain-bin sets to the world’s bigger TV maker. Its 6-series models accept consistently been some of our admired TVs, acknowledgment to their low starting amount and appearance like Dolby Vision, Roku OS affiliation and a deluge of bounded concealment zones (which helps with carrying abundant adverse and atramentous levels).
Last year, it aimed a bit college with its 8-series sets, which started at $2,000 and anon targeted the brand of Sony and Samsung. They were amid the aboriginal TVs to affection mini-LED backlighting, which uses about 25,000 abandoned lights for added authentic bounded dimming. (The 2019 6-series, in comparison, offered 120 concealment zones at 65-inches.) Reviewers gushed over the 8-series — abounding said it delivered angel affection abutting to what you’d get from OLED. And as its amount creeped down, it became an alike bigger deal.
I’m not absolutely abiding why Best Buy offered the 8-series TVs at a abrupt abatement several times this year (most recently, the massive 75-incher was aloof $1,500!). Maybe they had to bright out banal to accomplish allowance for new models. Or maybe it was a way to animate added sales as bodies were ashore at home, with boilerplate to go. Either way, I’m animated I didn’t catechism myself too much, as the 65-inch 8-series is aback up to $1,300 as I’m autograph this. (But if you’re intrigued, I’m abiding it’ll pay off to delay for added sales.)
After authoritative a expedition to a Best Buy aircraft ability to aces it up (which appropriate borrowing my parents ample SUV, like the old days), I was able to set up the TV in about 20 minutes. The box was allegedly packed, so it was accessible to ability in and acquisition every basic and cull the affectation out. If you’ve put one ample HDTV together, you’ve appealing abundant done them all: Lay the awning bottomward collapsed with a abettor (hopefully on a bendable surface), install the stand, and adjure that annihilation goes amiss as you airing it over to your TV stand. (I may aloof wall-mount it eventually for a cleaner look.)
The 8-series’ architecture is absolutely utilitarian. The awning itself is boxlike and a bit blubbery (though annihilation can analyze to OLED’s thinness), but I acknowledge its basal ancillary bezels. The metal angle sits in the center, authoritative it feel added athletic than sets with chiffon legs. While it’s not a architecture annual like a Sony set, the admeasurement of the awning abandoned makes it a advantageous attendance in my active room. (Honestly, I afraid it would be too distracting, but I’ve aback gotten acclimated to it.)
I knew I fabricated the appropriate accommodation the burning I angry on the TV. Its arduous accuracy abashed me at aboriginal — and I was aloof attractive at the Roku OS bureaucracy screen. Afterwards hooking it up to my Roku account, it downloaded all of my channels. Within a few annual I was adequate and communicable up on my YouTube subscriptions as usual. Afterwards active through some of my admired HDR demos — the about angle atramentous night-time action scenes in Netflix’s Daredevil, the amazing colors and array of landscapes in Planet Earth’s 4K Blu-ray — aggregate looked phenomenal.
In some instances, like the darkest scenes in Daredevil, it lagged abaft the absolute adverse levels of my antecedent TV. With OLEDs, every pixel can be angry on and off individually, which helps to bear aphotic atramentous levels and backlighting far above to best LCDs. But my OLED set (LG’s B6) is from 2016, and I’ve amorphous to apprehension some angel processing issues that would alone be anchored by affective up to a added avant-garde set. That’s one of the allowances of TCL’s 8-series: It has added able processing, so it can handle things like blah gradients far better.
Really, I aloof capital a bigger TV to accomplish nightly binge-watching feel a bit added accurate afore I alpha architecture out a able home amphitheater in my basement. I didn’t absolutely accept to go this adamantine for a accessory set. But I’m animated I autonomous for the 8-series instead of a cheaper 65-inch TV. It makes me absence my OLED less, aback it’s an advance in some respects. I additionally accepted accepting Roku OS congenital in, so I can jump into all of my alive agreeable afterwards any added devices. Roku additionally affairs to accomplish its belvedere added able-bodied afterwards this year with the accession of AirPlay 2 and HomeKit for best of its 4K devices.
The 8-series additionally has a 120Hz brace rate, which makes it a acceptable affectation to accept for PC and next-gen animate gaming. Earlier this year, TCL appear that it would additionally add abutment for capricious brace rates, which will advice bland out gameplay in general. One big downside? There’s no HDMI 2.1 support, which agency you won’t be able to get 4K above 60Hz/60 frames per second. That acceptable won’t be a huge accord for the Xbox Alternation X and PlayStation 5, which are added focused on carrying solid 4K/60FPS performance. And if you appetite college brace rates, you can consistently absolute your resolution to 1080p or 1,440p (PC gamers are already acclimated to sacrificing resolution for silkier framerates).
As an OLED diehard for years, it’s nice to see that breakthrough dot LEDs are steadily accepting better. Their prices are dropping, while OLED still charcoal out of ability for abounding consumers. And afterwards active with TCL’s 8 alternation for a few weeks now, it’s adamantine for me to acclaim spending about alert as abundant money for more basal gains.
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