Price (RRP): $2199
TCL is one of the world’s bigger makers of TVs, but as a brand it isn’t all that familiar in Australia. That’s because its largest markets are its home one of China, plus the OEM market.
But you’re likely to become a lot more familiar with the brand because the company is following the path of many successful predecessors: adding style to its offerings and assuring quality while retaining a high value for money.
Exhibit A: The TCL U55H8800CDS LCD TV. The quality is assured by the three year warranty. The style you can see for yourself. And at $2,199 for an ultra high definition, curved, 55 inch TV, there’s value for money.
Lately TV styling has tended towards spidery metallic stands and narrow bezels, seemingly designed to make a bench-mounted TV appear as though it’s floating in air.
TCL’s 55 inch curved 4K TV is a complete rejection of that. To be sure it has a reasonably thin edge of 20mm at the top and sides, but the whole thing presents a look of solidity thanks to the dark coloured base. Rather than being hidden, this 90mm tall section is faced by a darkish wood-veneered portion in the middle, with wide black cloth speaker grilles on either side.
Adding to the effect is the way the TV screen leans back just a touch from the vertical, and enjoys a gentle curve.
I’m not really one for curved screens, in particular the claims for them with regard to picture quality, but sometimes as a piece of furniture they can look damned nice. And this TV is one of those.
It’s more than just looks, though.
It’s a smart TV with an ultra high definition, 3840 by 2160 pixel display. The LCD panel is backlit with an array of LEDs, rather than using the more usual edge lighting. The LEDs are independently controlled to light only the portions of the picture that need it, enhancing the subjective appearance of contrast.
Those speaker grilles aren’t all just show. Hiding behind them is part of what TCL calls a Harman-Kardon tuned sound system. There are also a couple of 70 to 80mm speakers at the back, built into the stand and kind of shooting upwards, providing bass support to the sound.
There are four HDMI inputs with support for the (hopefully!) coming UHD sources.
In other words, they accept UHD signals at up to 60 frames per second, even if they’re protected by HDCP 2.2. HDCP is ‘High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection’, an encryption system that’s supposed to somehow limit digital piracy. As with all the other connections, these are on the right side of the TV (most TVs have their connections on the left side.)
Also provided is a set of RCA connections for component video and audio input, 3.5mm sockets for use with the included breakout cables to deliver A/V input and A/V output, another 3.5mm socket for headphones, optical digital audio output, Ethernet and a couple of USB sockets, one of them USB 3.0 rated.
Of course there’s wireless connectivity too: dual band WiFi, just in case you don’t have a network port handy.