TCL takes 4K under margins with a $2999 65 inch UHD TV

For years we’ve known that Full HD isn’t quite as “full” as TV makers would have you believe, and one manufacturer wants more people to get on board with the Ultra HD movement, delivering four times the information without paying four times the price.

Heading to Australia in the next few months, TCL is looking to push beyond the budget end of TVs the brand normally sits in with several models of 4K TV, all of which look to sit below what its big competitors will be pricing at.

“We have a firm belief by building solid brand equity, we’re really setting the path for the next few years,” said Nick Redmond, National Sales Manager for TCL in Australia.

To start down that path, the company is looking past the budget TVs you might find for your bedroom, offering more than just those style of barebones tellies. Models like that will still exist, but for people who want the Ultra High Definition technology also known as 4K, TCL will be providing plenty of options in its new line-up.

Sizes for the 4K TCL TVs, will range from 40 to 65 inches, with pricing set to start at $799 for the baby of the bunch (40 inches), and then coming in at $1299 for 50 inches, $1999 for 55 inches, and hitting just under three grand ($2999) for the 65 inch model.

Aside for design and size, the TV models will all offer the UHD resolution of 3840×2160, 200Hz Clear Motion technology, Active 3D panels with either two or four pairs of glasses shipped with the TV (depending on the size you purchase), 3 USB ports, 3 HDMI, wireless connectivity, and Smart TV features including apps for SBS, YouTube, Skype, and Facebook, among others.

There are some catches to the 4K TVs, because while the features are comparable to the competition, older standards like HDMI 1.4 will be offered, while newer standards are missing in action on TCL’s 2014 Ultra HD TVs.

“Currently, we don’t have HDMI 2.0 or H.265 HEVC,” said Redmond, “but that will be coming in the next generation of panels coming to the Australian market.”

For those with deeper pockets — and bigger lounge rooms — a larger model sized to 85 inches will also be made available, delivering the Ultra-def technology to a screen size similar to the models both LG and Sony released last year at CES.

In person, the screens are certainly clear, though the models we saw offered a colder colour temperature from the factory settings than we initially expected. As always, these are configurable by the customer, with a few colour modes offered.

Design is also something that TCL appears to be playing big with, and the company is getting serious about making good looking TVs with Bang & Olufsen’s Flemming Petersen jumping ship from the Danish HiFi company to join TCL as head of design there.

While we’ve yet to really see the fruits of that addition, TCL thus far is moving away from the large bezels that budget TV makers so often have associated with their products, embracing big displays with thin edges, though the stands can be the thicker part of the equation.

But one of our favourite designs won’t be seeing release in Australia, at least not this year, anyway.

Announced at CES only a few months ago in Las Vegas, TCL’s first OLED TV sports a retro design reminiscent of the 60s and 70s, with a colour fabric bottom and a simple stand, but while we attended the TCL launch with a hope that the cut-price brand would deliver an OLED TV that undercut the LG’s $7999 and Samsung’s $10999 OLED TVs, we were disappointed to find that the TCL OLED wouldn’t be landing in Australia this year.

In fact, right now, there’s no time frame for TCL to bring this locally, with spokespeople telling us that the company doesn’t have a launch plan for OLED in Australia, but that “next year, anything is possible.”

Closer to local release is a curved 4K LED-backlit TV, which the company showed off in prototype form to GadgetGuy. The curve didn’t appear as steep as some of the models we’ve seen before, but the colour was very warm, with a slick design that almost looks like it could have included a soundbar, but didn’t at this point in time.

TCL does make sound equipment, so it’ll be interesting to see if the company will bring its 65 inch curved 4K TV to market with a soundbar built into the bottom, but only time will tell on that one.

Meanwhile, the 4K TVs we saw should be hitting most electrical retailers across the country in April.