TCL is the biggest TV maker in China and calls itself the fastest-growing TV brand in North America. Here it’s known for ultracheap Roku TVs that routinely top Amazon’s best-seller lists — and remain some of CNET’s most-recommended budget TVs.
For 2017 TCL ups the ante with a slew of new Roku TVs that aim for a higher-end buyer, and charge (a bit) more for the privilege. The most expensive is the C-Series — but it’s still very affordable, starting at $700 for the 55-incher.
Its main perk is nicer design. There’s a thin metal frame around the image and a slim profile when seen from the side, along with speaker bar along the bottom that should improve audio quality. While not quite at the level of the best efforts of Samsung, LG, and Sony, the C-Series is no slouch.
It also includes the largest Roku-powered TV yet at 75 inches. Here’s the rundown.
TCL C-Series 2017
Prices are a bit higher than TCL’s other new series of higher-end 2017 TV, the P-Series. Both include 4K resolution and high dynamic range complete with Dolby Vision compatibility. Only the P-Series offers local dimming, however, so it will be interesting to see whether HDR on the C-Series delivers a marked image quality improvement. Both sets also offer a wide color gamut, but TCL didn’t specify how wide.
Like many TCL TVs, both are powered by Roku’s excellent Smart TV system. It’s easier to use than any other, with more apps and more frequent updates, and works so well you won’t need to connect another box or stick, Roku or otherwise, to stream Netflix, Amazon and all the rest. It also makes the C-Series’ selection of 4K and HDR/Dolby Vision streaming apps second to none.
The latest Roku TV update, available on the C-Series, can suggest new streaming shows automatically and allow custom renaming of inputs. A previous update allows the TVs to pause live shows from the antenna. Both series include Roku’s headphone-equipped remote.
As usual TCL’s main competition is from the likes of Vizio. That company’s 2017 M-Series TVs cost more than the TCL C-Series, while Vizio’s 2017 E-Series costs less. Both offer the local dimming missing from the C-Series, so on paper they should perform better, but neither can match its styling or Smart TV suite. We look forward to testing them all later this year.
TCL C-Series Roku TV
- Three sizes from 55 to 75 inches
- Ultraslim design
- Dolby Vision and HDR10 high dynamic range (HDR)
- Wide Color Gamut (percentage DCI unspecified)
- 4K resolution
- Roku TV operating system
- Remote with voice search, headphone jack for private listening
This article was originally published on January 4, but has been updated with pricing, availability and other details.