Living with TCL’s 8-series 4K TV: Quality without paying for OLED

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I’m not exactly sure why Best Buy offered the 8-series TVs at a steep discount several times this year (most recently, the massive 75-incher was just $1,500!). Maybe they had to clear out stock to make room for new models. Or maybe it was a way to encourage more sales as people were stuck at home, with nowhere to go. Either way, I’m glad I didn’t question myself too much, as the 65-inch 8-series is back up to $1,300 as I’m writing this. (But if you’re intrigued, I’m sure it’ll pay off to wait for more sales.)

After making a trek to a Best Buy shipping facility to pick it up (which required borrowing my parents large SUV, like the old days), I was able to set up the TV in around 20 minutes. The box was intuitively packed, so it was easy to reach in and find every component and pull the display out. If you’ve put one large HDTV together, you’ve pretty much done them all: Lay the screen down flat with a helper (hopefully on a soft surface), install the stand, and pray that nothing goes wrong as you walk it over to your TV stand. (I may just wall-mount it eventually for a cleaner look.)

The 8-series’ design is purely utilitarian. The screen itself is boxy and a bit thick (though nothing can compare to OLED’s thinness), but I appreciate its minimal side bezels. The metal stand sits in the center, making it feel more sturdy than sets with flimsy legs. While it’s not a design statement like a Sony set, the size of the screen alone makes it a commanding presence in my living room. (Honestly, I worried it would be too distracting, but I’ve since gotten used to it.)

I knew I made the right decision the instant I turned on the TV. Its sheer brightness shocked me at first — and I was just looking at the Roku OS setup screen. After hooking it up to my Roku account, it downloaded all of my channels. Within a few minutes I was relaxing and catching up on my YouTube subscriptions as usual. After running through some of my favorite HDR demos — the almost pitch black night-time fight scenes in Netflix’s Daredevil, the wondrous colors and variety of landscapes in Planet Earth‘s 4K Blu-ray — everything looked phenomenal. 

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