For most folks, shopping for a new TV isn’t as simple as throwing down for the best TV money can buy. There are budgetary restrictions to consider, especially if you’re hoping to also invest in a soundbar or build a whole new home theater. Like any big investment, maximizing your dollar is essential.
To that end, we’re going to take a closer look at two well-reviewed but affordable 2020 TV series, both likely to land on a budget-minded buyer’s radar: TCL’s 6-Series and Samsung’s TU8000. Both of these TVs offer 4K resolution and HDR support, and both are smart TVs. Beyond those basic similarities, however, these two TVs are more different than you might expect. Here’s a look at how they stack up.
Both the Samsung TU8000 and the TCL 6-Series are affordable TVs, but the TU8000 is priced significantly lower than the the 6-Series. Consider the 55-inch models: The 55-inch TCL 6-Series carries a $650 price tag, while the 55-inch Samsung TU800 can be had for just $500.
There’s also the question of choosing a TV size. The TCL 6-Series is only available in 55-, 65-, and 75-inch models, but the Samsung TU8000 series features six total options: 43-inch, 50-inch, 55-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch, and 85-inch variants. This offers you a bit more flexibility when making your decision. There’s more yet to consider, but from purely a price and flexibility standpoint, the TU8000 comes out on top.
Our pick: Samsung TU8000
The 6-Series and the TU8000 share similar design elements. Both TVs feature a pair of wide-set, boomerang-shaped feet that hold up the panel. Both TVs house their various connectivity options in a cutout on the back of the panel, and both the 6-Series and the TU8000 come with a slim, easy-to-use remote control. While neither of these TVs is particularly head-turning, the Samsung TU8000 has a slightly posher feel, if only for the design’s various textures and sturdier materials.
That said, it’s worth noting that the 65- and 75-inch versions of the TCL 6-Series offer an alternative, secondary pair of slots for the TV’s feet that sit closer to the center of the panel. If you’re planning on choosing one of these sizes and you’re not sure how to wall-mount your TV, these additional stand slots will make it easier to setup the 6-Series on narrower surfaces.
The Samsung TU8000 may have a slight edge when it comes to these TVs’ overall look and feel, but the added flexibility of the 65- and 75-inch 6-Series’ alternate “foot” mounting edges it into the winner’s circle.
Our pick: TCL 6-Series
The biggest difference between the 6-Series and the TU8000 lies in the picture quality and overall performance of each TV. Both models offer 4K resolution and support for HDR (High Dynamic Range) video, but not all HDR support is created equal. HDR content looks better when a TV can get notably brighter, and produce more saturated colors, than a non-HDR TV.
While the Samsung TU8000 may climb as high as 350-400 nits of peak brightness during HDR content, the TCL 6-Series—thanks to quantum dots—typically produces peak brightness levels in the 800- to 900-nit range during HDR content. In short, the 6-Series is a much better choice for folks whose living rooms receive a fair amount of ambient light. Being a quantum-dot TV, the 6-Series also has a leg up on the TU8000 when it comes to color production. By no means does the TU8000 produce a drab image, but its colors aren’t nearly as bright and voluminous, regardless of whether the TV’s displaying SDR or HDR content.
Lastly, the TCL 6-Series is loaded with features that make it a better TV for gamers: It features a native refresh rate of 120 Hz (compared to the TU8000’s 60 Hz refresh rate), Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) support, and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM). The TU8000 does not offer any of these enhancements. If you’re planning on investing in a next-generation gaming console (like the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, or PlayStation 5), the 6-Series is better-equipped to make the most out of them.
Our pick: TCL 6-Series
While both of these TVs offer a built-in smart platform, the differences between their respective software is significant. The TU8000 arrives with Samsung’s Tizen-based smart platform pre-installed. The TCL 6-Series, on the other hand, is a Roku TV, which means that the entire Roku experience is included right out of the box.
The Tizen smart platform onboard the Samsung TU8000 offers a wide variety of content pre-installed and even more via the Samsung TV app store. For the most part, the software is easy to use and won’t get in the way of your experience. That said, Roku streaming devices are known for their simple, easy-to-navigate user interfaces and zippy response time, and the Roku platform built into the TCL 6-Series is no exception—the apps and various menu options are neatly arranged, and navigating all its smart offerings couldn’t be easier.
The bottom line? If you already own a Roku streaming device, the TCL 6-Series can potentially replace it. If you don’t already own a Roku box or Roku stick, you’re probably going to wonder how you got by for so long without the platform’s friendly interface and app support.
Our pick: TCL 6-Series
And the winner is…
Despite the more-affordable price of the Samsung TU8000, it’s clear that the TCL 6-Series is the better choice for most people. Its stellar performance and top-notch smart platform more than make up for the difference in cost between these two TVs.
That said, the TU8000 is a dependable mid-range TV with a good amount of upside—particularly if you’re a fan of the Samsung brand and can’t imagine yourself investing in any other manufacturer. Additionally, if your plan was to buy a TV smaller than 55 inches or bigger than 75 inches, you won’t find those size specifications in the 6-Series lineup. Regardless of which you choose, both of these TVs are a testament to how far mid-range TVs have come in just a few years, and both TVs should last for years.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
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