Electronics manufacturer TCL in 2021 announced it will be launching TVs in South Africa and I am one of the lucky few who got to take one for test run recently.
In the United States, TCL is known for its budget, high-quality televisions, but here, I’m sure you’ve seen their noticeable white and red logo on a few aircons around town. If not, you will now. TCL was the world’s second-best-selling LCD TV brand in 2019 and 2020, according to analyst and consultancy firm Omdia.
In short, the company has a reputation for bringing competitively-priced TVs with streaming capabilities to market. In fact, in terms of market share, the Chinese brand ranked second in North America in 2020.
Should you buy that TCL?
TCL TVs are indeed less expensive than those made by the likes of Samsung, Sony, and LG, so it’s no surprise that people are drawn to them: TCL also doesn’t skimp on features despite those appealing price tags.
I spent a bit of time with the P615 4K HDR Android TV. It is a good TV, but the true splendour of 4K content, that breath taking experience, is still better served by Sony, Samsung, or LG. Having said that this TV is not intended as a top of the range market competitor and to be fair I was only able to compare it to one because it was set up at home directly next to a Samsung Q series. If you were to install this TV without the constant reminder of what R30k can buy you, you would be more than happy with the image quality!
Officially Micro Dimming analyses the TV content in hundreds of separate zones to adjust the brightness and darkness, but basically micro-dimming is a technique for reducing the amount of light. It adjusts the brightness and darkness. It improves the picture quality and we had quite the obvious contrast on Netflix, particularly in low light scenes.
The claim here is that you’ll “Enjoy ultra-realistic, enhanced sound with Dolby Audio. Designed to put you in the middle of every scene – with crystal clarity, crisper dialogue, and great detail. From the ball game, to your favourite TV series – entertainment has never sounded better.”
While the picture quality and functionality were great, I found the sound initially to be lacking and a little tinny although this was in a very large room with lots of hard surfaces. Once the TV was moved to a more typical lounge environment the tinniness was much less noticeable. Overall, I would describe the sound as adequate but not spectacular. A sound bar would be a great addition to this TV.
If you’ve already set up some kind of sound system/ sound experience centre, then of course you’re good to go.
So, I’m a big Android fan and most of my devices are Android based (except for my iPad Pro, which I could not do without) so extending that to the TV is just so convenient for me as I was already set up with the relevant sign-ins and had no issues navigating the menu.
It was especially convenient as we have recently started setting up a home automation system on a Raspberry Pi using Home Assistant and the android integration was seamless. I was able to link my CCTV cameras with an automation that immediately turns on the TV and displays all of my cameras if motion is detected or if my home alarm activates.
As an avid cord-cutter, a Smart TV is a must have and a fluid user interface is essential. I have spent numerous hours over the years with a frozen screen or apps that lock up and that’s with the supposed flag ship TVs. I therefore spent a lot of time using Netflix, DSTV, ShowMax and BritBox on the P615 4K HDR Android TV to see if during the short period I had the TV, I would uncover a glitch.
So, what did I find? The P615 4K HDR Android TV is solid, aside from one small issue: it sometimes took that little bit too long to open individual apps, it’s not a huge issue but Netflix in particular was a little laggy during initial start-up. It was a minor frustration and other than that I am amazed at the quality of this TV for such an amazing price.
So while the sound experience was disappointing, like I said, there are ways to remedy that and in smaller rooms you may not notice it at all. The P615 4K HDR Android TV is unbeatable at this price range and after using it as my main TV for a few weeks, I must say I began to ask myself if I was shopping for a Tv right now, would I really need the small increases in performance from my Samsung Q series? After all the P615 4K HDR Android TV is a quarter of the price!