Whether you like it or not, if you are buying a TV 43-inches or larger these days, it will almost always be a 4K UHD TV. However, just as UHD is making it into the mainstream, TV makers have started introducing 8K TVs into the mix.
However, three stumbling blocks so far preventing consumers from accepting 8K TVs are the lack of 8K content, the inability to really be able to see the difference between 4K and 8K, and the price.
However, TCL has decided to take the bull by the horns and offer consumers two 8K QLED TV models with price points as low as some 4K TVs.
What TCL’s 8K QLED TVs Offer
Offering a TV that can display 8K resolution at these price points is a marketing coup, but it takes more than a 33-million pixel LCD display panel to provide a good viewing and use experience.
Here is a sample of what TCL is throwing in to get you to bite:
- mini-LED backlighting: The LED light bulbs used on backlight panels are much smaller than those in most LED backlight panels. The mini-LEDs are grouped into 240 Zones which can be darkened or brightened depending on the displayed image content. This provides more precise control of bright and dark areas of the screen.
- Quantum Dots: Quantum dots are nanocrystals the enhance the brightness and color performance of screen images. They are placed on a layer between the mini-LED backlight and the LCD panel. This is what the “Q” refers to in the QLED label.
- Dolby Vision HDR: HDR (High Dynamic Range) expands the range between light and dark areas of an image and is designed to reveal more detail on both bright and dark objects and improves color somewhat. These TCL 8K TVs are compatible with Dolby Vision HDR (along with the HDR10 and HLG formats). If a Dolby Vision signal is detected, the TCL TV can make HDR adjustments on a frame-by-frame basis.
- Dolby Atmos: In addition to stereo and Dolby 5.1, these TVs can pass through a Dolby Atmos immersive surround sound through to a compatible soundbar or home theater receiver using HDMI-eARC connectivity.
- AIPQ Engine: Since 8K content sources are scarce, TCL 8K TVs provide AIPQ (Artificial Intelligence Picture Quality) to enhance detail, color, and contrast from 4K, or lower resolution content. This means that DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, and streaming sources will look better on the TCL 8K TV than they would on most 4K TVs.
- THX Game Mode, ALLM, and VRR: If you are a gamer, these two sets carry THX Game Mode certification for a smooth gaming experience, which includes ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) and VRR (Variable refresh rate). TCL’s Series 6 TVs support 8K up to a 60Hz refresh rate, and 4K up to 120Hz refresh rate – so whether you are watching a movie, TV show, sporting event, or playing games, the Series 6 should have it covered.
- HDMI ver 2.1: Two of TCL’s four HDMI inputs support ver 2.1. This means that when more devices are able to provide 8K content, the TCL series 6 TVs are ready. Of course, these inputs also work on any HDMI connectable device, whether it supports 8K or not. The 3rd HDMI input supports HDMI-eARC, which simplifies TV to Soundbar and Home Theater receiver connectivity, and a 4th input that supports HDMI ver 2.0.
- Control Options: TCL offers several TV control options, including a provided voice remote, Roku mobile app, Alexa, Google, and Siri (supporting devices and apps may be required for full functionality).
- Roku Smart TV and Streaming Platform: These are the first 8K TVs that incorporate Roku, so there is no need to buy an external streaming stick or box to access over 5,000 channels of free and subscription streaming content.
Will You Bite?
Whether TCL’s 2021 Series 6 TVs will entice more TV buyers to jump onto 8K is an open question, but this is certainly a bold marketing move for TCL considering there is no necessity for consumers to switch from 4K at this time. Let’s face it, a lot of consumers are still happy with 1080p Full HD TVs. Here is a resolution comparison chart that provides some additional perspective on display resolution.
Resolution Designation Horizontal/Vertical Pixels Total Pixels Displayed 8K UHD 7680 x 4320 pixels 33.3 million (33 megapixels) 4K Ultra HD (Consumer) 3840 x 2160 pixels 8.2 million (8 megapixels) 1080p FHD (Full HD) 1920 x 1080 pixels 2.1 million (2 megapixels)
Even with the difference in pixel count, whether you can see a difference in resolution depends on your seating distance and screen size.
It will be interesting to see how the rest of the TV market responds. Will Samsung, LG, and Sony lower the prices for their 8K UHD TVs? Also, Vizio, who makes 4K UHD TVs in a similar price range as TCL hasn’t offered 8K TVs up to this point.
UPDATE 11/16/2021: 8K Streaming Arrives on TCL Series 6 8K Roku TVs