The TCL 6-series has long been a great way to get a great TV experience at a reasonable price. It’s also been pretty up to date with newer TV technologies, and recent models offer Samsung’s much-loved QLED tech for brighter, more vibrant colors. Until recently, however, the TV was only available with Roku. Now, Roku is great, but some prefer Google’s software experience. Thankfully, that’s not possible with the TCL 6-Series with Google TV.
The TV offers everything you already love about TCL’s 6-Series TVs, but with the new Google TV operating system. That means that you’ll get deeper integration with Google services, on top of the excellent image quality at under $1,000.
Is the 6-Series with Google TV as good as the Roku model? And does it beat out the competition from the likes of Hisense and Vizio? We reviewed the 65R646 model to find out.
- Excellent image quality
- Deep black levels
- Solid software experience
- Premium design
- Relatively inexpensive
- Audio is only fine
TCL 6-Series design and setup
The TCL 6-Series is designed pretty differently than most other TVs in this price range — and it’s a fair bit more premium. It has a nice brushed metal edge around it, with a completely bezel-less display, save for the bezel at the bottom, which is built with the same material. The back of the TV is made from plastic, but it’s not a huge issue given the fact you won’t look at the back all that much.
But there are some downsides to the design though. The completely bezel-less look seems to mean that the TV is a little thicker than much of the competition. I didn’t really mind that though. It’s also quite heavy for a TV of this size.
TCL has made an effort to help you create a cleaner look at your TV. The legs, for example, let you thread cables through them, which avoids having cables dangle at the back of the TV. I really appreciate touches like this — things that are often only found on more expensive options.
On the back is where you’ll find all the TV’s ports, and there’s a solid selection there. You’ll get four side-facing HDMI ports, one of which supports eARC. Two of the ports support HDMI 2.1, too, so you’ll be able to take advantage of the high refresh rates on offer by new gaming consoles.
Setting the TV up is pretty easy, though you’ll need two people to do it, especially if you have the 65-inch model, like us. You’ll simply screw in the legs, plug the TV in, and you should be good to go. There are two leg positions here, which is nice.
The remote looks fine, and it’s pretty basic. You’ll use it to mostly control the Google TV software, and TCL is banking on you mostly using that software. In fact, you have to press the Settings button, scroll down to Inputs, then select your new input just to change to another input. Many modern devices will work with HDMI CEC, allowing the TV to automatically switch. But it should still be easier to switch manually.
TCL 6-Series software
The big difference between this TV and other 6-Series TVs is the fact that this one comes with the Google TV operating system built into it. You can still get the TV with Roku, but you’ll have to sacrifice the HDMI 2.1 ports for HDMI 2.0 ones.
Setting up Google TV is pretty easy, and if you’ve used Google smart home devices before you can do it straight through the Google Home app. The app can sign you into your Google account and transfer content, which makes the setup process that extra bit easier.
Generally, I like Google TV — but then again, I already liked its predecessor, Android TV. Google TV is laid-out with rows of content that it thinks you might like, followed by a row of apps, and then more rows of content. Given the fact that we have so many streaming services these days, I like the content-first approach. It can be hard to know what content is where. The recommendation system seemed to work pretty well — it generally recommended content that I would find interesting.
Through Google TV, you’ll get other perks too. For example, the operating system offers Google Assistant, Google Cast, and support for Google Home. If you’re an Android user, and plugged into Google’s ecosystem, a TV with Google TV is the way to go. Google TV also supports Alexa, but you won’t get support for Apple’s ecosystem, except for the Apple TV+ app.
Generally, the TCL 6-Series was responsive enough. There were times when it slowed down a little and took a few seconds to respond to input. But it performs far better than Android TVs from five years ago. Note, at launch, many reviews noted a buggy software experience. I didn’t run into any software issues though, so it seems as though TCL has fixed many of them.
TCL 6-Series performance
Easily the best thing about the TCL 6-Series has nothing to do with the software — it has to do with the image quality. The latest models offer QLED tech that makes for a bright, vibrant image, plus there’s Mini LED backlighting for deeper black levels. The result? The TV looks excellent in all situations.
One of the best things about this TV for me, a nerd, is the fact that the display panel was quite uniform, and there was little dirty screen effect. Of course, your mileage may vary, but given the fact that other reviews have highlighted the panel’s uniformity, it seems like TCL has done a good job at maintaining a solid panel quality.
The TV is very bright, both in SDR and HDR content. The TV supports Dolby Vision and HDR10+, and obviously content in these formats looks better than otherwise. But the TV still delivered an excellent image with older content, and content streamed at 1,080p. Not only is the TV bright when needed, but it’s also able to deliver excellently-deep black levels, thanks to the Mini LED backlighting.
The TV supports 120Hz and VRR (variable refresh rate), but it does not support G-Sync or FreeSync, like some other TVs in this price range. If you’re not planning on using the TV for PC gaming, however, that won’t matter all that much — and I found that it excelled at console gaming.
TCL 6-Series audio
The one area where this TV does not excel is in the audio department. The built-in speakers are fine at best, and you’ll want to use the TV with an external soundbar or pair of speakers. There’s some bass here, but not much, and there isn’t a whole lot of detail in the high-end. This is to be expected of a TV in this price range, but still, I hope midrange TVs start to get better speakers over the next few years.
The TCL 6-Series with Google TV is a home run from TCL. It’s not perfect — it’s a little thick, and the speakers leave a little to be desired. But it excels where it really counts — with an excellent image quality, a good amount of up-to-date ports, and a good software experience. Frankly, this TV is the best you can buy for under $1,000 and competes with more expensive TVs too.
The biggest competition comes from the Hisense U8G and Hisense U7G, both of which also offer excellent image quality and a range of great features. They both come with Hisense’s ULED tech and Android TV, which is very similar to Google TV. While they have excellent image qualities, they don’t quite reach the heights of the TCL 6-Series.
Should I buy the TCL 6-Series with Google TV?
Yes. It’s an excellent TV at a decent price.