TCL 6-Series 65R635 Roku LCD Ultra HDTV Review Page 2

Most of the 65R635's main (not app-driven) controls can be set separately for SDR and HDR, including the Picture Mode. One exception is the TV Brightness control, which affects overall image brightness (unlike the also present Brightness adjustment, which affects black level). As a result, you have two options for adjusting the TV Brightness control: use the same setting for both SDR and HDR or use a different setting for each format and change it manually each time you switch from an SDR to an HDR source.

With five TV Brightness settings plus five SDR and four HDR picture modes, you can get deep into the weeds choosing optimal combinations. I chose to set TV Brightness to "Bright" for SDR and HDR, relying on other settings to achieve the best results for both. This worked out exceptionally well in SDR, but adversely affected measured HDR performance. But that didn't mean that the set's eyeballed HDR performance wasn't highly satisfying. As we'll see, it definitely was.

221roku.remnVarious controls are provided for motion smoothing, including Action Smoothing, which provides increasing steps to soap opera-land, and LED Motion Clarity, which adds black frame insertion and darkens the image somewhat in the process. I turned the motion smoothing modes off for my measurements and viewing.

The TCL performed well out of the box, though it ultimately needed a little work to show its, um, true colors. Primary colors such as red and green in particular looked oversaturated. Red wasn't objectionable, most likely because it doesn't appear in nature as often as green. Viewed on the TCL, the glistening red cape used by the heroes fighting the Tau-Teh in the movie The Great Wall would make the greatest of toreadors retire in shame.

Image resolution was excellent for both HD and Ultra HD sources. Using disc-based test patterns, I could set the Sharpness control as high as 35 with no visible sign of edge enhancement with my face just a few inches from the screen.

Black levels were good, though shadow detail was a shade less impressive than what I've seen from pricier sets. The black bars in letterboxed films looked enticingly dark. They did show a trace of light bleed-over when the active picture area next to them was unusually bright, but that's a common effect with local dimming LCD sets and here was easy to ignore. The bars were dimly visible in a fully darkened room mainly when the image itself was very dark (forcing your eye's pupils to open wide).

I did note some haloing when bright objects were displayed against very dark backgrounds. But this was most evident on slow movie scenes or on stationary test patterns. Starfields were well-handled much of the time (the ones in Prometheus looked near-perfect), but the starfield pattern on the Spears & Munsil Ultra HD Benchmark test disc revealed the TCL's limits—as it has with every other LCD/LED set I've viewed it with. Screen uniformity was nearly flawless, and I didn't spot any false contouring artifacts (coarse-looking "bands" visible on plain backgrounds like a blue sky) that were not obviously present in the source material.

Unless otherwise mentioned, all of the following observations were made when viewing Blu-ray or Ultra HD Blu-ray discs played on an Oppo BDP-203 disc player.

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HD and SDR Performance
The TCL's high-definition/standard dynamic range performance was superb. Greens appeared a bit unnaturally fluorescent with some source material, but overall, its SDR color performance was richly satisfying. The reds in Victoria & Abdul, particularly in the early banquet scene, looked stunning. Skin tones were spot-on accurate as well.

Other films, ranging from the spectacularly well-photographed Seven Years in Tibet and War Horse to animated fare with vivid colors and crisp resolution such as Wreck-it-Ralph and Kung Fu Panda 2, were similarly impressive on the 65R635.

To check black-level performance, I fell back on an old favorite, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, and the TCL didn't disappoint. The shadow detail in the most difficult scenes here (this film is full of them) did reveal some of the black-level limitations noted earlier, but unless you've previously experienced this disc on something like a good (and at least twice as expensive) OLED TV, you'd be unlikely to notice anything missing.

To get the best performance from TCL's 6 Series set, you'll want to sit dead center, or at least no more than 10- to 15-degrees to the side. That's because once you move more than 25-degrees off-center, the TV's progressively deteriorating contrast and color will be clearly visible to anyone, not just an expert eye. This effect is common to LCD/LED displays like the 65R635 that use VA (vertically aligned) LCD panels, however.

Ultra HD and HDR Performance
As detailed in the Test Bench section of this review, performing an HDR calibration on the TCL proved challenging. Even so, the visual results equaled what I've yet seen from many far pricier sets, though the 65R635 measured a bit less bright than the best of them. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 is loaded with vivid color and bright highlights, in places looking almost cartoonish. But that's the whole point of the film, and the TCL made the most of it. From the opening battle with an inter-dimensional being (whatever that is) to the final confrontation with Quill's...um...god-father, the results were eye-catching on the TCL.

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The set's handling of other favorite Ultra HD/HDR discs, from the subtle detail and rich but not overdone color in Pixar's Onward to one of my persistent demo selections, Oblivion, was impressive as well. After adjustment, clipping was rarely visible and never distracting. Even the wickedly challenging horses-grazing-in-snow scene from the demo material section of the Spears & Munsil UHD Benchmark test disc was handled cleanly. Shadow detail was similar to what I observed in my SDR tests, which is to say it was satisfactory but short of reference-level.

As noted earlier, I didn't perform a Dolby Vision calibration (as with HDR10, white balance and color management settings cannot be set differently from the SDR settings without skewing the latter's calibration). But with the TCL's other controls adjusted properly, it produced impressive looking Dolby Vision HDR images. I sampled a wide range of discs, including Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and 1917, and had no issues with any of them apart from a subtle but visible emphasis of green in the latter, particularly in the helmets and wood trench supports. (This was much less obvious when viewing the regular Blu-ray version of that film, an oddity not visible on any of the other Dolby Vision titles I sampled.)

Conclusion
In most respects, the video perfectionist in me was totally satisfied by the TCL 65R635 6-Series UHD Roku TV's pristine images. And even after spending an inordinate amount of time trying, without success, to achieve a satisfying HDR calibration, the set's performance with Ultra HD/HDR discs made me smile. In the end, this set's tempting $1,000 price combined with its overall impressive performance earns it Top Value status.

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