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Looking for advice on a new TV: TCL 6 Series vs Vizio P Series or something else?

Discussion in 'Displays' started by Josh Steinberg, Nov 13, 2018.

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  1. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    My LG plasma recently met an unfortunate end, and I'm now in the market for a new TV. My budget and requirements might be slightly unusual because while this TV will be in our main living room, it's not necessarily going to be the primary display device, as I also have a projector in the same room.

    The projector is used for everything I review on HTF, as well as all movies and most prestige TV shows. My old TV, and this new TV, will be used primarily for casual watching - for new TV shows, for TV on DVD viewings, news, etc. I'd like it to look good, but there's a limited budget that we're willing to throw at a TV that's not going to be used for critical viewing. Something in the $600 price range is about what we're comfortable with.

    This has led me to consider the TCL 6-Series 55" model and the Vizio P-Series 55" model. Both of those are relatively close in price (I think the TCL is $600 and the Vizio is $750). I've had LED-lit LCD TVs from Samsung in the past and been very satisfied with the look of that technology. It's not OLED or Plasma, but I'm not sure that my needs for this specific TV demand that level of excellence (and my budget can't accommodate it anyway).

    Since my projector is still an HD model and since that is where I watch all of my movies, I am not planning on upgrading my infrastructure to UHD at this time. The TV would be used to display standard definition material from DVD, and HD material from cable/streaming/BD.

    So that's where I'm starting, considering those two options. I'm thinking that their top-of-the-line models would be better than a bottom-of-the-line or mid-level option from Sony, Samsung, or LG.

    I would love to get some feedback from you guys here. Let me know if you have any questions or need any additional info from me!
     
  2. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    From everything I've read and heard discussed, there is less panel lottery with the 2018 Vizios, but I've thought about what I'd replace my plasma with when it conks out, and from my own inspection in stores (not always the best gauge, I admit), I'd choose the TCL for myself.
     
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  3. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I was leaning ever so slightly towards the TCL - I’ve seen better reviews for it, and it’s generally about $200 less. The panel lottery thing has me a little spooked but I could just return it if it doesn’t look right (sounds like a hassle, though).
     
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  4. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    A lot of the complaints about inconsistencies in the TCL came in the initial months of its rollout early in the year. Perhaps manufacturing has smoothed out those problems and there won't be as much of an issue with these later runs of the product. My best friend got a TCL (not the 6 series) a month or so ago, and he's been very pleased with it.
     
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  5. JQuintana

    JQuintana Supporting Actor

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    Another bonus with the TCL is having the Roku system built in. I have a lower end version and I do love how easy it is to stream via Roku.

    Full disclosure:

    My TCL set is about 1.5 years old and has started to develop some weird image issues (dithering/banding?, colors on Netflix are really grey looking and folks with black hair looks greenish, dark scenes are a total mess, looks all watercolor like blobs) and I'm going to be calling the warranty company after the holidays to get it looked at. No idea what's causing it. But it still hasn't soured me on TCL. If this TV ends up being trashed, I'm going to go with the 6 series.

    Speaking of the 6 series, about a week or 2 ago I was looking at Best Buy as the route to go to buy another TCL Roku. At the time, they had plenty in stock at all our local stores. So yesterday I look to see if any of them went on sale. Now the BB site shows that there isn't a single model available ANYWHERE in town, It's like they all disappeared at once. Not sure if it's due to a rush on people buying them, or their ramping up for Black Friday and new stock will be here next week. I just thought it was odd that all 4 local stores had plenty of all sizes of TCL's and now, zip.
     
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  6. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    Thanks everyone who posted here, or who sent me a PM with thoughts - it's all been very helpful.

    I find I'm still stuck on the fence, but strongly leaning towards the TCL. The only new monkey wrench is that Best Buy has lowered the price of the Vizio so that it's only $50 more than the TCL. The TCL had been Wirecutter's top pick (as well as a few other sites), but Wirecutter recently updated their recommendation to put the Vizio P-series in the top slot. (They say that the Vizio handles motion slightly better, and also has slightly better HDR implementation.)

    So I'm kinda stuck at where I started, but hoping to make up my mind soon. I've been sitting on this particular fence since the summer, and getting more and more frustrated with the performance of my bedroom TV (which has been temporarily moved to the living room). I have this feeling that whatever I decide will be a big improvement over the bedroom set anyway. Also starting to think that the differences between the Vizio and the TCL are probably not that major, especially in relation to the bedroom set I'm using now.

    Please feel free to help knock me off this fence! I may just have to flip a coin in the end...
     
  7. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    Does anyone know if either the Vizio or TCL can secretly handle PAL and 1080/50i material? My old LG could, though it wasn't advertised in the manual.
     
  8. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I decided on the TCL and just ordered one tonight (should arrive next week). Thank you to everyone who posted here and/or PM’d me - I appreciate all the advice and feedback!
     
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  9. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    We will certainly want to know what you think of it once you get up and running.
     
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  10. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Yeah, keep us abreast to what you think of it.
     
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  11. JQuintana

    JQuintana Supporting Actor

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    Did you by chance get the extended warranty? My 4K TCL might just have been the one lemon out there, but I'm glad (for the most part) that I got the extra warranty since my TV died 18 months after I bought it.

    Best Buy offers I think a 2 or 3 year one for less than $100.
     
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  12. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    Will definitely post my impressions here once I get it up and running. I don’t have anything to feed it 4K content at this time and that’s not currently a priority for me, but at the least I can tell you how it does with cable, HD streaming, DVD and BD.

    I bought it from Best Buy and opted for the five year Geek Squad warranty - it was only $120 extra, and includes home service and repair/replacement for a variety of issues. When my last TV died over the summer, the cost for having it looked at - not even for a repair, but just to take a look at it - was $150. After that experience, spending an extra $120 to have both diagnoses and repair covered seemed like a no-brainer. Also made me feel better about trying out a brand I was new to. (Interestingly, the same warranty was $50 more on the Vizio set, so does that mean BB expects more trouble on the Vizios?)
     
  13. JQuintana

    JQuintana Supporting Actor

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    Your TCL 6 series is a Roku TV and it has several options to view 4K stuff for free. They have a 4K Roku"channel" to watch, heck, you can even watch 4K stuff on YouTube, or Netflix etc. We've watched several items using just those apps.
     
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  14. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    Understood. However, that’s not a priority for me at this time. My main priority is to continue using my Epson 5030 (1080p) for projection of movie and other prestige content, and using the new TV for cable, TV on DVD, and streaming content that’s most likely not being produced in 4K.
     
  15. JQuintana

    JQuintana Supporting Actor

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    Wait, you to watch low end resolution stuff on a nice new fully loaded 4K TV, and not really bother watching true 4K stuff on it and rather just use an older 1080P device as your main source to watch movies?? Seems odd, but as they say, whatever floats your boat!

    :)
     
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  16. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    That's correct.

    My priority for home viewing is projection - the size and immersion that comes from viewing content on a 100" or larger screen, to me, is far superior than the experience of watching a film on a smaller 55" set. All movies are watched on my projector, which at the moment is a 1080p device. I had not anticipated replacing my television set this year, and only did so because the previous television ceased working. There were very limited options for buying a new 1080p television, and none of those options were satisfactory to me. The market for flat panels has moved to 4K, so that was really the only practical option I had.

    One day, I will get a 4K projector, but I'm not in any urgent rush to do so. HDR for home projectors isn't there yet, and the vast majority of new films are still created at 2K resolution. The vast majority of projectors in movie theaters are still 2K. I do not feel that I am losing anything by staying with 1080p with home projection, since 1080p is essentially the same as 2K. I am getting a quality that is equal to many theatrical presentations, and when you throw in the attention to detail that I can put in at home that multiplexes don't bother with, it's possible that my home presentations are technically superior to theatrical projection in some ways.

    My intent when purchasing this TV was to maintain the current setup that I have with minimal change. This new 4K TV goes where my former plasma TV went, but the viewing preferences remain the same: 100"+ screen is used for movies and prestige programming, the TV is used for broadcast, cable and streaming shows, live sports and news, and TV on DVD.

    I have zero desire to watch films like "2001: A Space Odyssey" on a 55" TV when there's a 100" projection screen available, and I have zero desire to watch TV shows like "M*A*S*H" on a 100" projection screen when there's a smaller TV in the room.
     
  17. Bryan^H

    Bryan^H Producer

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    Yeah, I find it harder and harder to watch films on my 55". I'm so torn because 4K is absolutely stunning, but the immersion I get from projection (140") juts can't be rivaled. The drop to 1080 is so much worth it.
    And just like you I love watching my TV shows (mainly classic shows) on my TV.

    Bottom line I need a 4K projection set up that is true 4K, and no compromises(Dolby Vision) at a decent price. Which will probably be 5 years from now.
     
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  18. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I thought I'd share some initial first impressions after setup and some light viewing.

    Setup was very simple and easy. The TV came securely packaged in a thin rectangular box. Because I'm using it on a stand rather than wall mounting, I had to attach the stand myself, which was pretty easy. Just a few (included) screws to attach the feet on either side of the display. I guess everyone is moving away from the centered display stands that used to be standard issue on flatscreens. I think I like these feet slightly better because it allows for some room underneath the TV to put an empty disc case while you're watching something.

    My 50" LG plasma had a thicker boarder around the screen, and was fairly heavy. This 55" TCL weighed almost nothing by comparison, and because it has a very tiny frame around the screen, it basically is the same overall size as the 50" that it's replacing. As a result, it paradoxically seems the same size as my previous display when it's off, but much larger when it's on.

    Once it was in place, getting it set up was also very straightforward. Upon being plugged in, the TV prompts you to answer whether it's being used in a showroom or at home. I selected home, and was presented with an image that didn't look nearly as oversaturated, bright and crazy as these displays do in stores. From there, it just took a few trips through the TV's various menus to turn off the different motion interpolation settings, noise reduction, and motion smoothing. I also disabled the tracking settings that are turned on by default - I don't want or need the TV to analyze what I watch to make suggestions.

    Next up was trying to get the color and brightness loosely calibrated. I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that the built in "Movie" mode was already very very close to what a calibrated display should look like. I also discovered that the Roku app for Apple devices allows for major fine tuning of the display without having to go into the service menu. I'll do more calibration when I have the time and patience, but for now, I'm very pleased with how it looked out of the box with minimal tinkering.

    Next up was trying out different content, and I thought I'd start with the stuff that I expected to look the worst and work my way towards material that I expected to look better. First up was the "M*A*S*H" series on DVD. For those that don't know, the DVDs never looked great, as they utilized ancient broadcast masters rather than being based on new transfers from the original negatives. They looked decent on my old 4x3 tube TV in college, but haven't looked fantastic on anything more modern than that. They didn't look good on my plasma, they didn't look good on our bedroom TV (a Samsung 40" LCD from the mid-2000s), and... that was consistent with the TCL. That actually made me happy. I just didn't want the DVDs to be unwatchable in comparison to how they looked on my previous sets, and they pretty much look the same on the TCL. So while the TV didn't work an impossible miracle, it's not going to hinder my ability to watch older content.

    I sampled a little bit of cable television from my cable box (I'm a Spectrum/formerly Time Warner Cable customer) and, much like the DVD content, it looked pretty much the same on this new TV as it did on my plasma. Any problems with the source will still be visible on the screen, but the new TV didn't do anything to make it look extra bad, either.

    Things got a little more interesting when I started testing out streaming. On my now departed plasma 50" screen, it was very difficult for me to tell the difference between HD streaming from iTunes/Vudu/Netflix and a Blu-ray disc. On my 100" projection screen, the differences were readily apparent, but on the 50" TV screen, they were virtually identical. I don't know if it's the extra five inches on the TCL, the extra resolution, or a combination of both, but I could see a clear difference between watching a 1080p stream of a movie, and watching the exact same master presented on a Blu-ray disc. I have a feeling many people wouldn't notice the difference if they were watching them side by side. I had exactly one 4K title in my Vudu library that was available for streaming, so I tried that just for kicks on the TV. I found the quality of 4K streaming, when utilizing the TV's built-in Vudu app, to be equivalent to watching a Blu-ray disc of the same title on the display. I'm not reading too much into that, as there are a lot of variables in streaming. The other thing is that everything looked good from my normal seating position. I had to get much closer than I'd normally sit to notice when there was a difference in image quality.

    The most exciting part of testing out the new TV was sampling content from Blu-ray discs where I'm extremely familiar with the content and how it's supposed to look. I checked out a few minutes of the new remastered version of "2001: A Space Odyssey" on Blu-ray, and found that it looked identical to how the 2K digital IMAX version I saw multiple times in August/September looked. (I realize that if I had a UHD player, the UHD disc would be even better.) I checked out a few minutes of the IMAX-formatted version of "Star Trek Into Darkness" and it looked as it should too. Finally, "Star Trek: The Next Generation" on Blu-ray looked fantastic. I've recently been watching that show with my wife, and we had been viewing episodes on the 40" Samsung LCD, and it was a huge difference going from a ten year old set to the new TCL with that show. Really made a huge difference in the best way. I also sampled a few minutes of the new Criterion "Princess Bride" disc which I'm currently working on a review for. I had watched it on my projector in its entirety, and thought it would be fun to compare how it looked on the TCL. I thought the TCL did a great job of reproducing what was on the disc. I still prefer the look and size of projection over a direct view display, but it was very close.

    Did I mention the blacks? This set has impressive black levels. Space, on Star Trek: The Next Generation, is BLACK. Colors are strong and accurate. Brightness is pleasing without being overwhelming, though I'm pretty sure it can be cranked up much brighter if that's your thing. Off-angle viewing was also much better than I was led to believe.

    It's only been a couple days, but I'm already impressed. Assuming that there are no surprises or breakdowns (and I have the Best Buy five year extended warranty just in case), I expect to enjoy this set for a long time to come.
     
  19. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer
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    :thumbsup:
     
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  20. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Thanks for sharing your initial thoughts, Josh. I was very interested in your reaction/reception to this panel and hope you will share additional thoughts, feelings, musings on it as you continue to use it.
     

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