I’m a sucker for easy-to-use products. There’s nothing like something you can easily unbox, plug in, and turn on without cracking a manual or downloading a PDF.
So why am I still so obsessed with TCL’s 6-Series? In the past I’ve said that the 6-Series was the best TV for most people based largely on how well the screen looks for your dollars. It wasn’t for TCL’s looks or sleek interfaces and apps—there were, and are, plenty of other mid-tier options from Vizio, Hisense, and others that get that job done right.
But the latest 6-Series now wins out for sheer physical simplicity. It comes with a center pedestal stand, and you barely have to touch a settings menu. You can easily place it anywhere, and it automatically reads things like game consoles, disc players, and soundbars (and room brightness and many other things) without you doing anything.
Moreover, it still has an excellent Roku interface, isn’t too expensive, has quantum dots and mini LED backlighting, and looks genuinely fantastic playing everything. If you’re in the market for a new TV, you should still start here.
Last Year’s Model?
The TCL 6-Series I’m writing about is the 2022 model R655, and it’s basically brand-new. It launched late last year, so it remains the current model you can buy in stores. At CES earlier this month, TCL announced a new naming structure for models (and their specs) that will arrive later in 2023. If that seems confusing, it is. But you’re not reading the wrong review. This is the latest model, which comes in sizes ranging from 55 to a whopping 85 inches.
Things that make this different from the 2020 6-Series include the addition of that center pedestal mount, a faster 144-Hz refresh rate, and significantly improved mini-LED backlighting performance that makes for brighter scenes and better contrast.
I didn’t have a chance to look at the two models side by side, but I can tell you the highlights on the newer 6-Series seemed noticeably brighter and colors popped more than I recall on the last model. Light blooming—where bright objects on dark backgrounds can look like they’re being weirdly illuminated by internal TV angels—was also improved to my eyes, though you’ll still see some.
Between voice search built into the remote and easy access to every major streaming app via Roku’s sleek interface, there is essentially nothing online that you can’t locate and start watching in minutes on this TV.
Plug in a Nintendo Switch, HD Blu-Ray player, and soundbar, as I did, and the TV nearly instantly recognizes what each one is and adjusts its settings when you switch to that input (also easy to see at the top of the Roku interface). It’s awesomely simple and easy.
Gamers will like that it has a 120-Hz refresh rate at 4K, which is the maximum that a modern Xbox or Playstation 5 will put out—meaning the smoothest possible gaming and sports viewing in general.
Other brands aren’t far behind on sleek and easy integration between streaming interface and a TV’s settings menu, but I haven’t seen everything this simple anywhere else. Hisense’s Google TV interface comes closest, and I like the easy casting from my Android phone, but it isn’t this streamlined. Still, if you are coming to Roku for the first time, there is a small learning curve, though the most annoying part is logging in to all your accounts the first time.
The Right Footprint
Speaking of simple: Thank God for the center pedestal. It makes the unit so much easier to mount on existing TV consoles, especially if you choose a larger model TV. I love how simple it is to place a soundbar below or in front of the screen. The stand isn’t deep (about 13 inches), so I was able to easily fit a soundbar in front, but you could also place one on the front of the pedestal, allowing you to fit the TV on an even smaller table or stand.
I also like that ports are easy to access on the right side of the TV. You get four HDMI connections (one labeled for eARC for your soundbar), a cable connection, an ethernet connection, an optical audio output, and an antenna input (nice for sports-loving cord cutters).