TCL's 6-Series TVs have consistently been a hit with us. They offer high performance and affordable prices. All of these TVs run exclusively on Roku TV's simple but feature-rich interface. TCL now offers a Google TV 4K 6-Series TV as an alternative. These TVs are priced at the same price as Roku TV 4K 6Series models, the 55-inch 55R646 was tested for $949.99, but they lack Apple AirPlay support. They also have a higher contrast performance than the Roku TV models and less input lag. Although the Hisense U8G series has a brighter display, the TCL's Google TV 6-Series offers the same great features at a similar price. This award was also awarded to the Hisense model as our Editors Choice.
TCL pulled temporarily its Google TV models out of retail channels due to software instability. This issue was not apparent in our testing. TCL released an update to the software for affected models and they are now available at retail.
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The Google-based 55R646 looks almost identical to the Roku's 55R635. It is enclosed by the same thin, brushed metal band that runs around the top and sides. The same strip at the bottom holds the chrome TCL logo. The screen sits on similar V-shaped gunmetal legs. However, they are slightly lower than the others and feature prominent rubber feet. This protrusion, which is rectangular in shape and covered with fabric, is a sign that it is the Google TV model, not the Roku. It is the far-field microphone array that provides hands-free access for Google Assistant.
The power cable plugs into the left side of the back of the TV, with all other connectors sitting on the right side, facing right. They include four HDMI ports (two 4K120, one eARC), two USB ports, a 3.5mm composite video input, a 3.5mm headphone jack, an optical audio output, an Ethernet port, and an antenna/cable connector. Below the ports sits a combination power/input button and a switch to turn off the far-field microphone.
It is a rectangular, black, long-handled remote with pleasant rounded edges. The top of the remote is a large circular, gray navigation pad. Power, settings and Google Assistant buttons are above this, as well as a pinhole microphone. Below the menu buttons are dedicated buttons to Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. On the right side of your remote is a volume knob and mute.
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TCL uses the Roku TV platform for most smart TVs, but the 55R646 utilizes Google TV as its interface. Google TV, which is an optimized version of Android TV on Hisense TVs has all its features and a menu system that is more content-focused rather than driven by app selection, can be found on Hisense TVs. You can stream all the major streaming services, such as Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV. Google TV supports Google Cast to mirror your Android tablet or smartphone, and Chrome browser tabs from a computer. Roku TVs, on the other hand, don't support Google Cast.
Google TV provides access to Google Assistant's voice assistant. You can simply say 'Hey Google' to get it. This is possible thanks to the remote microphone array in the 55R646. It is an innovation that Sony and Hisense TVs have made possible in recent years. Before this, voice assistant integration was a matter of speaking into the remote. You can also disable the microphone with the switch at the back if the microphone is not listening to the wake phrase.
Google Assistant remains a very capable voice assistant, able to answer general questions like weather and sports scores, search for content to watch, and directly control both the TV itself and any compatible smart home devices. It can be extremely useful, especially with hands-free voice control.
TCL 55R646 4K TV has a 120Hz refresh speed. The TV supports HDR10, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision content. It also has hybrid loggamma (HLG) support.
Tests of TVs are done using the Klein K-80 colorimeter (Opens In A New Window), Murideo SIX-G sign generator (Opens In A New Window), and Portrait Displays Calman software (Opens In A New Window). We use a methodology that is based on Imaging Science Foundation's (Opens IN a NEW WINDOW window) calibration methods.
The 55R646 TV has an adaptive mode, which adjusts picture settings automatically based on the content being displayed. The adaptive mode can be enabled automatically and applied on top of any picture mode. To get the best picture possible, we recommend that you turn this off while watching films. We also suggest disabling them when testing.
Mini LED backlights on the 55R646 seem brighter than those of the 55R635 and can get darker as well. We measured Movie mode's peak brightness at 750.469cd/m2 using an SDR signal. This was with a full screen white field of 969.671cd/m2. The black level is just 0.002cd/m2. A HDR signal will make your TV even more brighter. It can show 922.681cd/m2 peak brightness with full-screen fields and 969.671cd/m2 white field with 18%. The black level is 0.002cd/m2. This gives you a contrast ratio that's 594,597 to 1.
Black levels below 0.002cd/m2 can be interpreted as the ability to register any light nearer than the screen. This means that LED TVs with these capabilities are becoming nearly as dark and as bright as OLED TVs such as the LG C1P. The increase in LED backlight arrays has led to LED TVs with higher contrast levels that are able to be dimmed or brightened individually.
This makes them brighter than OLED panels. Although this technology is not perfect, it does mean that the technology surpasses OLED. Because LED zones illuminate sections of the screen, and not individual pixels. Light bloom may occur when bright objects are placed next to dark ones. Although we didn't notice any light bloom with the 55R646, it is still possible that OLED TVs can win as long as there are more pixels than individual LEDs.
Hisense U8G series is brighter at 1,763.368cd/m2 when it has an HDR signal, an 18% whitefield, and a contrast level of 88.168:1 due to its 0.02cd/m2 low black level. The TCL Roku TV 6-Series is a distant second with 1,114.897cd/m2 peak lighting, a 0.02cd/m2 dark level and a contrast ratio of 74,326 to 1. Because of their excellent black levels, OLED TVs such as the LG C1P do not have any technical measurable contrast ratio.
The above chart shows the 55R646's color levels in Movie mode with an SDR signal compared against Rec.709 broadcast standards and with an HDR signal compared against DCI-P3 digital cinema standards. The 55R646 performs fantastically here, with accurate whites and balanced colors in both SDR and HDR. The SDR picture is nearly perfect out of the box, with slightly undersaturated greens, and yellows and magentas being just a touch warm, as the only (very minor) complaints.
The HDR picture is also excellent, covering nearly the entire DCI-P3 color space despite somewhat undersaturated greens and yellows. The colors are all properly balanced and not significantly skewed in any direction besides cyans running just a tad green, with blues, magentas, reds, and yellows all spot-on.
BBC's Planet Earth II is a great choice for the 55R646. Both the greens and blues from water look natural and vivid, and there is a lot of subtle variation in their colors. Both in direct sunlight or shade, fine details such as fur and bark are sharp.
Deadpool is similarly impressive on the 55R646, with the red of Deadpool's costume looking vibrant and accurate in the overcast early scenes of the film. The flames in the burning lab fight appear bright and stand out, while shadow details in the same frame are still visible without looking washed out.
The Great Gatsby shows off the 55R646’s outstanding contrast in its party scenes. Even with bright white balloons, lights and shirts, the cuts and contours in black suits are clearly visible. Contrasting the blacks and whites are natural skin tones, so it's easy for different colors in the scene to pop.
A 120Hz TV, the 55R646, supports both variable refresh rate (VRR), and auto-low latency (ALLM). This should be a delight for gamers. It doesn't support AMD FreeSync, like the Hisense U7G or U8G. Nvidia G-Sync, like the LG C1P, is also not available. This should be considered if you plan to attach a computer to the 55R646.
We measured the input lag in Game mode using an HDFury Diva HDMI mat (Opens in a new Window). The 55R646's input lag is less than the 10ms required to make a TV considered among the top for gaming. TCL Roku TV 4K 6-Series runs slower at 21.4ms. The Hisense U8G, however, is slightly faster at 7.9ms. When you wish to play any game, make sure that the TV is set to Game mode. However, Movie mode can cause input lag to jump to 119.1ms.
TCL 4K Google TV 6-Series TVs are a great TV series that has more features than the 4K Roku TV 6-Series. It also offers slightly better performance and a higher level of contrast. Apple AirPlay is the only thing that you are really giving up. Although the Hisense U8G's panel is brighter, these TVs offer exceptional value and incredible performance. The TCL 55R646 shared our Editor's Choice award with Hisense U8G. The Hisense U7G is a slightly cheaper option, offering a more powerful but still robust performance and the same Android TV features that the U8G.
- High color contrast and performance
- Google Assistant and Google TV, hands-free with Google Cast
- Input lag low
- AMD FreeSync and Nvidia GSync are not available.
- Apple AirPlay is not available
TCL 4K 6 Series with Google TV has more features, better performance and less cost than its Roku-based counterpart. All you have to give up is Apple AirPlay.