TCL 8 Series/Q825 2019 TV Review – RTINGS.com

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Hey everyone, its Ryan here from RTINGS.com. It was a bit of a struggle for us to buy,
but today we’ll be testing the extremely popular and much anticipated TCL Q825. It’s a late addition to the TCL lineup for
2019 and is currently their highest end set. It boasts impressive specs and is the first
widely-available mini-LED backlit TV in the US, so let’s see how this new technology
performs and how it stacks up. We’ll look at the design, picture quality,
motion handling and sound performance, and then compare it to other TVs on the market
to see if it’s the best TV for you to get. In the description down below, you’ll find
the timestamps to skip to the parts you’re most interested in, as well as the links to
the full review on our website and where to buy it. We have the 65” here in the lab, but there
is also a 75” that we expect to perform very similarly. Alright no more messing around let’s get
started. The design of the TCL 8 series is awesome. It has a bezel-less design on 3 sides with
a silver-gray bottom border. The stand is mounted in the middle which is
great for those of you with more narrow entertainment cabinets. It is reminiscent of the Samsung NU8000 from
last year. The stand is heavy and sturdy, so the TV doesn’t
wobble much. Unfortunately, if you want to fit a soundbar
in front of your TV, youll have to place it in front of the stand that already sits almost
14 inches deep. If you decide to wall mount your Q825, it
wont protrude much from the wall because it is fairly thin, similar to many other TVs
we’ve seen this year. The 8 series also has the same-looking back
design the 6 series has, with a glossy top half and a matte plastic bottom half that
houses the electronics. As we see here, it’s a little disappointing
that there is no cable management at all, there isn’t even a small clip to run cables
through the back of the center mounted stand which could have been easily included. Down here, we have the single power button
that can only select inputs and turn the tv on and off, exactly like some other TCLs from
this year. The remote will be the only way to fully take
advantage of this Roku TV. As we turn back around to the front of the
display, we’ll look at it with our thermal camera. Since this TV uses a Full Array Local Dimming
Mini-LED backlight, the heat is evenly distributed across the entire screen. It runs slightly cooler than the Samsung Q80R,
probably because of its larger surface area to cool off. The border also seems to be acting like a
heat sync, as you can tell by the hotter areas along the edges of the TV. We’ll be comparing the Q825 to other TVs currently
available but competing models can change as new TVs are released throughout the year. Since we are nearing the end of 2019, we expect
this set to compete with newer 2020 models as well. To stay up to date with the comparisons as
we buy and tests new models, check out the review page on our website linked in the description
below. Let’s get started with the picture quality. The contrast is one of the most important
aspects of a TV. It is the ratio between the measured brightest
and darkest part of a scene. A good contrast ratio generally means good
black levels and an image that pops. The 8 series is an outstanding performer. It has a great native contrast ratio around
6700:1, and is immensely improved further when local dimming is enabled to almost 40,000:1. It is the highest contrast ratio we’ve ever
measured on an LED TV, which is very impressive. This comes with a caveat though, and that
is that this is the contrast ratio on a static test pattern. In this case, the local dimming works well
with the tiny little zones to boost bright whites while turning off zones for deep blacks. In regular content, the local dimming is applied
a little differently as we’ll see soon. The Q825 has a better contrast than most other
LED TVs, such as the Samsung Q80R, the Vizio P Quantum X 2019, and Sony X950G. Now, this is the part where I’m going to
have to be the bearer of some unfortunate news. The heavily hyped local dimming, thanks to
the mini-led full array backlight, offers only decent performance and isn’t as good
as some other implementations. First of all, on a positive note, the local
dimming is good in medium-high brightness scenes. It helps highlights pop and minimizes some
blooming thanks to the small size of each zone. Subtitles don’t have much noticeable blooming,
which is good, but is due to them being so bright that your eyes can’t distinguish
the blooming. The problem with the local dimming lies in
darker scenes and fast moving objects. The algorithm is very aggressive and completely
crushes out lots of detail in darker scenes in both SDR and HDR content. The intro to Stanger Things season 3 episode
2 is almost unwatchable, as around 80% of the screen is crushed out and the only thing
that’s visible is the light coming in through the windows, which has looks like blooming
and causes a weird non-uniform look. In the intro to Netflix’s Our Planet, there
are almost no visible stars. It’s not like we haven’t seen star crush
before, but there’s more to it. As the earth is spinning, the sides of the
earth are completely crushed out. The local dimming tries to boost the brightness
of the lights coming from earth at night, and causes each individual zone to turn on
as the earth spins. This is very noticeable and distracting, and
since there are so many little zones that visibly turn on and off it causes a sort of
uniformity issue. Here is a video to show it off a little better. Note, it is more noticeable in real life. On our local dimming test pattern, as the
ball moves quickly, you can see the tiny zones turn on and off. Since they are not all turning on at exactly
the same time, it causes a weird checkered-golfball effect. And on small objects, it is crushed out almost
completely. Its unfortunate because the Mini-LED full
array backlight sounded promising, but the implementation here is more distracting in
dark scenes than the problem it was trying to fix: black level. The local dimming can probably be improved
through a tweak to the algorithm, although this was tested with the current latest firmware. We’ll add a note below if there’s a firmware
update that fixes these problems. We tested the TV with the local dimming set
to high, because although local dimming medium helped improve contrast on our static test
pattern, it didn’t seem to look any different than with the local dimming turned off in
real scenes. Alright, now that that’s out of the way,
lets move on to things the TV does do well. The Q825 can get very bright. In SDR, it can achieve a maximum brightness
of close to 1900 nits and a real scene brightness of 900 nits. This will help if the TV is placed in a well
lit room as it can easily combat glare. It is brighter than most LED TVs and has one
of the highest real scene peak brightness’ in SDR. HDR peak brightness is a similar story but
is important for different reasons. HDR peak brightness allows for a TV to deliver
impactful bright highlight detail, making for an impressive picture the way the creator
of the content intended you to see it. The TCL 8 SERIES 2019 supports Dolby Vision,
HDR10, and HLG HDR formats, just like the Sony and Vizio, and unlike the Samsung that
supports HDR10+ and not Dolby Vision. The 8 SERIES 2019 gets very bright and HDR
content pops, and is better than the Sony and Samsung, performing very similarly to
the Vizio P Quantum X. Let’s move on to gray uniformity. Our gray uniformity test checks for any uniformity
issues with the panel where different pixels are all supposed to display the exact same
color, but may not. This is done by taking a picture of a 50%
and 5% gray pattern on each TV. Cloudy spots and other issues present on these
slides are known as the dirty screen effect. This is most problematic when playing games
or watching sports which often tend to display uniform colors across the screen. The TCL 8 SERIES 2019 has decent uniformity,
with noticeable DSE, slightly dark edges around the display, and one of the worst 5% gray
uniformities we’ve measured. Save for that last one, this is typical of
TCLs. The TCL 8 series 2019 might not be the best
choice for sports fans and gamers, because uniform colors are very common in those types
of content. Gray uniformity is one aspect of the panel
that can vary between units, so yours might perform differently. If you come across a panel that doesn’t
correspond to our results, let us know in the comments below. Now on to viewing angles. VA type panels usually favour darker black
levels while sacrificing image accuracy when viewed off-center, and that is no different
here. The viewing angles are bad, with colors shifting
and washing out around 25 degrees off axis. If image accuracy off-center is important
to you, the Samsung Q80R or the 75 and 85 inch versions of the X950G will be better
choices thanks to their extra optical layer that improves viewing angles. Do note, we haven’t tested the 75 or 85
inch of the Sony, so we don’t know precisely how it performs. For those of you in a bright room, glare can
be a huge problem. Luckily, the TCL 8 series does a good job
at cutting reflections. Coupled with the high brightness, the TCL
would be an excellent option for a bright room. That being said, the other options here from
Sony, Samsung, and Vizio do perform better. Since they are all high brightness LED TVs,
any of them will perform well in a bright room. We found that out of the box the pre-calibration
on our unit was way off, especially in the white balance and gamma. Even though the TV was set to track gamma
2.2, the TCL 8 series 2019 was tracking closer to 2.45, with darker scenes somewhere in the
2.5-2.9 range. The higher the gamma, the darker the translated
signal is reproduced on screen. So, at low signal levels or dark scenes, the
image is way too dark. This may explain why we saw such bad black
crush as mentioned earlier in the local dimming section. The color temperature was also very warm. We had to calibrate our display after changing
the gamma setting to 2.0 to better track our goal of gamma 2.2. This is another aspect of picture quality
that varies between units, so if your set looks different than ours, let us know in
the comments below. The quantum dot backlight helps the Q825 achieve
a wide color gamut and color volume. A wide color gamut is important for producing
vivid color in HDR content. The DCI-P3 color space, which is used by most
commercial blu-rays, is 93% filled. This is similar to the X950G and Q80R, but
the Vizio P Quantum X 2019 has the widest color gamut. The Rec. 2020 color space is 80% filled, leaving
it again in between the Sony and Samsung, and the Vizio. The color volume is great too thanks to its
high brightness and contrast, allowing it to perform better than the other 3 TVs. In HDR, the PQ EOTF curve dictates how the
TV receives a signal and translates it to a specific brightness, which we measure on
each HDR TV. This graph shows if the TV can follow the
reference standard that content is mastered at. The reference curve is the yellow line you
see here. This reference line is unachievable by any
TV at the moment, so every TV has a way to tone map the signal to the display’s capabilities,
and that is the gray line you see here. The Q825 doesn’t follow it perfectly in
dark scenes, where details are darkened and crushed out, similar to the gamma we saw earlier. At higher stimuli, above 50% which is around
100 nits, the 8 series does very well. It can get very bright and only starts to
roll off and clip around 1800 nits, which is great. If you care about how accurate your image
is to what the creator intended, the Sony X950G or the Vizio P quantum X 2019 will follow
the EOTF more accurately, whereas the Samsung performs similarly to the TCL but over brightens
instead of over darkens. Let’s move on to the motion handling of
the Q825. First, we’ll start with the response time
which is the time it takes for a single pixel to change color. The TCL 8 series 2019 has a good response
time, but some darker scenes will have very long transitions, causing visible ghosting. The TCL 8 SERIES 2019 also has a constant
backlight flicker of 960Hz at under 80% full brightness, which fortunately doesn’t cause
any real issues. At max backlight the Q825 flickers at 120Hz. The TV is so bright that we don’t expect
most people to have their set at max backlight, so this shouldn’t be an issue for most people. If you want to clear up the persistence blur,
you can enable the LED Motion Clarity option which is the Black Frame Insertion feature. This lowers the flicker to 60Hz which can
be bothersome for some people but clears up the motion considerably. Unfortunately, there are still some visible
duplications because of the poor timing that can’t be improved. Next we’ll look at the input lag which is
important for gamers. Input lag is the time it takes an action in-game
to appear on the screen. High input lag can be incredibly distracting. The 8 SERIES 2019 has great low input lag
around 27ms at most resolutions. This is higher than previous TCLs from this
year, namely the 6 series 2019, but it shouldn’t be an issue for most people, including most
gamers. Competitive players might notice this difference
though, so for a better gaming experience the Samsung Q80R is recommended. The TCL 8 SERIES 2019 accepts 120Hz signals
but cant display 120Hz content properly, as it skips every other frame. Alright, moving on to the smart features. The 8 SERIES 2019 uses the Roku smart platform
which is great. It is easy to use and has a wide range of
apps to choose from, which Roku calls Streaming Channels. Unfortunately, there are large ads on the
home screen which cannot be disabled. The remote also features a voice command feature
so some settings and functions can be controlled with your voice, such as opening YouTube or
checking the time, which is handy. There are also 4 dedicated app buttons that
help you jump straight into an app located at the bottom of the remote. The speakers that come integrated in the 8
SERIES 2019 are good. It also features Dolby Atmos decoding, but
you will not get the true effect of Atmos through the two tiny speakers. If you want better sound for movies, dialog,
or to get a true Atmos soundstage, discrete home theatre speakers or a soundbar is recommended. We now review soundbars, so check out the
link in the description below. So overall, the TCL 8 SERIES 2019 is a great
4k HDR TV with good picture quality. Its TCLs best TV to date and is a good step
forward for mini-LED full-array local dimming TVs. Even if this implementation wasn’t great,
the technology has potential and as this is the first generation of mini-LED TVs in the
US, it is breaking ground for more development in the future. Now, compared to the competition it aims for,
it falls a little short. Versus the Samsung Q80R the TCL 8 series gets
brighter and supports Dolby Vision HDR. The Samsung has better viewing angles, faster
input lag, more accurate colors out of the box and a better local dimming algorithm. The Samsung also has better reflection handling,
so it is the better TV to buy. Compared to the Vizio P series Quantum X 2019
the Vizio is the better TV for most people. It has better local dimming algorithm, similar
brightness, a wider color gamut and better color accuracy. For those of you who prefer the Roku Smart
platform or a TV with a centre mounted foot, the TCL is still a good choice. Finally, the TCL Q825 vs. the Sony X950G. Both TVs have their advantages so which one
you buy will depend on what is important to you. The Sony will be more color accurate out of
the box at the expense of a higher black level and a less aggressive local dimming feature. The TCL will be less accurate but will have
a much higher contrast ratio, will get brighter, and has a more aggressive local dimming feature
that limits blooming and gets impressively dark, with the caveat of some backlight artifacting. For most people the Sony is the better TV,
but again, that is dependent on what is important to you. So that’s all for the 2019 TCL 8 series! It’s definitely a TV that surprised us this
year, but maybe not in the way we expected it to. Let us know down below if you feel it has
lived up to the hype or just missed its mark. You can check out all of the measurements
for all of these TVs on our website. If you want access to all our latest test
results before they are officially published, become an insider on the website. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel
and hit the notification bell to be alerted when a new videos drop. Thank you very much for watching and see you
next time.

 

11 Responses

  1. David Dougher

    December 4, 2019 10:41 pm

    Wow what a great tv you cant see anything in some scenes ////tcl garbage///and really dirty screen effect ( AGAIN) this year

    Reply
  2. Dominick Scalzo

    December 4, 2019 10:57 pm

    Good review seems like it is bet to wait for better implementations. If the q90r had dolby i would buy it. So I wait for something better that does.

    Reply
  3. adam zabawa

    December 4, 2019 11:07 pm

    Can you please make one epizode to focus on gaming issues. There seems to be a lot of contradicting reviews when it comes to motion handling etc. Are Samsung QR series and in fact other models really having issues with stuttering? I nearly bought Q70R having red your ratings, but luckily someone raised the motion issue in comments and a lot of people agree that it does terrible job. So can you clarify this and test some TV's focusing on gaming performance?

    Reply
  4. Joe Doyon

    December 4, 2019 11:10 pm

    So when are you going to stop changing the contrast display with other tvs. The comparison models always look worse than the tv you are reviewing.

    Reply

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