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TCL 55DP648 Review

TCL is a new player for budget TVs in the UK and offers 4K HDR on a 55in panel for under £500 . Sounds great, but find out if you can live with the flaws in our TCL 55DP648 review.

Should I buy the TCL 55DP468?
The TCL 55DP648 is a good looking and affordable TV if you're looking for a large set with a 4K resolution and HDR support.
Although the TV offers a decent colour gamut and a quick response time for gaming, it's let down by a plethora of problems elsewhere. Namely we're talking about the dramatic lack of brightness and poor viewing angles.


Price when reviewed
  • £599
Not everyone has thousands to spend on a new TV, but you also don't want to buy something sub-standard and regret it. Hisense is a great shout for a great value TV but now has a rival in the form of TCL, another Chinese brand. Here we review the 55DP648 which is under £500.

Price & Where to buy
Although the 55DP648 has an RRP of £599 it's one of those ones where it's not really been on sale at that price.

Instead, you can get it for around £495 at various retailers including Amazon, AO and Boots (an AO site in disguise).

That's an impressive price point for a large size TV with a 4K resolution and HDR support and puts it in competition with sets like the Hisense U7A and to some extent, the Philips 6703.

Design & Features
These days you don't need to splash out on a TV to get stylish design. We prefer the U7A from Hisense but the TCL is decent for the sub-£500 price.

You get slim bezels around the display and the panel itself is very thin, too, at under 10mm. The sleek lines are only interrupted by a round power button.

Like most TVs the 55DP648 is wall-mountable if you like. Alternatively, just sit it on the spiky legs. These are quite close to the sides of the TV so there's a possible issue if you want to put the set on a small stand with the display over hanging.

The remote supplied works well enough but it's an oddly thin and long shape like a wand. There are buttons for Netflix and Freeview Play which you'll need (just like the Bush Smart TV from Argos.)
Setup & Interface
Setting up the TV is pretty simple and straight forward. The ports are all lined up vertically on the back and include three HDMI ports, Ethernet (there's also Wi-Fi) and two USB 2.0 ports. We'd like more, of course, but that's what you get with a cheaper set.

What's really odd, and frankly stupid, is that HDMI 2.0 is switched off by default so you'll have to find it and turn it on in the menu. Leave it switched off and colours from HDR sources look awful.

The Roku smart engine used for TCL TVs in the US would be nice but we're stuck with a basic system here. Overall, the interface is easy enough to navigate all though there are some oddities like the sports mode being in the system section of the menu rather than display.

It's also fairly sluggish in use and although there's only a button for Netflix, there are various other services available via Freeview Play such as BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub. There's also 4K YouTube via the basic Home menu.

Netflix supports 4K HDR, but there's no Amazon Prime Video, Now TV or the like.

Performance
A cheap set with nice design and a few good features is all well and good, but whether you should buy one really hinges on the performance of the panel itself.

Let's start with the positives,. Colour gamut is good for a TV at this price and it supports HDR10 and HLG (hybrid-log gamma). Unfortunately you will have to do some tweaking to see these colours as the default settings are for fairly muted tones.

Upscaling HD content to 4K is pretty good and a quick response time means this is a good choice if you're going to do a lot of gaming. Having the Ultra HD resolution means the image is nice and crisp.

Sadly, the good news ends there.

Our biggest gripe is the poor brightness. The TCL 55DP648 peaks at just under 300 nits which is not good at all for an HDR TV. It means the image looks dull and you don't get those blinding whites that you'll see on - admittedly more expensive - sets from Samsung's higher ranges. 

Annoyingly, brightness is adjusted automatically and the image regularly dimmed for no apparent reason. We scoured the menus to find and disable any ambient light sensors, dynamic contrast settings and anything else, but either couldn't find these things or turning them off had no effect whatsoever.

Compounding this is fairly poor viewing angles; only sitting square on does the picture look its best. Oh, and there's no Dolby Vision support.

Backlighting comes from edge-mounted LEDs and we noticed a bit of light leakage from the top edge and and lighting isn't particularly even across the panel. Darker areas of the picture lack detail and aren't really deep black.A mysterious feature called Mix Dimming doesn't seem to help either.

Motion isn't handled (there's no motion processing at all) so camera pans and objects moving quickly across the screen have an amount of jerkiness that can't go unnoticed. We've not mentioned audio yet which, in a word, is lacklustre.

Verdict
If you're looking for a 4K HDR TV for under £500 then the TCL 55DP648 might appear to be a bargain.

It's got a stylish design with its thin panel which has good colour gamut and better upscaling than you'd expect at this price. It's also got a very quick response time for all the gamers out there.

However, the set's very poor brightness was a constant source of disappointment creating a lacklustre experience across the board. It proves that you can buy a TV with HDR support that can look worse than a regular 4K set. 

Add in poor viewing angles and uninspiring audio and it's hard to recommend this TV. If you can afford it, spend a little more and buy the Hisense U7A.

SPECS
  • Screen size/resolution: 55in, 3840 x 2160 pixels
  • HDR10, HLG support
  • Contrast ratio: Not stated
  • Brightness: 320 nits
  • Speakers: 16W (2 x 8W)
  • Built-in tuner: Freeview Play
  • EPG: 7-day
  • Inputs: 3 x HDMI (all support HDCP2.2, ARC via HDMI2)
  • Outputs: Digital audio optical, headphone jack
  • Networking: 10/100 Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Ports and slots: 2 x USB 2.0
  • Physical dimensions (w/o stand): 1227 x 765 x 9.9mm (w/h/d)
  • Weight: 15kg
  • Average power consumption: 70W (average), A Energy rating
  • Warranty: 2 onsite home repair



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