This may be the year to go for a home theater upgrade. TV makers have been pushing 3-D and curved-screen gimmicks for years, but TV tech just went through a meaningful growth spurt. For $650 you can now get a better 55-inch picture than could be had for $5,000 five years ago. And despite some lingering rivalries among competing video standards, most popular current movies are now conveniently available in the latest formats that show off bigger, brighter colors and more-detailed shadows in the latest 4K resolution (also known as “Ultra HD,” compared with 720p and 1080p “HD”). Movie night at home can now discernibly, without much fuss, rival the multiplex for image quality.
Our benchmark TV at this price, the TCL 6-Series (TCL 55R617) refreshed for 2018, comes with built-in Roku to connect over the Internet and play popular streaming services you subscribe to separately, including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon’s Prime Video, MLB At Bat baseball games, and all sorts of more-esoteric subscriptions like an art-house favorite of ours called FilmStruck. The TCL brand may not be as familiar a consumer name as Sony or Samsung, but the Chinese conglomerate used to supply Samsung and has since grown into one of the largest TV producers in the world. TCL is also well rated for reliability.
Shown: TCL Class 6-Series 4K Smart TV
The TCL 6-Series TVs, updated for 2018, have a terrific picture at a fraction of the price of some competing brands, and incorporate a range of the latest tech including support for two different HDR standards (Dolby Vision and HDR10), as well as Roku software for streaming from Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, ESPN, and other services. Although a relatively new brand in the United States, TCL used to supply Samsung and has grown into one of the largest TV producers in the world. This 55-inch TV is also available in a larger 65-inch version.