TCL’s follow-up to last year’s popular Roku 4K TVs starts at $649, ships tomorrow

Chinese brand TCL has announced pricing for its new 6-Series Roku TVs, the follow-ups to last year’s extremely popular P-Series. The 6-Series improves on last year’s in terms of picture quality and comes in both 55-inch and 65-inch sizes—last year’s models only came in a 55-inch configuration.

The 55-inch model is currently priced at $649.99, and the 65-inch model comes in at $999.99. That’s in line with what last year’s TVs cost. As we’ve previously reported, the main improvement (apart from the larger size) in play here is an expanded number of full-array local dimming zones. Last year’s P-Series had 72 zones, whereas this year’s 55-inch 6-Series TV has 96 zones, and the 65-inch has 120 zones.

The results should be superior contrast ratios, less light bleeding, and better perceived black levels than last year’s models—all key factors in strong picture quality, especially when you’re comparing against the new TV technologies that are moving through the market.

As LG continues to push very strong OLED TVs and Samsung explores bringing its quantum dot tech to MicroLEDs, these TVs won’t sway anyone who wants the latest and the best. Even though local dimming is improved, panels like those in the TCL 6 Series just cannot touch what LG and Samsung plan to offer at much higher price points.

But not everyone cares; the tech in these TVs is more than good enough for the vast majority of consumers, and the improved local dimming shrinks the gap somewhat. Most purchasers are likely to be folks moving to 4K and HDR for the first time, and that alone will be enough to impress them.

Like their predecessors, these TVs run the same Roku OS found in Roku streaming sticks and boxes. It’s accessible smart TV software, and it’s better than what you’ll find built in to most other smart TVs, though there are good arguments for other platforms for standalone boxes and streaming sticks depending on which content ecosystem you’ve bought into.

Some consumers like Roku OS because unlike, say, Apple’s tvOS or Amazon’s Fire TV platform, it’s not tied to any particular content provider. That said, Roku has begun investing in content itself; for example, the company recently announced that the Roku Channel will get live news from ABC, Cheddar, and other sources.

TCL is also known for producing BlackBerry-branded smartphones, along with numerous other consumer products like air conditioners and refrigerators. But it’s arguably these Roku TVs that have raised public awareness of the brand in the United States. The new TVs will begin shipping tomorrow, May 1, but the 65-inch model is already sold out at some online retailers.

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