Getting a good picture on a TV used to be a big investment, with budget and even midrange models demanding color, contrast, or both compromises. With inexpensive TVs that offer outstanding performance for the price, Hisense and TCL have demonstrated that is no longer essential. The TCL 6-Series is near the top of the company’s TV line, yet its costs are still significantly lower than comparable LG and Samsung models. The 55-inch TCL 55R635 we reviewed costs only $649.99 and has excellent picture quality. It’s only contested by the Hisense H9G line, which narrowly beats out TCL in a few categories and is still our Editors’ Choice.
TCL 55-Inch 6-Series 4K Roku TV (55R635)
- Outstanding contrast
- Colors that are wide and accurate right out of the box
- The input lag is a little longer than optimal
- Searching with your voice isn’t as effective as using a voice assistant
TCL 55-INCH 6-SERIES 4K ROKU TV (55R635) SPECS
|Screen Size||55 inches|
|Resolution||3,840 by 2,160|
|Video Inputs||USB, Composite, HDMI|
|Screen Brightness||1114.9 nits|
|Black Level||0.02 cd/m^2|
|Refresh Rate||120 Hz|
|Input Lag (Game Mode)||21.4 ms|
There are no bezels on the sides or top of the 55R635; instead, there is a brushed metal strip below the bottom border of the screen that holds a metal rectangle with the TCL logo in the center and an indicator LED below it. The strip matches the TV’s brushed metal sides, giving the whole product an exquisite appearance.
Four HDMI ports, a USB port, an Ethernet port, an antenna/cable connector, an optical audio output, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a 3.5mm connector for composite video input with the accompanying adapter are all located on the right side of the rear of the TV, with the exception of the power cable jack. Below the ports, on the bottom right corner of the back of the TV, is a power/input button. Only the power jack is on the back, on the left side.
The provided remote is a normal Roku TV model: a short, rounded black wand with a large purple plus-shaped navigation pad towards the top. Above the pad are the Home, Back, and Power buttons, as well as a pinhole microphone for performing Roku’s voice search. Below the pad are playback controls, a microphone, replay, and settings button, as well as four specific service buttons for Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, and Sling TV. On the right edge is a volume rocker and a mute button. Because it’s a Roku Voice remote, it connects to the TV wirelessly and doesn’t require a direct line of sight to operate.
The TV has the same Roku interface as a Roku media player and offers all of the same streaming video options. Roku offers thousands of different streaming apps and services, which it refers to as “channels.” Apple TV, Disney+, Google Play Movies & TV, Hulu, Netflix, Prime Video, Sling TV, and YouTube are among the major players. Twitch, on the other hand, isn’t present.
Roku TV, as a smart TV platform, falls behind Amazon’s Fire TV and Google’s Android TV, especially when it comes to voice assistants. You can use your voice to search for content and control your TV with the remote, but it’s not as handy as a full voice assistant like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. You can’t get a weather report or control your smart home gadgets from your Roku TV. The Hisense H9G, on the other hand, offers Android TV with Google Assistant and far-field microphones, allowing you to utilize Google Assistant without touching the remote.
The TCL 55R635 is a 4K TV that supports HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR) content.
We used a Klein K-80 colorimeter, a Murideo SIX-G signal generator, and Portrait Displays’ CalMan software to calibrate TVs, following the Imaging Science Foundation’s methodology.
When using an SDR signal, the 55R635 displays a full field of white with a peak brightness of 586.305cd/m2 and an 18-percent field with a peak brightness of 896.138cd/m2. The peak brightness of an HDR10 signal is 686.531cd/m2 for a full field and 1,114.897cd/m2 for an 18-percent field. When displaying a white box on the screen for both SDR and HDR streams, the TV displays an average black level of 0.015cd/m2. This results in a 74,326:1 contrast ratio for the 55R635 monitor.
When displaying an 18-percent field (1,492.606cd/m2), the Hisense H9G can go much brighter (1,492.606cd/m2) while maintaining identical black levels (0.012cd/m2), hence it outperforms the 55R635 in contrast. It’s still a remarkable contrast on TCL’s side, and both TVs put up a strong performance, easily outperforming flagship televisions from a few years ago.
Similarly, the color performance is outstanding. Color levels with an SDR feed are compared to Rec.709 broadcast standards, and color levels with an HDR signal are compared to DCI-P3 digital cinema standards in the chart above. Out of the box, the 55R635 hits Rec.709 levels pretty close to the mark (with the color temperature set to the warmest preset). It also almost completely covers the DCI-P3 color space, however the greens are somewhat undersaturated (though well balanced), and the yellows are a little warm. For both SDR and HDR content, it continues to deliver superb results.
On the 55R635, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse looks fantastic. The colors are vibrant and well-balanced, with the red of the original garments standing out. The film’s crazy artistic splashes of magenta seem great and rich, and the diverse flesh tones look natural. In a dark setting, the letterboxing on Netflix’s Dolby Vision rendition of the film seems nicely black, with little to no light bloom from the LED backlight array.
The 55R635 is also capable of handling very gloomy scenes. On TV, I was watching an episode of The Haunting of Hill House, and shadow details were visible without being washed out. Dark hair and clothing had excellent detail, while shadow-filled pictures of the mansion appeared inky without obscuring architectural aspects. There was a light bloom around the names in the opening credits, but no haze or halo effect elsewhere.
Lag in the Input
The amount of time between when a TV receives a signal and when the screen refreshes is known as input lag, and it’s crucial for video games to seem snappy. The 55R635 has an input lag of 37.4 milliseconds when Game Mode is turned off. Enabling Game Mode reduces this to 21.4 milliseconds, just slightly more than the 20 milliseconds we use to proclaim a TV to be among the best for gaming.
With an input lag of 16.4ms in Game Mode, the Hisense H9G beats out the 55R635 in this category (but an incredibly high 104.5ms with Game Mode disabled).
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 looks fantastic on the 55R635, with abundant of color in the menus and environments and a great contrast between shadows and bright lights. The input lag is minimal, and I had no trouble scoring enormous combos and achieving all of the game’s objectives in the THPS2 portion.
Value and a Strong Image
The TCL 55R635 is a terrific TV that offers great picture quality at an affordable price. It has superb color and contrast performance across the board, which is unusual in a $700 package. If it weren’t for the Hisense H9superior G’s contrast, input lag, and features, this would be an easy Editors’ Choice. The TCL 55R635 and the Hisense H9G are both terrific TVs that deserve high marks, but the Hisense flagship model is just a little better for nearly the same price, earning it our Editors’ Choice.
TCL 55-Inch 6-Series 4K Roku TV (55R635)
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