TCL Q7 Review: The Best Affordable TV

It’s a newer one brand, but TCL has already cemented its place on the Mount Rushmore of TV manufacturers. Over the last decade or so, it has competed with major electronics manufacturers like Vizio, Samsung and LG and always comes out on top when it comes to delivering the best picture for the money.

In fact, TCL TVs are so good that we consistently recommend cheaper models as our top choice. So is it worth spending more money on this Q7 model than the much cheaper Q6 (7/10, WIRED Review)? I think this is the case for both gaming and daytime use.

Whether you’re racing around a virtual Formula 1 track or watching the latest Wes Anderson films, the new Q7 delivers some of the crispest and most vivid images I’ve ever seen at its relatively affordable price. Aside from a few stutters in the Google TV interface and a slightly more reflective screen than I’d like, this is one of the best TVs of the year.

Quick setup

Photo: TCL

The Q7 is a familiar piece of rectangular plastic and glass that’s rounded at the edges, making it easier than most to lay on your stomach to install the legs on either side of the screen. The legs stick out awkwardly from the 65-inch model’s footprint, sticking out about 4 inches on each side once it’s on my TV stand. I don’t like feet like that because it means you need oversized furniture to mount the TV in your room. A pedestal mount solves this problem, and I’m still wondering why that’s not the industry standard. You can also simply purchase a wall mount.

Setup is extremely simple and straightforward: the Q7 has three HDMI ports, including HDMI eARC for easy soundbar or speaker setup, allowing you to use the included remote control for volume. This remote is about the length of a giant candy bar and features white buttons that make it easy to see in the dark.

The Google TV interface is a change from TCL’s old Roku OS, but I can’t really complain about it. You still get support for virtually every app through Google, and this makes streaming easier for those of us without iPhones thanks to the built-in Google Smartcast. The interface is super easy to use (as is voice control support for Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple Homekit), but I noticed that it’s not the fastest TV I’ve ever scrolled through.

Occasionally I would wait with the cursor hovering over one menu or another. It wasn’t enough to make me immediately want to connect an external streaming device, but that’s always an option (and a cheap one at that) when you’re fed up. One thing you will want to upgrade is the speakers. Buy a soundbar if you don’t already have one. This TV sounds tinny.

Slim appearance

Photo: TCL

The main reason to buy this TV is the picture quality, which is great right out of the box. Hundreds of local dimming zones and TCL’s quantum dot panel pair make for some of the brightest, most exciting colors I’ve ever seen at this price. It’s not photobook accurate in all modes, but TCL’s workmanship makes for a very entertaining watch in the vast majority of cases, and it gets even better when calibrated. In my opinion, this model easily competes with higher-tier options from Samsung and LG.

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