8K resolution is the next big step for TVs, offering four times the pixels of 4K TVs (and 16 times as many as 1080p HDTVs). The vast majority of new TVs are still 4K, and 8K models remain expensive flagships for most manufacturers. That isn’t the case for TCL, though, which has announced a drastic new step in making 8K more accessible.
All new 2021 6-series TCL TVs, under the R648 model number, will be 8K. This is potentially big news for budget-minded early adopters, as the 6-series has been a compelling line that, while not TCL’s cheapest, has consistently impressed us with its reasonable price and strong performance. This will hopefully be the case for the R648 TVs, though TCL has not yet announced pricing for the 2021 8K models. 4K 2020 R635s will also still be available this year.
8K isn’t the only upgrade for the new TVs. The 2021 6-Series TVs will also use TCL’s new third-generation mini-LED backlight system. Called OD Zero, it uses up to tens of thousands of LEDs with thousands of contrast zones in a backlight layer that is directly against the LCD layer, enabling TVs to be even thinner and offer improved brightness and screen uniformity. As always, we’ll have to see it for ourselves to be sure.
Besides the new 8K TVs, TCL has unveiled The XL Collection, a group of three 85-inch TV models available across the company’s TV lines. The first and most affordable of the 85-inch models is a 4-Series TV (85R435) that will retail for $1,599 in the next few months. After that, TCL will launch an 85-inch QLED model, the 85R745, and then an 85-inch mini-LED 8K TV (unnamed, but presumably 6-Series). This continues a trend we’re seeing from many TV manufacturers making much bigger consumer-accessible (relatively affordable) TV models in the 85- to 88-inch range.
On the audio side, TCL has some new soundbars designed for use with its Roku TVs. The Alto R1 is the company’s first wireless soundbar, which will connect to compatible Roku TVs without a cable, like the Roku TV Wireless Speakers. Several new wired soundbars will also be Roku Ready, for easy setup with Roku TVs over HDMI-ARC. They include the Alto 82i, a one-piece bar with dual built-in subwoofers; the Alto 8e, a 3.2.1-channel soundbar with up-firing speakers and a wireless subwoofer; and a third, unnamed “premium soundbar with Dolby Atmos.”
The TCL 85R435 will launch later in Q1 2021. The Alto 82i soundbar will launch in Q3 2021. TCL has not yet announced pricing or availability for its other TVs or speakers.