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TCL TV model numbers explained: What you need to know about TCL’s premium Mini LED and budget 4K LCD TVs

Having a hard time with TCL’s TV naming system? Don’t worry! In this article, we’ll help you find the perfect TCL TV

Television manufacturers fight to outdo each other every year, some to provide the ultimate AV experience – at whatever cost – and others, like TCL, to produce affordable models that deliver big-screen thrills without breaking the bank.

One thing all TV brands have in common, however, is the often incomprehensible model designations they slap on their sets without any thought for the poor public left trying to decipher them.

To help you differentiate between TCL’s many models, we will attempt to explain exactly how the company assigns its alpha-numerical names, demystifying them and allowing you to understand what each new model is.

TCL TVs 2023: What you need to know

TCL has been gradually strengthening its foothold in the UK over the past few years and overtook LG as the second-biggest TV brand in the world behind Samsung in 2022.

The initials stand for The Creative Life and the state-owned Chinese manufacturer typically targets the affordable end of the TV market, though it nevertheless employs some serious technology to rival some of the bigger brands.

Its 2023 lineup adds three new series, one of which uses Mini LED technology, some with Onkyo sound, but all packing Dolby Vision IQ, the Google TV operating system and harnessing quantum dot panel technology.

With TVs to suit a wide range of budgets, TCL is taking the UK market very seriously, rattling its sabre at well-established elites of the industry such as Samsung and LG.

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TCL TVs 2023: The new technology

TCL has brought its largest-ever Mini LED TV to market in 2023. Its Mini LED flagship, the C845 series, is now available in a whopping 98in as well as 55in, 65in, 75in and 85in, and delivers the brightest, most consistent picture TCL has produced to date according to the manufacturer.

The C845 also utilises quantum dot technology to enhance colour richness, contrast and realism, while there is also support for various HDR formats – including Dolby Vision IQ – to make sure that picture is as crisp as possible no matter what you’re watching.

On the operating system side of things, TCL TVs use the Google TV interface in 2023 (unlike some previous years where Android OS was the main OS system for TCL models in the UK).

Bringing Mini LED to the masses in 2021, TCL’s UK range-topping C825K features a backlight that, as the name suggests, is made up of miniature LEDs that are much smaller than usual, which allows thousands more to be crammed in. The result is a much brighter, more consistent light across the whole display, enhancing colour and vastly improving contrast thanks to 240 Contrast Control Zones.

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TCL TVs 2023: Model numbers explained

This part is simpler than it first seems. When it comes to the jumble of numbers and letters TCL has applied to its 2023 TVs, we can actually break each code down in just a few steps. Let’s take one of the big guns from this year’s bunch, the 65C845K:

65 = screen size in inches, measured across the diagonal

C = Product line

8 = Series

45 = Model (the higher the number, the more premium the model)

K = Unspecified

TCL TVs 2023: The new models

TCL C845

The most premium addition to the 2023 TCL TV lineup is the C845 series. It uses a Mini LED backlight along with a panel featuring a quantum dot filter, with image processing handled by the company’s latest AiPQ 3.0 processor.

This chip helps improve contrast, clarity, colour and motion and also looks after the upscaling of lower-resolution content. HDR format support covers every base, with HDR10, HDR10+, HLG and Dolby Vision IQ as well as IMAX Enhanced all present and correct.

Sound comes courtesy of a 2.1-channel Onkyo sound system that includes a subwoofer built into the back of the panel. There’s support for Dolby Atmos too, though there’s only so much a TV without up-firing speakers can do to reproduce this surround-sound format.

The C845 has a great set of specs for gamers, with four HDMI 2.1 ports all supporting refresh rates of up to 144Hz, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) up to 120Hz and Auto Low-Latency Mode (ALLM). Streaming service provision is wide-ranging thanks to the incorporation of the Google TV operating system and this also unlocks various other smart features.

TCL C745

The C745 series is a step down from the C845 in that it doesn’t use a Mini LED backlight but instead uses Full Array Local Dimming to control the brightness of its panel. That panel can’t go as bright either, with the C745K able to hit around 1,000 nits versus the 2,000 nits TCL says the C845 is capable of. It still benefits from the use of quantum dots, however.

It also comes with enhanced gaming functionality, with 144Hz VRR support alongside the same HDMI 2.1 gaming features as its more expensive stablemate. There’s a Game Accelerator feature too, which can boost VRR to 240Hz at half the screen’s vertical resolution.

Sound is inferior to that of the C845, with the subwoofer omitted to leave a two-channel 30W system that’s Dolby Atmos compatible.

TCL C645

The most affordable new entry in TCL’s lineup is the C645 series. There’s still support for HLG, HDR 10, HDR 10+ and Dolby Vision IQ, but the quantum dot LED panel does without FALD and has a native refresh rate of 60Hz.

This can be increased to 120Hz with DLG technology engaged while connected via the single HDMI 2.1 port, which is eARC certified. Two HDMI 2.0 inputs are complemented by Mini RCA, optical and USB connections, though there’s no support for Apple AirPlay 2, which is available on the pricier models.

The audio setup is the same as that of the C745, with two 15W speakers that support DTS-HD, DTS Virtual:X and Dolby Atmos.

TCL TVs 2023: Last year’s models

If you aren’t desperate for the latest technology, you can save yourself some money and pick up an older TCL TV as a number are still available from various retailers. The 2022 model numbers use the number ‘3’ instead of ‘4’, with the C835K, C735K and C635K joined by the C935K, which hasn’t received a 2023 update.

There are of course a few key differences between the 2022 and 2023 models. The C835K can’t hit the same levels of brightness as its successor, with peak brightness of 1,500 nits compared to 2,000 nits. It also uses an older processor – AiPQ 2.0 – meaning HDR tone-mapping and general processing aren’t quite as impressive. There’s no 98in option either, and the speaker system is powered differently, with two 15W drivers and a single 30W driver in place of the pair of 25W drivers and single 20W driver on the C835K.

Comparing the C735K with its successor is a similar story, with the 2022 model using the older IPQ 2.0 processor and offering inferior display brightness. Only the 98in C735K has local dimming and all models use less powerful pairs of 10W speakers. The C735K is still capable of 144Hz VRR, however, and has the same number of HDMI 2.1 ports (four), all of which support ALLM.

The C635K also runs the AiPQ 2.0 processor and is able to hit a peak brightness of 500 nits, which is actually slightly higher than the 450 nits the C645K is rated at. Like the two 2022 models above, the C635K runs the Android TV operating system rather than Google TV.

There’s also the 2022 flagship – the C935K series – which hasn’t got a direct replacement in 2023, and will continue to be sold by TCL this year. It uses a Mini LED panel with quantum dot technology and is available in either 65in and 75in screen sizes, with the former having 1,080 dimming zones and the latter having 1,920 zones. There’s support for 4K gaming at 120Hz, with the TV itself supporting up to 144Hz, plus VRR and ALLM support too.

TCL TVs 2023: Roku OS TVs

The TCL TVs listed above all use either the Google TV or Android TV operating systems, but TCL also has options that run Roku TV OS, which is one of the best operating systems around when it comes to choice streaming service support and app provision.

The latest TCL Roku TVs – the RC630K and the RS530K – were released in 2022. The former is a 4K HDR smart LED LCD TV available in 43in, 50in 55in and 65in screen sizes. It has a 60Hz VA panel with a quantum dot filter and direct LED backlighting and uses the same processor found on the C635K. You’ve got support for HDR10, HLG, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision as well as Dolby Atmos, plus the RC630K works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

The RS530K is available in either 32in or 40in and looks relatively similar in terms of specifications. It also has a 60Hz panel but the resolution is FHD (1,920 x 1,080) rather than UHD (3,840 x 2,160). Similarly, while there is support for the HDR10 and HLG formats, you don’t get the more advanced HDR10+ and Dolby Vision format support found with the RC630K.

Further Roku options include the RS520K and the RP620K, though we’ve not been able to find the former available to purchase anywhere online and the latter is out of stock in all sizes save the 50in model. It’s worth checking out, however, as it costs just £279, delivers impressive SDR images and supports every streaming service imaginable.

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