The TCL RC630K is a Roku-powered 4K HDR TV that’s a superb choice for those on a tight budget
- Extensive HDR support
- Comprehensive Roku platform
- Low input lag
- Limited brightness
- No 4K/120Hz or VRR
The TCL RC630K sits towards the lower end of the brand’s lineup, and as such lacks some of the more cutting-edge picture technologies, but still includes a very impressive set of features for what is essentially a budget TV. The Roku smart platform is slick, effective and comprehensive, while the inclusion of every version of HDR means you’ll never have to compromise.
The picture quality is good, although the lack of calibration controls means it’ll never be perfect, and the brightness is limited, but, thanks to quantum dots, the colour gamut is surprisingly wide. The input lag is very low, which is good news for gamers, although the lack of HDMI 2.1 means there’s no support for next-gen gaming features like 4K/120Hz and VRR.
The RC630K’s price point is betrayed by a build dominated by plastic, but the inclusion of an Onkyo audio system means the TV sounds better than you’d expect given its dimensions, plus there’s support for Dolby Atmos. The ability to work with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit rounds out what is a very capable smart device overall and one of the best cheap TVs currently available.
TCL RC5630K review: Key specifications
|Screen sizes available:||43in 43RC630K|
|Resolution:||4K/UHD (3,840 x 2,160)|
|HDR formats:||HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Vision|
|Audio enhancement:||Dolby Atmos, Onkyo sound system|
|HDMI inputs:||3 x HDMI 2.0b|
|Freeview Play compatibility:||Yes|
|Gaming features:||Game Mode|
|Wireless connectivity:||Wi-Fi (2.4GHz and 5GHz), Bluetooth 4.2|
|Smart assistants:||Works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa|
|Smart platform:||Roku TV OS 10|
TCL RC630K review: What you need to know
The TCL RC630K is a 4K (3,840 x 2,160) HDR smart LED LCD TV that comes in screen sizes ranging from 43in to 65in. The RC630K sits towards the lower end of TCL’s range, uses a 60Hz VA panel with a direct LED backlight plus quantum dot filters, and is competitively priced.
The RC630K incorporates Roku TV, plus it supports HDR10, HLG, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision. There’s also Dolby Atmos, the ability to work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, plus an excellent choice of streaming apps that includes Freeview Play for all the UK TV catch-up services.
TCL RC630K review: Price and competition
At the time of writing, you can buy the 55in TCL RC630K reviewed here for £399, which is an attractive price considering all you get for the money. It’s certainly not dissimilar to the competition, especially Hisense and Toshiba, both of whom include similar sets of features.
As a result, the obvious alternatives are the 55in Hisense A6, the 2022 iteration of which costs £379, and the Toshiba UK4D, which will set you back at £349 for the same screen size. There’s also the updated model of the LG UP75 – the LG UQ75 – at £435, and the Samsung BU8500, which will set you back £539 for the 55in variant.
TCL RC630K review: Design, connections and control
The TCL RC630K doesn’t set the world on fire when it comes to its design, with a slim and bezel-less appearance that’s fairly standard these days. Plastic dominates the construction, but at 12kg at least you won’t break your back installing this TV. The 55in model measures 1,227 x 52 x 711mm (WDH) without its feet.
The RC630K uses two plastic feet, which can be attached towards the edges or closer to the centre, depending on how much space you have for installation. There’s only 55mm of clearance beneath the screen, so bear that in mind if you’re thinking of adding a soundbar. If you’d rather wall mount, the TCL is compatible with a 300 x 300 VESA bracket.
The connections face sideways on the right hand side as you face the screen and are far enough away from the edge to ensure you can’t see any cables. There are three HDMI 2.0b inputs, a USB 2.0 port, an aerial socket, a CI (common interface) slot, an optical digital output, an Ethernet port, an AV adapter, and a headphone jack. There’s also dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2.
All three HDMI 2.0b inputs support 4K/60Hz, HDR10, HLG, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision, HDCP 2.3, and CEC. One of the HDMI inputs also includes eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel), but this TV doesn’t support 4K/120Hz, VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) or ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode).
The provided remote is a lightweight black plastic affair, with the emphasis on icons to identify the keys (so bear that in mind if you’re buying this TV for an elderly relative). The layout is intuitive, and there are direct access buttons for Netflix, Disney+ and, unusually, Apple TV+. Surprisingly there isn’t one for Prime Video, but you get direct access to Spotify Connect instead.
TCL RC630K review: Smart TV platform
The TCL RC630K uses the Roku TV OS 10 system, which is essentially an extension of the smart platform developed for its streaming sticks such as the Roku Streaming Stick 4K, but optimised for use in a TV. The homepage will be familiar to anyone who has ever used a Roku streaming stick, with additions to accommodate the TV itself.
On the left there’s a choice of Freeview Play, streaming channels and the settings menu, plus a search function and the ability to save custom lists. Over on the right you can access any connected devices and live TV, along with all the apps. There’s sufficient processing power to ensure the Roku platform is responsive, but it’s also intuitive to use and easy to navigate.
The choice of apps is comprehensive, and includes Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+, and YouTube, along with all the UK TV catch-up services. The apps are quick to load, easy to navigate, and offer 4K, HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos where appropriate.
The TV tuner includes access to an EPG (electronic programme guide), and thanks to the inclusion of Freeview Play there’s not only access to the catch-up apps, they’re also integrated into the EPG, allowing you to go backward in the timeline and watch programmes you’ve missed.
The RC630K works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit, providing access to the three most popular smart assistants, while also offering a degree of voice control. Finally, there’s the Roku mobile app for iOS and Android, which not only controls the TV, but also offers easy access to all the apps and provides convenient features like voice search.
TCL RC630K review: Image quality
The TCL RC630K uses a VA LCD panel based on its black levels and narrow viewing angles. TCL is a bit vague when it comes to the actual specifications, but a native contrast ratio of 5,500:1 is really good for an LCD TV. The use of a direct LED backlight also helps, and while there’s no form of local dimming, the screen uniformity is actually quite good.
The TV ships in Low Power mode, which as the name suggests is an eco-friendly option. This results in a highly inaccurate picture when compared to the industry standards, with an excess of blue in the greyscale and over-saturated colours, resulting in average DeltaE error scores of 14 for both.
Switching to the Movie mode improves matters significantly, reducing the average DeltaE in the greyscale to 4.7, and delivering colours that covers 100% of the Rec.709 gamut to an accuracy of 2.4. The gamma is also much better, tracking the target of 2.2 very closely. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough for all but the most demanding purist.
The visible threshold for any DeltaE is 3, so the RC630K is certainly in the ballpark, but given there are no real calibration controls it’s impossible to get it any more accurate. Thankfully, the resulting picture is very watchable, with natural-looking colours, and some decent shadow detail.
Since the backlight is global, rather than employing local dimming zones, the RC630K will struggle in a darkened room, but the VA panel helps, and with some ambient light in the room (ideally behind the screen) you can immediately improve the contrast performance.
Motion handling is also good, given the inherent limitations of LCD as a display technology and the panel’s 60Hz refresh rate. As a result, there’s some blurring on fast motion like sport, but the RC630K handles 24p content without introducing judder, allowing movies to retain a film-like quality.
The video processing and upscaling are competent, although not as impressive as some of the more expensive brands. However, the RC630K does a decent job of upscaling lower-resolution content to match the 4K panel, and the processing can help minimise any nasty compression artefacts.
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TCL RC630K review: HDR performance
The TCL RC630K supports every version of HDR – HDR10, HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma), HDR10+, and Dolby Vision, which is very welcome at this price point. It means never having to compromise, no matter which version a specific source is using, and the dynamic metadata in HDR10+ and Dolby Vision allows the TV to transcend its inherent limitations when tone-mapping HDR content.
As far as those limitations go, the biggest is obviously the peak brightness, with the RC630K limited to 400cd/m2 on both a 10% window and a full-field pattern, regardless of which mode you select. As a result, you’re better off choosing the more accurate Dark HDR mode, and simply selecting the highest brightness setting.
The use of quantum dot filters means the RC630K covers the majority of the DCI-P3 colour gamut, reaching an impressive 95%. The colours also closely hit their targets at various saturation points, ensuring that the overall pictures look natural while also retaining a pleasing degree of pop. In terms of raw measurements, this is an impressive HDR performance for a TV at this price.
When moving on to actual viewing material, the RC630K continued to impress, rendering the fine detail in native 4K content with commendable skill. The tone mapping was fairly good with HDR10, but much better when dealing with HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. Since all streamers use one of these formats (mainly the latter), and so do a lot of 4K Blu-rays, this TV has you covered.
Shows like Wednesday on Netflix in Dolby Vision look fantastic, with the blacks and dark shadows of this Tim Burton series nicely delineated. The highlights are free of clipping, while the colours have real impact. This is best exemplified by the room Wednesday shares with Enid, with one side appearing almost black and white, while the other is an explosion of primaries.
To test the TCL RC630K we used Portrait Displays Calman colour calibration software.
TCL RC630K review: Gaming
The TCL RC630K has a couple of strengths that make it a solid TV for gaming. First of all, the input lag in Game mode is an extremely low 10ms, which is comparable with the best gaming TVs. Secondly, there’s no danger of image retention or screen burn-in with the LCD panel.
However, the lack of HDMI 2.1 means the RC630K can’t support some of the latest gaming features such as 4K/120Hz HFR (High Frame Rate), VRR or ALLM.
Overall, the gaming performance is good, with the low input lag resulting in a responsive and enjoyable experience. The 4K images appear detailed, and the 60Hz motion is pleasingly smooth. The colour gamut is punchy, and the HDR tone mapping capable within the limits of the TV.
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TCL RC630K review: Sound quality
The TCL RC630K sports an Onkyo sound system based around a pair of downward-firing full-range speakers, each of which has 10W of built-in amplification. The sound quality is surprisingly good considering the TV’s dimensions and screen size, with a clean delivery and some nice detail.
There’s obviously little in the way of bass extension, and the RC630K will sound strained at higher volumes, but there’s a good sense of width. The inclusion of Dolby Atmos is welcome, and while it can’t work miracles, it gives the audio a greater feeling of dimensionality.
Of course, if you have the necessary budget, you should consider pairing the RC630K with an equally inexpensive but effective soundbar from our pick of the best budget soundbars.
TCL RC630K review: Verdict
The TCL RC630K is a budget star, offering a wide choice of screen sizes and an impressive array of features at a very affordable price. The inclusion of Roku TV makes for a comprehensive and slick smart TV, the picture quality is generally good, and the input lag is extremely low.
It’s not perfect, and anyone looking for dazzling HDR brightness, calibration controls, or next-gen gaming features will need to spend more, but for everyone else, this capable smart TV is hard to fault.