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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Overview

Bezel

Profile

Stand

Remote

Inputs

Menu

Advanced controls

USB media player

Picture quality

While it may be the biggest TV brand in China, TCL is still not very well-known in America. Here it's one of those cheap LCD brands that fill the last few pages of the Best Buy catalogs along with the Haiers and Westinghouses.

CNET USA's first encounter with TCL -- my review of the L40FHDF12TA -- didn't go so well. The cheap, bare-bones 40-inch LCD was a poor performer, so my expectations were low for the newer model, the L40FHDP60. However, it turned out much better than its predecessor, and competes well against TVs available at twice the price or more.

The L40FHDP60 is able to rustle up a relatively deep black and with it communicate a sense of depth that's missing on some other cheap LCDs. Shadow detail isn't the greatest, with some crushing, but it's much better than on the older model, while colors are mostly good. Sure, there are plenty of better models out there, but none as big or cheap as this TCL. If you only have around $300 to spend on a TV, the 40-inch L40FHDP60 is a great choice.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive
The TV features a brushed-plastic bezel that's designed to look like brushed metal.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive
The L40FHDP60 is fairly slim despite being a CCFL television.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive
The glass stand is stylish and makes the TV look more expensive than it is.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive
The remote control is piano black.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive
Two HDMI ports and a USB port are the highlights here.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive
The menu is fairly basic but it's easy to navigate.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive
Color and tint are the extent of the TV's advanced controls.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive
The USB input enables playback of picture files and MP3s.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive
Though the earlier -- and even more daftly named -- TLC L40FHDF12TA set expectations low, the L40FHDP60 surprised me by making up for most of that model's shortcomings. The most important change was in black levels: the L40FHDP60 has some of the best black levels available under $500, and certainly there's almost no competition at its current price of $300.

I also criticized the L40FHDF12TA for its fairly shabby shadow detail, but the P60 rectifies this quite a bit: the crushing is still there, particularly in midtones, but looks much better than the original. Color saturation is mostly good, while color accuracy is a sorer point; due to inaccurate grayscale the entire image looks too blue next to many TVs.

The TV is a good all-rounder on the other fronts, putting on a good performance in a lit room, and with decent off-axis viewing. In darker scenes, the picture is really only hurt by poor uniformity.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive
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