The Good The TCL L40FHDF12TA is one of the cheapest 40-inch televisions we've ever seen and delivers a better performance than the price might suggest. Picture processing is one of its strongest points and it's possible to get something that looks impressive at first glance.
The Bad The "pop" you see is a result of highly crushed blacks, which means no shadow detail. The set's poor black levels and inaccurate colors make it difficult to get a decent picture. Calibrating the TV is impossible due to the poor gamma levels and lack of fine control. The set displays some flashlighting in the corners.
The Bottom Line The TCL L40FHDF12TA is a cheap television that provides a usable picture, but that's about it.
Though it's a mouthful to say, the TCL L40FHDF12TA enjoys a reputation among Internet shoppers--namely on Amazon.com, where it's been one of the best-selling TVs so far this year--as an inexpensive television that provides a "cheap and cheerful" picture.
After testing, we can confirm that the TV does perform better than you'd expect for the money, but that's not saying much. It has a deceptively "dark" picture that is actually the result of some artificial tampering to make the black levels look better than they actually are. In essence, you'll never be able to get any usable shadow detail out of this TV, and colors, though initially exciting, are unnatural.
But we've tested plenty of TVs that perform worse than this model over the years, and they were much more expensive than this one. We'd never recommend this as your primary TV, but it could be decent for use in a bedroom or a guest house.
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