TCL L40FHDP60 TV review: TCL L40FHDP60 is a steal at $300

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MSRP: $479.99

The Good The incredibly inexpensive TCL L40FHDP60 40-inch LCD TV offers deeper blacks and better shadow detail than I expect at this price. Colors are bold and well-saturated. The TV boasts decent off-axis viewing and its picture holds up well in a bright room.

The Bad Colors have a blue tinge that cannot be cured by the paltry adjustments possible. Some shadow detail can become crushed and the TV's brightness isn't uniform across its screen.

The Bottom Line Entirely acceptable picture quality makes the TCL L40FHDP60 a dirt-cheap LCD TV done right.

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7.1 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 5
  • Performance 6
  • Value 9

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 L40FHDP60. Despite being another cheap, bare-bones 40-inch LCD from TCL, 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 improved compared with the older TCL model we saw, while colors are mostly good. Sure, there are plenty of better TVs 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.

Put the TCL L40FHDP60 right next to the earlier TCL L40FHDF12TA, and the most obvious difference is the bezel. While both TVs are structurally the same from the front, with the IR sensor in exactly the same spot, the new TV features a brushed-plastic bezel that looks classier than the two-tone black and silver of its compatriot.

The TV has a brushed-metal look and a glass stand. Sarah Tew/CNET

Despite being a little bit taller than the L40FHDF12TA, the newer TV is a little bit slimmer. While a thinner profile is aesthetically more pleasing it probably isn't much of a practical consideration, as most people buying this model wouldn't be wall-mounting it. Finally, the TV culminates at its base in a tempered glass stand that carries over from the previous model, but still looks quite classy.

The remote control is piano-black, which makes it smudge easily, but it's quite easy to use, with big buttons.

Key TV features
Display technology LCD LED backlight No
Screen finish Matte Remote Standard
Smart TV No Internet connection No
3D technology No 3D glasses included No
Refresh rate(s) 60Hz Dejudder (smooth) processing No
DLNA-compliant Photo/Music/Video USB Photo/Music/Video

As a bargain-basement TV, the TCL L40FHDP60 doesn't have many features. It's not LED-backlit, although that really doesn't matter much, especially at this price. LED doesn't mean a better picture, and we've seen several examples of TVs with CCFL backlights that can beat the newer LED TVs for picture quality -- the Samsung LND630 and Toshiba 32C120U come to mind.

Otherwise, the L40FHDP60 offers a full-HD resolution (1080p) -- not always a given at the low end -- and decent connectivity. It has a media player for pictures and MP3s via USB, though the interface is fairly rudimentary and ugly.

The TV features a USB media player.

Picture settings: The TV comes with the bare minimum of settings, and it forces you to use Personal mode if you try to adjust anything. The main settings of Brightness, Contrast, and so on are all there, but nothing more advanced beyond color temperature presets, which is understandable at this price.

TCL does offer a couple of Eco modes, including the SABC (Scene Adaptive Brightness Control), which is an auto brightness/contrast sensor. If you're looking to change aspect ratios, hit the Zoom button: you'll need to choose "No overscan" for correct 1080p display.

Connectivity: The TV offers two HDMI ports, and one each of component, AV, PC and USB.

Picture quality
While the earlier -- and even more daftly named -- 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.