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TCL LE58FHDE3010 review: Cheap 58-inch TCL LED isn't half-bad

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Picture quality
While the first TCL we reviewed, the L40FHDF12TA, was pretty terrible, the company has evolved to "not awful" in terms of picture quality, and this was evident on the subsequent TCL L40FHDP60. Though the cosmetics have changed on this latest model, its performance hasn't changed much. We should applaud the company's consistency in the face of a much slimmer design and be thankful performance didn't regress -- as we saw on a few other LED LCDs last year.

Black levels are similar in measurement to the L40FHDP60's (which is good), but shadow detail is crushed in the same way as well (which is bad). Color is below par but not terrible, but there is one area where the TV falls down. In my many years of reviewing TVs, the TCL had the worst jaggies of any TV I've ever seen when replaying interlaced content. The company had to save money somewhere, and you could argue it looks like the scaler is where that happened.

Comparison models (details)
Panasonic TC-P50S60 50-inch plasma
Vizio E500i-A1 50-inch edge-lit LED TV
Toshiba 50L2300U 50-inch edge-lit LED
Samsung 46EH6000 46-inch edge-lit LED
Panasonic TC-P65VT50 (reference) 65-inch plasma

Black level: Black-level performance is an important part of a television's makeup, and I am mixed in my praise for what TCL can do for the money. While the black levels are fairly deep, you could argue it appears to have been "faked" to some extent with some crushing, which is loss of shadow detail. This crushing appears on mixed-contrast scenes that have a combination of dark and light areas. In predominately dark scenes, it does very well.

At the 46:21 mark of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" you see Hogwarts set against the valley beyond. On the TCL you could make out the curve of the river behind, while such details were harder to spot on both the Vizio and Toshiba. The Vizio was closest to capturing this amount of detail, but the Toshiba struggled to make any sense of the image at all, obscuring most of it.

But switch to a brighter scene and the TCL's advantage slips away -- instead of revealing shadows here, it chooses to obscure them, with details such as hair and clothing getting lost in a darkened cloud. Faces, too, become overshadowed, and eyes disappear in the shadows. As a result, visuals could have a slight cartoonish look to them at times, particularly as faces look like they have an overemphasized "vivid" filter on them. All of the other TVs in the lineup were able to deliver facial detail without hiding it in the gloom. The TCL's poor showing can be explained by its poor gamma curve, which is unable to be corrected using the TV's controls.

Color accuracy: The lack of a true color control -- beyond a color temperature choice of Cool, Normal, and Warm -- meant we couldn't improve the TCL's default color reproduction much. It was subpar overall, although still a marked improvement on last year. Colors tended to be a little blue on the LE58FHDE3010 compared with the other TVs, except for skin tone which was nicely saturated, if a little too warm.

At the 1:16 mark in "The Tree Of Life," as Mr. O'Brien shows Jack where to focus his attention in the garden, the grass underfoot looked blue-green on the LE58FHDE3010 where on the other TVs it looked a lot healthier and lush, or less in need of gardening, perhaps. Meanwhile the skin that appears under Mr O'Brien's hat that isn't in fake shadow was a little sunburnt-looking, compared with on the other televisions.

Video processing: Video processing was a sore point for the TCL, as while it performed well in some tests, it completely dropped out of college and worked late shift at Kinko's on another.

The television was able to pass 1080p/24 correctly, and it deserves props compared with some of the other sets, which are actually masquerading as 120Hz-compatible.

The TCL achieved the 600 lines of motion resolution I expected when I engaged any of the "MEMC" smoothing modes, but there were plenty of artifacts, even in the scrolling lines of the test pattern; issues better processors don't show.

Film mode was grayed out with 1080p content but enabling it for 1080i had no effect on deinterlacing testing. Everything that could strobe in these tests did so, and there was heavy moire in the football stand scene. As a result, this is the worst performance I have ever seen in this test, and you may see some artifacts when watching 1080i content from a cable box, for example.

The TCL's input lag measurement of 129.8 is the worst of any TV we've measured so far, so gamers of every stripe might want to think twice before getting this TV.

Uniformity: Compared against the other TVs in the lineup, the TCL had very good uniformity with no discernible light leakage, though at times a black screen could look blue in patches. Off-axis performance was solid with little loss of color or black level when seen at extreme angles.

Bright lighting: The TCL has a semimatte finish that was quite good at managing reflections and performed well in a lit environment. Here, while there was the same amount of crushing as before, there were quite consistent blacks; it behaved much better than the Toshiba in this regard.

Sound quality
Sound is a lot better than you should expect from a cheap, huge TV, and this is thanks in part to the front-facing speakers. Our "Red Right Hand" test track was as musical as you could expect from a TV speaker -- with decent vocal detail and good bass definition, where its Vizio E500 competitor had no bass at all. "Mission: Impossible II" had intelligible speech on the TCL, though the Vizio had a little more presence, and bass transients were also better on TCL translating into heftier explosions.

Read more about how we test TVs.

Geek box: Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.011 Average
Avg. gamma (10-100%) 1.68 Poor
Avg. grayscale error (10-100%) 6.001 Poor
Near-black error (5%) 1.236 Good
Dark gray error (20%) 5.203 Poor
Bright gray error (70%) 4.858 Average
Avg. color error 4.670 Good
Red error 2.325 Good
Green error 4.593 Average
Blue error 8.008 Poor
Cyan error 5.885 Poor
Magenta error 6.109 Poor
Yellow error 1.101 Good
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Pass Good
1080i Deinterlacing (film) Fail Poor
Motion resolution (max) 600 Average
Motion resolution (dejudder off) 300 Poor
Input lag (Game mode) 129.8 Poor


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