Bargain brand TCL launches high-end TV with Dolby Vision HDR

The Chinese manufacturer, best known in the US for its cut-rate TVs, will introduce a flagship-level TV with all the fixins in 2016, including Dolby Vision, quantum dots and a curved screen.

David Katzmaier Editorial Director -- Personal Tech
David reviews TVs and leads the Personal Tech team at CNET, covering mobile, software, computing, streaming and home entertainment. We provide helpful, expert reviews, advice and videos on what gadget or service to buy and how to get the most out of it.
Expertise A 20-year CNET veteran, David has been reviewing TVs since the days of CRT, rear-projection and plasma. Prior to CNET he worked at Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as the Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics. Credentials
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David Katzmaier
2 min read

If you recognize the TCL brand at all, it's for cheap TVs, perhaps with Roku built-in. With X1 series, the Chinese TV maker is going for something completely different.

When it launches in the second half of 2016 in the US, for an as-yet-undisclosed, but likely quite expensive price, the TCL X1 will hit just about every high-end TV check box. So far it has only been announced in a 65-inch size.

Most important, it's one of the few TVs announced so far to incorporate the Dolby Vision HDR system. The first was Vizio's Reference Series, another high-end play from a brand known best for bargains. Vizio's 65-inch version costs a cool six grand, making it one of the most expensive 65-inch TVs on the market.

So far at CES, LG has also said that its 2016 OLED TVs will support Dolby Vision as well.

HDR promises improved image quality, including more realistic color, brighter highlights and other improvements, compared to regular old 4K resolution. The most concise pitch I've heard is "not just more pixels, but better pixels."

Dolby claims its version of HDR is the best, and offers a handful of Dolby Vision movies for streaming via the Vudu service. Those titles include "The Lego Movie," "Edge of Tomorrow" and "Man of Steel." Netflix will also launch Dolby Vision titles soon. TCL didn't specify that the X1 would support Netflix at launch, but its press release does say "TCL and Dolby Vision are collaborating with major streaming service providers to provide the new TVs with direct access to the latest HDR premium content from leading studios."

Like the Reference Series and the Samsung UNJS9500, the X1 is an LCD TV with full-array local dimming and plenty of other mouthwatering specs.

Hardware specs

All of these features put it among the upper echelon of LED LCD picture quality on paper. Of course, we'll have to wait to see how it performs in real life. Even then it faces the same kind of problem as Vizio and Hisense's ULED TV: Who is willing to pay big bucks for a high-end TV from a brand known for being budget?

Correction: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that TCL was the only TV maker beyond Vizio to support Dolby Vision.