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TCL cancels one of the year's best TVs in 50 and 65 inches

The Chinese TV maker's P-series Roku TV earned our second-highest rating of 2017, but it'll only be available in one size: 55 inches. You're welcome, Vizio.

The excellent TCL P series will only be available in the 55-inch size shown here.
Sarah Tew/CNET

I just don't get it, TCL.

When I reviewed the 55-inch TCL P series Roku TV in June, I really, really liked it. It delivered the TV trifecta: excellent image quality, an affordable price ($650) and superb ease of use. Good streaming features too, thanks to its integrated Roku. 

And I'm not the only one. Accolades included The Wirecutter ("our pick for the best TV"), The Verge ("the best budget 4K TV you can get") and PC Mag ("Editors' Choice"), while 88 percent of Amazon reviewers gave the P series four or five stars. Currently it's the No. 3 best-selling TV on Amazon.

When the P series was first introduced, TCL said it would also ship in 50- and 65-inch sizes, for the enticing (estimated) prices of $500 and $1,000 respectively. It targeted a "Q4" delivery date for those sizes. At the time I said the incumbent picture-quality-for-the-money champ, Vizio, had a real challenger.

Unfortunately, and mysteriously, TCL has now cancelled those sizes. The 2017 TCL P series will only be available in 55 inches.

When I asked TCL's representative via email why the company ditched the other two sizes, the best response I got was, "We'll be shifting our focus from the remaining 2017 P-series models (50 and 65 inches) to the next-generation P-series portfolio featuring new, cutting-edge technology to further enhance the home entertainment experience," along with a promise to discuss "factors that led up to this decision" at a later date. 

If by new, cutting-edge technology it means QLED, as seen on the X2 for example, I guess that's cool, and it might improve the picture even more. (Confusingly, TCL and Samsung both use the "QLED" terminology for their high-end quantum dot TVs, but in both cases it denotes an augmented variety of LCD TV, not a separate display technology like OLED.)

But QLED is also a lot more expensive, and what makes the P series so appealing is its affordable price. TCL's bread is buttered by budget TVs, and it would be unfortunate if the company -- the largest TV maker in China and rapidly gaining market share here in the US -- sacrificed value-first models just as it's starting to grow its US reputation.

Meanwhile, savvy TV shoppers who want a size other than 55 inches, and who can't afford my favorite TV of the year -- LG's C7 OLED, currently $2,200 -- will have to look for an alternative. The most likely is Vizio's M series, whose predecessor was my own 2016 Editors' Choice. I plan to have a review of that TV, as well as a couple of other midrange sets from Sony and Samsung, in the next few weeks.

Best TVs of 2017: See our top-rated reviews.

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