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TCL Google TVs Aim for Gamers With Smoother, Brighter Pictures

Best known for Roku-branded TVs, the company's newest higher-end models will use Google's smart TV system instead.

The TCL QM8 series TV against a green background.
David Katzmaier/CNET

My favorite TV for the money right now is the TCL 6-Series Roku TV, but the China-based TV giant's latest lineup could give it a run for its money. The new models, announced at CES 2023, feature faster refresh rates for smoother gaming, QLED tech with brighter LED and mini-LED backlights for more powerful pictures and the Google TV smart system. 

None of the new Q-Series TVs offer Roku's smart TV system, my favorite. Instead, they use Google TV, which is solid in its own right, but more complex and slower, in my experience. Of course, a buyer who wants Roku on a Q could always attach a Roku streaming device and ditch the built-in system.

The most intriguing feature is TCL's new Game Accelerator. It's designed to provide gamers with higher effective framerates, which could make the action look smoother. It doubles the refresh rate of the panel by cutting the vertical resolution in half. Translation? TCL's top two new series, the QM8 and Q7, have a 120Hz refresh rate, but with the feature enabled it's effectively 240Hz with VRR, according to TCL. The step-down Q6, which is 60Hz native, can show games at 120Hz.

The TCL Q6 Google TV displaying a woman wearing red.

The TCL Q6 series is the least-expensive to offer Game Accelerator.

James Martin/CNET

I haven't seen the feature in action yet but if it works as advertised, it could be a cool way to get smoother games, especially if the less-expensive models perform as well as 120Hz native TVs for games. I'm also how visible the reduced vertical resolution will be. 

Now playing: Watch this: TCL Debuts New Q, S Series TVs at CES

The high-end QM8 is available in sizes from 65 to 98 (!) inches. TCL says it's twice as bright as the current 6-Series at 2,800 nits, which if true would make it one of the brightest TVs available. Equipped with a Mini-LED backlight, the TV has up to 2,800 dimming zones in the biggest model. When I visited their suite at CES TCL's reps told me that number would be quite a bit smaller on the other sizes, but couldn't provide specifics yet.

A TCL Q7 TV displaying food next to vases.

The TCL Q7 has a true 120Hz refresh rate and MiniLED backlight.

James Martin/CNET

The Q7 will be the least expensive new model with full-array local dimming, my favorite picture-enhancing extra on non-OLED TVs. It lacks mini-LED, however, so will likely be slimmer than the QM8 and the current 6-Series. The least expensive model with QLED color and Game Accelerator is the Q6.

TCL also announced new versions of its less expensive non-QLED TVs, called the S4, S3 and S2 models, which use a mix of Google and Roku smart systems. TCL says most of its new TVs will ship this spring, with pricing to be announced later.

The company also says it made a mistake in saying initially that it would release a TV using QD-OLED technology. "A line in the TCL CES 2023 press release confirming plans to launch the brand's first QD-OLED television this year was incorrectly included," the company told CNET in a statement. "We will have more to share about TCL's exciting new lineup in the next couple of months."

That leaves Samsung and Sony as the only companies to announce QD-OLED TVs in 2023.

Update, March 10: Added QD-OLED statement from TCL.