TCL 65C825: QLED and mini LED for better HDR images

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The TCL 65C825 4K television provides high brightness and optimized contrast thanks to its mini-LED backlighting. Its 65 inch QLED display is compatible with the main HDR formats, including Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+. This TCL mini-LED TV features Android TV with Google Assistant and Chromecast and has four HDMI 2.1 connectors, two of which are 4K 120 FPS, ALLM, VRR and Freesync compatible for next-generation video games.

Sold for €1,590, the TCL 65C825 is a direct competitor to Samsung Neo QLED 2021 TVs, notably the Samsung QE65QN85A model sold for €700 more. Can it match this prestigious rival?

The TCL 65C825 4K television is Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+ compatible, features Android TV with Google Assistant and Chromecast and is equipped with four HDMI 2.1 connectors, two of which are 4K 120 fps, ALLM, VRR and Freesync compatible.

Packaging & accessories

The TCL 65C825 television comes with a power cable, two remote controls (one simplified and one comprehensive), two sets of batteries and a quick start guide.

The TCL 65C825 4K mini-LED television comes with a base (to be screwed on), a power cable, two remote controls and a video camera for video conferencing.

Presentation

The TCL 65C825 television is one of the first QLED (Quantum Dot) TVs to use mini-LED backlighting. Its 10-bit LCD display therefore benefits from high-performance zoned backlighting and very high brightness to provide optimal contrast with Dolby Vision and HDR10+ HDR content. The TCL 65C825 is an Android Smart TV that features Google Assistant for search and voice control as well as a Chromecast audio and video module to stream videos and music wirelessly from a smartphone, tablet or computer. It can access YouTube, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+ as well as the Play Store app catalog dedicated to Android TV.

The 2.1 channel audio section of this TCL TV is designed by Onkyo. It is Dolby Atmos compatible and features a dedicated 20-watt woofer as well as 2 x 15-watt front-firing speakers. Its four HDMI 2.1 connectors are suitable for video games, as two of them are 4K 120 FPS, VRR and ALLM compatible. They detect consoles and automatically switch to gaming mode to provide low latency.

Elegant design

The frame surrounding the picture is thin enough to be quickly forgotten. The TCL 65C825’s polished metal edges give it a touch of elegance.

The TCL 65C825 UHD 4K television has a particularly elegant and refined design with an appealing brushed aluminum finish. The soundbar situated below the screen is covered by a gray acoustic fabric and blends in well with the TV. The TV is supported by a central metal base that ensures great stability and allows it to be easily placed on most A/V cabinets. It can also be wall-mounted on a TV wall mount since it is VESA 400 x 400 mm compatible.

QLED, Mini-LED, HDR

The TCL 65C825 has a 65” Ultra High Definition (3840 x 2160 pixels) QLED LCD screen. Its quantum box filter interposed between the backlight and the LCD panel improves the overall color intensity on the screen.

The QLED display of this TCL TV uses a mini-LED backlighting system that allows very high peak brightness (up to 1000 nits) to optimize the display of HDR images with wide dynamic range. A multitude of very small LEDs line the back of the panel and can be controlled via zone by gradually modulating their brightness. With Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and HLG compatibility, the TCL 65C825 delivers deeper blacks than a typical LED TV and rich, ideally saturated colors. The mini-LED technology also virtually eliminates the halo effect around small, bright elements of the picture on a dark background, notably subtitles.

Artificial intelligence

The TCL AiPQ 2.0 Engine artificial intelligence image enhancement technology present on the TCL 65C825 TV is responsible for optimizing various parameters of the picture, including sharpness and smoothness of moving images. An upscaling function for standard and HD sources to 4K Ultra HD resolution also improves the image quality of DTT programs, DVDs and Blu-rays. It uses artificial intelligence technology to identify the characteristics and components of images to be upscaled based on a database containing samples of different types of content.

Onkyo 2.1 soundbar

The TCL 65C825 television’s Onkyo soundbar benefits from an output of 2 x 15 watts and features an elegant acoustic fabric cover.

The audio section of the TCL 65C825 television is designed by Onkyo and allows you to enjoy virtual Dolby Atmos sound. It consists of a stereo soundbar that is placed under the screen and powered by 2 x 15 watts, as well as a woofer at the back of the screen. The latter has an amplification of 20 watts.


Behind the screen of the TCL 65C825, the low frequency driver has an amplification of 20 watts.

Android TV

Once connected to the Internet, the TCL 65C825 can access many services such as Netflix, YouTube, Prime Video, Disney+, Molotov… It can also download applications and games from the Play Store, be used to browse the Internet or access social networks. Particularly intuitive, the Android TV interface takes advantage of the speed of the Quad Core processor embedded in this TV: navigation in the menus and content is smooth.

By connecting the TCL 65C825 to the home Internet router, it is possible to access many services such as Netflix, Disney+, Molotov…

Finally, the support of the DLNA protocol allows this TV to access multimedia content shared over the local network, whether they are stored on a NAS or on a computer connected to the same local network. It uses its WiFi 6 connectivity (WiFi ax) to benefit from an optimal speed with any compatible internet box or WiFi router, while naturally still working with the previous WiFi standards.

Built-in Google Assistant & Chromecast

Because it features Android TV, the TCL 65C825 natively integrates Google Assistant and also adopts a Chromecast module. The former can be used to control the TV vocally via its built-in microphone, but also all Google Assistant-compatible connected devices, by addressing the TV directly with the hands-free voice control feature (built-in microphone in the TV). If you have a Netflix subscription, you can ask Google Assistant to play an episode of your favorite series and the TCL 65C825 TV will oblige. Note that there is a switch on the back of the TV to turn off the microphone.

The built-in Chromecast allows you to wirelessly stream audio and video content from any smartphone, tablet or computer (via the Chrome browser) on the TV.

Removable camera

The TCL 65C825 mini-LED television is also equipped with a Full HD (1080p) camera situated on top of the screen that can be used for video calls and video conferencing. Its magnetic fixing mechanism means that it can be removed if you don’t wish to use it. It also has a lens cover and an on-off button on the back to preserve your privacy.

The TCL 65C825 television comes with an HD 1080p camera that allows you to use Google Duo for video calls for example. Its use is not mandatory as it is removable.

HDMI 2.1, USB, WiFi

The TCL 65C825 TV has four HDMI 2.1 connectors, two of which are 4K 120 FPS compatible and one is ARC/eARC compatible. Its USB 2.0 port is intended for multimedia content playback, which is also possible via Ethernet and WiFi (DLNA). An optical digital audio output and a headphone jack are also present.

All of the TCL 65C825 television’s connectors can be found on its right side, except for the power connector on the left.

Key specifications

  • QLED display, Mini-LED backlighting
  • Brightness: 1000 nits
  • Dolby Vision IQ / HDR10+ / HDR10 / HLG
  • Onkyo 2.1 channel Dolby Atmos audio system
  • Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, Disney+
  • 4 x HDMI 2.1
  • 4K 120 fps, VRR, Freesync
  • Removable HD1080p camera

See all of the TCL 65C825 mini-LED QLED television’s characteristics

Configuration

We connected the TCL 65C825 TV to a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player using an Audioquest Cinnamon HDMI cable to watch HD and 4K HDR Blu-rays. We also connected it to the local network via WiFi. Note that it is also possible to use an Ethernet cable to enjoy the best bandwidth while streaming. The television was powered by one of the Taga Harmony PF-1000 v2 power strip’s powered sockets.

For this review, we connected the TCL 65C825 to one of the Taga Harmony PF-1000 v2 power strip’s powered sockets and to a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player to watch UHD 4K HDR movies.

Our impressions

Design

The TCL 65C825 is well made, the soundbar is neatly integrated under the screen and the base is simple but stable. It also has the virtue of being centered, which makes it possible to place the TV on any type of furniture, even of modest size.

The TCL 65C825’s design isn’t particularly original but it is well thought out. The soundbar is neatly integrated and the fabric that covers it gives the TV a touch of elegance.

The manufacturer provides two remote controls: one standard model with access to all the features (except voice control) and a simplified, more compact model with a microphone. We used the latter during our test.

The TCL 65C82 comes with two remote controls: a standard model with a numeric keypad and audio/video playback keys (the larger one) and a simplified model with an integrated microphone and a direct access button to Google Assistant (the smaller one).

4K HDR picture

Whether it was from a 4K streaming service (Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+) or with our 4K Blu-ray player, the TCL 65C825 TV offered us a precise and detailed picture with a nice depth of field. Of the various preset picture modes, we found the Movie mode to be the most suitable for watching movies and series. The colors were realistic and well-saturated, without being excessive. This mode also deactivates any image processing in order to preserve the cinematic character of the image.

In Movie mode with the 4K HDR version of the first Alien movie, the TCL 65C82 TV displayed a nicely contrasted and detailed picture. The colors were soft and natural.

With the 4K HDR10+ remastered version of Alien, we were quickly immersed in the disturbing atmosphere of the movie as we walked through the corridors of the Nostromo before the crew awakened. The HDR rendering on high contrast scenes was very convincing, with nuance and legibility in both the dark and bright areas of the image. Blacks weren’t as dense as those offered by OLED TVs, but they were still very satisfactory and came close to the best competing QLED TVs.

The bright colors of the clothing in Kubrick’s film were emphasized and the contrast was excellent, resulting in a rich and vivid image.

With The Shining in 4K HDR10+, the movie’s rich colors were also emphasized, with saturated seventies hues and particularly intense reds that were an omen of the bad things to come. Despite a bit of grain in some dark shots, we thoroughly enjoyed watching this movie again on this TCL QLED TV.

4K upscaling (TNT, HD Blu-ray)

Like all TV manufacturers, TCL has equipped the 65C825 with a video processing system enhanced with artificial intelligence to perform 4K upscaling of lower definition sources. With HD TV programs, it proved to be rather effective in improving the level of detail without generating artifacts. The result was better with 1080p HD Blu-rays, whose images are inherently richer. We didn’t achieve the precision of the market’s heavyweights such as Sony with the XR Processor or Panasonic with its HCX Pro AI processing, but the results were still convincing.

With the HD1080p Blu-ray version of Drive, the TCL 65C825’s 4K definition upscaling was convincing with detailed close-ups without artifacts.

Video games

The TCL 65C825 is optimized for video games and provides two 120 fps 4K, ALLM, VRR and FreeSync compatible HDMI 2.1 connectors. Connected via HDMI to a PC with an AMD Ryzen 5600X hexacore processor and a GeForce RTX 3070 Ti graphics card, we were able to enjoy CyberPunk 2077 in 4K at 120 frames per second. The screen responded instantly and easily matched the variable display rate of the graphics card, resulting in a responsive, smooth and tear-free image.

Responsiveness and smoothness are the order of the day with Cyberpunk 2077 in 4K 120 IPS as long as the ALLM and VRR functions are activated.

Audio section

Designed by Onkyo, the soundbar integrated underneath the screen of the TCL 65C825 is a 2.1 stereo model with a woofer placed on the rear of the TV. Compatibility with Dolby AC4 and Dolby True HD formats is guaranteed, as well as support for Dolby Atmos which can be virtualized. In practice, the audio system of this TCL TV managed to expand the soundstage while preserving the clarity of dialogue. The Atmos effects were not very pronounced, even though we could perceive some vertical extension at times. Be careful if you like to listen at high volume: the sound quickly becomes saturated as soon as the volume is pushed above 50, notably with low frequencies which can become muddled.

Compared to…

Samsung QE65QN85A

About 30% more expensive than the TCL model, the Samsung TV offers a brighter and more contrasted image thanks to a higher peak brightness (1500 nits compared to 1000 nits for the TCL) and a finer management of the mini-LED backlighting. This also benefits the colors, which are more intense and more vibrant on the Samsung QE65QN85A. However, the latter lacks support for Dolby Vision.

Regarding sound, the Samsung’s 2.2.2 channel audio section also outperforms the TCL soundbar, with both more extensive 3D spatialization and more accurate sound effects that follow the on-screen action well.

The TCL TV’s connected features take advantage of the rich and user-friendly Android TV interface to offer the most extensive catalog of services and applications on the market. Samsung’s Tizen interface still offers a plethora of services and applications, but we personally prefer Android TV.

Who is it for?

The TCL 65C825 television gives you access to the rich colors of QLED technology at a lower price, as well as excellent contrast thanks to the mini-LED backlighting. Ideal for enjoying HDR10+ and Dolby Vision content in optimal conditions but also for video games, it is a very interesting alternative to Samsung Neo QLED TVs, which are certainly more powerful but also more expensive.

Conclusion

The TCL 65C825 is a nice surprise from the Chinese manufacturer that offers an excellent picture with SDR (Blu-ray, DTT) and HDR (Blu-ray 4K, Netflix …) content in Movie mode right out of the box. The colors are natural and nuanced, the brightness high enough to enjoy the richness of HDR content and rather effective upscaling of TV programs and HD 1080p Blu-rays.

Without reaching the performance of a Samsung Neo QLED or an OLED TV, this TCL comes close enough to appeal to home-cinephiles and lovers of beautiful images on a budget.

The integrated soundbar is convincing and provides a wide soundstage, clear dialogues and an overall balanced sound. However, it is a pity that the sound becomes distorted at high volume.

We liked

  • The bright and nicely contrasted images
  • The accurate colors in Cinema mode
  • The effective 4K upscaling

We would have liked

  • For the sound to have remained balanced at high volume

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