TCL has announced a series of news for the TV market at IFA 2020. The cinema producer has taken stock of the situation by including both the models already announced and / or marketed and by introducing completely new ones. Among the series we already know there is the QLED 8K X915, a Full LED Array Local Dimming LCD (here our guide if you want to know more) with a retractable camera and IMAX Enhanced certification. The other QLED C815, C715 and Ultra HD P71 LCDs are positioned on a lower range. At the top is the Mini-LED X10 that we saw at the beginning of the year.
The televisions presented now are the P81 and P61 which therefore complete the 2020 range. TCL then also looked to the future, reaffirming its commitment to the Mini-LED side and introducing the AiPQ Engine Gen. 2, a set of optimizations aimed at to improve the quality of the image in all its most important aspects. Let's see in detail the most interesting announcements.
In the first half of 2020 TCL achieved excellent results globally. Despite the economic difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, sales have increased in various countries, totaling 4.27 million. The most significant increase is that recorded by the QLED models (LCD with Quantum Dot), which grew by 217.1% on an annual basis. In the first quarter, TCL was second in sales in the United States and first in Australia in March. According to the data provided by GfK, growth in Europe was as follows:
- Italy: + 16%
- Germany: + 15%
- Czech Republic: over 100%
- Poland: + 38%
- United Kingdom: over 100%
Summing up data from France, where TCL has long been one of the most popular brands, an overall strengthening is obtained that consolidates the third position of the Chinese manufacturer in the Old Continent in terms of market share.
During the performance of the 2020 TV range last May TCL had illustrated the improvements made by the intelligent Picture Quality Engine 2.0, a sort of hat under which all the interventions aimed at improving the image quality in the most important areas are grouped. The direct evolution that takes the name of AiPQ Engine Gen 2 was unveiled at IFA 2020.
As you can guess from the name, artificial intelligence plays an even more important role. The elaborations are entrusted to algorithms obtained through the so-called "machine learning" and are combined with refinements and interventions by technicians based on the knowledge on the functioning of people's visual perception.
Adjustments are made based on the type of content to be shown on the screen (for example movies or sports) and the viewing environment. AiPQ operates on colors, contrast ratio and sharpness and can also enhance Ultra HD resolution movies with HDR. Upscaling can also use the same technologies: TCL calls it AI Super Resolution (AISR), a solution that analyzes each frame of sources with a resolution lower than Ultra HD to improve their quality.
AiPQ is able to apply different processes depending on the scenarios on which it operates: some examples are landscapes with a large presence of greenery, nocturnal glimpses, animation contents, moving images. You can also apply different optimizations for faces and backgrounds. TCL's engine is capable of handling not only video but also audio. Also in this case the algorithms recognize the type of content and can also detect the sounds present in the environment through the microphones on the TV and remote controls. The information collected allows you to adjust the volume in relation to the amount of noise in the room.
The P81 series consists of three models: 50P815 (50 "), 55P815 (55") and 65P815 (65 "). The design is obviously common to all: we find a very thin frame on three of the sides (with the exception of the lower one for via degli speaker) and an aluminum finish. The table base consists of a thin metal element that runs from the back to the front creating a shape that resembles a "U" (when viewed from above).
The panels used are VA type LCDs with Ultra HD resolution. At the moment there are no other official details but a refresh rate at 50/60 Hz is practically certain while the backlight will probably be Direct LED (on this point we await confirmation).
On the other hand, there is no local dimming system, replaced here by the Micro Dimming Pro, a software processing that optimizes the contrast ratio by analyzing various areas of the panel. TCL measures performance by speaking of a Picture Performance Index (PPI) 2000, a useful figure as a yardstick with other TVs made by the same brand. To have a yardstick, just think that the P71 series is PPI 1500.
HDR video in HDR10, HDR10 +, Dolby Vision and HLG formats are supported. For audio we point out the support for Dolby Atmos. Sources in SDR (standard dynamic range) can be converted to HDR via Smart HDR. This function analyzes images and adapts the dynamics to the capabilities of the screen using the now ubiquitous artificial intelligence ("machine learning"). As for the motion there is the Motion Clarity Pro technology.
The Smart TV is always based on Android TV 9.0 Pie and is managed by an unspecified quad-core SoC. There are 16 GB of internal memory of which 10 are available to the user. Through the Google store you can download applications that allow you to access the main streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube and Disney +, obviously with HDR and Dolby Vision or Atmos where present.
The P81 series integrates microphones in the chassis and is therefore able to offer "Hands-Free" voice control (without the use of the remote control) and to interact via Google Assistant (to check the Italian support that could arrive via firmware update) . Compatibility with Alexa is also present after pairing with Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, Echo Sport or Echo Plus devices.
The equipment includes HbbTV in version 2.0.2, DVB-T2 and DVB-S2 tuners, CI + slot (1.4 with ECP), 3 HDMI 2.0b inputs with HDCP 2.2 and ARC, DLNA, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The audio section consists of 2 full range speakers of 10 W each ("down-firing", with downward emission). Dolby TrueHD and Dolby AC4 tracks are supported. Indicative prices should start from around 599 euros.
The P61 series ranks below the P71 and retains a minimalist design and relatively thin thickness. The foreseen cuts are 43P615 (43 "), 50P615 (50"), 55P615 (55 "), 65P615 (65") and 75P615 (75 "). Most of the specifications are in common with the P71 series. The panels are always Ultra HD 50 / 60Hz LCD with LED backlighting. Micro Dimming Pro is always available which acts on 100 zones while Motion Clarity is missing.
For HDR we find support for HDR10 and HLG and the Smart HDR function. Even the most advanced Dolby technologies are missing: Dolby Audio and Dolby AC4 are available for sound reproduction. The Smart TV platform forgoes integrated microphones but retains the other functions, always entrusted to Android TV. Google Assistant can still be used via the microphone on the remote control while Alexa requires an external speaker.
List prices start at approximately 399 euros.
Huawei's top at the best price? Huawei P30 Pro, on offer today by Mobzilla at 472 euros or by Amazon at 574 euros.