By Don Lindich
Week 4, 2023
Sound Advice Product of the Year 2023: My annual product of the year goes to the single product that impressed me the most over the prior 12 months. This year there were several standouts but only one clear winner: the latest TCL 6-Series 4K Smart Television. Incorporating advanced technologies like a QLED display, Mini-LED backlighting along with excellent industrial design, the 6-Series brings a high-end television to the masses for little more than the cost of something ordinary.
You might get a better picture by spending much more, and serious enthusiasts may find that extra bit of performance worth the extra investment. Many of them do not, and accordingly the 6-Series has found an enthusiastic following in the audio-video hobby. Hobbyists tend to splurge, but I know from communicating with newspaper readers over the past twenty years that that the general public is very sensitive to the law of diminishing returns. This TV takes the law of diminishing returns up to the bleeding edge.
Like any television, proper picture settings are essential to achieve optimal image quality. I found it most critical (as always) to set the color temperature to warm and to turn off the motion settings with every input and every streaming channel. A tiny bit of tweaking to the brightness and color and you will be rewarded with an image that will likely exceed your expectations by a great deal. Close friends of mine purchased one on my recommendation and they still spontaneously remark, “look at that picture!“ We watched “The Orville” streamed from Disney+ and marveled at the luscious colors, dark starfields, and fine detail rendered with pinpoint accuracy and realism. It made you want to sit there and stare. By the way, if you have not seen “The Orville,” do yourself a favor check it out. It has interesting characters, a whole new sci-fi universe with fascinating worlds and unique aliens and cultures, is brilliantly written (especially in the second and third season, where humor is less emphasized) and most of all, it just has heart. It gives Star Trek and Star Wars a run for their money as the best sci-fi on television.
The styling and construction of the 6-Series are top-shelf, with modern design highlighted by the beautifully crafted back panel that looks like it could have come from Denmark’s Bang & Olufsen and the cable hiding system that works in conjunction with the single-foot stand. (The 85-inch has stands at each end of the TV.) Add in the Roku smart television interface and you have a television that satisfies in absolutely every respect.
It has been over 10 years since I have been as excited about a television and what it represents to the general public. The last time was the Panasonic ST30 plasma, which started at $1,100 for the 42-inch size. The TCL 6-Series starts at $699.99 for a 55-inch up to $1,999.99 for the 85-inch. If you are patient you can find them on sale and with TCL as the new TV partner of the NFL, the next few weeks are likely to have some Super Bowl promotions. But even at list prices, this TV is a supreme bargain. Congratulations on a masterful job, TCL!
Q. The VCR in my Phillips combo DVD/VCR has quit working. It will not play, fast forward or rewind. Should I try to get it fixed, buy a new one or buy a used one on eBay?
-J. W., Minneapolis, MN
A. New VCRs have not been made since July 2016, so I suggest looking for a used one. Thrift shops are a good place to shop for them, as is Craigslist.