TCL C825 4K Mini LED TV Review: A premium TV that checks all the right boxes without breaking the bank

#TCL, #TV

TCL is one of the most popular TV brands in the world. In India, TCL touts feature-rich TVs at reasonable prices. The company offers a vast range of TVs, including HD-Ready, Full HD, 4K LEDs as well as 4K QLEDs, at affordable prices. However, the company doesn’t just do affordable TVs.

Enter the TCL 4K Ultra HD Mini QLED TV, the most premium TV from the company in India. The TCL Mini LED 4K TV is available in two sizes – 55 inches and 65 inches. The 55-inch model is priced at Rs 1,05,999, while the 65-inch variant will set you back Rs 1,47,999. However, these prices put TCL’s Mini LED TV up against some of Samsung’s QLED models. So, can this top-tier affordable brand deliver at the higher-end of the spectrum; stick around and let’s find out.

Design

The TCL Mini LED isn’t lacking in the looks department. The overall finish looks premium, with the TCL logo on the woofer at the back and polished grey sides. The soundbar on the bottom of the TV is covered in fabric, adding to the overall aesthetics. And while the bezels on the TV are relatively slim, the TV itself is quite thick, even if you discount the sub-woofer area on the back.

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The TCL Mini LED TV can be wall-mounted or placed on one of two stands, one of which is attached to the centre of the TV, which is the one used for the review. Additionally, you can also place the legs of the TV on the left and right if your table is big enough. The one thing I did find a bit inconvenient was having the power cord and ports on opposite ends of the TV.

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Speaking of ports, TCL Mini QLED TV has a strong selection of ports on the back. There are four HDMI ports, one with eARC support, an AV In port, the standard RCA inputs, an ethernet port, an optical audio port, and a USB port. It is worth noting that there are only two HDMI 2.1 ports out of the four. HDMI 2.1 can carry 4K at 120fps or 8K signals as opposed to the standard 4K at 60fps. I would have liked to see all four HDMI 2.1 ports, but in my experience, two were more than adequate.

Performance

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As mentioned earlier, the TCL’s premium Mini LED TV uses a four-core MediaTek 9615 chipset paired with 3GB of RAM. The MediaTek chip here does a really solid job of keeping the interface smooth. In my time with the C825, apps ran smoothly, and I barely spotted any lag while navigating through the interface. The TV also comes with 32GB of internal storage. I have to say that on paper, these are some of the best specs I’ve seen on a TV.

Gaming

The two HDMI 2.1 (e-ARC) ports on the back enable 4K gaming at 120 fps, which is rather impressive. The TV also supports MEMC, VVR (Variable Refresh Rate) and RGB HDR, making it excellent for gaming, especially if you happen to have an Xbox Series X/S around, which we did. When gaming, I switched to Game Picture mode, which reduces video processing, ensuring the audio and video are always in sync. I was lucky enough to have an RTX 3080 powered laptop and an Xbox Series X while reviewing the TV, which allowed me to really push the gaming potential of the C825 to the max. Whether it was the ray of sunlight falling onto the track or the reflective finishes on the cars, Dirt 5 looked excellent on the C825.

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I also indulged in a little Battlefield V in 4K resolution with ray tracing turned on, which was a surreal experience. I also tried a bit of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War in 1440p resolution. The aim here was to put the high refresh rate of the C825 to the test, and I have to say that it didn’t disappoint. Dungeons & Dragons Dark Alliance also looked excellent in running at 60fps in 4K resolution. Whether it was fast-paced shooters that demand high frame rates or open-world titles with visually stunning environments, the TCL’s Mini LED TV was an absolute delight to game on.

Picture Quality

The TCL C825 features a Mini LED TV panel and comes in 55-inch and 65-inch screen sizes. The TV boasts a 4K resolution and supports multiple HDR formats including HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, and Dolby Vision, which enhances the appearance of Dolby exclusive content. It also comes with support for Dolby Vision IQ. According to TCL, the display is IMAX Enhanced, meeting the “highest certification standards in calibration, resolution, colour, brightness, contrast, frame, and sound performance.”

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The TV also features a built-in AiPQ Engine that upscales content from HD to 4K resolution. I have to say that upscaling doesn’t quite work as well as the Sony Bravia A80J (Review) but is still pretty good and is especially noticeable when watching movies. The MEMC technology also bumps up the frames making fast-paced action scenes run smooth, while also aiding with gaming. The TV also has a wide colour gamut, displaying over a billion colours.

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You also have an intelligent picture option that automatically changes Picture Presets depending on the content you are watching. Additionally, the TV also features a peak brightness of 1,000 nits, which was rather impressive. Thanks to the several thousands of Mini LEDs, grouped in zones, the TV maintains the detail in dark parts of a bright scene. With the aid of its Mini LEDs, the TCL C825 delivers the highest level of clarity, detail, sharpness, and colour reproduction. I found that skin tones looked more natural on the Sony A80J but considering that it is nearly double the price of the C825, I’d say TCL is doing a rather impressive job.

Audio

The audio on the TCL C825 is delivered by an Onkyo soundbar located on the bottom of the TV. The setup includes dual front-firing 15W drivers on the bottom of the TV and a 30W subwoofer on the back. I felt that the focus here was more on volume than clarity. You can feel the bass during intense action sequences, while overall channel separation is pretty good. The volume levels are loud enough to fill a large room. I defaulted to 40 percent volume and even then, a lot of the audio leaked into other rooms. As compared to other TVs, especially budget ones, I found audio to be rich and detailed, although the bass can overpower the vocals at higher volumes.

#TCL, #TV

The C825 also comes with a built-in intelligent audio feature. Switching the feature on can automatically switch audio presets depending on the content. The TV also brings Dolby Atmos support, which is far more effective if you have an external audio setup. I have to say that the speakers on TCL’s flagship Mini LED TV were quite impressive. The sound is not as effective as an external soundbar but is better than most TVs to the point where the TV audio is more-than satisfactory using the built-in speaker system.

Software

For software, the TCL Mini LED TV runs on Android TV 11 with a ton of features onboard. Android TV 11 does offer Chromecast support, giving you a huge selection of apps and games to download directly from the Google Play Store. The TV also features far-field mics for hands-free access to Google Assistant. It also has a built-in feature that allows you to connect your smartphone via Bluetooth and play music on the soundbar without using the TV.

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Apart from standard OTT platforms like Disney+ Hotstar, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, etc, the TCL C825 also features ‘TCL Channel’, which organises other content and offers 19 ‘live’ channels. The overall interface was neat and clean for the most part and thanks to that four-core chipset, animations are quite smooth. The one issue I had was with Google Assistant, which didn’t always work properly, at times flat out ignoring my commands.

Remote

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The TCL C825 Mini LED 4K TV comes with a rather minimalist remote. The remote control features the standard OTT hotkeys for various platforms including Netflix, Zee5, Amazon Prime Video, and TCL Channel. You also get a dedicated Google Assistant button and an entire set of buttons to navigate through the features of this TV. TCL has opted for functionality over form with the remote control as the design certainly doesn’t feel minimalist.

Camera

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Apart from the remote and stand, you can get a camera in the box. The Magic Camera supports 1080p video and the overall image quality was excellent for video calls. You can join or host calls directly from the TV using the Google Duos video chat app. The camera also has an automatic shutter that covers the camera when it isn’t in use. You can also snap shots, pause/play, and rewind/fast forward from the camera by using a simple gesture. I don’t know how often you’ll use the camera included with the C825, but that isn’t to say it doesn’t offer any utility.

Verdict

As mentioned, the TCL C825 Mini LED TV doesn’t come cheap, it is rather expensive as compared to other TCL models. However, there is no doubt that the C825 lives up to the hype. The C825 offers a ton of features, more than what I’ve seen on any TV in this segment. Everything from image quality to colour reproduction was up to the mark. And even though the picture quality is not on par with the Bravia XR A80J, it comes pretty damn close at around half the price.

#TCL, #TV

The C825 also gets a solid-A when it comes to gaming thanks to the two HDMI 2.1 ports and the 120Hz refresh rate. And while the UI could use some refining, it is still smooth and convenient to navigate through. You also get a highly functional remote and camera. The TCL Mini LED TV managed to exceed my expectations at every turn, earning it an easy recommendation. If you want to invest in a premium TV, not only can the TCL C825 go head-to-head with the best in this range from Samsung, LG, and Sony, but it can do so while being significantly more affordable.

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