So you want a stupidly large television? Do you want to pay a pittance for it? Who doesn't? TCL has returned in 2013 with a very big TV that offers decent-but-no-better image quality. The design of this TV is the biggest change over last year's model, with its thin bezel providing a very attractive look for a budget television.
The visuals haven't changed much, though. Color is a little improved albeit still not great, but loss of shadow detail is a worse problem in anything but very dark scenes. But if you don't think on it too hard, what you get is a very punchy image. Decent sound quality is also an unexpected bonus.
At this price you can get a better TV, namely the 50-inch Panasonic S60 plasma, but it's nowhere near as impressive in size. To get a comparable size from a "name" brand you're going to need to pay many hundreds of dollars more, so the TCL offers very good value on this metric alone.
Series information: I performed a hands-on evaluation of the 58-inch LE58FHDE3010. This review does not apply to the 50-inch LE50FHDE3010 because that TV uses an edge-lit LED backlight rather than the 58-incher's direct LED backlight.
The look of the new TCL is reminiscent of the E-series from Vizio, with a very slim bezel surrounding the screen. It's quite an attractive look, especially when compared with the 1-inch-thick bezel of last year's TCL TVs. However, the direct LED backlight means that the TV is a lot chunkier when seen from the side than edge-lit LED LCD televisions.
The TV is attached to a black stand with a glass-topped base. Unfortunately this display doesn't swivel, but that's hardly to be expected for the money.
The remote control is the same model we've seen from the company twice before; it's a chubby black wand with a friendly look and a decently ergonomic feel.
While on the topic of friendly looks, the TV has updated its menu system to include simple pictographs of inputs and settings. It's reasonably easy to navigate and use.
|Key TV features|
|Display technology||LCD||LED backlight||Full-array|
|Screen finish||Glossy, matte||Remote||Standard|
|Smart TV||No||Internet connection||No|
|3D technology||None||3D glasses included||No|
|Refresh rate(s)||120Hz||Dejudder (smooth) processing||No|
While this television is the "top" of TCL's line -- aside from the 110-inch 4K China Star -- the LE58FHDE3010 is pretty light on features. There's no Internet connectivity, so no Smart TV or DLNA networking. But there are a few concessions to modernity with the inclusion of an MHL port and a USB port for pictures and music playback. The MHL port will come in especially handy if you have a Roku Streaming Stick as it will instantly upgrade the TCL to a Smart TV. We plugged in the Stick and found it easy to navigate the Roku menus with the TCL remote, though the slightly spongy buttons did make text entry a little laborious.
The panel itself is a 120Hz LCD with direct LED backlighting. Unlike some so-called 120Hz LCDs, from Vizio and Toshiba for example, this one does offer the smoothing Soap Opera Effect and improved motion resolution.
Picture settings: From a basic television you need to expect a basic set of controls, but the TCL takes it to the extreme. For example -- and this is pretty weird -- unlike every other TV on the market there is no "color" setting. Miraculously, its color turned out to be OK, but this is still unusual.
Advanced controls are nonexistent, and you can only really choose between a handful of modes and adjust brightness and contrast. Like many televisions in this price range though, the TCL jumps right to Personal when you make any adjustments. The smoothing mode is called MEMC (motion estimation motion compensation), and it has just a simple on/off toggle.
Click the image at the right to see the picture settings used in the review and to read more about how this TV's picture controls worked during calibration.