TCL 55C835: One Minute Rating
The TCL C835 series of 4K TVs builds on the key technologies of the previous C825 series with a process of improvement and addition.
The backlight remains Mini-LED, but here in a fourth generation that boosts the brightness to an OLED peak of 1,500 nits, and now with a much higher level of LED control that also extends the dynamic range. The thousands of tiny LEDs in our 55-inch TCL C835 test sample are grouped into 240 locally dimmable zones, while the 65-inch C835 has 288 zones and the 75-incher has 360.
This LED light generates a layer of quantum dots to deliver RGB color at a claimed full 100% of the DCI-P3 space, even bigger than the latest QD-OLED panels, and easy to believe when you see what this TV does with vibrant grass greens and deep ocean blues.
Google TV replaces Android TV as the smart interface, collecting recommendations and providing access to almost endless apps. The remote provides direct access to six of these via dedicated buttons (channels vary by market), and also allows easy voice interaction from the comfy couch. Gamers are well supported up to 120/144 Hz and the input lag of up to 6 ms for the highest refresh rates.
The default settings deliver impressive results and support high dynamic range material in HDR10 or Dolby Vision, for which Dolby Vision IQ can automatically adjust the settings to suit your room environment. But you can still go deep to adjust motion or color temperatures, and our best experience with this TV was that it delivered action shows like AppleTVs Make or break and Netflix’s Formula 1: Drive to survive with extraordinary OLED-like detail and realism – a level of performance that makes this TV a bargain.
TCL C835: Price and Release Date
TCL’s televisions may vary by market, especially between the UK/Europe and the models coming out in the US and Australia. This year we have determined that the European and UK versions of the C835 will be technically identical (the previous C825 had a significant difference in the UK), while Australia was the first to be introduced to the new range, with the C835 range officially available from 1 June 2022 .
Prices are still TBA outside Australia, where the rated 55C835 is listed for AU$1,999 (about $1,380 / £1,125), the 65C835 at AU$2,999 (converted to about $2,065/£1,685) and the 75C835 at AU$3,999 (about $2,755 / £2,250).
TCL 55C835: design
- Almost no edges
- Thin but not wafer thin
- Great remote control
The TCL C835 is almost borderless, with a tiny image of 2-3mm and a thicker bottom border of 1cm. The Mini LED backlight prevents true wafer-thin depth, but the top third of the TV nevertheless sticks out just 3cm deep, doubling to 6cm for the lower part of circuitry and connections. As is TCL’s custom, those connections are all on the right side, which can be a barrier to those replacing a TV with the more common connections on the left.
The remote is commendable, kept pretty simple, with those six service-specific hotkeys and a top circle to activate voice control.
Unpacking and setting up was easy enough with the 55-incher; there’s a two-person lift to lift the TV out of the box, but all edges are slightly over-protected by plastic wrap so you can safely lean it down while attaching the central stand, an easy six-screw operation.
TCL 55C835: features
- Google TV
- Mini LED Backlight
- Dolby Vision IQ
The Google TV interface used here is built on Android 11 and will put many users at ease with the familiar interface and how it accesses favorite apps, catch-up and subscription services, as well as essential settings. TCL has also added its own ‘channel’ which is basically dozens of live channels plus hundreds of on-demand shows, particularly strong on documentary.
Available sizes: 55, 65 and 75 inches
Screen type: Mini LED LCD
HDR support: Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG
Audio Support: Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, DTS
Smart platform: Google TV
HDMI ports: 4
The Google smarts also make setup a simple process, getting the TV on your home network and showing you how to use the remote for voice activation.
What sets this TV apart is the quality of the image processing and delivery from first the Mini LED zones that create the light, then the quantum dot field that converts the blue light into white, through a new type of VA LCD panel for TCL that allows a wide viewing angle and finally an anti-reflective coating that aids performance in a lit room.
Dolby Vision IQ also aims to optimize performance by using a light sensor on the TV to adjust settings according to your ambient lighting when viewing Dolby Vision content. However, you can easily switch this to Dolby Vision Dark or Light, from which you can adjust other menus, such as cutting back on excessive motion processing and returning the default color temperature from ‘warm’ to ‘neutral’ for more realistic results.
The connections are all on the right, with four different HDMI inputs – from HDMI 1 capable of full-bore 48Gbps operation for 4K/144Hz gaming, HDMI 2 marked as 4K/120Hz, and the other two presumably HDMI 1.4b, good to entertainment-style 4K/60Hz. The HDMI 4 input also provides HDMI eARC audio delivery to a connected receiver or soundbar. Optical digital audio output is also available, and also a stereo analog headphone mini-jack.
There are two USB-A slots for file replay or storage to allow for pausing, recording and timeshifting live TV, but without timer recording from an EPG. There’s an antenna jack plus Ethernet network (or built-in dual-band Wi-Fi), and a mini-jack AV input with a splitter cable included in case you want to hook up a camcorder or VHS tape deck (hey, some of still clinging to those things).
TCL 55C835: image quality
- Exciting brightness
- Vivid colors
- Well-handled dynamic range
We had very little trouble achieving spectacular picture quality from the TCL C835, whether streaming 4K HDR from its own Google apps or playing via HDMI from an AppleTV 4K or UHD Blu-ray player.
The best results reminded us of the test rolls TV manufacturers showed us when 4K TVs first arrived: “one day all TVs will look this good,” they said, and now it’s true, with Disney Plus -nature documentaries or beautiful drone sequences from the Apple TV Plus surf series Make or break delivered on the TCL as breathtakingly sharp and vibrant video. During a sequence filmed in Newcastle, NSW, we paused a shot of a sports arena and got close to the screen. Hundreds, maybe thousands of people filled the booth and virtually every face was on display. Amazing detail (see image above).
We found little need for color adjustment, but kept an eye on the motion settings, which allow control over blur and shake reduction on scales from 0 to 10. The top settings of this introduced the extremely clean ‘video’ look where you see more interpolated frames than real ones. But the lowest settings, as selected automatically in ‘Film’ mode, produced notable judder over long panning shots, or where the cinematography wasn’t perfect. A fairly high 6 or 7 for either setting was a material compromise, with the Clear LED Motion switch also activated, as this seemed to minimize any pasty video effect and provide the most accurate color palette.
There were more remarkable results when scaling standard Blu-ray and even DVD. TCL has implemented Deep Learning AI super-resolution scaling this year, while only ‘AI’ further adjusts settings for specific scenarios such as grass, faces, and other detected content. How much this helps or hinders is hard to judge, of course, but old Star Trek episodes came out almost as shiny as their remastered versions.
TCL 55C835: sound quality
- Well-balanced sound
- Behind ‘subwoofer’
- Onkyo . Branded Speakers
The built-in sound here is better than your average TV, using stereo downward-firing drivers, supported by a handy ‘subwoofer’ in the center of the back of the TV. This fills the sound so it can handle day to day and casual viewing needs well, even making a decent music player.
For high quality music or movie sound with real impact, you need to switch to a true stereo or surround system; the TCL accepts Dolby Atmos and DTS soundtracks and can pass them through HDMI eARC to an external audio system.
TCL 55C835: Smart TV and Menus
- Google TV
- All streaming and catch-up TV
- TCL’s own channel
Google TV provides a familiar and uncluttered interface, with easy access to all major video services and catch-up channels. It wants to be smart to fill its home screen with content from your selected services and did so here with minimal of the YouTube promotion that seemed common in the early days of Android TV. That said, it didn’t include content from all the available services, most notably omitting TCL’s own channel of live and on-demand content.
Google TV also comes with Google Assistant built-in. The TCL TV itself does not respond to a ‘Hey Google’ command, but uses the remote control as a microphone extension. Press and hold the Google Voice key on the remote and speak, and you can make helpful requests such as “Switch to HDMI 1” or “Mute”, “Unmute” and so on. Given the video integration, Google answers questions like a Google smart display rather than a smart speaker — and presents similar quirks.
For those with an alternative voice service, the C835 can also be connected to Alexa smart devices.
In addition to physical inputs and apps, you can throw video to the TV with Chromecast, MiraCast and, starting this year, AirPlay 2 video from Apple devices.
Should I buy the TCL 55C835?
The TCL C835 TV got us thinking. In Mini LED, it has screen technology that rivals OLED for impact and color, and it beats it in terms of brightness and dynamic range, so that the best images are breathtakingly impressive. And this is from a company that has its own kind of OLED in the wings, thanks to new inkjet printing technology from subsidiary China Star Optoelectronics Technology. This inkjet OLED is due to launch in 2024, but it’s hard to imagine how new OLEDs will outperform what we see here in terms of value, especially after two more annual iterative improvements to Mini LED.
Brilliant screen technology, excellent processing, easy Google TV operation: the TCL C835 has them all and delivers them at an excellent price.
Buy it if…
Don’t buy it if…
[First reviewed June 2022]