For quite a while now, TCL has managed to do decently well for itself with the budget-conscious market, providing televisions that usually punch above its class. The Q7 series, however, may just be its best attempt at winning the mid-range market. With its latest offering, TCL has a set that offers fantastic quality, features usually only found on higher models, and a price that’s under $1,000 (save for the largest model).
The 55″, which I tested here, is currently priced right at $549 depending on the retailer, while the 65″ and 75″ are $649 and $949 respectively. This series maxes out with the 85″ model for $1,699.
TCL Q7 TV
A formidable option for budget shoppers, with a 4K panel and a slew of smart TV features.
Right out of the box, this is easily one of the more impressive sets I’ve seen at this price point. The bezel around the edges is super thin, and the TV itself is fairly thin. It’s not as thin as some of its competition, but it will still sit pretty flush against a wall if you choose to mount it. On the back, you’ll find four HDMI inputs, two of which support HDMI 2.1 and another supports eARC, meaning it’s possible to connect multiple next-gen consoles and a sound bar.
The remote is fairly standard in layout, but a little larger than most I’ve seen. Aside from the usual buttons, there were six “direct to service” buttons that have become normal at the bottom. Two of them were TCL’s own services, and then there’s quite a bit of empty space below.
While TCL’s previous TVs shipped with either the Roku or the Google TV operating system, this year’s models come only with Google. I’m used to Roku on my everyday set, but I was able to navigate easily in the new system.
The Q7 has full-array LED backlighting, which means you’re not just getting a brighter display, but one that can display more colors and darker blacks. And with local dimming, the TV has the capability to dim some of those backlit zones (there are up to 200 on the bigger models), making the contrast even greater.
The Q7 does support multiple HDR formats, including Dolby Vision IQ, HDR10+, HDR10, & HLG.
My living room has a decent amount of natural light spilling in from the side, and if I want to truly watch TV on my main set, I need to close the curtains. With the Q7 though, that wasn’t necessary, though I did close the curtains several times to truly get a feel for how the display looked and to watch content I really wanted to enjoy. But for background viewing, it was perfectly fine even in bright light. In a darker setting, this set is so bright I actually found myself lowering the brightness just a tad to watch comfortably.
To get a real feel for local dimming, I moved the setting to “high” and loaded up my favorite “let’s test a TV’s dark capability” show, Stranger Things. I was impressed right away with how much detail I saw in darker scenes, even those with fast motion.
In terms of gaming, the Q7 actually does quite well. It has a 144Hz variable refresh rate for 4K and 240Hz if you drop down to 1080p. Like almost all TVs lately, it has a dedicated gaming menu (it’s called Game Master here) that lets you fine-tune visual settings. I fired up Madden 24 on my PS5 to test things out, and the visuals were impressive without much tweaking.
The input lag was tested at 6.7 milliseconds from online research I found, putting it squarely in line with most new sets, and responses seemed to be quick during my test time. When a gaming system is detected by the Q7, it automatically switches to its lower latency mode, giving the best possible performance.
On the sound front, the Q7 has a very nice top volume level, enough that I didn’t need a sound bar to enjoy content. While I do use a sound bar with my everyday television, that’s mostly out of necessity. It’s a Black Friday big box brand, and apparently sound quality was one of the first sacrifices made as it’s tough to hear over the clatter of two kids and a dog.
The Q7 supports Dolby Atmos plus DTS Virtual: X if you’re adding extra sound equipment and it does have several audio presets like most TVs. It doesn’t do any of the fancy audio “tricks” of some of its competition (Samsung’s Audio Tracking and Sony’s Acoustic Surface for example), but I was still able to hear dialogue and action for anything I watched.
ZDNET’s buying advice
While this technically is a mid-range set, you’d never know it. For the price point, you’re not going to find many televisions that do what this one does, and you’d have to upgrade to a high-end set to find one that looks as good as this one. If you’re looking for a solid everyday television that handles shows, movies, and games better than it should, look to TCL’s Q7.