TCL L55V7300F3DE 3D LED TV

This $1499 55-inch LED TV is good value

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TCL L55V7300F3DE

Pros

  • Good price
  • Energy efficient
  • 3-year warranty

Cons

  • Smart TV features are average

Bottom Line

TCL's top LED TV is good value, before and after you buy it. It's largely competitive with mid-range LED TVs from Sony, Sharp, and Samsung, although its Smart TV features aren't as well implemented. The TCL 7300 is cheap and versatile, and it shows TCL is becoming a legitimate player in the TV market.

Would you buy this?

We haven’t seen a great deal of publicity locally from TCL in the past, but in the past few months the company has made an effort to show that it wants to be a big part of Australia’s TV market.

TCL put on a show at CES, displaying a 110-inch Ultra High Definition TV it calls the China Star — you’ll see it on an even bigger screen, too, when it makes its film debut in Iron Man 3 — as well as a tablet-in-a-TV, a Google TV set, and more besides.

It’s clear that TCL isn’t just another no-name Chinese manufacturer, and that the company is here to stay. The TCL L55V7300F3DE — we’ll call it the V7300 — is the top TV from the company’s 2012 line-up.

TCL L55V7300F3DE: Design, connectivity, and setup

The TCL L55V7300F3DE is surprisingly well-built, despite being reasonably thin — around 48mm at its thickest. The light silver bezel around all four edges of the screen is thicker at the base, where it’s also edged with a translucent plastic strip.

The TCL logo on the lower bezel is joined by an over-sized, red-LED-lit power button. Although there are physical buttons on the TV, we expect you’ll more often be using TCL’s bundled remote control. It’s a reasonably well laid-out clicker and offers no real problems.

Arranged across the side and downward-facing rear of the TV are its various input and output connectors. You’ll find four HDMI ports and two USB 2.0 ports on the side, while other less popular ports like VGA, analog audio and video, and Ethernet are on the back. One of the USB 2.0 ports will be occupied by the bundled Wi-Fi network adapter if you choose to use it.

The 55-inch, LED-backlit LCD screen of the V7300 is moderately reflective when it’s turned off, and while this serves to boost the contrast and make colours pop a little more when the screen’s turned on, it also means the display picks up any light sources within the room. If you’ve got a bright light source like a lamp, or a sun-lit window during the daytime, we’d advise that you either adjust your room’s layout or buy a television with a matte screen finish instead.

Setting up the V7300 is a very simple process. All that’s needed to assemble the TV is a Phillips screwdriver, using three screws to attach the base of the TV’s stand to the stem. The V7300’s power cord is a detachable figure-eight cord, so it’s easy to swap for a longer or shorter length if needed.

TCL L55V7300F3DE: Picture quality and performance

TCL’s V7300, like its step-down E5000 sibling, is a Full HD 1080p LED TV, using LEDs arranged around the screen’s edge as a light source. It’s available in both 55-inch and 46-inch screen sizes. A claimed 24,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio means the TV should show plenty of detail in both bright and dark scenes of video, although like most LED TVs it achieves this through dynamically altering the backlight to suit the video content.

In the majority of our viewing the TCL V7300 displayed a generally good amount of detail. We saw good shadow detail in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, while The Grey’s blend of subtle shadow and over-blown whites did a good job of testing the screen’s dynamic brightness adjustment.

Dynamic brightness on this screen tends towards the bright, prioritising brighter areas of video at the cost of dark detail. This can be ameliorated by lowering the overall backlight brightness or by switching to the TV’s Movie or Studio picture presets, giving a picture that’s more realistic overall at the cost of some maximum brightness.

The TCL V7300 performs on par with a mid-range edge-lit LED TV from Samsung or Sony; it’s able to display a good level of detail from an appropriately high-quality source like Blu-ray, and it can handle all but the most complicated, darkest and brightest scenes we tested it with. It’s not as versatile as a similarly sized and similarly priced plasma television, though.

Where the V7300 takes a huge step ahead of its plasma competitors is in power consumption. At a 160W maximum energy usage figure and a 9-star energy rating, the V7300 is one of the most efficient televisions of its screen size, and will give an appropriately low running cost over its lifetime.

The backlight of our test unit was mostly consistent, which is an area where edge-lit LED TVs generally suffer. We did notice some visible torch-lighting on the top right and bottom right corners of the screen; this was distracting whenever a particularly dark scene was on-screen.

Where the V7300 struggles slightly, like most LED TVs of its price range and market segment, is in its display of fast motion. Being a 100Hz screen it’s able to display a generally smooth picture, but if you’re watching a fast-moving segment of digital TV — a Formula 1 race, for example — the image on the TCL V7300 becomes indistinct and blurry. It’s not a crippling problem, but it’s a problem that is handled on more expensive LED and plasma TVs.

Like the TCL E5000, the V7300’s Smart TV features are average. They’re definitely not bad — you get access to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and so on — but there’s none of the catch-up TV, Foxtel, or apps that more expensive TVs from LG and Samsung offer.

TCL L55V7300F3DE: Conclusion

You can find the V7300 around $200 cheaper than its recommended retail price if you shop around — with a few clicks we found it for $1299 at BigBrownBox.com.au. At this price, it’s good value, and if you can bargain it down further it’s even more attractive.

The TCL L55V7300F3DE — and its 46-inch counterpart — is a good TV if you’re concerned with price more than having the best of the best picture quality or features. If you spend more, you can get an undoubtedly better TV, but the V7300 sits at a sweet spot before any significant diminishing return in price versus performance.

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