Even if your budget is somewhat more limited, you can get a nice TV at home. This TCL 55C735 delivers a 55-inch screen, more than decent image quality and a complete smart TV environment for a very competitive price. Where have the biggest compromises been made?
TCL 55C735 – specifications
|What||Ultra HD LCD TV (Direct LED, Global Dimming, Quantum Dot)|
|Screen format||55 inches (139 cm), flat|
|Connections||4x HDMI (2x v2.1 18 Gbps, 2x V2.1 48 Gbps, eARC/ARC, ALLM, VRR, 4K120), 1x composite video, 1x stereo cinch, 1x optical digital out, 1x USB, 1x headphones, 2x antenna, Bluetooth (A2DP, HID)|
|Extras||Dolby Vision IQ, HDR10+, HDR10, HLG, WiFi (802.11b/g/n/ac) built-in, Android TV (11 R), USB/DLNA media player, Airplay 2, DVB-T2/C/S2, CI+ lock|
|Dimensions||1,227 x778 x 316mm (incl. base)|
|Weight||11.7 kg (incl. base)|
|Consumption||SDR 85 (G) / HDR 145 watts (G)|
TCL 55C735 – Design
A good finish always gives a TV that little bit more appearance. And this TCL shows that. The screen looks very slim because the thicker part that contains the electronics and connections only takes up a relatively small part of the back.
A fine brushed titanium-colored edge, which is only visible as a fine line at the front, completes the design.
The foot consists of two L-shaped legs, which are centrally located under the screen. They are covered with a plastic plate, but we also liked the design if you omit that plate. Because the TV is very light, it is very stable.
TCL 55C735 – Connections
The connections are exactly the same as on the C835. So you will find four HDMI connections. Two of these are HDMI 2.1 connections that provide 48Gbps bandwidth (HDMI 1 and 2). They support 4K120, ALLM, VRR and eARC.
There is also one USB connection, a composite video and stereo cinch audio input, two antenna connections, optical digital output and a headphone output. Ethernet, WiFi and Bluetooth (for mouse/keyboard or wireless headphones) complete the list.
TCL 55C735 – Ease of use and smart TV
The quad-core ARM Cortex-A73 with 3GB RAM and Mali-G52 MP GPU that served last year can still be found as the engine of this smart TV. The chipset is powerful enough to provide an excellent Google TV experience. Installation is done in a jiffy with the Google Home App. You then log in with your Google account, but TCL also asks you to log in with a TCL account. We see little use for that, it allows you to use the TCL Home App, that’s all. We’d rather see TCL keep that optional.
Google TV has expanded considerably since last year. There are still very few options to personalize your Home screen. But in the meantime you can already determine from which apps Google TV shows you recommendations. That is limited to Amazon Prime Video, Disney + and Apple TV. The content recommendations are also divided into handy categories such as Science Fiction films, Thrillers, etc., of course based on your viewing habits. That makes it a bit more interesting to look for new things. The Google TV app offering remains one of the most extensive you can find.
The menus with settings can be found under the Google TV menus. They are well structured, with logical groupings and easy to navigate. They often take up a relatively large part of the screen.
The two supplied remotes are also the same as those with the C835. We immediately put the old remote (recognizable by the numerical block) in the drawer. The new remote is a lot more convenient. After all, it is clearly aimed at the streaming viewer. It works via Bluetooth, so you don’t have to aim it. The limited number of keys makes it easier to use. Functions such as the Quick Settings, previous app, or Game Bar can also be reached with one key. You can record searches via the built-in microphone. Although the icons are not always obvious, you quickly learn what they are used for. Of the six keyboard shortcuts, only four are really useful: YouTube, Netflix, Prime Video, and the TCL media player. The two other TCL Channel and TCL Guard seem much less interesting to us.
The TCL is equipped with a TV tuner for digital TV (DVB-T2/C/S2) and a CI+ slot. Recording is not possible, TCL only offers that function if the model has a double tuner. In addition to Chromecast , TCL has also equipped the C735 with Apple Airplay 2. There is also a multiview function that puts TV content and the screen of a smartphone on the screen together, but that only works with TCL smartphones for the time being. The TCL Channel is a separate streaming service with trailers and (very) old movies. TCL Guard is a kind of cleaning service for your TV. It checks apps, cleans up unused files, and so on. The media player supports all major audio and video formats, including HDR, subtitles, and Dolby and DTS soundtracks.
TCL 55C735 – Image Processing
In many ways, the C735 resembles its bigger brother, the C835 but in terms of image processing also on its predecessor the C728. We do not see any really substantial improvements, but it must be said that the performance is very good. The machine learning and neural net based techniques deliver nice upscaling results. Anyone who finds the image a bit too soft can increase the ‘sharpness’ setting (to a maximum of 10). We got an even better result by activating ‘local contrast’, which accentuates contrast very subtly, so that the image sometimes gains some depth. The noise reduction does a good job of eliminating random noise, but still struggles with MPEG noise (block formation in heavily compressed video). TCL does have an extra asset with ‘superior gradation’. That setting activates an excellent anti-banding filter. In images with soft color gradients, this annoyingly removes color bands. The filter also worked well in our tricky, dark Game of Thrones scene. Limit yourself to the lowest setting, the high setting is quite aggressive and also erases a lot of detail.
Mid-range models with a 120 Hz panel are no longer an exception. You also get a lot of motion sharpness, but the finest details in action scenes remain hidden by a slightly blurred edge. Even with ‘Motion Clarity’ activated, and ‘Reduce Blur’ at 10, detail remains hidden. Clear Motion LED introduced an unusual BFI technique at 150 Hz. It did not cause any flickering in the image, but costs some brightness while it did not provide extra detail. So you leave it off. ‘Reduce Vibration’ activates the motion interpolation so that pan images no longer stutter. We saw the processor intervene quite quickly, but it does introduce fairly clear artifacts.
|Advanced/Brightness||Advanced Color||Advanced Clarity||Advanced Motion|
Black Level 50
Dynamic Contrast: Off
Black Stretch: High
Dynamic Brightness: Auto
Local Contrast: Off/Low/High
|Color Saturation: 50
Dynamic Color: Off
Blue Light Filter: Off
Color Temperature: Warm (-5)
MPEG NR: Low
Superior Gradation: Off/Low
|Motion Clarity: On
Clear LED Motion: Off
Reduce Blur: 10
Reduce Shake: 4-10Screen Settings/Overscan: Off
TCL 55C735 – Image Quality
The 55C728 uses a direct LED backlight with quantum dots and a VA panel.
We measure an ANSI contrast of 4,300:, a very good result. Because the screen does not use global dimming instead of local dimming, there is little or no effect on the contrast. Do not try to increase the contrast further with ‘Dynamic Contrast’, that setting is much too rough. As mentioned earlier, ‘Local Contrast’ can have a small beneficial effect.
The panel has a reasonable uniformity (remember this can vary from device to device). In both dark and bright images, we saw some deviations on the left and right edges.
The ‘Film’ image mode is very well calibrated. These are above-average results, especially for a middle class. It does hide some black detail, which you can make more visible by setting the Gamma setting to zero or one. With Portrait Displays Calman, this TV can be calibrated automatically, but we really don’t think that’s necessary.
TCL 55C735 – HDR
In this area, the 55C735 has to give up some ground. The peak brightness clocks in at 365 nits, a big step below the 500 nits that we would like to see as the limit value for a real HDR effect. It can show that value on a 10% window and on a completely white screen. With smaller windows, it squeezes the light output a bit to better preserve black. You can undo that by turning off ‘Black Stretch’.
The color gamut of the panel is good, even if with 87% P3 color gamut it falls just below the 90% limit that we like to see. A lot depends on the tone mapping in this category of TVs and the TCL scores very well in that area.
With ‘Dynamic Tone Mapping’ activated, it respects the HDR metadata and shows white detail up to 4,000 nits. In addition, it analyzes each image to display it optimally, and that produces very nice results. It retains color intensity, shadow nuances and white detail well. You will of course notice that you are working with a limited peak brightness. That sparkle of light accents is missing, but the overall character of HDR images is very well preserved. Also switch the TV in HDR to the excellently calibrated Film image mode and the enjoyment can begin.
In addition, the 55C735 supports both Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10 +. This universal support guarantees that you stream the best HDR images.
Gaming, Reflections and viewing angles
A VA screen always comes with a warning for the viewing angle. Anyone who is not centrally located in front of the screen will see the contrast drop, and the 55C735 cannot avoid that either. However, colors are well preserved, so the viewing angle is good for bright, colorful content. The screen handles reflections well.
The two HDMI 2.1 connections have an excellent input lag of 16.6 ms (4K60) and 8.2 ms (2K120). In addition to 48 Gbps bandwidth, they also provide ALLM and VRR (HDMI VRR and AMD Freesync). The panel supports up to 144 Hz refresh, although this is only useful if you connect a PC, since game consoles deliver a maximum of 120 fps. TCL has also provided a Game Bar where you can quickly see information about the frame rate and adjust certain settings. Note that eARC is set to HDMI 4, so that HDMI 1 and 2 both remain free for your game console(s).
TCL 55C735 – Sound Quality
The 2x 10 Watt audio solution bears an Onkyo signature, which you can find on the label at the bottom right of the frame. But despite the name of a well-known audio manufacturer, the sound disappoints us a bit.
As long as you don’t demand an excessive amount of volume, the performance of the 55C735 is still within expectations for a mid-range car. The sound is good for talk shows or soft music, but it ends there. Films with a strong soundtrack or somewhat louder music show the limitations. The sound is hard, and sounds a bit compressed. Most sound presets often make that even worse. And as soon as you turn the volume up too far, the processor intervenes hard to counteract the distortion, but squeezes all dynamics shut. Stick to the ‘standard’ preset, and if you really want to enjoy movie sound regularly, consider a soundbar.
TCL 55C735 – Conclusion
This TCL 55C735 shows that you get excellent image quality with the middle class, but with a limitation. Showing the real impact of HDR, it is not bright enough for that. Furthermore, we are somewhat disappointed with this device due to the very poor audio quality. You are lavishly served on smart TV, but why TCL requires a separate login is not clear to us. As an end user, that is of little or no use to you. Google TV has made significant progress, but some extra customization options would finish it off. Fortunately, you are assured of a number of future versions.
What can the C735 show off? This TV delivers excellent contrast, although you have to take the viewing angle into account with dark images. It is very well calibrated, both in SDR and HDR so that you get the most out of its capabilities. This gives it extra points, especially in HDR, where the excellent tone mapping makes up for the limited peak brightness. The excellent image processing and decent motion sharpness are a plus no matter what you’re watching. Gamers get the necessary HDMI 2.1 connections and gamer features and with Google TV you have one of the richest smart TV environments in your home. TCL has also put an excellent price on the C735.
- Nice contrast
- Excellent calibration in SDR and HDR
- Dolby Vision and HDR10+
- Smoothly working Google TV
- HDMI 2.1 with full gamer features
- Brightness too low for HDR
- Very mediocre sound quality
- Mandatory login with TCL account
- Little personalization possible in Google TV