TCL is a strong advocate for mini LED TVs, and this commitment is prominently showcased in the 55C745 model. Despite falling within the mid-range price category, TCL has incorporated a Full Array Local Dimming mini-LED backlight into this year’s offering. This results in enhanced brightness, superior contrast, and improved gaming performance, making it an excellent value proposition for its cost.
TCL 55C745 – Design
The 55C745 has undergone an attractive makeover, elevating its aesthetic to a more premium level. This aligns perfectly intending to deliver superior image quality. Sporting a gracefully curved rear profile, this 55-inch TV exudes a sleek and slender appearance.
This TCL model boasts an impressive visual presence with its slim titanium-colored bezel, intricate small square patterns adorning the back, and a central stand finished in brushed titanium. The build quality is exceptionally sturdy, and at the back’s center, there’s a small rubber strip that offers versatile cable management options, allowing you to neatly route cables along the stand. Additionally, including covers on the two feet ensures secure cable attachment.
In summary, the 55C745 not only brings enhanced image quality but also exudes a refined, premium design aesthetic that enhances the overall viewing experience. Its attention to detail and thoughtful cable management solutions make it a well-rounded and visually appealing choice for consumers.
TCL 55C745 – Connections
TCL has maintained consistent connectivity options in their TVs over an extended period. These include two HDMI 2.0 ports, two HDMI 2.1 ports offering a substantial 48 Gbps bandwidth, and support for features like 4K120, ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode), VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), and ARC/eARC (Audio Return Channel/enhanced Audio Return Channel).
Additionally, you’ll find a single USB port, a composite video input, and stereo cinch audio input, along with two antenna connections, an optical digital output, and a headphone jack. For networking and wireless capabilities, there’s Ethernet, WiFi, and Bluetooth, which can be used for peripherals like a mouse, keyboard, or wireless headphones. While the WiFi on most models supports up to 802.11ac, it’s worth noting that the C845 goes a step further, supporting 802.11ax. All these connections are conveniently oriented to the side, facilitating easy wall mounting if desired.
TCL 55C745 – Ease of use and smart TV
The C745 continues to utilize the quad-core ARM Cortex-A73 processor paired with 3GB of RAM and a Mali-G52 GPU, ensuring a smooth and responsive Google TV experience. Notably, during the setup process, there’s no longer a mandatory requirement to log in with a separate TCL account; it’s now optional. If you intend to use the TV’s built-in live TV tuners, you’ll need to input the necessary data yourself, as TCL doesn’t provide a predefined list of TV providers.
Upon accessing the Home screen, you’ll encounter sponsored content and personalized recommendations. The top tile conveniently displays your most recently used source. At the bottom, you can arrange and customize your preferred apps with ease. The familiar Google TV interface offers a wealth of recommendations, albeit with limited control over which streaming services it draws recommendations from—currently, Apple TV, Prime Video, and Disney+.
Despite this limitation, the categorized recommendations, such as thrillers or sci-fi shows, are quite valuable and are generated based on your viewing habits, thanks to Google’s algorithm. The native elements of the TCL interface are well-organized, allowing personalization of both the quick menu (accessible via the option key denoted by three vertical lines) and the input menu, displayed as a ribbon at the bottom of the screen. Here, you’ll find not only HDMI and USB sources but also recently used apps.
The remote control is a relatively slim, ergonomically designed device with rounded contours. Its layout is generally well-organized, featuring a numeric keypad. However, there are a few minor design choices worth noting. For instance, the ‘profile’ key is situated on the left above the d-pad, despite being a less frequently used function. Placing the ‘input’ key there might have made more sense.
Overall, the remote offers a pleasant user experience, with soft keys that are easy to press. Among the six shortcuts at the bottom, YouTube, Netflix, and Prime Video appear to be the most prominent, while the remaining three are assigned to less commonly used functions. Notably, the remote also incorporates a built-in microphone to facilitate interactions with the Google Assistant.
The TCL TV comes with a digital TV tuner, supporting DVB-T2/C/S2, and includes a CI+ slot. It’s worth noting that recording capability is not available on this model, as TCL offers that feature exclusively on models equipped with a dual tuner. Besides Chromecast, TCL has also incorporated Apple Airplay 2 into the C745 for enhanced connectivity options.
TCL 55C745 – Image processing
Beneath the surface, the C745 employs the same processor as the C845, yielding almost identical performance results. This consistency generally translates to dependable performance. Notably, its noise reduction capabilities excel in mitigating random noise but show slightly less effectiveness in handling compression noise (blocking). For those concerned about visible color stripes in soft gradients, the anti-banding filter, accessible via the “Superior Gradation” setting, effectively addresses this issue. It adeptly eliminates subtle and pronounced banding, though minimal banding may persist in dark scenes, like those in “Game Of Thrones.” It’s advisable to avoid the highest setting for this filter, as it can overly smooth out detail.
Regarding upscaling, the TV performs admirably, though it leans toward a slightly softer output. This can be remedied by adjusting the sharpness settings slightly.
One standout feature is TCL’s decision to equip the C745, like the C845, with a panel capable of handling refresh rates of up to 144Hz in Ultra HD 4K and up to 240Hz for Full HD. If you desire 240Hz in 4K, there’s a trade-off involving vertical detail. The processor reduces the vertical resolution, resulting in a 3,840 x 1,080 image, which the LCD panel then interpolates back to 3,840 x 2,160. Whether this trade-off is worthwhile depends on your content. For scenes with minimal vertical detail, it’s less noticeable, but some images may reveal the resolution loss.
For those who dislike stuttering in fast-moving camera shots, activating “Motion Clarity” is recommended. The processor effectively eliminates stutter, albeit with occasional hesitations. Interestingly, in the 240Hz mode, these hesitations appeared to diminish.
|Advanced/Brightness||Advanced Color||Advanced Clarity||Advanced Movement|
Black level 50
Dynamic contrast: Off
Black stretch: High
Dynamic Brightness: auto
Local dimming: High
Local contrast: Off/Low/High
|Color Saturation: 50
Dynamic Color: Off
Blue Light Filter: Off
Color Temperature: Warm
MPEG NR: low
Superior gradation: off/low
|Refresh rate: standard or performance (for games)
Motion Clarity: On
Dynamic acceleration: off/on
Screen Settings/Overscan: Off
TCL 55C745 – Image quality
The 55C745 has undergone a significant upgrade, featuring a mini-LED Full Array Local Dimming backlight, a departure from the direct LED used in the previous year’s model. Paired with a VA panel, this combination substantially boosts brightness and contrast.
The ANSI contrast measurement of the VA panel, while slightly lower than anticipated (measuring at 3,900:1 compared to the previous year’s 4,300:1), is still an impressive result. Notably, there are 120 dimming zones in the backlight, elevating the contrast to 6,200:1 and even surpassing 10,000:1 in certain scenarios. The control over these zones is exemplary, with quick and seamless transitions between them, ensuring a balanced display of small light details in dark scenes (as seen in movies like “Gravity”) while maintaining deep black backgrounds. Although there’s some minimal halo effect with 120 zones, it manifests as a slight increase in black levels rather than a prominent halo.
The screen exhibits excellent uniformity, performing admirably in dark and bright images. In bright scenes, we occasionally observed two faint dark bars, although this issue was not noticeable in dark content and rarely caught the eye in bright content.
While TCL may not offer a Filmmaker Mode, the Film image mode proves to be an outstanding alternative. It boasts impeccable calibration, featuring highly accurate grayscale, excellent black detail, and vibrant colors. Furthermore, automatic calibration is achievable through Portrait Displays Calman or Light Illusion.
In addition to the impressive technical specifications, the 55C745’s visual performance is complemented by excellent uniformity across the screen. This uniformity holds up well in various lighting conditions, creating a consistent and immersive viewing experience.
Although the TV lacks a dedicated Filmmaker Mode, the Film image mode emerges as a standout feature, providing users with finely tuned visuals. Its accurate color reproduction, precise grayscale, and superior black detail make it a compelling choice for cinephiles and enthusiasts seeking a top-notch cinematic experience.
For those who demand even greater calibration precision, the TV offers the flexibility of automatic calibration through respected calibration tools such as Portrait Displays Calman and Light Illusion. This further underscores TCL’s commitment to delivering a premium viewing experience to its users.
TCL 55C745 – HDR
Does the Full Array Local Dimming (FALD) backlight technology also increase peak brightness? Absolutely! In the Film image mode, we measured an impressive 593 nits on the 10% window. The meter registers even higher values on the 25% and 50% windows, reaching up to 846 nits, while on a completely white screen, the TV maintains a substantial 650 nits. This is a substantial improvement compared to the relatively modest 365 nits achieved by the device last year. TCL’s approach here optimizes contrast effectively by balancing brightness levels across various window sizes. Lower brightness on smaller windows minimizes the occurrence of noticeable halos, while higher brightness is concentrated in areas that align with the average brightness levels found in movies, TV shows, and games.
In terms of color performance, the C745 exhibits a color range that is slightly narrower compared to the C845, aligning more closely with last year’s standards, offering 88% coverage of the P3 color space and 65% coverage of Rec.2020. While this falls just below the desired 90% threshold for achieving vibrant HDR colors, this slight limitation is unlikely to be significantly noticeable in most viewing scenarios.
Furthermore, the TV supports various HDR formats, including HLG, HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision IQ, which is quite impressive for a mid-range television. It performs admirably with standard HDR10 content, although it tends to clip some white detail. One solution to address this is to activate “Dynamic Tone Mapping.” The “Detail” mode is a favorable choice as it not only preserves more white detail but also enhances light accents in darker scenes. However, it does slightly brighten mid tones, which can give the impression of reduced contrast. The “Bright” setting primarily boosts brightness, while “Balanced” offers a middle-ground option. If you are concerned about black levels, leaving it off may be preferable unless you’re missing white detail. In well-lit environments, “Detail” is the preferred choice. Similar to SDR (Standard Dynamic Range), the Film image mode in HDR is exceptionally calibrated, with only a slight inclination of the brightest shades toward blue, which is hardly perceptible. It excels in rendering black detail and delivers precise color reproduction.
TCL 55C745 – Gaming, Reflections and Viewing Angles
Avoid extreme off-center viewing positions, as they can significantly reduce contrast and reveal the dimming effect. Fortunately, color preservation remains robust, a noteworthy accomplishment for a VA panel. Additionally, the TV does a commendable job of minimizing reflections.
Much like the C845, the C745 stands out as an excellent choice for gamers. Its HDMI 2.1 connections support a broad range of refresh rates, from 48Hz to 144Hz in 4K and even extending to 240Hz with a slight vertical loss of detail (as mentioned in the image processing section). It offers versatile Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) support, encompassing HDMI VRR, AMD FreeSync, and compatibility with NVIDIA G-Sync. Input lag is impressively low, measuring 12.5ms for 4K at 60Hz and 7.9ms for 2K at 120Hz. For minimal input lag, it’s advisable to set the “Refresh Rate” to “Performance.”
TCL has also introduced the updated Game Master function and Game Bar, which not only provides valuable information about frame rates but also grants access to various game settings. It’s worth noting that the “Clear LED motion” feature should be avoided in Game mode, as during our testing, it exhibited a noticeable flicker at 30Hz, rendering it unusable.
TCL 55C745 – Sound quality
Despite a slight audio power boost, now featuring 2x 15W instead of 2x 10W, and the inclusion of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support, the C745’s audio performance remains firmly in mediocrity. When you turn up the volume, it can reach sufficient loudness, but the sound occasionally tends to be somewhat sharp and lacking depth. The absence of substantial bass and a genuine surround sound experience further underwhelms.
In essence, the sound quality aligns with what you might expect from a mid-range television, although considering the impressive image performance, there was hope for a slightly better audio experience. To truly immerse yourself in movie or gaming audio, a soundbar becomes a necessary addition. Fortunately, you don’t need to allocate an HDMI 2.1 connection for this purpose, as TCL has integrated the ARC/eARC functionality into one of the HDMI 2.0 ports, leaving the two HDMI 2.1 ports available for 4K120 gaming sources.
Advantages of TCL 55C745:
- Impressive Picture Quality: The TCL 55C745 features a Full Array Local Dimming (FALD) backlight, a VA panel, and quantum dots, resulting in excellent contrast, vibrant colors, and deep blacks. The support for various HDR standards enhances the overall picture quality.
- High Refresh Rates for Gaming: Gamers will appreciate the TV’s support for refresh rates of up to 240Hz in Full HD and 144Hz in Ultra HD 4K, providing a smooth and responsive gaming experience.
- Extensive Connectivity: The TV offers HDMI 2.1 connections, HDMI ARC/eARC functionality, and support for HDMI VRR, AMD FreeSync, and NVIDIA G-Sync compatible, ensuring compatibility with a wide range of devices and gaming consoles.
- Google TV Integration: With Google TV, the TCL 55C745 offers a user-friendly interface with a wealth of streaming apps and content, making it easy to access and enjoy your favorite shows and movies.
- Versatile HDR Support: The TV supports a variety of HDR formats, including Dolby Vision IQ, HDR10+, HLG, and HDR10, ensuring compatibility with a wide range of HDR content.
Disadvantages of TCL 55C745:
- Mediocre Audio Quality: Despite a slight power boost and support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, the TV’s audio performance remains underwhelming, lacking substantial bass and true surround sound.
- Limited Color Range: The color range of the TV, while adequate, falls slightly short of delivering the full vibrancy expected for HDR content, with 88% coverage of the P3 color space and 65% of Rec.2020.
- Occasional Halo Effect: In scenes with high contrast, there may be minimal haloing due to the Full Array Local Dimming (FALD) backlight, though it’s not prominently pronounced.
- Off-Center Viewing Impact: Viewing the TV from extreme off-center positions can result in reduced contrast and reveal the dimming effect, making it less suitable for those sitting far from the center.
- Audio Reliance on a Soundbar: To fully enjoy movie or gaming sound, a separate soundbar is necessary, as the TV’s built-in audio struggles to deliver an immersive experience, especially in terms of bass and surround sound.
TCL 55C745 – Conclusion
There’s no doubt that the TCL 55C745 has undergone a substantial and impressive upgrade. In fact, it’s challenging to find significant drawbacks at this price point. While the audio performance is notably mediocre, the extensive list of advantages quickly overshadows this limitation.
In the grand scheme of things, the 55C745 emerges as an outstanding choice, whether you’re into sports, gaming, or movie watching. Its Full Array Local Dimming (FALD) backlight, VA panel, and quantum dots combine to deliver exceptional contrast, ample brightness, and vibrant colors. Furthermore, its support for all HDR standards adds a layer of versatility that enhances the viewing experience.
For avid gamers, this TV is a standout option, offering support for refresh rates of up to 240Hz in Full HD and 144Hz in Ultra HD 4K. It’s an all-around impressive package that caters to a wide range of entertainment needs.
- Very good contrast and black detail
- Local dimming with 120 segments
- High brightness and good color range
- Good image processing
- Improved motion sharpness up to 240Hz
- Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+
- HDMI 2.1 with full gamer features
- Mediocre audio results