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Review: TCL 55EP680 (EP680 series) LCD TV with HDR10 + and Dolby Vision

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This reachably priced TCL comes with a whole series of specifications that you often only find on expensive models: Dolby Vision, HDR10 +, Dolby Atmos and Android TV. Reason enough to take a closer look.

TCL 55EP680 – specifications

  • What: Ultra HD LCD TV, Direct Led
  • Screen size: 55 inch (139 cm), flat
  • Connections: 3x HDMI (v2.0b, ARC), 1x composite video, 1x stereo cinch, 1x optical digital out, 2x USB, 1x headphone, 2x antenna, Bluetooth (A2DP, HID)
  • Extras: Dolby Vision, HDR10 +, HDR10, HLG, WiFi (802.11b / g / n) built-in, Android TV (9 Pie), USB / DLNA media player, DVB-T2 / C / S2, CI + slot
  • Dimensions: 1,229 x 776 x 279 mm (incl. Base) )
  • Weight: 18.3 kg (incl. Foot)
  • Consumption: 112 / 0.5 watt (Energy rating A)
  • Recommended price: 699 euro

TCL 55EP680 – design

A little edge around the screen is all you notice of the frame. At the bottom of the screen, the edge is somewhat wider and finished in a black brushed metal look. You can also find a minimal, modern design in this price segment.

The rear is made of dark gray plastic, with three horizontal ribs on the top. An open-worked central foot, which has a wide attachment at the rear, provides a very sturdy set-up.

Connections

All connections are on the side. You will find three HDMI connections, all suitable for Ultra HD HDR in the best quality, one of which is equipped with ARC. In addition, there are two USB connections, a composite video and stereo cinch audio input, two antenna connections and a headphone output.

The EP680 series TV is also equipped with wired and wireless network, and Bluetooth (mouse / keyboard, or

TCL 55EP680 – ease of use

TCL works with Android TV, and this model is equipped with Android 9 (Pie). The installation runs smoothly, and you can use your smartphone to quickly and easily link the TV to your Google account.

Our only complaint is that the usage settings menus are rather confused. And the translations here and there can be better. For example, the image menu is called “Photo” and the menu for sharpness and noise reduction is called “Brightness.”

Remote control

TCL supplies two remotes with the EP680 series televisions. The classic remote is a long, narrow version with pleasant rubber keys and a solid layout. It is identical to last year's remote. Although it does not excel in ease of use, it also has no obvious errors.

The second remote is smaller, more compact and works via Bluetooth, so you don't have to aim. It is equipped with the basic keys such as d-pad, home, back, options, inputs, volume and channel. With the button at the bottom left you put a screen with number buttons on the TV, for example to enter channel channels. A pointing function is not provided for in this model. The remote has a microphone for voice commands and a key for Google Assistant. It now also works in Dutch, so don't hesitate to ask about the nearest sushi bar, the price of your favorite stock, whether it will rain tomorrow, and what the best sci-fi series are.

TCL 55EP680 – features [19659024] Smart TV platform

TCL has switched to a new chipset, with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A55 and Mali-370 MP GPU, 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage. It delivers adequate performance for its price range, but you should not expect a super-smooth experience.

Smart functions

The Android TV interface in version 9 (Pie) hardly differs from that of Oreo. You will get a good overview of the possibilities in our article about the Android TV 8 .

Unfortunately, the YouTube app does not offer HDR images, which would be resolved in the next version. We also do not find an Amazon Video app, it adds TCL in the next firmware version that normally appears at the end of September. Netflix is ​​present, and works perfectly, also with HDR content.

TCL added a few of its own applications to the EP680 series. You will find a channel with all inputs at the bottom of the screen. There is also T-Channel, a channel with recommended apps. And then there is the T-cast app. You can use it as a remote on your smartphone, but it is also a very convenient way to send content (photo, video and music) from your smartphone to the TV.

TCL 55EP680 – Image quality

The device is equipped with a Direct LED background lighting without local dimming, a VA panel, wide color gamut and 350 nits luminance.

Main settings

In our article about the professional calibrating a TV you can read all about the possibilities to achieve the best image settings with a professional. If you want to get started yourself, go through our home cinema information guide . Here you will find an explanation of the most important picture settings and tips for setting up your TV. With the basic settings we have come to the settings below for this TV.

Image Advanced Settings / brightness Advanced
Image mode: Film

Brightness: 80
Color saturation: 50

Brightness: 80
Contrast: 90
Black level: 50
Dyn Contrast: Off *
Black stretch: Off
Dyn Backlight: Off
Micro Dimming: Off *
Gamma: +0
Color:
Color saturation: 50
Tint: 50
Color temperature: Warm
Color space: car
RGB mode: off Brightness:
Sharpness: 0
MPEG NR: Medium
DNR: Off Movement:
Delete LED movement: Off

Explanation of main settings;

  • Dynamic contrast: This can do it give the image a little more zest, but has varying results in dark scenes.
  • Gamma: the default setting is +2, but it seems a bit too dark to us. Choose +1 or even 0.
  • MPEGNR and DNR are best activated when you start from a poor source (old DVDs or low-quality YouTube).

General image features and image processing

In this price category you don't get high- end image processors and that quickly translates into the results of image processing. The deinterlacing does not always recognize the correct underlying film or video frame rate, or it takes a very long time to do so. As a result, you occasionally see some moiré or serrated lines in fine detail or horizontal image edges. The best choice is to provide sources in progressive video modes (720p, 1080p or 2160p). The noise reduction (DNR) delivers good results, the lowest position is safe for those who want to leave it on, the car mode works great but is quite strong. With compression noise (blocking), the TV has a much harder time and only reduces it moderately. Banding in particular remains a clearly visible problem, in part also because the screen shows some discoloration on the gray scale in dark shades. That makes banding more visible.

Motion sharpness, just like HDR performance, is really well linked to the price. You certainly cannot expect a high score in that area. A lot of detail is lost, and when you activate “Delete LED movement” you will see a little more detail, but moving objects will have a red border on the front and a blue border on the back. That is very disturbing, on top of the slight flicker that this setting causes. So leave that out.

The VA panel has a very good black value and delivers an excellent contrast of almost 4,200: 1. By activating “Dynamic Contrast” you can give the image some extra zest. In some dark scenes, that showed some extra black detail, but in clear scenes you often lose dark detail. “Micro Dimming” can slightly improve the contrast locally, but the effect is less pronounced than “Dynamic Contrast”. Unfortunately, both options also appear to slightly affect color rendering and images have a very light green tint. That was clearly visible in dark images.

The direct LED backlight on our sample did suffer a bit from clouding as visible in the photo above. That was sometimes visible in clear pan images.

The calibration of the 55EP680 was very good, but it hides a bit of black detail. Because the screen is probably used mostly in ambient light, it is better to switch the gamma value to “0” (instead of the standard “+2”). This makes shades of gray slightly brighter and you get better black detail. The color reproduction is excellent, and images look natural and attractive.

HDR

The television supports Dolby Vision, HDR10 + HDR10 and HLG, which is a huge asset for a budget-oriented model. The EP680 has to cope with a peak brightness of 307 nits, although it can show that on a 10% window as well as on a completely white screen. The color range is fine, with 89% DCI-P3 and 66% Rec.2020, it is in the same category as many more expensive models.

The TCL invariably hides some white detail, but uses its limited luminance range quite well. So you do experience some HDR image, but of course the real impact is missing. A logical consequence of its 300 nits maximum.

Calibration is also very good, with excellent color reproduction.

Reflections and viewing angles

You should avoid reflections, the screen is not there very good with it. The viewing angle is, as you would expect from a VA panel, fairly limited.

Gaming

In the film mode, we measure a lag of 44 ms, quite low, but the game mode does it a lot with 12 ms better.

TCL 55EP680 – Audio quality

On budget models such as this EP680 series, the audio is often disappointing. But that is not too bad all in all. Whoever sets his expectations correctly will not be disappointed. Dialogues and some musical accompaniment, that works fine. But really music and impressive soundtracks, he is not equipped for that. It does support Dolby Atmos and the spatiality is audible, but of course very limited.

Review equipment

For the lag measurement we use a Leo Bodnar Display lag meter. For all other measurements, we rely on a Spectracal C6 HDR2000 Colorimeter, Xrite i1 Pro spectrophotometer, a VideoForge Pro pattern generator, and the Spectracal Calman for Business software. We use an HDFury Vertex to analyze possible HDR problems.

TCL 55EP680 – Conclusion

TCL makes no secret that it likes to target the broad middle segment. Top models are nice, but only make up a small part of the sale. Whoever succeeds in combining a good device with a competitive price will undoubtedly succeed in the market. But anyone who demands a competitive price must accept compromises. The TCL 55EP580 (EP680 series) has moderate image processing, and the sharpness of motion in particular is on the low side. For HDR it delivers decent performance, but with a maximum of 300 nits you still miss some impact in the images. TCL also switched to a new chipset, but in our opinion it certainly does not provide a faster and smoother Android experience.

The screen of the 55EP680 provides a good contrast, with a very good color rendering, also in HDR. That he supports Dolby Vision and HDR10 + is a nice asset, so you enjoy the best possible HDR quality. Android TV and the built-in Google Assistant provide a modern smart TV environment. And then of course there is the price, which shows that you can also get a nice television with less than 1,000 euros.

Cons

  • Weak sharpness
  • Too dark for high-impact HDR
  • log

Advantages

  • Black value and contrast
  • Color rendering
  • Dolby Vision and HDR10 +
  • Price

Homecinema Magazine
Review
8.0 10 Eric Beeckmans [19659090] product

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