The quality of sub-toppers is steadily increasing, while the price remains very attractive. TCL provides the perfect example with this 65C845. The device combines a VA panel with local dimming, quantum dots, HDMI 2.1, Google TV, and an Onkyo sound solution and promises a solid upgrade compared to the 2022 C835.
TCL 65C845 – specifications
|What||Ultra HD LCD TV (MiniLED FALD, 48×12 zones, Quantum Dot)|
|Format||65 inches (165 cm), flat|
|Connections||4x HDMI (2x v2.0, 2x v2.1, 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/ax) built-in, Android TV (11 R), USB/DLNA media player, Airplay 2, DVB-T2/C/S2, CI+ -key lock|
|Dimensions||1446 x 865 x 320 mm (incl. base)|
|Weight||25.3 kg (incl. base)|
|Consumption||SDR 111 (G) / HDR 250 Watts (G)|
TCL 65C845 – Design
We hardly see any changes to the design compared to last year. The fine metal frame around the screen serves as an accent and reinforcement; viewed from the front it is only a subtle line. The TV has a fairly deep profile of just under three inches, but the screen itself is slimmer and the chamfered edge of the back somewhat camouflages the thickness.
In the back, we see the Onkyo woofer. The device stands on a brushed titanium central base plate. The attachment could be a bit more robust, but will certainly be strong enough.
The power cable is a bit too close to the edge and although you can route the cables through the base, we can only describe that as rudimentary cable management. The screen hangs four centimeters above the furniture, something to take into account if you still want a soundbar.
TCL 65C845 – Connections
TCL also saw no reason to change things with regard to the connections. Two HDMI 2.0 connections and two HDMI 2.1 connections have 48 Gbps bandwidth. There is support for 4K120, ALLM, VRR, and ARC/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. All connections are on the side.
TCL 65C845 – Ease of use and smart TV
The quad-core ARM Cortex-A73 with 3GB RAM and Mali-G52 GPU is sufficient for a decent, smooth Android TV environment. It is best to install via Google Home, which saves you a lot of trouble logging in to your Android account. The installation is smooth, and we are pleased that TCL has now made logging in with a separate TCL account optional. Those who want to use the live TV channels still have to enter the necessary data themselves, as TCL does not offer a list of TV providers.
Google TV pays a lot of attention to sponsored content, which really appears in the center of the screen, with a list of personal recommendations below it. It is handy that you can find the latest source on the far left in those recommendations. At the bottom of the screen are your favorite apps, which you can personalize. Further down, Google TV delivers many recommendations, by category (sci-fi shows, thrillers, and so on). These categories are based on your viewing habits, the content comes from various streaming services (Apple TV, Prime Video, and Disney +). You can also request that streaming services you do not use be removed. In addition, Google TV offers the most extensive range of apps.
TCL has streamlined its interface even further. The “inputs” button now shows a ribbon at the bottom of the screen, with all inputs, as well as recently used apps. You can also customize the content of that ribbon. If you press the “Options” key (the three horizontal lines above the blue key), you will see a ribbon where you can quickly adjust specific settings. You can also personalize this ribbon.
In terms of style, the remote control has not changed, it remains a relatively narrow, classic remote with rounded shapes. The layout has changed substantially. There’s a numeric keypad again, and the volume and channel keys are back in their more usual places.
The keys are pleasant, and the layout is good. The ease of use is fine. At the bottom, there are three shortcuts for YouTube, Netflix, and Prime Video. The buttons for TCL Channel, TCL Home, and the Web Browser seem less important to us. The remote control has a built-in microphone for the Google Assistant.
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 C845 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.
TCL 65C845 – Image Processing
The image processing largely follows last year’s performance, which is no surprise since the device works with the same chipset. TCL uses upscaling based on AI machine learning and deep learning. Although it restores some detail, the result remains a bit too soft. You can, therefore slightly increase the sharpness setting. The processor can also perform content classification and adjust the image settings accordingly. The noise filter works well for random noise but is less effective against blocking (compression noise). The latter often also results in color bands remaining visible in heavily compressed material, but fortunately, that is not the case. TCL uses a specific filter (“Superior Gradation”) for this. That can be subtle bands of color, but also pronounced cases such as correcting the dark Game Of Thrones scene well. Only use the lowest setting; the highest is very aggressive and wipes out a lot of detail.
There is an essential upgrade for the sharpness of motion. The panel can go up to 144Hz in 4K (though that’s for PC content only), but can also go up to 240Hz if you give up a bit of vertical detail. The input is then processed internally in 3,840 x 1,080 (half the vertical resolution), and delivered to the panel. That then performs its interpolation for the missing lines so that you have 3,840 x 2,160 (regular 4K) again. The panel itself has excellent motion sharpness, with an excellent blurred edge around moving objects. Activate “Dynamic Acceleration” to choose the 240Hz mode; even that blurred edge disappears. The loss of vertical detail is also very limited. An additional advantage is that the processor seemed better able to create smooth motion interpolation in this mode. This avoids stuttering in fast camera movements. Without “Dynamic acceleration”, a hesitation remains visible here and there. “Erase LED movement” is a Black Frame Insertion technique to keep even better detail visible, but that remains a disadvantage because of the visible flicker.
|Advanced/Brightness||Advanced Color||Advanced Clarity||Advanced Motion|
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 65C845 – Image Quality
The panel has a perfect ANSI contrast of 4,520:1, slightly less than what we saw last year, but still very good. The backlight is also divided into 48×12 (576) segments, double compared to last year. This increases the contrast to more than 10,000:1 and even 28,600:1 in a somewhat more forgiving test.
It inherits the exact control from its predecessor; the mini LEDs are controlled in 4,096 steps. The result is remarkably good. We overlook clear zone boundaries, even in difficult dark scenes such as ‘Mother knows best’ from Rapunzel, or in Gravity, where stars are visible, but the sky remains dark black.
The backlight is also very responsive, so even with moving objects, there’s almost no aftermath against a dark background. Even in harsh HDR scenes like fireworks, the C845 keeps halo effects invisible. In dark images, the uniformity is excellent; in bright images, we vaguely saw a little dirty screen effect, but it was so limited that this is probably never visible in practice.
For the best images, switch to the ‘Film’ image mode, which is well-calibrated. It is very bright, so leave the light sensor on, or lower the brightness slightly (for example, to 50) if you mainly look at some eclipse. We see very nice black detail, with an almost perfect color reproduction, and thanks to the excellent contrast, this ensures a very nice overall picture. After a long wait, the C845 can be calibrated automatically (via Calman or Light Illusion). The 2022 C735 and C835 also get that option via a software update.
TCL 65C845 – HDR
It is truly remarkable how the TCL improves the performance of this model year after year. The C835 was already 30% brighter than the C825, but the C845 did even better. On a 10% window, we saw 2,208 nits of peak brightness, and still 944 nits on the completely white screen, all in Movie image mode, of course. On the 25% window, the meter even went to 2,667 nits. For example, the C845 is 50 to 70% brighter than its predecessor.
With 94% P3 and 72% Rec.2020, it also has a very wide color range. It is, therefore, no surprise that this combination of lots of light and rich colors creates an enormous color volume.
The device respects the HDR10 metadata, but for that, you have to activate “Dynamic Tone mapping.” TCL now offers three options: Detail, Balanced, and Clarity. Those choices make the image slightly brighter, especially in dark images and mid-tones. Detail prioritizes highlights, while Brightness makes the image brighter overall. Balanced is, of course, an intermediate solution. Given the high peak brightness, dynamic tone mapping is not necessary. For film purists, “off” is the correct position, so you best preserve the intention of the image, with only minimal loss of white detail in obvious images. But in a well-lit environment, we still prefer “Detail.” The impact on a clear image is small, but the extra visibility of dark tones is an advantage. We, therefore, saw no apparent errors.
The Film image mode in HDR is very well calibrated but clearly tends towards a cool color temperature (light blue overtone in the image). The deviation is not so significant that it is disturbing; the average image error remains below the visible limit. Only with the reference next to it you notice slightly cooler colors. The image has sufficient black detail, but for dark images, we still recommend setting the tone mapping to “Detail.” In addition to HLG and HDR10, TCL also supports HDR10+ and Dolby Vision IQ, so you always watch the best HDR version.
Gaming, reflections, and viewing angles
Like last year, this VA screen has a perfect viewing angle for colors, but you inevitably lose some contrast and brightness if you don’t sit directly in front of the TV. However, that loss is much smaller than with older VA screens. TCL does not use any extra anti-reflection film, but it can still suppress reflections well and without a rainbow effect.
Gamers have a hard time with this device. The two HDMI 2.1 connections support 48-144Hz in 4K but go as far as 240Hz (albeit with a slight loss of vertical detail, see the image processing section for details). Support for HDMI VRR, AMD FreeSync, and NVIDIA G-Sync is compatible. The input lag will also do gamers a great favor; we measure 11.5 ms (4K60) and 6.8 ms (2K120). For games, set the “Refresh rate” set to “Performance” so that you have the lowest input lag.
The updated Game Master function and Game Bar show information about frame rates and give access to various game settings. Avoid using “Clear LED Motion” in Game mode, which caused a flicker at 30Hz during our test, which is unusable.
TCL 65C845 – Sound Quality
The audio configuration contains 2×20 watts and a separate 1×20 watt woofer in a 2.1 configuration, designed by Onkyo. There is support for Dolby Atmos, and the TV can convert all DTS or PCM sources to DTS Virtual X.
The TV delivers more than enough volume, with a good hint of bass sounds, although the real deep, rolling thunder is omitted. The processor automatically selects Dolby Atmos or DTS for processing, but you can also select it manually. Dolby Atmos tracks to deliver a pleasant surround experience but, of course, no upward sound effects. The DTS Virtual X solution sounds a bit shriller. In any case, don’t forget to choose the desired sound preset. For music, the performance was excellent, especially considering the price category.
Those who want to expand the C845 with a soundbar should not specify an HDMI 2.1 connection; TCL has put the ARC / eARC functionality on one of the HDMI 2.0 connections. For gamers, that’s a good thing.
TCL 65C845 – Conclusion
The TCL 65C845 seems to be an ideal sub-topper that can deliver good image quality in a slightly darkened environment and a well-lit living room. Downsides? Well, there are very few of them. The device can hardly be called slim, and Google TV provides fewer personalization options than Android TV, which is no longer a significant drawback. TCL has also made logging in with a TCL account optional so that downside has also disappeared.
On the other hand, it delivers excellent black levels and beautiful contrast thanks to doubling the number of segments to 576. There is a lot of shadow nuance and no or hardly any visible zone boundaries or halo formation. The phenomenal improvement in peak brightness, quantum dot colors, and wide HDR support put awe-inspiring HDR images on the screen. All the necessary features are there for gamers, and the screen even supports up to 240Hz refresh rate, an impressive upgrade. Gaming in Full HD 240Hz from a PC is perfectly possible, and you can also use the improved refresh rate for other visual material, provided that there is some loss of vertical resolution. Thanks to Google TV, you have a vibrant range of apps. The TCL 65C845 puts devices well above its price range under fire.
- Excellent contrast and black detail
- Top local dimming with 576 segments
- Very high brightness and color gamut
- Good image processing
- Enhanced motion sharpness up to 240Hz
- Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+
- HDMI 2.1 with full gamer features
- Excellent audio with Dolby Atmos
- Not the slimmest TV on the market