A hundred inch screen diagonal, projectors had an absolute monopoly on that. But those days seem to be slowly but surely behind us. A hundred inch TV is not an impossible thing, in fact, the price does not have to be exorbitant either. TCL brought us to Poland to test the 98C735.
TCL 98C735 – Specifications
|Ultra HD LCD TV (FALD 24×8 zones, Quantum Dot)
|98 inches (249 cm), flat
|4x HDMI (2x v2.1 18 Gbps, 2x v2.1.1 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)
|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
|2,180 x 1,340 x 423 mm (incl. base)
|58.0 kg (incl. base)
|SDR 240 (G) / HDR 375 watts (G)
TCL 98C735 – Design
All images, that is actually the best description for this colossus. There is a metallic frame around the image, but only a fine line is visible at the front. That’s the same as with the smaller sizes, but because the ratio between screen surface and that subtle edge is so extreme, the visual effect is even stronger. Only at the bottom is a little more of the frame visible.
The screen itself is not remarkably thick, only the lower part has a more pronounced profile. However, due to its size, this is not noticeable.
The TV stands on two wide legs to the left and right below the screen, and is very stable.
TCL 98C735 – Logistics
You probably already suspected it, but you don’t set up a 98-inch TV on your own. Not only is the device very heavy (58kg), but it is also *drumroll* very large. So provide at least two people to put it in place. Or better yet, talk to the retailer about an installation. Take the dimensions (of the box) into account when you have to go through narrow corridors or elevators. Unpacking has also been thought of in the packaging. You remove the box from around the device, while it remains in the lower part. Then you take two styrofoam parts from under the corners, and mount the feet. Then you only have to put it on the furniture. An ordinary TV cabinet is almost certainly too high. At TCL it was set up on a 30 cm high piece of furniture, and that seemed ideal to us.
TCL 98C735 – Connections
Four HDMI connections are available, two of which are HDMI 2.1 connections providing 48Gbps bandwidth (HDMI 1 and 2), with support for 4K120, ALLM, VRR and ARC/eARC.
TCL also offers one USB connection, a composite video and stereo cinch audio input, two antenna connections, optical digital output and a headphone output. There is Ethernet and WiFi for the network connection and Bluetooth for mouse/keyboard or wireless headphones.
Ease of use and smart TV
This 98-inch version of the C735 runs on the same platform as the 55C735 (and 65C835) we reviewed earlier. A quad-core ARM Cortex-A73 with 3GB RAM and Mali-G52 GPU ensures a smooth user experience in Google TV.
For a little more insight into what Google TV has to offer, you can visit the reviews of the 55C735 and 65C835 , nothing has changed in that area. We prefer to highlight here the changes that TCL made to its own part of the software. For example, there is a new quick menu in the form of a ribbon at the bottom of the screen where you can pin not only inputs but also apps. This creates a quick and convenient way to access your favorite resources. That ribbon also contains your recent sources.
There is now also a quick menu for the settings that is not only visually very clear, but also customizable. You can therefore put settings that you often adjust at the front and remove all other things.
You choose from two remotes, the older one with a numeric keypad, or the newer one that is clearly more focused on streaming.
The newer remote has the advantage of working via Bluetooth and has a built-in microphone. It is also more convenient with a smaller selection of keys, although you first have to learn to recognize the sometimes unusual icons. We would also have preferred that instead of six fixed shortcuts for apps, TCL gave only YouTube, Netflix, Prime Video and the media player a fixed key, two additional programmable keys would be a perfect addition.
Just like its little brother, this 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. Chromecast, Airplay 2 make it easy to send content from your smartphone to the TV. The multiview function (with which you put a smartphone and TV source on the screen at the same time) is unfortunately only usable with TCL smartphones. The built-in media player supports all major audio and video formats, including HDR, subtitles, and Dolby and DTS soundtracks.
TCL 98C735 – Image Processing
This 98-inch version uses the same processor as the smaller screen sizes, so we don’t expect much difference. The upscaling delivers a nice, but relatively soft image, something that is more noticeable on this large screen than on the smaller models. We therefore prefer a little extra sharpness in the settings for upscaling. The ‘local contrast’ setting also provides a slight improvement. She optimizes the contrast very nuanced and locally so that you get a little more sharpness in the image. Noise reduction is fine, but block formation (due to heavy MPEG compression) remains somewhat visible. If you see color bands in soft transitions, you activate ‘Superior gradation’. That filter works great, but keep it on the lowest setting otherwise too much detail will disappear.
The device has a 120Hz panel, with a lot of motion sharpness. You have to reveal some detail in fast movements, which remains hidden behind a limited blurred edge. It is an option to use ‘Clear LED motion’. This Black Frame Insertion technique hardly seemed to show any flicker, but it does show some extra detail. For smooth panning, increase Reduce Shake to at least eight. The processor intervenes quickly, but it does show quite a lot of image artifacts.
Black Level 50
Dynamic Contrast: Off
Black Stretch: High
Dynamic Brightness: Auto
Local Darkening: High
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: 6-10Screen Settings/Over
TCL 98C735 – Image Quality
So far you might think that the differences with the 55 inch version are minimal. But that quickly changes when we examine image quality. Where the smaller formats have to make do with a direct LED backlight , this 98-inch uses a Full Array Local Dimming backlight, of course also with quantum dots and a VA panel.
We count 24 x 8 zones (192), which is a somewhat unusual configuration, but the dimming results are very good. The VA panel itself is already good for an ANSI contrast of 3800:1 and with the dimming activated that result rises to 14,200:1. In our more relaxed pattern we even get 4,550:1 without dimming and 25,600:1 with dimming. This means that the 98-inch screen delivers a particularly good performance. Yes, occasionally you can see a limited halo around small objects, which is also a result of the large screen. As a result, you see the edge of the screen at an angle, and the viewing angle influences the contrast somewhat. But due to the excellent contrast of the VA panel, that is not too bad. The dimming also responds quickly, and sometimes only notices a small delay on the leading side of a moving object.
The panel has good uniformity in dark images. In clear images very faint vertical stripes were visible as ‘Dirty Screen Effect’, but given the size of the screen that is still very good, especially since the stripes were only visible in extreme cases such as almost completely uniformly colored images.
The ‘Film’ image mode is very well calibrated. There is a lot of black detail, and the zones have little or no impact on the reproduction. The color reproduction is fine, with excellent skin tones.
TCL 98C735 – HDR
Another area where the 98 inch version differs greatly from the smaller one is peak brightness. Thanks to the FALD backlight, we get a peak of 710 nits on the 10% window, and even almost 800 nits on a 25% window. The completely white screen still delivers 520 nits. It only has to sacrifice some brightness for very small windows, due to the relatively limited number of zones.
The quantum dots guarantee a very good color range of almost 94% P3 and 72% Rec.2020. With those results, this C735 is actually closer to the performance of a C835, although the latter of course remains much brighter.
For the best results, leave ‘Dynamic Tonemapping’ activated. In that mode, the TV looks at the HDR10 metadata. TCL offers three different options: detail, balanced and brightness. The ‘detail’ option seems to display the most white nuance and also preserves color intensity best in extremely clear images. The following steps make the image slightly brighter, but also cost some white detail. In images that have been mastered very clearly (4000 nits), Dynamic Tonemapping still seems to lose some contrast.
HDR10 images give a huge impact on this large screen, there is a lot of black detail, intense colors and a lot of brightness. In addition, the HDR Film image mode is excellently calibrated. In addition to HDR10 and HLG, the C735 also supports Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+, so you’re guaranteed to watch the best available HDR version.
Gaming, Reflections and viewing angles
VA screens always have a somewhat limited viewing angle, which also applies to the 98C735, although it actually performs better than many other VA panels. Colors are well preserved, and even the contrast does not drop excessively. The dimming zones are slightly more visible from an angle. Due to its large size, the viewing angle also plays a role when you’re sitting right in front of the screen. The image is a bit darker in the center, but that was only noticeable with a uniform dark gray test image.
The two HDMI 2.1 connections have a very low input lag of 13.2ms (4K60) and 5.1ms (2K120). In addition to 48 Gbps bandwidth, they also provide ALLM and VRR (HDMI VRR and AMD Freesync and NVIDIA G-Sync compatible). The max refresh is 120Hz, not 144Hz like on the smaller sizes, but unless you’re playing competitive e-sports it won’t make a difference to your performance. TCL has given the Game Bar a redesign. You will find information about the supplied image signal and you can 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 98C735 – Sound Quality
With such a large screen comes a more powerful sound system. The 2x15W downfiring speakers supplied by Onkyo are amplified by a 1x40W woofer in the back. We get a lot of volume out of that, without excessive distortion.
What we especially miss is the cinematic bass and the pronounced surround sound that we associate with such a large screen. The Dolby Atmos test tracks demonstrate this very well. The performance is fine for many programs and even for some music, but just for that epic movie feeling, a great soundbar seems to us to be a better solution.
TCL 98C735 – Conclusion
Nearly 100-inch screen for a price that’s well below five figures. With that, TCL has launched a unique model. The screen also has no serious drawbacks. There’s a tiny bit of ‘dirty screen effect’ in the form of very faint vertical smears, but the effect is so limited that it’s rarely visible. The upscaling is good, but creates fairly soft images, and you want a little more sharpness on this screen size. You won’t get real cinema audio either, but we see that more as a comment than a flaw. The audio reproduction is good, but this giant screen would be even better with more intense bass and surround sound.
Have you been dreaming of a cinema-style image in your home for a long time, but you don’t like a projector? Then the TCL 98C735 is really something to look forward to. With 192 local dimming zones and an excellent VA panel, it provides very strong contrast, with a lot of brightness and intense colors. It is well calibrated in both SDR and HDR, so switch to the movie image mode and enjoy your movies and series on the big screen. Thanks to Google TV, you have a huge range of streaming services. With two HDMI 2.1 connections, low input lag and VRR, gamers have just about everything they want. Check whether you get it at home, the screen is not foldable!
- Immense screen area
- Very good contrast, thanks to local dimming
- Excellent calibration in SDR and HDR
- Dolby Vision and HDR10+
- Smoothly working Google TV
- Very light vertical stripes visible
- Upscaling gives slightly too soft images
- Surround sound and bass are limited