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TCL vs. LG: Are TCL's TVs a Better Value than LG's OLEDs?

TCL vs LG TVs: In-Depth Brand Comparison and Shopping Guide

When shopping for a new television, two brands that invariably come up are TCL and LG. Both companies have established themselves as major players in the TV space, but they have notable differences in their technology, features and value.

This comprehensive guide will analyze how TCL and LG televisions compare, examining key factors for buyers to consider from display quality to smart platforms. Which company comes out on top may depend on your particular needs and budget.

Brief History of TCL
TCL started out in 1981 manufacturing cassettes and VCRs in China, later expanding into DVD players and TVs using LCD technology in the early 2000s.

The company has grown rapidly over the past decade to become one of the largest television manufacturers in the world. While not having the premium brand recognition in North America as leaders Samsung and LG, TCL TVs have earned praise for high-performance features and specifications at budget-friendly price points.

Brief History of LG
LG’s history with televisions dates back to 1947 when they produced South Korea‘s first radio under the GoldStar brand name.

By 1958 the company had expanded into TV manufacturing. Fast forward to the 21st century, LG has cemented itself as an industry innovator with market-leading display technologies like OLED and technical solutions like ultra-wide viewing angles.

As a long-time electronics leader, LG carries strong brand awareness and a reputation for premium quality across its television lineup. Models range in price but the focus rests decidedly on the high-end with industry-leading picture.

Main Display Technologies
When comparing television manufacturers, the core technology powering the screens plays a pivotal role. This helps determine factors like contrast, viewing angles, brightness and more.

TCL Televisions
The bulk of TCL’s televisions utilize LCD/LED display panels also commonly called CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamp) or direct LED lighting. This technology has advanced substantially over the years providing extremely bright, color-rich 4K images.

In TCL’s higher-tier models, they incorporate QLED quantum dot filter screens licensed from Samsung. QLED enhances color volume and brightness through a nano crystal layer while retaining the LED backlight system used by conventional LCD televisions.

LG Televisions
The display technology that has propelled LG to the forefront revolves around OLED (organic light emitting diodes). OLED screens emit their own light on the molecular (organic) level versus requiring an LED backlight.

This enables the purest blacks with pixel-level precision dimming abilities. LG has leveraged advancements in OLED over the past decade to achieve spectacular color reproduction capabilities in their latest models like C2 and G2.

While LG integrates LCD components on certain budget offerings, their television brand centers distinctly around the self-emissive OLED screens found in mid-range to premium models.

Picture Quality Showdown
There is no debating that LG OLED TVs set the bar for best-in-class picture quality and performance. Their organic self-lit pixels allow for essentially perfect black levels with vibrant, accurate colors.

However, TCL displays also deliver gorgeous 4K images at even higher peak brightness levels. Their quantum dot and LED technologies render HDR content exceptionally well.

While spectacular contrasts come easier for OLED, companies like TCL have compensated with advanced full array local dimming (FALD) backlighting and ample dimming zones. This strengthens dark scene reproduction on LCD/LED models.

Ultimately, LG earns the edge particularly in darker room viewing. But those adverse impacts diminish greatly in brighter rooms where TCL’s high luminance, HDR and rich coloring shine. Considering TCL’s budget pricing, they compete better than expected against the best OLED screens.

Refresh Rates, HDR and Other Performance Features
LG televisions possess all of the cutting edge display specifications – 4K resolution, high dynamic range support (Dolby Vision, HDR10), 120Hz native refresh rates for gaming, and powerful video processing chips like LG’s α9 Gen5 AI Processor. Models also integrate technology like OLED evo which further expands color volume capabilities.

While premium LG OLEDs boast the complete suite of performance metrics, TCL TVs also check nearly every box. Aside from occasionally maxing out at 60Hz panels, models like the mid-range 6-Series feature QLED wide color gamut displays with full Dolby Vision/HDR10 support, THX Certified Game Mode and 120Hz variable refresh rates.

Audio Quality
Neither LG or TCL TVs are known for outstanding sound quality through built-in speakers. More budget displays often lack bass and fullness compared to a dedicated sound system. However, LG integrates better audio innovations like AI Sound Pro for virtual 5.1 surround effects and Dolby Atmos decoding. Most newer models exceed the average TV with decent clarity and volume including 20W+ output on many units.

TCL does not emphasize audio performance as a priority. Speakers max out at 15W, lacking the power and channel separation of LG. Dialogue clarity also rates lower without the AI-powered processing. While no television speakers compete with a sound bar or AV receiver package, LG takes the audio win over TCL unless connecting an external solution.

Smart TV Operating Systems
TCL TVs utilize the wildly popular streaming platforms Roku TV or Google TV for intuitive smart functionality. Both software systems excel in ease of use with extensive app libraries (5000+ streaming channels).

LG televisions exclusively feature their proprietary webOS platform. While also simple to navigate, webOS trails competitors in available apps and flexibility. However, unique capabilities like LG ThinQ AI assistance integrate seamlessly given singular platform control.

For the snappiest, most app-abundant interfaces with universal search, TCL’s Roku/Google TV earn the advantage. But webOS still brings quality software with LG ecosystem advantages. Either brand meets the streaming and smart home needs of most users.

Gaming Performance
Serious console or PC gamers demand certain specifications for optimally smooth gameplay – namely low input lag, fast refresh rates and variable refresh rate (VRR) support.

While no slouch for gaming, LG televisions shine brightest here. Even budget LED models offer sub-10 millisecond input lag with 60Hz refresh rates. Premium LG OLEDs max out at 4K 120FPS presenting flawless high frame rate performance. They also enable cutting edge features like Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync Premium VRR eliminating screen tearing.

TCL does not lag far behind LG for gaming thanks to THX Certification requirements testing displays for fast response times and low input lag. Many models also integrate the latest HDMI 2.1 inputs with 4K 120Hz support and VRR capability. Combined with superb contrast and brightness, TCL TVs output incredibly realistic, smooth visuals for gamers.

Design & Build Construction
LG television models clearly reflect premium aspirations with ultrathin profiles and strikingly minimalist construction. They achieve a picture frame-like edge-to-edge screen effect for immersive viewing. While remaining sturdy, chassis depth measures under 0.5” thick across OLED models with bezels barely noticeable.

As a budget-tier brand, TCL TV design ranks as secondary to maximizing display quality and features. Models appear perfectly fine with consistent construction but lack the awe-inspiring aesthetics of LG OLEDs floating on a wall. However, TCL tests TVs extensively for reliability including shaking chambers to simulate years of use. Few durability concerns exist unless comparing to LG’s aircraft-grade aluminum composition on higher models.

Screen Sizes
Both manufacturers offer smaller 40-43 inch televisions up to gargantuan 85”+ displays. LG produces industry-leading 88/97-inch 8K OLED TVs as their halo offerings. TCL peaks at 85” for now.

In the most popular 55-65 inch middle zone, both brands provide numerous options catering to all budgets. Determine your ideal viewing distance and room size needs before deciding between the two.

Viewing Angle Performance
Television viewing angles quantify how far you can shift left, right, up and down before picture quality degrades with distorted colors and contrast fading.

LG implements specialized IPS (in-plane switching) technology on LED TVs plus OLEDs inherently allow for ultra-wide viewing angles measuring nearly 180 degrees before notable picture falloff.

Meanwhile, TCL TVs utilize vertical alignment (VA) LCD panels offering reduced off-angle visibility in the 30-60 degree range depending on model. While entirely sufficient for head-on viewing positions, those regularly watching from sharp sides will prefer LG’s market-leading viewing angle performance.

Brightness Specifications
Since LED/LCD televisions utilize separate backlighting versus OLED’s independent pixel dimming control, their theoretical brightness limits soar higher – upwards of 2000+ nits peak versus LG OLED’s 800-900 nit maximums.

In real-world testing, TCL’s Mini-LED + quantum dot technologies help its brighter models eclipse 1600 nits topping LG’s brightest. However, brightness variation between different content is perceptually more consistent on OLED without full screen peak limits affecting overall luminance perception.

Ultimately both brands deliver outstanding picture detail and HDR color performance at their respective brightness capabilities. Very few practical scenarios require anything brighter than LG’s impressive OLED outputs.

Pricing & TV Budget Levels
Budget Shoppers – TCL Dominates Value
For budget 4K TV buyers not exceeding $600, TCL provides unbeatable performance. The 4-Series and 5-Series crush similarly priced discount models with quantum dot colors, Dolby Vision and 60Hz gaming.

Mid-Range Market ($600-$1500) – TCL & LG Go Toe-to-Toe
Stepping up to the $1000 range, LG Nanocell LEDs feature full array local dimming approaching picture quality closer to OLED. TCL 6-Series QLEDs supply mini-LED technology and impressive contrast just short of OLED excellence. Comparing core features, LG Nanocell vs TCL 6-Series both make compelling, closely matched options carrying distinct advantages. It really comes down to one‘s preference emphasizing richer contrast or wider viewing angles.

Premium Shoppers – LG OLED is King
If your budget accommodates spending over $1500, LG OLED TVs stand in a class of their own. While companies like Sony and Samsung launch impressive QD/OLED challengers pricing over $2000, LG’s performance-for-value equation remains unparalleled. The brighter, color-richer images combined with perfect contrast create an unforgettable viewing experience justifying the increased investment for home theater enthusiasts.

Pros and Cons of TCL Televisions


  • Outstanding pricing at every level from $200 to $2000
  • Peak brightness up to 1600+ nits enriched by quantum dot filter layer
  • QLED contrast nearly matches OLED thanks to mini-LED backlighting
  • Excellent 4K clarity and smooth motion handling
  • Snappy smart TV software via Roku or Google TV


  • Picture quality trails LG OLED models
  • Narrower effective viewing angle
  • Audio quality lacks depth from underpowered speakers
  • Smart features not as robust as competitors
  • Less prestigious branding compared to top tier makers

Pros and Cons of LG Televisions


  • Best-in-industry image quality with self-lit OLED technology
  • Near 180 degree wide viewing angles with no color distortion
  • Dolby Vision + Dolby Atmos decoding built-in
  • Beautiful slimline aesthetic design
  • Intuitive smart TV webOS platform
  • Renowned brand name matching premium construction


  • Pricing can run exorbitant on larger OLED models
  • Brightness capped lower than LED/LCD displays
  • webOS trails competitors in app variety/scope
  • Newer to gaming features like HDMI 2.1

Bottom Line:
TCL vs LG Recommendations

For shoppers emphasizing affordability and core performance, TCL LED televisions are hard to beat. As picture quality continues improving on QLED models plus Roku/Google TV built-in, they supply incredible 4K quality for most buyers.

However, for an immerse, cinematic viewing experience with the best contrast and widest viewing angles, LG OLEDs stand at the summit albeit at steeper prices. The individual use case and budget dictates which brand satisfies more.

If pursuing premium, go with LG OLED. If seeking value, choose TCL LCD/QLED. For many in the middle, either brand likely satisfies television needs unless one specific technology like OLED contrast holds paramount importance justifying added expenditures.

Frequently Asked Questions
Does TCL offer OLED TV models?
Currently TCL only manufactures LED/LCD and QLED quantum dot televisions – they do not produce their own OLED panels. However, TCL plans to launch an OLED TV lineup in late 2023 relying on external OLED panel suppliers.

How does TCL compare to other budget brands?
Favoring core features over styling frills and branding, TCL TVs outclass discount competitors like Hisense, Toshiba and Vizio across critical performance benchmarks from brightness to gaming.

Do LG TVs come with Roku or use another platform?
No LG televisions exclusively run the company’s own webOS smart platform rather than external operating systems like Roku, Google TV or Android TV seen on competing brands.

Is a TCL 6-Series equivalent in picture quality to LG OLED?
While impressive with mini-LED powered contrast rivaling OLED, the TCL 6-Series QLED cannot match the perfect, per-pixel level blacks and wide viewing capacity of an LG OLED television. They do compete remarkably well on color and brightness for the price.

Do LG TVs support next-generation gaming features?
Yes, newer LG OLEDs and premium LCD TVs incorporate HDMI 2.1 inputs supporting 4K 120Hz gaming, variable refresh rate (VRR) and auto low latency mode (ALLM) preferred for Xbox Series X|S and PS5.

That sums up our detailed showdown between TCL and LG televisions. Both manufacturers supply loads of value catering to varying consumer budgets and preferences. LG OLED models stand at the apex of performance pushing TV technology forward. But the affordability and richness of TCL QLED displays must not be underestimated to save money without fully sacrificing a premium viewing experience.