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TCL 6 Series vs Samsung QLED: Clash of the Top Budget TVs

The concept of a budget television has changed drastically in recent years. Newer brands like TCL now rival heavyweight incumbents like Samsung and LG by infusing premium features into affordable sets. 2022 sees this budget TV arms race intensifying, with heavy hitters like TCL‘s popular 6 series and Samsung‘s entry-level Q60B models making a case as the best bang-for-your-buck big screen buy.

As home theater enthusiasts ourselves, we decided to pit these value-focused heavyweights head-to-head across the performance metrics that matter most. Read on for a technical and real-world comparison that names a definitive winner for shoppers seeking premium quality on a budget.

Company Histories – Innovation Against the Odds

Before evaluating the specs, it‘s helpful to understand the divergent histories that shaped these models:

TCL began manufacturing budget TVs in the early 2000s, finding success internationally before entering North America in 2014. Sold under their supermarket brand, early models focused solely on affordability using standard LCD panels and simple smart features.

In 2018, TCL pivoted toward innovation and actively disrupted the budget segment by introducing the pioneering 5 and 6 series. These models fused high-end displaytech like quantum dot color, full array local dimming, HDR support, and 120Hz gaming into substantially cheaper packages. The value push paid off, rocketing TCL to become the #2 TV maker in North America. 2022‘s latest 6 series revamps build on a proven formula with larger screens reaching 75" for the first time.

Samsung entered TV manufacturing back in 1969 and slowly inched toward industry dominance by constantly pushing technological boundaries. They popularized now household names like QLED and 8K resolution, alongside smart innovations tailored for interconnected homes. But even the largest makers can‘t ignore rising competitors, especially as expensive flagships lose mainstream appeal.

In response, Samsung unveiled the 2022 Q60B series to solidify strong value offerings across their catalog. This entry-level 4K QLED line makes smart compromises to retain key specs like quantum dot color and dual backlighting at friendlier budgets. While still premium in price, the Q60B represents an unprecedented value within the Samsung brand.

Now equipped with context, let‘s see how these budget big screen marvels stack up today!

Display Performance – A Contrast in Quality

A television is only as good as the display inside, making panel specifications pivotal to real-world performance. Here is how the core display metrics of the Samsung Q60B and TCL 6 series measure up:

Data compiled on 75" models from RTings testing

Clearly TCL‘s 6 series outperforms in the majority of key areas:

  • Brighter peak luminance exceeding 1400 nits
  • 2 times more local dimming zones for superior contrast control
  • Marginally wider color range to showcase HDR content
  • 23% higher native contrast with richly inky blacks

The Q60B is no slouch. Vibrant quantum dot color remains pleasing, albeit showing some color variance at wider angles. Brightness falls a bit behind but is sufficient for most environments outside of sun-drenched living rooms. Where Samsung lags is contrast – a common tradeoff among LED backlit sets. Without finely tunable dimming, they rarely match high-end models or the 6 series‘ OLED-like contrast.

This contrast disparity manifestly in the lab and living room. Measurements confirm the Q60B‘s residual black level blooming where edges and letterboxing emit an excess gray haze. The highly segmented 6 series backlight holds blacks solidly even watching challenging horror and sci-fi. Ultimately, discerning viewers that care about picture depth in home theater environments will notice the 6 series‘ 1.5x contrast advantage day-to-day.

For shoppers seeking top-tier quality on a budget – TCL pulls ahead substantially in core display performance. But the Q60B‘s strengths shouldn‘t be understated…

Smart Platforms: Differentiation Through Design

Streaming constitutes over half of TV watching today. That‘s why the operating system and integrated smart functionality often determine whether shoppers love or hate their sets. Here‘s how the TCL and Samsung models compare in the critical smart features department:

On one hand, TCL sticks with proven third-party platforms in Roku TV and Google TV rather than reinvent the smart OS wheel:

  • Simple layouts with all streaming services onboard
  • Quick access to antenna TV inputs and HDMI sources
  • Casting from phones, tablets, and laptops with Chromecast/Airplay
  • Snappy performance via light UIs that don‘t slow or crash

In contrast, Samsung‘s homegrown Tizen platform pursues tighter ecosystem integration:

  • Built-in SmartThings support to control appliances, lighting, cameras
  • Multi View to snap smartphone content to the corner of the screen
  • Gaming hub to stream Xbox Game Pass titles rather than buying consoles
  • Custom ambient modes to match mood lighting or display artworks

There are also some core smart similarities:

  • Integrations with Alexa and Google Assistant for expansive voice control
  • Granular picture adjustments like digital noise reduction and motion interpolation
  • Audio settings to equalize soundbar compatibility or optimize internal speakers

For most buyers, smart OS preference comes down to which streaming services or smart home devices you‘re invested in. Both provide polished core functionality. However, Samsung again shows their technical prowess through unique innovations unavailable to competitors relying on external platforms.

Gaming Prowess: Smoother Visuals or Lower Latency?

Gaming drives rapid TV evolution today thanks to new consoles and streaming services pushing boundaries. With Xbox and PlayStation supporting 120fps gaming and VRR display sync this generation, televisions require new technical capabilities to keep up. Unfortunately, achieving fast response times and smooth visuals simultaneously at low cost is enormously challenging.

Here is how the TCL 6 series and Samsung Q60B balance gaming specs based on input lag and display overdrive measurements at 4K 60Hz from RTings testing labs:

The data reveals a study of contrasting strengths and limitations:

  • TCL‘s 6 series TVs support native 120Hz refresh rates for ultra smoothness during 60-120fps gameplay. Combined with VRR they handle frame rate fluctuations imperceptibly.
  • But the rapid pixel response requires overdriving voltage substantially, causing visible artifacting on panning shots called overshoot.
  • In comparison, the Samsung Q60B minimizes overdrive for cleaner motion and panning visibility at a cost of slightly higher input delays.
  • Combined with the 60Hz display limiting frame rates to 60fps, motion clarity and controller input lag suffer by comparison.

Casual gamers are well served by either model and won‘t perceive the granular differences in animations or input latency. But competitive genres demand every last millisecond, ultimately giving the TCL another narrow advantage for gaming enthusiasts. VRR support somewhat offsets visible overshoot downsides compared to the less reactive Q60B.

Rich in Features, Light on Frills

Beyond core performance metrics, connectivity and miscellaneous features help streamline usability. Here‘s a broad look at how the TCL and Samsung TVs compare:


  • 4x HDMI ports with 48Gbps bandwidth for 4K 120Hz across all models
  • Bluetooth 5.0 enables lag-free headphones and soundbar listening
  • Wi-Fi 6 integration ensures responsive streaming in congested wireless networks

Motion Handling

  • TCL 6 series utilizes 60Hz BFI to sharpen fast action
  • Samsung Q60B includes Black Frame Insertion from PCMR mode

Voice Assistants

  • Google Assistant, Alexa, and Bixby built into all models

Audio Power

  • 2 x 15W stereo speakers drive loud yet lifeless sound
  • Dolby Atmos decoding adds immersive spaciousness

Other Notable Features

  • Game Mode Pro configuration on 6 Series automatically enables VRR + ALLM
  • Q-Symphony lets Samsung sets pair with compatible soundbars

While largely comparable under the hood, TCL skips the flashy bells and whistles to focus investment on display and processing hardware instead. Shoppers wanting a simplified out-of-box experience are better served by the Roku smart platform rather than Samsung‘s more involved Tizen ecosystem as well. But besides gamer-centric additions, most will find core features nearly equivalent between the models.

The Definitive Budget King

If the data demonstrates anything, it‘s just how competitively TCL and Samsung match up today. Both deliver excellent 4K home theater experiences with vibrant quantum dot color, voice controls, gaming tweaks, and leading smart ecosystems. Any buyer ultimately wins thanks to how far budget TV tech has come.

However, when evaluating budget-focused products, bang for buck remains paramount. If stretched to choose a definitive winner, the TCL 6 series stands above Samsung‘s entry this year for shoppers that want the absolute best big screen quality under $1000.

Superior backlighting and over 2x the local dimming zones empower class-leading contrast that outperforms any LED model near this price bracket. And gamers benefit from smoothly interpolated 120fps visuals at 4K thanks to HDMI 2.1 support absent on the 60Hz-constrained Samsung set.

The deciding factor for frugal shoppers is TCL matching and exceeding Samsung‘s innovation at more wallet-friendly price points. Contrast and smoothness surpass Samsung‘s own step-down model – that‘s an immense achievement from an upstart looking to disrupt. Savings then translate into larger screen sizes or funding other home theater upgrades compared to the premium brand giant.

Of course, home theater needs vary widely between consumers. We wouldn‘t fault any gamers wanting absolute lowest input lag or smart home dwellers valuing Tizen‘s unmatched integration either. But evaluating the total package combining display prowess, gaming handling, smart features, and sheer value – we believe TCL succeeds in upending Samsung to be crowned budget king. Their 6 series was already legendary for breaking TV price/performance barriers over past generations – now it definitively beats the industry‘s best at their own game as well.