TCL C635 QLED TV – a winner for those on a tight budget (AV review)

The TCL C635 QLED TV comes in 43/50/55/65/75” for $899/999/1299/1699/2499. It is the TV you buy on a tight budget, and is pretty good for the price.

So that you know, the TCL 2022 series TVs use the ‘35’ model number. So the C635 is a C6-series QLED. Above that is a C7-series QLED, and a C8-series mini-LED. Below the QLED is the P7 series LED/LCD (Edge-lit, no Quantum Dot). Why are we telling you this? Well, we have noticed quite a lot of the 2021 ‘25’ series and even the odd 2020 ‘15’ series at retailers, and we believe the 2022 series are quite a leap forward.

Now to the main differences between the TCL C635 QLED TV and the more expensive C735 that comes in 55/65/75/85/95” for $1499/1899/2799/3999/9999.

Note both have HDR10+/Dolby Vision, Google TV, wide colour gamut Quantum Dot (QLED), 330 nit/6000:1 contrast, 2.0 Onkyo sound, and a 3-year warranty.

ItemTCL C635 QLED TVC735
Dolby VisionYesIQ version
BacklightDirect LED software micro-dimming zones (55”)Direct LED 1296 zones (55”)
Panel60/120Hz (Australia is 50/100)120Hz (Australia is 100Hz)
VRR100Hz144Hz (PC only)
Clear motion rate100200
HDMI3 – 1.4/2.0/2.14 – 1.4/2.0/2.1
USB2.0 and 3.02.0
AudioOnkyo 2 x 10WOnkyo 2 x 15W

In order of image quality

  • OLED is the undisputed king of TV/Movies. It decodes Dolby Vision (DV)/IQ and gives close to 100% HDR/10/+/DV (high dynamic range) results.
  • Mini-LED/QD/LCD is bright and colourful. QD (Quantum Dot) gives good, saturated colours. It decodes DV. The ones we have seen are about 80-85% of OLED HDR capabilities
  • Full-Array Local Dimming (FALD) backlit LCD will give you a better image than Direct-Lit or Edge-Lit LCD. These may decode DV with the result that is closer to 60-70% of OLED HDR.
  • Direct LED (see below for details). These may decode DV with the result that is closer to 40-50% of OLED HDR
  • Edge-Lit is what 90% of consumers buy because they are cheap. These may claim DV but what you see is only about 20-30% of OLED HDR.

Australian review: TCL C635 QLED TV (specs based on 55” model as tested)

Note: We have updated all specs to reflect Australian electricity at 50Hz. What this means is that a 60/120Hz panel operates at 50/100Hz. TCL websites still show refresh speeds based on 60Hz power.

WebsiteProduct Page and Manual
Price43/50/55/65/75” for $899/999/1299/1699/2499
FromHarvey Norman, JB-Hi Fi, Good Guys, Bing Lee
Warranty3-years ACL
Country of originChina
CompanyTCL Technology (originally an abbreviation for Telephone Communication Limited) is a Chinese electronics company headquartered in Huizhou, Guangdong Province. It designs, develops, manufactures, and sells consumer products, including television sets, mobile phones, air conditioners, washing machines, refrigerators, and small electrical appliances.
MoreCyberShack TCL news and reviews

We use Fail (below expectations), Pass (meets expectations) and Exceed (surpasses expectations or is the class leader) against many of the items below. We occasionally give a Pass ‘+’ rating to show it is good but does not quite make it to Exceed.

First impression – For $1299, this is not a bad TV!

At less than half the cost of a TCL C835 mini-LED, this TV performs quite well. I mean, a trained eye can see the difference; motion is not as smooth, it is not as bright, and the detail in highlight and dark areas is not as good – but overall, it has decent, above-average performance for the price.

It has very narrow bezels, a pair of width-adjustable screw-on feet, a power connector (left side) and input connectors (right side). It can be 300 x 300 M6 VESA wall-mounted.

The QLED layer amps the colours, and the LCD layer controls sub-miniature gates that let the light through. You can learn more Confused about TV tech? That’s just what they want! (guide).

Its IR/Bluetooth remote control is logical and has dedicated buttons for Netflix, Stan, Prime Video, Disney+, YouTube and TCL Channel. It is not backlit.

It is what you buy if you have champagne tastes on a lemonade budget but be aware that it will really only be ‘sparkling white’.

Direct LED – Pass

This uses a Direct LED backlight behind the LCD panel. It provides a relatively uniform amount of light across the screen. But as the white LEDs are always on, it relies on the LCD gates to control the image. These LCD gates are broken up into software-controlled motion or dimming zones and, as such, cannot achieve lower black levels, and there is noticeable blooming around white images.

It is better than Edge-lit and not as good as Full Array Local dimming (FALD), Mini-LED or OLED (in that order).

Setup – Exceed

Google/Android 11 TV is easy to use. Log in via your Gmail account, set up Wi-Fi (or Ethernet), and agree to sign your privacy away (all TV brands now want to know everything). TCL also wants you to sign in for TCL added-value features, and you can’t avoid it. If you want privacy, set up a junk Gmail account.

We won’t go into Android TV 11 except to say that it has all Australian digital free-to-air channels and a vast array of apps. It also uses Google Assistant to allow for Google Home and voice control. A nice feature is Chromecast support, but PCs will need to use a Miracast dongle.

A dedicated TCL channel comprises live channels plus hundreds of on-demand shows.


From July 2022, we have invested in testing equipment that allows us to screen grab instead of photographing the screen. The result is a more accurate representation of the test results.

We are rating this as a lower-cost value device. We are not trying to compare it to other more expensive TV technologies.

Image Quality

It has Vivid/Low Power/Smart HDR/Sports/Movie/Game modes. You need to use Vivid for most typical Australian lounge rooms, and our tests are based on that.

It has an 8-bit+FRC (Frame Rate Control) VA panel. It manipulates pixels, so they flash two alternating colours (called dithering) so quickly that you perceive any of the shades in a faux 10-bit colour range. Does the TV display those 1.07 billion colours? No. Will you be able to tell? See below – likely, not.

Our tests’ primary colours, red, green, and blue (RGB), are close to 100% accurate. Secondary and tertiary colours (like skin tones) are, at best, reasonable. It claims a wide colour gamut (93% DCI-P3), but that’s about 60% of the full 1.07 billion colour DCI-P3 movie gamut support. Do you care? Likely not at this price, as all lower-cost panels use FRC.

Contrast – Pass

It claims 6000:1, which we think is a ‘stretch target’. Still, for the price, the VA panel is more contrasty than Edge-lit IPS panels.

The gradient image below shows true black (right edge), and the adjacent grey is the blackest the TV can get.


The panel is rated at 330 nits (100% of the panel), and our tests verified this. It is not overly bright and best in slightly darker rooms. If you have more open viewing space, then the C835 Mini-LED is for you.

At 20% panel, it can reach about 400 nits; at 10% panel, it can reach 500 nits, and at 2% panel, it can micro-second flash around 800 nits.

HDR/10/+/HLG/Dolby Vision – Technical Fail but Passable

Dolby Vision needs at least 1000 nits for a small screen segment. We pushed the screen to the max and got 800 nits in 2% of the screen. It is not bright enough, so you lose quite a lot of definition in shadows and highlights.

What you have to remember is that at this price, all Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos (DA) claims are just about being able to decode the metadata and downmix to the panel and speaker capability. They won’t give you some mythical, marvellous DV/DA experience reserved for top-grade LG OLEDs and some mini-LEDs. In fact, ignore the DV/DA claim!

Motion smoothing – Technical Fail but Passable

While it claims to have up to 100 clear motion rates (that is not Hz), the panel is native 50Hz. It adds BFI (black frame insertion) between actual frames. We noticed some tearing above 50fps (Hz), and the judder test shows the image breaking up. Don’t worry – you cannot see that with your eyes. We recommend that you turn motion smoothing off.

It also has a 2K@120Hz (100Hz in Australia) DLG or Dual Line Gate refresh rate in games mode. DLG pushes the LCD gates to 2x refresh rates using more current (power). We can’t comment on this as it is a relatively new technology designed to get better gaming performance from lower-cost panels.

Off-angle viewing – Pass(able)

The claim is 178° off-angle viewing; the reality is about 120° before colours start washing out and 145° before it is unviewable. Keep your viewing area tight.

Reflectivity – Pass(able)

To get the maximum brightness and contrast, ALL lower-cost panels use a relatively reflective screen (the more matte/anti-reflective, the more it cuts brightness etc.). This is very reflective, and you MUST have decent ambient light control from behind and beside the seating position.

Sharpness – Pass

You can read text to 10-point. But it fails the Moire test, where moving white text is overlaid on black text with a fair degree of tearing as it passes over the gaps between the software dimming zones. This is not a critical test but shows that light control is nowhere near that of mini-Led or OLED.

Upscale – Pass

All video content is intelligently upscaled to 4K. It uses a deep learning AI (AiPQ Gen 2, a fancy name for the RT51M quad-core A55 x 1.3Ghz and ARM Mail-G31 800Mhz TV processor) that recognises a range of objects and helps to predict what the frame should be. We tested 480/720/1080p content, and it was pretty acceptable if a little soft around the edges and in tones.

Connectivity – Pass

  • Wi-Fi 5 AC dual-band or Ethernet. For general 1080p streaming, Wi-Fi 5 is adequate. For 4K streaming, it can stutter as it tries to fill the TV buffer. In this case, an Ethernet connection is best.
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • HDMI 2.0 eARC 4K@50Hz – not full HDMI 2.1 implementation, e.g., not 120Hz/VRR/ALLM/QMS, so make sure you do not plug other devices into a soundbar
  • HDMI 2.1 4K@50 or 2K@100Hz VRR DLG
  • 1 x HDMI 1.4b 4K@50Hz compressed
  • USB-A 2.0 5V/.5A/2.5W (for recording or playback)
  • USB-A 2.0 5V/.9A/4.5W (should power external SSD or Dongles)
  • AV in
  • Optical audio out
  • 3.5mm Headphone
  • RF antenna for a single tuner

While HDMI 2.0 eARC 4K@50Hz is sufficient to pass through uncompressed Dolby Atmos to the soundbar, it is not enough to pass Dolby Vision up to the TV. Plug any external content devices directly into the TV.

We are a little disappointed that while it has 3 HDMI ports, none fully implement the 2.1 4K@100Hz standards.

Gamers – not really

In game mode, the G-t-G response is 15ms, and the HDMI 2.1 port is only 4K@50Hz or 2K@100Hz.

Voice control – Pass+

It can support Google Assistant (dedicated mic button on the remote). Alexa and Siri (HomeKit/Airplay 2) require an external smartphone or speaker.

Sound – Pass(able)

It has Standard/Movie/Music/Voice/Game/Sports/Dynamic pre-sets, and a bass enhancer has On/Low/Middle/High pre-sets. Dynamic is probably best for general TV viewing, but they make little difference overall. The overall volume is 82dB – plenty loud enough.

The sound quality is what you expect of a typical low-cost TV, not what an audiophile expects.

An audiophile would notice the choppy, clipped, and distorted sound at volume. They would describe the sound stage as narrow (within the TV), with poor left/right separation (directionality), lacking any bass and higher treble, and they would be right. But hey, this is TV sound from 2 x 10W speakers.

Overall does a creditable job with sufficient clear voice emphasis (1-4kHz) to make dialogue intelligible. It is not for the hearing impaired.

Now to Dolby Atmos

All this means is when the TV encounters Dolby Vision and Atmos (DA) metadata, it decodes the 128 channels to the TV’s two channels. You do not get 3D spatial height or surround – just a slightly wider sound stage. If you want the full DA effect, you need a DA soundbar. We will be testing the TCL 8132 3.1.2 DA soundbar separately, but hint; you need a soundbar to enjoy clear and immersive sound from this TV.

Read How to buy a soundbar that meets your needs? (guide) and Five tips for better TV sound – Dolby Atmos for beginners (guide)

With all the pre-sets adjusted properly (we usually test on default settings), bass starts at about 65Hz and builds very slowly up to 350hz (late high-mid) before flattening to 4kHz, then the mid-and-upper-treble drops off fairly quickly.

This is a Mid signature (bass recessed, mid boosted, treble recessed). It is more for clear voice than music that can sound a bit hollow, lack directionality, treble is harsh, and bass is muddy.

You can read more How to tell if you have good music (sound signature is the key – guide)

Mounting – Pass

It uses a standard VESA 300x 300 with M6 thread, so you can choose from a vast range of third-party mounts.

The legs allow for width adjustment to accommodate longer soundbars. Ironically the TV is not height adjustable, and the TCL TS8132 interfered with the IR receiver. We had to place it about 200mm in front of the panel, and all was fine.

The unit is 1226 (W) x 710 (H) x 80/290 (D) x 12.2/12.36kg without/with the stand.

Power – Pass+

It has a 5-star energy rating and, at worst, draws about 200W with Dolby Vision content. In sleep mode is .5W (cost 30 cents for 2000 idle hours). Power costs are negligible.

CyberShack’s view – Is the TCL C635 QLED TV good for the money? Yes

An old saying is that one man’s trash is another’s treasure. If you only have $1299 for a 55”, this is a treasure as it beats all those generic, crappy, edge-lit LCD TVs out there.

It has Google TV, decent colours and brightness, a three-year warranty and Direct-Lit is a step up from the P735 series. If you have a little more money step up to the $1495 C735 that offers just a few more features.

If you expect more and want a genuine Dolby Vision/Atmos experience, then mini-LED at around $3K and OLED at around $4K plus a Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 (or greater) soundbar is what you need.


At $1295 (55”), it competes with the Sony Bravia X75K Google TV, which has almost identical specifications (Direct-lit) but it does not have Dolby Vision or Atmos decode and only a 1-year warranty.



43/50/55/65/75” for $899/999/1299/1699/2499







Ease of Use





  • As good as it gets for the price
  • Reasonable colour and sound
  • Well-made and a three-year warranty


  • It is really pushing it to claim a Dolby Vision/Atmos experience – decode only
  • Not bright enough for typical Aussie lounge rooms
  • Highly reflective panel
  • In addition to Google Log-in, TCL wants your details