TCL C735 QLED – good mid-range performance TV (AV review)

A reader asked us to review the TCL C735 QLED TV after reading our TCL C635 review as he was having trouble differentiating.

The answer is simple (C635 in brackets) – the TCL C735 QLED has

  • 144Hz VRR when connected to a PC over HDMI (No)
  • 100/120Hz panel (50/100)
  • Dolby Vision IQ, HDR10+ and Dolby Atmos (not IQ and HDR10)
  • IMAX Enhanced (no)
  • Clear Motion 200 (100)
  • 55/65/75/85/98″ (43/50/55/65/75)
  • Pedestal mount (legs)
  • Onkyo speakers (same)

In all other respects, the two are 4K Android TVs.

Australian review TCL C735 QLED TV (specs based on 55″ model as tested)

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

WebsiteProduct Page and Manual
Price55/65/75/98 $1499/1899/2799/3999/9999 Shop around as we have seen $1295/1695/2295/3299/7995 plus delivery
FromHarvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, Good Guys, Bing Lee, Retravision, Appliances Online, and Videopro
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(able) rating that is not as good as it should be and a Pass ‘+’ rating to show it is good but does not quite make it to Exceed.

You can click on most images for an enlargement.

First impression – Pass+

The C735 series is essentially the same electronics as the TCL C835 Mini-LED TV – bang for buck (review) with a Direct-Lit Quantum Dot panel instead of a Mini-LED Quantum Dot panel. So apart from the Direct Lit panel (that appears to be the same), it has less in common with the TCL C635 QLED TV – a winner for those on a tight budget (review).

I quite like the centre pedestal design, although it may interfere with a soundbar. The ports are all on the right rear side, but I can’t understand why the power is on the left rear side. There are no bezels, and the back has a pleasing metallic finish. It can be 300 x 300 M6 VESA wall-mounted.

The remote is standard across the C-range. It is IR/Bluetooth. The Layout is logical and has dedicated buttons for Netflix, Stan, Prime Video, Disney+, YouTube and TCL Channel – functional and quite easy to use. It is not backlit.

Direct LED – Pass

The TCL C735 QLED 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 (no local dimming), it relies on the LCD gates to control the image. These LCD gates are broken up into software-controlled 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 Wi-Fi Miracast dongle.

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

Tests – TCL C735 QLED

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 value QLED/LCD device and 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 slightly better than the C635 – probably due to enhanced processing power. It claims a wide colour gamut (99% 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 (same as C635) – Pass

It claims 6000:1 (peak or dynamic contrast), which means that it can have 5999 shades of grey between the darkest black and whitest white. It is kind of a rubbish measurement. Another rubbish contrast measurement is Full On/Full Off (FOFO), and our test indicates this is closer to 1200:1.

The best measurement is native ANSI contrast is the ratio of white and black measurements from the same image at the same time, and we estimate it is closer to 250:1. 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.

Brightness (same as C635) – Pass

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 (Dynamic Tone Mapping), it can reach about 400 nits; at 10% panel, it can reach 500 nits; at 2% panel, it can micro-second flash around 800 nits.

HDR/10/+/HLG/Dolby Vision –Pass(able)

Compared to the C635, this has Dolby Vision IQ. It is still the same DV metadata, but the panel has a light sensor to adjust the picture quality to suit the ambient light environment.

Our reference shots (taken under similar conditions) reveal a slight, almost imperceptible,  performance improvement in DV. Why? Because DV needs 1000 nits to be effective, and this panel peaks at 800, meaning DV is downmixed to the panel’s capabilities. Bottom line – it is pass(able) DV but a long way off Mini-LED or OLED DV.

Motion Smoothing – Pass(able)

The lower-cost C635 has a 50Hz panel and Motion Smoothing 100, which essentially means a black frame is inserted between each frame.

The TCL C735 QLED has a 100Hz panel and Motion smoothing 200 – still one black frame between each frame, and due to more AI processing, it removes more noise and judder.

We noticed some tearing above 100fps (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.

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 ARM Cortex-A73 with 3GB of RAM and a Mali-G52 MP 800Mhz GPU 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-1, 2.1, 48Gbps – 4K@144Hz VRR (if using a PC with a suitable graphics card; otherwise, it is 4K@100/120Hz)
  • HDMI-2, 2.0, 48Gbps – 4K@100/120Hz
  • HDMI-3, 1.4b, 10Gbps – 4K@50/60Hz
  • HDMI-4, 1.4b 10Gbps – 4K@50/60Hz eARC*
  • 2 x USB-A 2.0 5V/.5A/2.5W (for recording or playback)
  • AV in
  • Optical audio out
  • 3.5mm Headphone
  • RF antenna for a single tuner

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

Gamers – not really

In game mode, the G-t-G response is 16.6ms (4K@50/60Hz), and the sole HDMI 2.1 port is only 4K@100/120Hz unless connected to a PC with a decent GPU.

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

It has Standard/Movie/Music/Voice/Game/Sports/Dynamic pre-sets, and a bass enhancer has On/Low/Middle/High pre-sets.

We initially set it up for intelligent sound but ended up on the Dynamic pre-set, which is probably best for general TV viewing. Pre-sets make little difference overall. Overall volume is 84dB – plenty loud enough.

An audiophile would notice the choppy, clipped, and distorted sound at volume. They would describe the sound stage as narrow (within the TV), 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.

It will decode PCM mono to 5.1, Dolby Digital to 5.1, DTS Digital to 5.1 and Dolby Atmos.

Now to Dolby Atmos

All this means is when the TV encounters Dolby Vision (DV) and Atmos (DA) metadata, it decodes the 128 channels to the TV’s two channels. You do not get 3D spatial height nor surround – just a slightly wider sound stage. If you want a DA effect, you need a DA soundbar. See TCL TS8132 3.1.2 Dolby Atmos capable soundbar (review). 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 quickly to 100Hz before flattening to 6kHz, then the mid-and-upper-treble drops off slowly. Despite a similar Onkyo setup in the C635, this has a far better signature with better bass and controlled mid-high-treble.

This is a neutral signature (flat with a decent mid-high-bass. A flat response that neither adds nor subtracts from the original music! The only issue here is garbage-in, garbage-out – the better the music quality, the better it sounds.

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 centre pedestal can interfere with soundbars, although it can be set at two heights.

The 55” unit is 1226.9 (W) x 779.8 (H) x 315.5 (D) x 12.1/13.2Kg without/with the stand.

Power – Pass+

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

CyberShack’s view – The TCL C735 QLED TV is a worthwhile step up from the C635

The C635 is all about value at a lower cost and does a great job for the price.

The TCL C735 QLED adds more performance via better electronics (shared with the S835 Mini-LED) and sound, albeit at a higher cost. If you put both side-by-side, you would notice the difference.

It decodes Dolby Vision/Atmos metadata as well as HDR10+. Still, playback is downmixed to the panel’s capability, which ranges from 330 nits (full-screen) to 800nits (2%) – its passable DV but nothing like the C835 Mini-LED or the even better LG C2 evo OLED.

It has Google TV, decent colours and brightness, and a three-year warranty at a competitive price. What is not to like?


Size 55/65/75/98 RRP:$1499/1899/2799/3999/9999

Let’s look at the 55″ at $1499 ($1295 at JB). It is competing with

  • TCL C635 55 or 65″ $895/1295 (special prices to 28/9/22)
  • Samsung Serif 55″ QLED Edge-Lit $1295
  • LG Nano75 55 or 65” NanoCell (QD) $1295/$1495)
  • Hisense A7HAU 75″ UHD ($1295)
  • Sony X75K 55 or 65″ UHD ($1095/1395)
  • Hisense U7HAU 55 or 65″ QLED Full Array ($1195/1395)
  • Samsung BU8000 550 or 65″ Crystal Edge-Lit ($1495)
  • Samsung Q60B 55″ QLED Edge-Lit ($1195/1495)
  • LG UQ90 55 or 65″ UHD ($1195/1495)

While some excellent TVs are above, TCL’s Direct-Lit trumps Edge-Lit (which knocks out all the Samsung, Sony, Hisense A7HAU and LG UQ90), leaving the Hisense U7HAU or LG Nano75 models.

Given that the TCL 735 QLED has Google/Android 11 TV and can process Dolby Vision/Atmos/HDR10+ (downmixed to the panel’s capabilities), it is the pick of the litter.

BUT, the real winner is the C835 Mini-LED at 55/65/75 at $1795/2395/3195, and frankly, it is worth spending the extra for a far brighter image.


55/65/75/98 $1499/1899/2799/3999/9999 but shop around







Ease of Use





  • Class-leading value
  • Well-made and 3-year warranty
  • Better audio and video performer than the C635


  • 144Hz VRR is only with PC and suitable GPU
  • Default settings are not meant for bright Aussie lounge rooms
  • In addition to Google Log-in, TCL wants your details
  • Add a soundbar for Dolby Atmos and far better overall sound