TCL has surprised me with its C835 Mini LED TV. Alongside the likes of Samsung, Sony and LG, I’d always associated TCL with more reserved, budget-friendly specifications and quality. However, with features that felt prohibitively expensive just a couple of years ago, the TCL Mini LED C835 ushers in next-gen TV tech with a favourable price tag, giving other major manufacturers a run for their money.
Rattling off the specs makes for impressive reading: a Quantum Dot Mini LED display, full array local dimming, a 144Hz refresh rate, HDMI 2.1 ports, VRR and ALLM support, ONKYO speakers with an in-built subwoofer, support for Dolby Vision IQ, Dolby Atmos and IMAX Enhanced content, and Google TV.
But it’s first and foremost the display where the TCL C835 Mini LED shines.
And ‘shines’ is right; this thing is bright! The 4K Quantum Dot Mini LED screen works wonders for brightness and colours in both well-lit and dim environments, so much so that I needed to crank the brightness way down with the lights off.
Firing up IMAX Enhanced content such as Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on Disney+ looks incredible once you navigate through the picture settings to disable motion smoothing. HDR10+ and Dolby Vision certification, which settings that automatically adjust to the displayed content, ensure you’re getting the best picture without messing around with options too much. The glossy finish is a touch reflective but allows the colours to pop.
Full array local dimming with hundreds of zones results in decent blacks that aren’t OLED-level inky but more than sufficient for a fantastic movie-watching experience. If you’re concerned about burn-in or an OLED holding up in a sun-soaked living space, a screen such as this would be worth considering.
Of course, the gaming experience on the TCL C835 Mini LED is excellent.
The Quantum Dot Mini LED tech and HDR mean colour-rich games such as Horizon Forbidden West look stunning. Full array local dimming also ups the scare factor of horror games like The Quarry. The contrast looked amazing and greatly improved the experience compared to the similarly priced gaming monitor on which I’d previously been playing the game.
Support of 4K 120 frames per second gaming, with automatic low latency support (ALLM) and a variable refresh rate (VRR), mean your not skimping out on all the next-gen features of your latest console via one of the two included HDMI 2.1 ports. 144Hz is possible through one of the ports with HDMI 2.1 compatibly gaming PC too
TCL’s game bar allows you to tweak some settings on the fly, display a stat bar and access an in-built aiming aid that adds crosshairs to your screen. However, I largely left the gaming settings alone; messing with the picture settings and disabling ALLM resulted in too big an increase in response time it immediately had me switching back.
Whilst the specs of the TCL C835 Mini LED feel premium, it’s perhaps the design of the TV where the comparatively low price point is a bit more noticeable.
Alongside the competition, the C835 is a touch on the thicker side. Although the bezel is nice and thin, if you’re looking for something to wall mount and sit flush against the wall, this likely isn’t a candidate. Resting it on an entertainment unit is no problem; the included stand is nice and minimal, but mine, unfortunately, came with a couple of dints and the white rubber feet that are visible from the front otherwise break the clean metallic grey finish.
The in-built ONKYO speaker system complete with subwoofer is commendable for this price point — and will get you buy should you be putting off a soundbar purchase — but paled in comparison to the entry-level hi-fi system I coupled with the screen.
My only other complaint with regard to the design is the location of the ports which are mostly all aligned on the right edge of the screen whilst facing it. The power connector is the only exception, stretching to the opposite side of the screen. Althought they’re easy enough to stretch across the back and route down through the stand, doing so means you lose a good half a metre or so of cable length.
Streaming & Smart Capabilities
Google TV makes for a solid experience navigating the TCL C835 Mini LED’s menus. Content and settings are easily accessible, even if it wasn’t always clear looking through the options what picture settings the automatic adjustments to displayed content were locking off and altering.
Although it shouldn’t come as a shock given how well it handles the picture, I was also pleasantly surprised by how decent the processor was for the price. Scrolling through the menus feels snappy and apps open and load content sharply.
I was a big fan of the remote control too. Devoid of any motion tracking or any gimmicks like that, the simple remote includes all the keys you need, including dedicated streaming buttons for Netflix, Stan, Prime Video, Disney+ and YouTube. The only hindrance is the button for the TCL Channel I never touched.
Setup was effortless, and connecting the TV to my Google Home was easy. Support for Alexa and Apple HomeKit is also a welcome addition. Almost all the apps I required game pre-installed, but thanks to the broad compatibility Google TV offers, everything else you may need is only a button press or two away.
The TCL C835 is packed with features, meaning you don't have to skimp on functionality to keep within your budget. The bright, vibrant display, content-friendly optimisations, and slick interface make for a great gaming and entertainment experience. Only a couple of design grievances and the lack of jaw-dropping picture quality offered by newer and significantly more expensive OLED tech hold it back. Considering it's already dipped below $1,500, the TCL C835 Mini LED 55" is a strong contender in its category and absolutely worth considering as an alternative to similarly priced Sony and Samsung TVs.