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TCL QM8 mini-LED TV at CES 2023: a 98-inch giant with a built-in subwoofer

TCL has arrived at CES 2023 with a revamped TV lineup that has more than a few surprises. In addition to announcing its plan to sell its first QD-OLED TV in 2023, TCL is bringing its mini-LED backlight technology to its largest QLED model, putting the brand in direct competition with Samsung, the only other company that makes a 98-inch mini-LED QLED TV.

TCL has also decided to rename its models, abandoning its 1-, 3-, 4-, 5-, 8-, and 6-Series for a simplified approach that divides the company’s TVs into two main buckets, the high-end, QLED-powered Q Series, and the more affordable, non-QLED S Series. TCL’s 2023 soundbars will also follow this new naming convention with Q and S Series models.

Within this new product hierarchy, TCL’s flagship TV will be the QM8 Series, a mini-LED QLED TV that comes in 65-, 75-, and 85-inch sizes, and an enormous 98-inch model — the company’s first 98-inch TV with mini-LED backlighting. Meanwhile, the step-down Q7 Series will offer the company’s best non-mini-LED QLED picture performance with full-array local dimming (FALD), in 55-, 65-, 75-, and 85-inch screen sizes. A Q6 family will also be available in 50- to 75-inch screen sizes.

2023 TCL QM8 4K mini-led QLED TV.

Missing from TCL’s CES presentation, however, was any mention of the company’s XL-Series X9 — a $10,000 ultra-thin, 85-inch 8K model based on TCL’s next-gen mini-LED technology known as OD Zero. TCL initially hyped the X9 for a 2021 release, then did it again at CES 2022. But two years later, the product seems to be on indefinite hold.

In fact, there wasn’t a single mention of 8K resolution for TCL’s 2023 lineup. If TCL has indeed abandoned 8K, it would be the first TV maker to cease 8K production.

Also absent when TCL was briefing Digital Trends on its new products, was a firm commitment on which models will be offered with Roku TV and which will support Google TV. We were told by a spokesperson that the company still supports both operating systems, but that it hasn’t made a decision on the final OS mix for 2023.

Details are thin at the moment when it comes to actual specifications, but TCL is promising some big improvements over its 2022 models, including a bezel-less design for all models, and a new QLED display that it calls HighBright. The Q6 gets a standard version of HighBright, which offers a purported 66% improvement in brightness over non-QLED TVs, plus support for 120Hz variable refresh rate (VRR) gaming.

TCL QM8 Series HDMI ports with 144Hz support. TCL

The Q7 gets a version called HighBright Pro — “double the peak nits” — with a native panel refresh rate of 120Hz, and the ability to do 240Hz VRR when gaming, using AMD’s FreeSync Premium Pro. It will support Dolby Vision IQ, with an IMAX Enhanced certification.

The Q7 is accompanied by a new voice-capable remote, and the TV itself has far-field mics for hands-free voice commands.

The QM8 features a mini-LED backlit HighBright Ultra panel, which TCL says is twice as bright as its mini-LED models from 2022. It also possesses a huge 500% increase in the number of local dimming zones. The 98-inch 4K model has more than 2,300 of these zones, which TCL claims are more zones than any other mini-LED TV on the market, even 8K models.

All QM8 Series TVs get Wi-Fi 6 support, and a built-in subwoofer, and the 65-, 75-, and 85-inch models get height-adjustable stands.

Details are even slimmer when it comes to TCL’s new S Series. So far, all it has said is that the S3 will come in 32- to 43-inch screen sizes and offer 1080p Full HD and HDR, while the S4 will come in 43- to 85-inch screen sizes and do 4K, Dolby Vision HDR, and Dolby Atmos.

TCL’s 2023 soundbars look nice, but the company seems to be holding back from an all-out assault on its rivals like LG, Samsung, and Vizio.

TCL highlighted three new models, the S4510, a 5.1 system with a wireless subwoofer and two rear speakers, the Q6510, which uses the same layout as the S4510, but with more power and higher quality components, and the Q6310, a 3.1 system.

There’s no Dolby Atmos or DTS:X support on these soundbars, and no Wi-Fi connectivity.

TCL hasn’t released pricing or availability on any of the products in its 2023 lineup, but as soon as it does, we’ll let you know.

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Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
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