TCL has finally taken the wraps off its highly anticipated first OD Zero TV — an 85-inch 8K QLED model that uses the company’s ultra-thin mini-LED backlight technology, known as the X9. Priced at $10,000, the X9 joins TCL’s previously announced Google TV-powered models, but goes further, with a built-in pop-up webcam for making Google Duo video calls, and a dedicated soundbar. It’s expected that the X9 will hit stores before the end of 2021.
OD Zero refers to the distance between the layer of mini-LED backlights and the LCD display panel. In other mini-LED TVs, that distance can be several millimeters, but as the name suggests, TCL’s OD Zero panels bring it down to zero millimeters. This lets the overall TV thickness get much smaller, in addition to providing picture quality benefits. TCL hasn’t indicated just how thin the X9 is, but it claims the X9 is its thinnest QLED TV to date.
As with TCL’s other Google TV models, the X9 will support a full range of HDR formats including Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG, and HDR10+, making it one of the few 85-inch 8K TVs to support both Dolby Vision and HDR10+. Picture quality should be impressive: TCL has crammed “tens of thousands” mini-LEDs into the backlight layer, which are then grouped into thousands of contrast control zones. While not quite the pixel-level brightness and contrast control exhibited by OLED TVs, TCL’s technology should give it a considerable edge over other QLED models when it comes to controlling how bright and dark areas of the screen are controlled. TCL also claims the X9 will be able to deliver 100% color volume in the DCI-P3 Hollywood reference color space, the current standard for color reproduction in commercial movie theaters.
Gamers will appreciate that the X9 supports Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Game Mode. The TV has four HDMI ports, two of which are HDMI 2.1 in addition to a dedicated HDMI eARC port.
The X9 also appears to be an audio powerhouse. TV makers often create soundbars that are designed to complement their TVs — Sony, LG, Samsung, and Vizio have all released soundbars that pair well with their TVs, but none have taken the additional step of including a matching soundbar with their TVs. The X9 is a departure from that rule, with a Dolby Atmos-compatible 5.1.2 sound system packed with 25 Onkyo-tuned drivers. The side speakers bounce sound off nearby walls, which TCL says will create an incredibly wide soundstage. Images provided by TCL show what looks like a wireless subwoofer, but the company provided no specifics around this component. What we do know is that the soundbar uses its own dedicated cable connection to the X9 — not the TV’s HDMI ARC/eARC port — and you can choose to wall-mount it.
The X9 and its soundbar are encased in brushed anodized aluminum housings and accented with piano black finishes. TCL has also created a unique integrated stand for the X9 that lets it be placed on the floor, on a table-top, or wall-mounted. TCL hasn’t released any details around the built-in webcam like its resolution or field of view, or how privacy will be managed by owners. A TCL representative told Digital Trends that as the X9 gets closer to retail availability, the company will share a full list of specs as well as photos of the webcam.
As a Google TV, the X9 will support both Google Assistant and Chromecast, and just like TCL’s 5- and 6-Series Google TVs, the X9 has far-field microphones for hands-free voice commands, or you can use the remote. For better privacy control, a physical switch is included to turn off the far-field mics.
Though it may be shocking to see a $10,000 price tag on a TCL TV, it’s clear from the photos and specs that the X9 is a major departure from TCL’s budget-friendly lineup of TVs. When you take into consideration its 85-inch size, 8K resolution, OD Zero mini-LED panel, and the beautiful design of both the TV and the included soundbar/subwoofer, that price starts to look a lot more reasonable. For comparison, Samsung’s 85-inch Neo QLED 8K QN900A normally sells for $9,000. If you added the company’s Dolby Atmos HW-Q950A soundbar, it would put you just over the $10,000 threshold.
Is TCL ready to go head-to-head with the best TVs from Sony, LG, and Samsung? We’ll let you know as soon as we get an X9 in for a full review.
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