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This TCL 98-inch TV review looks at the emerging trend of massive widescreens for home use.
There’s something about a giant TV that sets off all kinds of thoughts and feelings in most of us. Maybe it’s the expectation of an eye-watering asking price to match the vast expanse of screen real estate. Perhaps it’s the suspicion that the TV is secretly a 100-inch portal that threatens to suck you into some misadventure behind the wheel of a getaway car. What’s certain is that there’s a growing interest in screen sizes that range from 75 inches to 100 inches.
By uncovering the charms and limitations of the 98-inch TCL R754, we try our hand at predicting if giant screens have a place in the future of home theater equipment.
TCL 98-inch TV review: The shopper’s case for a gigantic TV
There are several reasons why you should choose a TV that could double as a door. For starters, the display can be a statement piece that complements the décor in a large space. Two, the TCL 98R754 can help to host dinner guests by playing the roles of ‘ice-breaker’ and ‘conversation-starter’.
Avid film buffs should consider the TCL R754 as an alternative to a projector setup. As giant LED panels become more affordable, the celebrated projector now faces competition from:
- LED panels that do a much better job of displaying HDR content
- Giant TV sets with wider color gamuts
- Displays that retain image visibility and picture quality in bright ambient light
- Large TVs that support Dolby Vision and other HDR standards
Even the most die-hard projector enthusiast would jump at the chance to have a large display that also delivers excellent picture quality. Now add the possibility of watching content in a bright room and the number of ex-projector converts grows quickly.
Large screens and the question of pixels per inch
Ppi (pixels per inch) is a pretty practical measure of a screen’s resolution. The more pixels you can cram into a single square inch, the better the image quality in terms of:
- Text clarity
- Color saturation
- Image sharpness
- Fine detail
In real life, a smaller screen will typically have more ppi than a bigger screen with the same resolution. This means that larger screens will likely have pixels that are further apart. With a large TV, pixelation and a loss of sharpness are noticeable at close range.
These ‘faults’ disappear when you watch a giant screen from the recommended distance. For a 98-inch TV, the ideal distance between the TV and its audience is 11 feet, give or take. With that, we proceed to review the TCL 98R754.
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TCL 98-inch TV review: Design and build
The TCL R754 starts as a paper-thin panel that expands to a maximum depth of four inches. This increase in thickness is because of an extension that piggybacks off the lower half of the main panel. The resulting aesthetic is a series of sharp edges that create a choppy, angular side profile.
From the front, the TCL 98R754 is a vast expanse of screen with bezels that you can barely see. The exterior of this TV is a metal-plastic combination with smooth, glossy edges and a textured back panel. Sturdy metal and plastic components combine to form a chassis with a solid build.
You would need furniture that’s at least as long as the TV if you choose to place the TCL 98R754 on an entertainment stand. Mounting the TV would require a bracket that matches the 850mmx400mm VESA pattern on the back panel.
A column of side-facing ports is easy to reach, even with a wall-mount install.
The first pair of HDMI ports support 4K/120 content, where HDMI2 doubles as the eARC output. In total, you get your pick of four HDMI ports for your audio equipment, gaming rigs, and media players. Here’s a list of the remaining ports:
- Two USB ports
- Digital optical output
- AV input port
- 3.5mm audio jack
- RF connector
- Ethernet port
WiFi 6 support allows you to take full advantage of your router’s streaming speeds. This is assuming that you have a router that also supports the WiFi 6 standard. Lastly, Bluetooth connectivity lets you connect compatible media and audio devices.
This Android platform is versatile in terms of its vast app selection and native capabilities. Google TV also has tools that let you view and control compatible smart devices, including home security equipment. Here are some of the highlights of the interface:
- Support for Google Assistant and Alexa
- Far-field microphones in the TCL R754 allow for hands-free voice commands
- Smooth, responsive browsing as you navigate through icons and menus
- Apps like YouTube will load fully in under 5 seconds
Like all current smart TV platforms, Google TV has its fair share of ads. However, the ads cause little disruption to the layout of the UI. On this count, Google TV has a slight edge over the competition.
TCL 98-inch TV review: Hardware and performance
The TCL 98R754 is a 120Hz QLED TV with full-array backlighting. At a sustained peak brightness level of 550 nits, this 98-inch VA panel is bright enough to support vivid, high-quality HDR images. The TV is also bright enough to display clear images in bright rooms, but it has a glossy screen that can cause glare. Local dimming and deep, dark black levels allow the TCL R754 panel to deliver excellent native contrast.
QLED technology improves the color gamut and color accuracy of an LCD/LED panel. In the case of this 98-inch TV, the QLED component delivers an adequate color gamut and great color reproduction.
Remember that a large display has fewer pixels per square inch than a smaller display with the same resolution. Fewer pixels per inch translate to less color saturation, which is a drawback that cinephiles and audio-visual professionals may notice.
The TCL 98R754 has perfectly accurate color reproduction right out of the box, and there’s no need for adjustments.
2. Contrast and HDR content
A native contrast ratio of 15000:1 allows the panel to create stark contrast, 3D simulation, and fine detail.
However, the perfectly dark blacks of this TV may be a bit too perfect, which is an odd thing to say. The problem is that different shades of dark tend to blend into each other, causing a loss of shadow detail. In contrast, bright scenes and images have an amazing level of detail and nuance.
3. Viewing angles
The 98-inch TCL R754 has the tell-tale narrow viewing angle of a VA panel. Colors start to shift at an angle of 26 degrees from the center. At 29 degrees the TV starts to lose brightness and images start to lose definition.
4. Screen uniformity
Local dimming improves the panel’s native contrast, but the same feature decreases black screen uniformity. Enabling local dimming causes slight clouding and black colors start to turn gray.
The TCL 98R754 performs better with gray screen uniformity, but you may find that the edges are darker than the center.
5. Motion handling
The pixels of the R754 change color in less than 10 milliseconds, which is excellent by any standard. This impressive response time translates to blur-free motion in fast action, high frame-rate content. Pixels switching from dark colors to brighter colors have a slower response time, which could cause dark trails in fast-action content.
Low lag is the second and most significant highlight of this 98-inch TCL TV. A lag of 13ms for 60fps content is pretty impressive. Input lag decreases further with 4K/120 content, and lag can reach lows of 6ms.
6. Gaming features
Let’s start by seeing what it’s like to play your favorite game on a giant screen. For one, a vast screen allows for panoramic views of a game’s visuals. The size of the screen also amplifies small details that would otherwise go unnoticed by most. Now we look at the basic gaming features that the TV delivers:
- VRR (variable refresh rate) allows the panel to adjust its refresh rate to match the frame rates of different game titles
- ALLM (auto low-latency mode) decreases input lag to deliver a smoother, more responsive gaming experience
- The TCL 98R754 has GSync and FreeSync support that allows for seamless interaction with different graphics cards
A giant TV needs internal speakers that match its size, and the TCL R754 doesn’t disappoint. The TV has a 2.1 channel configuration that creates a sound profile that could match that of a small soundbar. Two front-firing speakers and a rear-facing subwoofer make a valiant attempt at creating a wide, immersive soundstage.
- The TV is bright enough to function in a brightly lit room
- Accurate color reproduction
- Excellent motion handling
- Large selection of apps
- Support for multiple HDR formats like HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision
- Support for the WiFi 6 standard makes this TV a little futureproof
- Narrow viewing angles
- Screen uniformity could be better
- Intrusive ads on the smart TV interface
TCL 98-inch TV review: An immersive experience at a bargain
We conclude this TCL 98-inch TV review by answering the question: “Is it worth it?”
The TCL 98R754 is one of the most affordable giant screens in the market. In return for parting with your hard-earned money, you get peerless color accuracy and a feature-rich smart TV interface. You also get a TV with good motion-handling capability, which is an upside that gamers would appreciate. Click here to learn more about this television.
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