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Review: TCL C845 (miniLED LCD)


With its 2023 line-up for Europe, TCL is bringing zone dimming to more LCD models and increasing the number of dimming zones in C845 – their mainstream high-end model. C845 runs Google TV, features two HDMI 2.1 ports, and also has a new gamebar menu. On paper, it looks like a good package that competes head-to-head with Sony's top LCD models and Samsung's 'Neo QLED' LCD models but at a significantly lower price.

TCL C845 exists in 55 to 85 inches. FlatpanelsHD has tested the 65-inch version.

Price and retailers:

UK retailer
DE retailer

First impressions

TCL C845 has a design that resembles popular LCD models from especially Samsung with its slim frame and silver aluminum side-bezel. Confined by the physical, rigid characteristics of the LCD panel and LED backlight, there is only so much you can do in TV design and considering that some competitors actually use TCL-produced LCD panels the similarity should not come as a surprise. The back has a clean and relatively streamlined look in dark grey plastic with a plastic cutout in the center made to look like an Onkyo bass port – the actual speakers are hidden inside the electronics box. The flat center-aligned stand has a coated surface and provides a solid foundation under the 65-inch C845 that we tested. The ports all face to the side so they remain accessible even when the TV is mounted on a wall bracket. Only two of the HDMI ports support HDMI 2.1 bandwidth for 4K 120Hz and VRR signals from a game console or a future media player. Unlike competitors, TCL has relocated the ARC/eARC port for audio output to one of the non-HDMI 2.1 ports meaning that both of the two HDMI 2.1 ports can be used for HDMI 2.1 sources even if you connect a soundbar or receiver. The downside is that if a future Apple TV 4K, for example, employs HDMI 2.1 for 4K120 and you also want to use the box's eARC feature to act as a receiver for wireless speakers (HomePods), you will be forced to choose between 4K120 and eARC. The only "correct" approach here is to have all four HDMI ports support 4K120 bandwidth – like LG and Samsung. There is only one USB port in C845. This is the first TCL TV that we have reviewed in-depth on FlatpanelsHD so I can only comment on TCL's progression from our experience with TCL TVs at trade shows, presentations, and friends' houses, but our impression is that TCL has covered a lot of ground in recent years in terms of design and build quality, and I think C845 is a testament to that. It is not a beautiful TV, but for a mass-produced TV at a relatively affordable price it looks neat.

User experience & features

Google TV
TCL C845 is a Google TV running Android 11 and equipped with the MediaTek MT5889 SoC with 3GB of RAM and roughly 21GB of free storage after setup – a little more storage than many other Google TVs but still not a lot. TCL has yet to detail plans to transition to MediaTek's newer and more powerful Pentonic chips, so what you get in C845 is a chip fairly similar that the chips in Google TVs from Sony and other wellknown brands. It is a decent chip for video streaming and similar tasks, but it is only powerful enough to run simple games. Since it is a Google TV, C845's homescreen looks identical to Google TVs from Sony and others. In the US, you have 'For You' and 'Live' tabs at the top but in most other regions these tabs have yet to launch. Google TV provides access to all of the popular apps including Amazon, Apple TV, Disney+, Max, Netflix and YouTube from the Google Play Store where you find only TV-optimized apps. Mobile apps cannot be installed from the store but can be side-loaded if you really want to – just know that their user interfaces are not optimized for the TV screen. TCL Google TVs have previously been criticized for bugs and performance issues and in the US the first-generation TCL Google TVs were briefly removed from shelves while TCL worked to finish a software update to fix the most glaring issues. The good news is that TCL has come a long way since 2021 and we did not encounter major issues during our time with C845. There are still some quirks here and there including a sporadic bug that prevented us from downloading apps from Google Play but it could be rectified by restarted the TV. Overall, TCL C845's menus felt snappier than Sony X90L's menus – both are Google TVs. We ran some benchmarks to compare TCL C845 to other Android/Google TVs, Nvidia Shield and Apple TV 4K (2017).

TCL C845 - CPU/GPU benchmark

GeekBench 43D Mark - Slingshot ExtremeGFXBench - Manhattan 3.1 (offscreen)GFXBench - Aztec Ruins (offscreen)
MediaTek MT5889 (TCL C845)Single: 929
Multi: 2256
423277 frames173 frames
MediaTek MT5895 (Sony XH90, X90J, X90K, X90L)Single: 1195
Multi: 2882
1148958 frames605 frames
Nvidia Shield TVSingle: 1400
Multi: 4100
42502765 frames2250 frames
Apple A10X (Apple TV 4K 1st Gen)Single: 4000
Multi: 9500
-4500 frames3300 frames
As you can see, the CPU performance (Geekbench 4) is not far behind the MT5895 used in the majority of Sony's 2021, 2022 and 2023 models and only approx. 35% behind the Nvidia Shield for single-core CPU performance. However, even the 1st generation Apple TV 4K is in an a different league. As for GPU power, the MediaTek MT5889 in TCL C845 is very weak and not designed for gaming on local hardware. In this area it is far behind Nvidia Shield. No matter how you slice or dice it Google TV looks and feels more or less the same across the different TV brands today. Compared to Sony X90L that was standing next to TCL C845 throughout our review, the only noticeable visual difference on the homescreen was the extra 'Sony' tab at the top and the fact that the search icon is positioned to the right on the Sony TV while TCL has the search icon to the left.

TCL C845 review

You may recognize C845's quick menu from Chromecast with Google TV or Sony TVs. Photo: FlatpanelsHD

TCL has pre-installed installed a few of its own apps including a web browser called BrowseHere and an app for managing smart home devices called TCL Home. TCL has also partnered with Apple for AirPlay 2 to let you wirelessly push content from an iPhone/iPad onto the screen and Apple HomeKit to let you control certain features of the TCL TV via your iPhone/iPad. Like LG and Samsung, TCL offers a fairly large selection of free channels with ads that can be streamed over the internet. You can access these with the 'TCL Channel' button on the remote and it works but it's a strange thing that you cannot use the channel up/down buttons to navigate the internet channels – the channel buttons are reserved for classic broadcast channels received via the tuner. Here is a brief video of Google TV in TCL C845:
At is also worth highlighting that C845 features both WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2. AV1 decoding worked as advertised but there is no hardware support for VVC (H.265).


With its rounded corners, TCL's 2023 remote control looks playful but also a little cheap. The myriad of hard rubber buttons, including six sponsored buttons that stand out in white, make it appear chaotic. The most important buttons are centered and easily accessible but the buttons at the top and bottom require you to slide the remote in your hand to reach them, which is not ideal. TCL's remote works and is fairly similar to the remote of other brands but our advice to TCL would still be to focus more on this area and drastically reduce the number of buttons by at least a factor 3. The remote is after all what physically connects the viewer to the user interface on-screen.

TCL C845 review

TV audio

TCL C845 is equipped with 2.1-channel speakers; stereo plus a subwoofer all hidden and marketed as an Onkyo system. On paper, it has 2x10W effect for TV content plus 20W bass. Unlike some TV makers, TCL offers supports for both Dolby and DTS audio formats including Dolby Atmos. If you want to output Dolby or DTS audio to a soundbar or receiver note that HDMI eARC, which is required for multichannel PCM, did not activate automatically for us as TCL's HDMI Control (CEC) setting was deactivated. eARC should in theory work without CEC enabled, but in C845 it did not. Enabling CEC also meant that we could turn on C845 via another device such as a media player. You can activate it under Settings -> Channels & Inputs -> Inputs -> External Devices Control -> Activate HDMI Control. HDMI CEC and eARC now worked as intended with a pair of HomePods (2nd Gen) and Apple TV – more on that in a separate review. As for C845's internal speakers, they are fairly average. It helps to have a separate bass unit but it still has clear limitations. At times, the speakers lack definition and tend to sound almost as if they are trembling, and things tends to sound trapped at high volumes. I would personally not use the speakers for music but for casual TV viewing they may satisfy you. For watching movies and series and for playing games I would say that a separate speaker system is a must for a TV like C845.


Other picture modes

Click the title to expand the view

Movie (SDR)
Game (SDR)
Low Power (HDR)
Game (HDR)
TCL C845's default picture mode is 'Low Power', most likely to satisfy the EU's energy requirements. As seen in our measurements, 'Low Power' is not very accurate and it pulls all content into the TV's native color space meaning that colors are boosted and not accurate. You should also avoid 'Vivid' mode. We quickly switched to 'Movie' which is much more accurate, although still with some color errors and a slightly too high color temperature. The default SDR brightness, with the light sensor turned off, is also quite extreme at almost 1600 nits but it's easy to adjust for any user. 'Movie' mode should satisfy most users but as we normally do in review, we took advantage of the basic calibration options to see how we could improve things and be able to share a calibration suggested with readers. We do not use the most advances calibration options in reviews as these are specific to the sample and cannot be shared with other models. As you can see, we managed to get a quite good SDR calibration result although the TV is still pushing the red primary a bit – it requires an advanced calibration to get spot-on. TCL's Game picture mode is also fairly accurate out-of-the-box and we must praise TCL for not falling for the temptation to boost colors as some other TV makers do including the most direct competitor Samsung. However, SDR brightness is extreme at 2400 nits so you should dial that way down. As for HDR, the default 'Low Power' significantly over-brightens HDR pictures, which is contrary to the name, so switch to 'Movie' for the most accurate out-of-box mode. Again, Game mode is quite accurate, although slightly over-brightened. For Dolby Vision content, we recommend that you use 'Dolby Vision Dark'. We measured up to 2750 nits peak brightness in Movie modes but only on 25%, and as we often say the quality of the nits is more important than the quantity of the nits – more on that in the picture quality section. As seen in the measurement table, LCD TVs have a bell-shaped ABL (Average Brightness Limiter) for brightness whereas OLED TVs have a flat ABL curve up to somewhere between 10% and 25% APL (Average Picture Level). This is the first TCL TV that we have managed to do an in-depth review of, so to summarize my first impression in terms of pictures modes I would say that I'm positively surprised by TCL's choices. It could easily have boosted colors into the stratosphere, although brightness tends to be pushed a bit too hard. On the other hand TCL like other TV makers – has too many picture modes including the sponsored IMAX mode. It should also be noted that TCL a couple of years ago started partnering with SpectraCal for Calman auto-calibraiton, the so-called 'Calman Ready' program meaning that you can easily calibrate the TV if you own the equipment as the test patterns required are built in, pending a firmware update in C845. We measured DCI-P3 and Rec.2020 coverage to 94% and 72%, respectively, which is in line with other high-end LCD TVs but not as high as QD-OLED.


In our "measurements" section we include all measurements and our suggested calibration settings. If you want to learn more about our test methodology click here. Note: Starting in 2021, we implemented a new method for measurement of average power consumption in SDR and HDR, meaning that earlier measurements are not 1:1 comparable. Power consumption in 'Calibrated' SDR mode is measured with the screen to approx. 100-120 nits to normalize the measurement across TV models (our recommended calibrated picture settings may differ). The new method will be used in all TV reviews going forward. Note: We include calibration settings only for SDR, not HDR. For our calibration we have deactivated the ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts the backlight setting according to your environment. You may prefer to have it enabled.
TCL C845 review

Picture quality

What's inside a TCL TV? To the surprise of many, I think, TCL is one of the leading manufacturers of LCD panels worldwide through its subsidiary TCL CSoT, so we are not dealing here with another just another brand that buys panels from others. I'm raising this particular subject first because TCL is essentially following the playbook of the South Koreans (LG, Samsung) when they outcompeted or overtook the Japanese (Sharp, Toshiba, Pioneer, Panasonic, Sony). TCL and other Chinese display makers have now outcompeted the South Koreans; Samsung Display has already stopped producing LCD panels entirely and LG Display is very close to abandoning LCD panel production. LG Display and Samsung Display have both moved to OLED where TCL has yet to follow. What it means is that inside, for example, Samsung LCD TVs including "QLED" and Sony LCD TVs are now more and more often an LCD panel from TCL. In theory, you should be getting close to the same display technology for a lower price but in practical terms there are of course also other parameters that come into play including the LED backlight unit, video processor, pre-calibration, and more. I'm putting emphasis on it here because that was what struck me first. C845 is in terms of picture quality and performance very similar to some of Samsung's "Neo QLED" LCD TVs (with VA panels), despite a 65-inch C845 carrying a price tag less than half Samsung's new QN90C and a third of Samsung's new QN95C in many European markets. If we start with HDR picture quality because this is where miniLED comes into play, TCL had already confirmed that C845 has 480, 576, 720, 896 zones in 55, 65, 75, 85 inches, but of course we always count and test ourselves. On our 65-inch sample, we counted 48 zones horizontally and 12 vertically fro a total of 576 zones. It checks out. 576 miniLED zones on a 65-inch LCD is a decent amount by 2023's standards and it helps to increase contrast and HDR peak brightness in many scenes, enabling HDR pictures.
However, 576 zones is not nearly enough to eliminate blooming and related backlight issues including luminance and color shift when the zones start to flex and crushed black details in other scenes. We recently reviewed Sony X90 where we said that its performance including its 80 zones was not enough to cross the bar for what we believe is HDR picture quality. TCL C845 does cross that bar. Obviously, C845 with its brightness capabilities shines in bright scenes from movies and games including a landscape bathed in sunlight and a colorful animation movie, but fully illuminated bright scenes really have very little to do with HDR. What is relevant is how it handles scenes with high contrast – also known as high dynamic range – and here it has enough zones to handle many scenes respectfully but not enough scenes to handle scenes such as a starry sky without issues. Here it's always a compromise between engaging the miniLED zones too much, which raises peak brightness but in turn creates halos/blooming and color/luminance shift (see below), or engaging the miniLED zones too little, which creates a picture without the signal-defined luminance in small bright objects in the picture (the starry sky below which did not really look HDR due to too high blacks and too low brights).
At times, a dark HDR picture can get a clouded/milky look the effect is much reduced compared to, for example, Sony X90L. It happens when the zone dimming system gets confused about how to set the picture level in some complex, mainly very dark HDR scenes. It looks worse if you are not sitting directly in front of the TV. C845 supports four HDR formats (HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision and HLG). After the launch of Apple TV 4K (2022), this media box has emerged as best solution for HDR10+ content as more or less all Apple TV+ content is in HDR10+ and many iTunes HDR movies, too, in addition to Amazon Prime Video and a few other apps. However, given that C845 also supports Dolby Vision we recommend that you set up Apple TV 4K (2022) for Dolby Vision instead of HDR10+ (when a source delivers both formats), as you have to select between them in the settings menu.
After many hours of watching movies and playing games, I would say that TCL has landed on a fairly balanced approach to its miniLED zone algorithm based on the limitations of 576 zones. There are good moments and bad moments, and the end results in terms of HDR picture quality will in large part depend on how and where you use a TCL C845, i.e. in a bright living room or dark home theater, and to watch mostly bright content or dark content. As for SDR content, the miniLED zone dimming system matters less and C845 delivers a more balanced picture mostly without the zone issues that you can encounter in HDR. That is partly because it has a native contrast ratio of around 5500:1 and enough overhead in brightness to work even in a very bright living room. You will see reflections in the LCD panel as TCL is not using the same coating as Samsung's high-end models but on the other hand you do not get the same rainbow effects from especially pointed bright light sources in your room and overhead spots as in Samsung's moth-eye coating. Consider curtains if you feel that it's an issue.

TCL C845 review

TCL's video processing has been getting better over the years but I would not yet put it up there with the Sony's. For accurate picture quality, you will want to disable the picture enhancement systems. C845 has a dynamic tone-mapping system for HDR engaged per default and my recommendation is to turn it off as it makes HDR pictures significantly too bright overall and also tend to make picture a little too artificially contrast-rich by raising the brights and lowering the darks. TCL informs FlatpanelsHD that it has a significant update planned for Q3 2023 the dynamic tone-mapping function in the 2023 miniLED models, but we did not get a chance to evaluate it. In fast motion, especially bright scenes, C845 can exhibit the same 'stroboscopic effect' as OLED TVs, although less pronounced on C85, and some other high-end LCD TVs, including Samsung's, which happens due to the combination of low frame rate (24fps in movies/series) and the panel's relatively fast response time. The solution would be for Hollywood to increase the frame rate that it shoots movies at, but that won't happen right now, but you can manually mitigate it by activating TCL's motion system, Motion Clarity, set very low. There are some side-effects to this such as motion artefacts and stutter is not completely eliminated. Personally, I preferred not to use Motion Clarity on C845 as the stroboscopic effect is less pronounced than on OLED TVs. C845 uses PWM (Pulse Width Modulation, or flicker) to control LED brightness. It also has a BFI (Black Frame Insertion) function called 'Clear LED Motion' but it produces very visible flicker and significantly lowers brightness. The video processor also supports 4K at 120Hz and 144Hz fixed as well as HDMI VRR and AMD FreeSync, which brings us to gaming. 4K120 worked fine with a game console such as PS5 or Xbox Series X but 144Hz is an advantage only with PCs- C845 supports 240Hz 1080p inputs, too, by using a novel concept to run the 4K panel at 1080p by alternating the vertical pixel lines, but it is a stop-gap until true 240Hz panels arrive. TCL C845 has only two HDMI 2.1 ports that support these capabilities. The other two have HDMI 2.0 bandwidth for up to 4K 60Hz. TCL has also implemented a Game Bar 2.0 that provides quick access to gaming features but we struggled to find it, having to actually ask TCL how. It turns out that you must long press the quick settings button (three rows) on the remote control. It works only if the TCL TV is in Game mode (Game Master).
We measured input lag in Game mode to 15.4 ms in 4K 60Hz, down from 119.3ms in the other modes. Input lag will be lower in 4K 120Hz/144Hz and even lower in VRR – the input signal is a factor. Except for only two HDMI 2.1 ports, C845 in other words has a comprehensive set of gaming features built-in but like other high-end LCD TVs it struggles with gaming in HDR as the effectiveness of the miniLED zone system gets reduced significantly in Game mode and especially with VRR sources, affecting overall HDR picture quality including peak brightness and contrast, because otherwise input lag would be too high. This is an often overlooked factor in terms of gaming performance on TVs. A general rule of thumb is that the panel's native performance – without support systems – is what you should expect in gaming and that's why OLED TVs deliver better HDR picture quality in gaming because there are essentially no support systems. Our sample of TCL C845 had good backlight homogeneity but we do not know if other samples have that too. The community of buyers should chime in after their purchase. The VA LCD panel in C845 has narrow viewing angles as seen in the picture below so we do not recommend it for living spaces where some users view the TV from the side. Blooming gets a lot worse from angles.


In our reviews of Samsung miniLED LCD TVs ("Neo QLED") we've concluded that for them to compete with OLED TVs' picture quality the number of LED zones must be dramatically increased or the miniLED LCD TVs must be cheaper than a comparable 4K OLED TV. TCL delivers in spades on that as C845 costs between half and a third compared to one of Samsung's high-end 4K LCD TVs despite still having 576 dimming zones for acceptable HDR and high brightness.
It is significant but perhaps not so surprising considering that Samsung (and Sony and others) now source LCD panels from TCL CSoT. The Chinese display and TV maker is rising fast and while reviewing C845 we saw a lot of similarities with Samsung's high-end LCDs, the main difference being Google TV. C845's design looks fine, the remote is acceptable, the speakers are not great, but the picture quality is very similar at a fraction of the cost. On the other hand TCL C845 does not match popular OLED TVs in terms of picture quality and it is limited to only two HDMI 2.1 ports. It has not moved to the more powerful MediaTek Pentonic 1000 chip and we still encountered some software bugs with Google TV. If you are avoiding OLED TVs for whatever reason, TCL has emerged first as brand with value-for-money mid-range TVs and it is now bringing the same value-for-money concept to the premium segment to challenge Sony and Samsung. Despite its limitations, we think you should seriously consider TCL C845 as an alternative to other high-end LCD TVs and we think it is worthy of our Highly Recommended Award.

Price and retailers:

UK retailer
DE retailer

Great SDR, decent HDR picture quality
HDMI 2.1 ports, features
Google TV's app selection

miniLED blooming, too few dimming zones
Only two HDMI 2.1 ports
Old MediaTek SoC
Google TV limitations in most regions

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