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Review: 98" TCL C805

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TCL kickstarted the market for large TVs – up to 98 inches – with the launch of C735 in Europe in 2022 and R754 in North America. The company is now taking the next step by both more affordable and more premium 98-inch 4K LCD TVs. Some of these TVs are equipped with miniLED zone dimming.

FlatpanelsHD has finally had the opportunity to examine TCL Europe's 98-inch TVs in this review of C805 where we also provide side-by-side comparisons to the more budget-friendly P745 and the pricier, high-end X955.

In some markets, C805 is known as C755 or MQLED80.


Price and retailers:

UK retailer
DE retailer

First impressions

Before we start, let us outline the setup. Due to the challenges of transporting and setting up the massive 98-inch displays in our testing facility, we opted to travel to Warsaw, Poland, where TCL had set up the screens in a meeting room. There, we spent two days reviewing the 98-inch TCL C805 (along with an 85-inch C805 for some measurements/tests). We compared the 98-inch C805 to a 98-inch P745, an entry-level model without zone dimming, and a 98-inch X955, a high-end miniLED LCD model. While this setup was a compromise, given the limited time with the TV outside our controlled environment, on the other hand it provided a unique opportunity to make comparisons. FlatpanelsHD had full access to all the aforementioned TV models, allowing us to conduct testing on our terms. However, due to the time constraints of two days, our test was slightly abbreviated to exclude a calibration, and we had less time to sit back, relax, and just watch movies, which we normally do after measurements, test patterns, test scenes, and other more intensive testing procedures. Nevertheless, as we left Poland, we felt that we had achieved a level of in-depth examination qualifying as a full review, albeit with a disclaimer acknowledging that we might have missed a thing or two. TCL's C805, C955, and X955 models were announced in 2023 but are actually 2024 models. They feature TCL's latest miniLED backlight and zone dimming technology, the latest VA LCD panel (with a 7000:1 contrast ratio), and the MediaTek Pentonic 700 chip platform. In terms of design, C805 is obviously huge at 98 inches diagonally, yet it maintains a fairly minimalistic design with a slim frame and a streamlined back. For the 85-inch and smaller screen sizes, there is a center stand, while the 98-inch version has metal feet near the edges of the frame for improved stability, according to TCL. Given its substantial size, it is required to ensure stability and avoid risk of toppling. Potential buyers should be aware that the 98-inch model requires a very wide TV bench unless you plan to wall-mount it (VESA 500x600mm).
The input and output ports all face to the side, as they should for slim wall mounting. TCL C805 is equipped with two HDMI 2.1 ports (4K 120/144Hz bandwidth) and two HDMI 2.0 ports (4K 60Hz bandwidth), a limitation set by MediaTek's Pentonic chip. The ARC/eARC port is HDMI4, meaning you have both HDMI 2.1 ports available for PS5, Xbox Series X, and future HDMI 2.1 playback devices. However, having eARC on an HDMI 2.0 port means that future media players with eARC support, such as the Apple TV 4K for wireless TV audio integration with HomePod, will be limited to HDMI 2.0 bandwidth for video. The only truly future-proof solution is to offer four HDMI 2.1 ports.

User experience & features

TCL C805 in all sizes is built on the MediaTek Pentonic 700 SoC (MT5896), which comes pre-installed with Android 12 and the Google TV user interface. FlatpanelsHD also confirmed that it comes with 2.5GB RAM, 20.7GB of internal storage (19.3GB free after setup), and a Mali G52 GPU. Running on Android 12, the Google TV user interface is now finally in 4K resolution, as opposed to Full HD on Android 11 and earlier. You may already be familiar with Google TV, as it is more or less the same user interface across all TVs and streaming media players, including Chromecast, Sony Google TVs, Philips Google TVs, and earlier TCL Google TVs, as dictated by Google. Only Google TV-based set-top boxes from broadcasters can offer a modified (broadcast-oriented) user interface. Due to the time constraints outlined earlier, we did not delve deep into the Google TV experience, but we did have time to benchmark the Pentonic 700 chip:

TCL C805 - CPU/GPU benchmark

Geekbench 43D Mark - Slingshot ExtremeGFXBench - Manhattan 3.1 (offscreen)GFXBench - Aztec Ruins (offscreen)
MediaTek MT5889 (TCL C845 X1)Single: 929
Multi: 2256
423277 frames173 frames
MediaTek Pentonic 700 MT5896 (TCL C805)Single: 971
Multi: 2452
421--
MediaTek MT5895 (Sony XH90, X90J, X90K, X90L)Single: 1195
Multi: 2882
1148958 frames605 frames
MediaTek Pentonic 1000 MT5897 (Sony A95L)Single: 1359
Multi: 3342
1913--
Nvidia Shield TVSingle: 1400
Multi: 4100
42502765 frames2250 frames
Apple A10X (Apple TV 4K 1st Gen)Single: 4000
Multi: 9500
-4500 frames3300 frames
FlatpanelsHD
C805 features a slightly faster CPU than previous TCL models, as evidenced by Geekbench 4, but maintains the same GPU performance, as shown in our 3D Mark benchmark. Overall, the Pentonic 700 is only marginally faster, with its real benefits lying in features such as support for Dolby Vision 4K 120Hz and a newer version of Android from the get-go. During our time with the TV, we did not encounter major software issues with Google TV. However, we did face minor Google TV bugs, such as search malfunctions or apps not appearing after installation, which were resolved with a reboot.
Despite some annoyances, Google TV is in our opinion a more well-rounded TV operating system than, for example, LG's webOS and Samsung's Tizen, and certainly more feature-rich and better supported by developers. There is access to most international, regional, and local apps. The most glaring omission is probably the Xbox app, but Google TV is not alone in this regard, as the Xbox app is currently exclusive to Samsung's Tizen-based Smart TVs. Google TV receives OS upgrades and support after the sale, unlike Samsung's Tizen. It is more flexible and user-customizable, allowing options to sideload apps. It serves as a common platform for many brands, akin to Android on smartphones, ensuring developer support today and in the future. While Google TV has many positive aspects, we are concerned about its direction in one area; advertising. Although Google is an advertising company, the content recommendations often feel like ads from partners, especially Disney+. The introduction of full-screen ads on some Android TV and Google TV devices, like Nvidia Shield and Chromecast, is too much, especially for premium devices such as TVs and Shield that buyers have paid full price for.

Operation

Only the flagship X955 comes bundled with TCL's redesigned, simplified remote control. C805 still comes bundles with the standard remote control. As mentioned earlier, the remote looks playful but also a little cheap. The myriad of hard rubber buttons, including six sponsored buttons that stand out in white, makes it appear a little chaotic.

TCL C805 review

TCL's standard remote control. Photo: FlatpanelsHD

TV audio

As a mid-range model, C805 lacks the advanced speaker system found in high-end TVs. It features a standard 2.0-channel 2x15W stereo speaker setup. It is not very good and in fact I was surprised to find that it did not even cut it for mixed use for me. Especially bass and lower mid-tones are lacking. If you are planning to purchase the 85- or 98-inch C805, we advice you to allocate budget for proper external speakers. TCL C805 supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. While these audio formats offer minimal benefit with the built-in speakers, built-in support does enable the output and pass-through of object-based audio to a soundbar and receiver. In addition, C805 supports eARC (HDMI4), necessary for multichannel PCM audio and Dolby Atmos in MAT 2.0 with Xbox Series X and Apple TV 4K. Activating eARC on TCL TVs requires enabling CEC under Settings -> Channels & Inputs -> Inputs -> External Devices Control -> Activate HDMI Control. CEC is what allows you to wake the TV via a media player or console, and to control the TV with other remote controls (over HDMI CEC).

Calibration

Other picture modes

Click the title to expand the view

Standard (SDR)
Game (SDR)
Standard (HDR)
Dynamic (HDR)
Game (HDR)
While we did not have time to do a calibration, we did manage to measure the predefined picture modes in C805. Calman will later roll out a software update for auto-calibration with TCL's new models. It is also worth highlighting that TCL now partners with ColourSpace for 3D LUT calibration. As always, 'Standard' mode and in particular 'Dynamic' mode are quite harsh on the eyes due to very high brightness (600+ nits) and a forced boost of colors into an expanded color space. We recommend using TCL's 'Movie' mode, as it is fairly accurate out of the box. The company has no plans to support Filmmaker Mode at this time. C805's 'Game' mode is also mostly accurate and respects SDR games' Rec.709 color space without boosting colors. Generally speaking, if you want to boost color, you can do so with the various picture settings, but the default settings in Game mode should always deliver an accurate picture, as the game developers intended. As for HDR, the same applies. Avoid Standard and Dynamic, and use the Movie and Game instead. HDR Movie mode was slightly brighter than intended, but this is a variation error due to variations in the miniLED backlight between C805 samples, according to TCL. If you have the meter to confirm HDR peak brightness, you can later set 'HDR Peak Brightness' in C805's settings menu, as seen here, to the exact measured brightness value. This will make PQ luminance tracking spot-on. See the third photo in the table below. For Dolby Vision, we recommend using 'Dolby Vision Dark', as it is the most accurate. DCI-P3 and Rec.2020 gamut coverage were measured at 94% and 73%, respectively. This is on par with other LCD TVs but well below QD-OLED.

Measurements

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 last year, we implemented a new method for measurement of average power consumption in SDR and HDR, meaning that earlier measurements are not 1:1 comparable. The new method will be used in all TV reviews going forward.

Picture quality

In TCL's line-up, C805 is positioned one step below C845, which we reviewed last year, hence the lower model name. This is primarily because C805 features fewer miniLED local dimming zones, specifically 336, 384, 512, 640, 880 and 1344 respectively in 50, 55, 65, 75, 85, and 98 inches as compared to 480, 576, 720, 896 respectively in 55, 65, 75 and 85 inches in C845 – not a huge difference on paper. C805 features the newer MediaTek Pentonic 700 chip, but C845 has actually also been upgraded with Pentonic 700 in the C845 x2 revision (x2 is shown on the box if you are shopping for it), which leaves C805's larger screen size of 98 inches as one of the key differences. Let us start with HDR picture quality since miniLED zone dimming is intended to improve mainly HDR performance. We were first of all surprised to see C805 hit significantly lower peak brightness of 1200 nits, as compared to 2300 nits (on a 10% window) on C845. This is evident when watching real content as C805 has less punch and lower perceived contrast. We also got a chance to compare C805 side-by-side with the X955 flagship and the entry-level P745, both in 98 inches.

TCL miniLED technology

Left to right: 98" X955, 98" C955 (defective), 98" C805, 98" P745. Photo: FlatpanelsHD

It was clear that C805 represents a significant step up from the P745 without zone dimming in terms of overall picture quality, contrast, and brightness, while X955 with its 5000+ zones again represents a significant step up from C805 in terms of backlight control, peak brightness, color (HDR) and blooming. X955 (and C955) also has an improved anti-reflection filter. You can read or first look at X955 here. Last year's C735 featured 192 zones in 98 inches and from memory, based on my brief time with C735, C805 represents a notable improvement in picture quality. TCL had also set up a Samsung laser projector to let us compare, and especially the miniLED LCD models obliterated the laser projector, even in a semi-dark room where the projector lacked contrast to such a degree that the picture looked completely washed out and lifeless. We did not have enough time to get into the nitty-gritty details about the differences between the 98-inch models, but crucially, I think the story here is that TCL now has a full line-up of 98-inch models ranging from the very affordable P745 to the premium X955, with C805 somewhere in the middle. This is certainly not something we have witnessed on the TV market before!
The 98-inch viewing experience A big reason why we chose to review the 98-inch version specifically is that size matters to the viewing experience, and for the first time, a 98-inch 4K TV is a realistic option for many consumers due to its lower price point. This became evident as we watched familiar content. Viewing a movie on a massive 98-inch screen is undeniably impressive, although we do have some reservations about the C805's picture quality. The sheer size of the display creates a more immersive environment that a smaller TV, such as a 75-inch, cannot replicate even if you move closer, making it difficult to go back to a 65-inch TV afterwards. While opinions may vary, I believe a 98-inch TV is well-suited for a moderately large living room. For me personally though, the more impressive aspect was playing console games on the 98-inch screen. A game like FC 24 (FIFA) was quite the experience on such a large display. However, I could not shake the feeling that even a 98-inch screen is not quite large enough. While it is certainly visually much bigger than a 65-inch or a 75-inch display, it still does not quite capture the feeling of being in a true 'cinema' at home and ultimately it still felt more like a living room TV. For dedicated home cinema rooms, a step up or two in size is necessary. TCL will launch a premium 115-inch 4K model later this year that is expected to cost between 15000 and 20000 Euro at launch. A few years for now, maybe even a 115-inch will be affordable.
Circling back to HDR, we said in our C845 review that it crosses that bar for what we believe is the starting point for HDR picture quality (while, for example, Sony X90L does not), and C805 does that too but only barely and only on a good day. The lower peak brightness and contrast combined with blooming, crushed blacks, and luminance and color shift create situations where some HDR movie scenes look less satisfying than we had hoped. There is a new Dynamic Tone-Mapping setting in TCL's TVs that can be set to 'Off', 'Detail Priority' (in bright highlights), 'Balance', and 'Brightness Preferred'. The names are self-explanatory but just to make it clear: If you want the accurate picture – the creator's intent – you should use 'Off'. 'Brightness Preferred' increases the brightness of the whole picture. The new generation of TCL's models with Pentonic 700 has a Dolby Vision bug that sometimes makes Dolby Vision content appear much too dark. It can be fixed by changing to the TV's tuner input and back. A possibly related bug is that local dimming sometimes disengaged, with the menu setting option disappearing. TCL believes that a solution has been found, which will be included in a firmware upgrade scheduled for later this quarter. I caught in on camera:
Left: Dolby Vision bug, Right: Dolby Vision as intended
For Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) content, the impact of the miniLED zone dimming system is less pronounced on C805, as on any miniLED LCD TV. In SDR, it delivers a more balanced picture, minimizing the dimming zone issues we encountered from time to time with HDR content. C805 has more than enough brightness for brightly lit rooms as well. TCL's video processing has gotten better in recent years, but as always, we prefer to turn off most or all picture enhancement systems. If your eye is bothered by the 'stroboscopic effect' from bright 24fps HDR but also SDR content, you can engage TCL's Motion Clarity, set to low settings. This will counter the judder effect while largely maintaining the look and avoiding picture artefacts. Also read: Why 24fps is not enough for HDR movies Although reflections are noticeable in the LCD panel due to TCL not using the same coating as Samsung's premium models, it steers clear of the severe rainbow effects seen on Samsung's high-end TVs from bright light sources in the room and overhead spots.

TCL C805 review

Turning our attention to gaming, C805's local dimming is set 'Low' per default to keep input lag to a minimum, resulting in lower peak brightness and less accurate and effective miniLED zone dimming, particularly in VRR mode with PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X where local dimming looked closer to off, resulting in a milky-looking picture with loss of detail in both black and white tones. This is the case today with all LCD TVs, zone dimming or not. Gaming is still one area where OLED TVs have an advantage over zone-dimming LCD TVs as gaming typically reduces a display panel to its raw form. Outside of VRR, though, I still found gaming to be really enjoyable on C805, in part due to the huge 98-inch size. Again, size matters, and I think that some people will find that also for gaming a 98-inch TV can feel like a bigger upgrade to the viewing experience than buying, for example, a 75-inch TV with better picture quality. However, it depends on the type of game. FC 24 is more forgiving and looks great on C805's very bright display, whereas a game such as Ori and the Will of the Wisps, with it dark high-contrast environments, calls for the best possible picture quality and contrast.
Like C845, C805 features the updated Game Bar 2.0 that provides quick access to gaming-related functions. 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). As mentioned earlier, the Pentonic 700 SoC enables support for Dolby Vision at 4K 120Hz, which works as expected with Xbox Series X, as seen above. Input lag was measured at 13.4 ms in Game mode with a 60Hz input, down from +100ms outside Game mode.
TCL C805
As a side note, pointed out by German journalist Christian Trozinski during our time with TCL C805, when local dimming was set to off, the map in Ori and the Will of the Wisps, as seen to the right, resulted in a 10-fold spike in power consumption. With local dimming off, the 98" C805 consumed 375W, while Local Dimming set to High resulted in just 37W. This is an extreme example because C805 has so much miniLED power, but the point is that local dimming is not only necessary for good picture quality but also to keep power consumption in check. The VA LCD panel in C805 still has notable narrow viewing angle limitations, as seen in the pictures below, with both brightness and color losing intensity. While this is not a major concern in a home cinema environment where the seats are placed directly in front of the screen, it can be an issue in a living room, especially with such a large TV. If you sit very close to the TV, the picture at the edges of the VA LCD panel can appear a little different, and sitting below the TV in, for example, a bean bag, can also affect the picture experience. Panel uniformity for our sample was good, but the dirty screen effect (DSE) was visible.

Conclusion

TCL C805 features the Pentonic 700 SoC. While CPU and GPU performance remains roughly the same based on our benchmarks and practical testing, it enables Dolby Vision 4K 120Hz gaming (with Xbox Series X) and comes pre-installed with Android 12. Unfortunately, it is still limited to two HDMI 2.1 ports, and there is a Dolby Vision bug that sometimes makes the picture too dark and lifeless. TCL promises to soon fix it with a firmware update. In terms of HDR picture quality, C805 does not fully match TCL's C845 and delivers lower peak brightness, while still suffering from noticeable blooming. Our primary interest in reviewing the C805 was the opportunity to test the 98-inch version, and compared to its predecessor (98-inch C735), it is a step up in picture quality due to miniLED zone dimming. It is an even bigger step up from the cheaper 98-inch P745 that lacks local dimming. However, the flagship X955 is in a different league. It is worth emphasizing that TCL now offers a full line of 98-inch models. Also read: First look: TCL's flagship 5184-zone X955 advances miniLED LCD, boosts to 5500 nits Watching movies and playing games on a 98-inch display is an experience we think a certain segment of consumers will prefer over, say, a 75-inch screen with better picture quality. It delivers significantly better picture quality than a typical projector, including 'Laser TV' projectors, and we would recommend it over a projector for a living room or small home cinema. However, for larger home cinema environments, a 98-inch display is still a step or two too small. TCL 98C805 has a suggested retail price of 5000 Euro but can already be found for close to 4000 Euro, which is significantly lower than competitors' 98-inch models that use the same LCD panel from TCL but lack miniLED. Like C735 before it, C805 once again redefines the 98-inch segment. As for smaller sizes, compared to models from the likes of LG, Hisense and in particular Samsung, the C805 should also be on your shortlist if you are looking for value-for-money miniLED LCD, although it does not match OLED TVs' picture quality.

Price and retailers:

UK retailer
DE retailer

Good SDR, acceptable HDR picture quality
Value-for-money 98" (and 85")
miniLED zone dimming (vs. other 98")
Pentonic 700's new features
Google TV's app selection


miniLED blooming, too few dimming zones
Only two HDMI 2.1 ports
Google TV limitations in most regions
Dolby Vision bug




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