Q: Most of my viewing of the latest TVs is in showrooms where they play demo material optimized to make a TV look its best. I don't consider this is a good way to judge accurate color or overall picture quality.
Your reviews and recommendation of the TCL 6-Series have impressed me. I have been evaluating the TV at the store, but I have seen only the promo loops, so it's hard to know what it will look like at home with an actual signal and how it will compare with what I have now (a seven-year-old Panasonic 50-inch plasma). I know that you wrote that plasma is the gold standard for a natural, accurate picture, and I certainly agree, but I would really like to have the 4K sharpness.
Can the TCL 6-Series match the overall picture quality and accuracy of my plasma, or do I have to go up to an OLED TV for that?
A: The TCL 6-Series will provide a top-quality picture with most any source, but the LED-LCD display technology is completely different from plasma, so it will never look quite the same. Each technology has its strengths and weaknesses. It is likely that with a streaming 4K source, video games, animated programming or a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc you will prefer the TCL 6-Series. But when watching a football game, you could very well prefer the plasma. Other times it could be a tossup depending on what you are watching and the quality of the signal.
Readers, keep in mind that when I make that comparison, I am speaking specifically about this questioner's plasma TV. Many makes and models of plasma TVs were produced over the years, with greatly varying levels of quality. If you have a top-quality plasma, I do indeed think it is still the very best for accurate color and a natural-looking picture. Even the best 4K TVs can sometimes present an artificial, digital look, and I never think that when watching a good plasma set. But I would much rather have a TV like a TCL 5-Series or 6-Series than a mediocre plasma, of which there were quite a few.
OLED is the spiritual successor to plasma, with its deep dark blacks and every pixel creating its own light, just like plasma. OLED is considered the industry leader for picture quality in a flat-panel television. The reason OLED has not taken over the entire TV market is the expense, limited number of manufacturers offering the technology, lack of models in smaller screen sizes and potential burn-in issues. The best LCD-LED and QLED televisions have gotten close enough to OLED picture quality without the drawbacks that they are my preferred recommendation right now.
If I were buying a cost-is-no-object television, I would get a Samsung Q90 QLED TV. It combines the true-to-life look, deep blacks and color accuracy of plasma with the bright, bold and beautiful colors one associates with LED/LCD and OLED 4K televisions. But it costs $2,800 to $4,000, depending on the screen size.
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.