The TCL QM8 4K Google TV Review: Stunning Picture Quality for a Midrange Budget

Published On: July 10, 2023
Last Updated on: July 14, 2023
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The TCL QM8 4K Google TV Review: Stunning Picture Quality for a Midrange Budget

The new QM8 Class TV by TCL offers premium, flagship-level features at a reasonable price.

The TCL QM8 4K Google TV Review: Stunning Picture Quality for a Midrange Budget

By Author: Justin Breckenridge
I am a lifelong Florida resident with a huge passion for tech and sound. My love for music initially drove me to vinyl, which introduced me to the world of speakers and other audio equipment. It is important to me that an audio product not only produces excellent sound quality but also is worth the price.

TCL’s new QM8 Class Google TV is undoubtedly a premium product that offers flagship-level performance if it’s within your budget. The mini-LED backlighting results in a bright panel with stunning contrast, making picture quality look amazing and clear, even in a well-lit room.

And with accurate color levels and 4k resolution to boot, the QM8 is a serious contender for those looking for a TV with excellent picture quality within a midrange budget.

The TV also comes with several convenient features, including the Google Voice assistant, a built-in gaming mode, support for most streaming services, and Google Cast and Apple AirPlay, allowing for streaming from your mobile devices.

High Points

  • Very bright mini-LED panel that delivers excellent picture quality, even in well-lit rooms.
  • Stunning picture quality with accurate color range.
  • Great contrast and the local dimming feature creates deep blacks.
  • A built-in gaming mode that allows for high refresh rates.
  • The Google Assistant feature is convenient. 

Low Points

  • The price is a bit high compared to previous models.
  • Certain settings are a bit hard to locate; Such as adding a new audio device.
  • No ASTC 3.0 Support.

The Design

The back of TCL's QM8 TV

The QM8’s design doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, instead opting for a sleek, minimal design that is unobtrusive and fits well into any entertainment set-up. 

The frame of the screen is ultra-thin and black, and at the bottom of the frame is the TCL logo. This is where the power indicator is housed, alongside the QM8’s built-in microphone and infrared sensor.

The TV is supported by a square, black-metal base, and a plastic arm to hold it up. The plastic support arm is adjustable to two different heights: either low to the base or lifted a few inches. Those with soundbars will want to use the latter.

At the back-right of the TV is the panel where users can find the wired connections. The QM8 provides four HDMI ports, a USB port, an optical audio output, an Ethernet port, a 3.5mm port, and an antenna/cable connector. 

The power cable is connected to the back-left side of the TV. The QM8 comes with removable plastic doors for both cable panels to help keep your wires nice and tidy.

The Remote 

TCL's QM8 TV Remote

The QM8’s remote is long and thin, with rounded edges and a shiny black finish. The remote houses the Google Voice assistant, with its corresponding button near the top of the remote, just below the input and power buttons, and between the settings and profile buttons. Below the voice assistant are the circular pad and OK button, which are the primary navigation controls for the TV.

Finally, under the circular pad, are the rest of the core functions you’d expect from a remote: a home button, a back button, a mute button, volume, channel control, etc. The remote also features several dedicated buttons for different streaming services, including Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, AppleTV, TCL Channel, and TCL Home.

The remote feels very responsive and good to use, with seemingly no input delay or lag, even from great distances. The built-in voice assistant function also works excellently, with no issues of misunderstanding or not picking up on commands.

Audio Performance

The QM8 comes with a built-in 20W subwoofer that adds a bit more bass to the 10W stereo speakers that come with the TV. However, if a strong bass range is required for you, then I highly recommend that you use a separate audio system, one complete with an external subwoofer. The built-in design may offer a slight edge in audio depth compared to similarly priced competitors, but the base overall still sounds flimsy and weak.

This par for the course of TV’s however, and doesn’t detract from the QM8’s value. Aside from the bass, the sound clarity is solid for TV speakers. Dialogue and other mid-high range frequencies come in very well, even at relatively low volumes, and never sound muddied.

However, for your best viewing experience, I recommend that you have an accompanying sound system to make up for what the built-in speakers lack. Movies like Dunkirk look great on the QM8 but lack the auditory weight that they deserve.

Visual Performance: Brightness 

I think that the brightness of the QM8 is one of its defining features. Able to reach an impressive 2000 nits, the TV still has excellent picture quality, even in a very bright room. 

I was sitting directly next to a window while testing, with the blinds fully open, in the middle of the day, and the picture felt as easy to see when in a dark room. This is enough to compete with other premium models, such as the Samsung QN series. 

Backed with mini-LED lighting, the local dimming feature in the QM8 works excellently and doesn’t have the issue of a glow surrounding bright objects on a dark background. The blacks on this TV display very nicely, and appear near perfect. It probably doesn’t reach the purity of other more expensive models, like the Samsung QN95C, but it is still very good. 

The contrast on the QM8 is also fantastic. One of my go-to tests for contrast is the movie The Lighthouse. It is a black-and-white movie with few light sources that relies on texture and shadow to make things pop. 

The Lighthouse | Official Trailer HD | A24

The movie looks excellent on the QM8, with the local dimming depicting gorgeous, deep blacks, but not muddying the overall clarity of the image. While watching, I never thought that the actors or background detail get washed out, which is an issue I have had with similarly priced tvs in the past.

Visual Performance: Color, Vibrancy, and Resolution

The color and vibrancy of the QM8 are both accurate and stunning. The movie I used to test color is Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse, a heavily stylized movie that relies on dramatic color and benefits greatly from strong color levels. The dramatic hues which paint the movie look excellent on the QM8.

Spiderman movie played on TCL's QM8 TV

There is a scene early on in the film where the main character visits a cemetery, and it is lit by dark blues which is also contrasted by red lighting. In this scene, the reds look vibrant and balanced, and the blues are appropriately cool and aren’t buried by the bright reds. The color balance also allows for textures to come through wonderfully, such as the texture of Peter’s hair as he lies in the snow.

Later on, there is a chase scene in a snowy forest with contrasting autumnal leaves and heavily textured trees. The warmness of the leaves is depicted accurately and beautifully, and the variation among the different shades of oranges and yellows comes through nicely. The whiteness of the snow looks bright, but never drowns out the color palette, even with the dark browns of the trees. 

I also watched an episode of Our Planet, a Netflix nature documentary, which also looked amazing on the TV. The episode went through multiple varied locations, including a frozen tundra, a rainforest, and a savannah, and it all looked great and well-balanced. The lighting looked incredibly soft and natural, and the details of furs and feathers were clearly discernible.

The QM8 comes with standard 4k resolution and provides upscaling to content that doesn’t match its native resolution. To test this, I used some scenes from the original run of Twin Peaks, although I am unsure if I noticed a huge difference. Interestingly, the QM8 does not have ASTC 3.0 tuner support, which is a common future-proofing feature for 4k TVs, as it allows for 4k HDR signals and better audio.

Google TV Features

Being a Google TV,  the QM8 comes with a variety of cool features, including the aforementioned Google Assistant function. The Google Assistant can be useful for a variety of things, including pulling up music or YouTube videos, or even more general things, such as checking the weather or displaying security camera feeds. 

Overall, the voice assistant function is a neat addition and a defining feature of the QM8, although I feel as if its use cases aren’t necessarily universal.

The TV also features support for nearly every major streaming platform and also supports many other more niche platforms, so whatever your app of choice, it can likely be used. 

The QM8 also has support for streaming/casting from your mobile device, for both Apple and Android users. From my testing, the streaming process from a mobile device is very streamlined and has no issues.

One of the only issues I had with this TV was with locating certain settings. For testing, I wanted to set up a subwoofer as well, but the setting to do so was a bit hidden away.

Gaming Support

The QM8 has some pretty cool features when it comes to gaming that I think will satisfy those looking for a solid gaming TV. It has a 144Hz refresh rate that can be further boosted to 240Hz using the Game Accelerator mode which sacrifices resolution for a higher refresh rate, cutting the resolution down to 1080p from 4k.

It is worth noting that the QM8 supports variable refresh rate with AMD FreeSync Premium Pro, but not Nvidia G-sync. So Nvidia users will miss out on that feature. TCL also places the QM8 in the 10ms input lag performance envelope, which is a great and very responsive spot for gaming purposes.

Price point

The QM8’s base model is marked at $1699.99, which puts it way above the previous models released by TCL in this line. This new price point puts it in more of a midrange budget, whereas previous iterations were much more low-budget friendly. However, this increased price comes with a vastly increased performance, so you get value for your money. The TV is currently on sale and can be grabbed for just $1299.99.

Conclusion

Overall, the TCL QM8 is a fantastic TV if it is in your budget. It is a step up in cost from their previous lines, but that increase comes with flagship-level performance. The mini-LED panel is stunningly bright and makes watching things very pleasant, even in unfavorable lighting.

The picture quality is also incredible, depicting accurate and gorgeous color and lighting that allows for the rich details to come through. The high refresh rate and built-in gaming mode also make the QM8 an excellent option for gamers. The excellent quality and reasonable price are more than enough to give this TV a Highly Recommended award.

  • Belgarath
    2023-07-16 17:10:39

    This is a generally helpful review and what TCL has done is fantastic, but I don't understand why the author wouldn't have mentioned anything about motion processing so people understand that when compared to a couple of the higher priced models like the Sony x95l or perhaps the Samsung QN95C, this TV won't give you that level of processing, nor will it give you that level of upscaling as a Sony normally does.

  • cDavid
    2023-07-13 12:56:48

    Is there any way to reduce the red tinge? It is obvious on side by side comparisons.

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