672 of 680 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 2011
I purchased this TV on sale in Dec. 2011 for under $300. It's an updated model of TCL L40FHDF11TA. It's put in a master bedroom. I'll rate each category in Amazon's system of 1 to 5 stars. My ratings are relative to how this TV stacks up against other TVs in its price range.
SETUP *** (3 stars)
The TV was well-packed in the shipping box (43.5" x 31" x 10.5") with 2 yellow nylon straps holding it together. (If your straps are missing, the shipper might have broken them while carrying and dropped the TV.) For wall mounting, you need a VESA 400x400mm compliant mount such as this,this, or this. I used the glass stand. If you're trying to fit it into a shelf, the dimensions with stand are 38.5" x 27" x 9" (without stand: 38.5" x 24.5" x 4"; note the 4" depth instead of 1.5" for an LED). The power cord doesn't have a power brick attached which is a plus. I'm using a learning universal remote which did find codes for this TV. Try 'RCA' if 'TCL' didn't work for you. I suggest using an universal remote since it's much easier to replace than to replace the original remote if you break it.
Some remote codes gathered for reference:
Dish Network: 503
AT&T U-Verse: 1000
There might be a problem with the "TV powering on unexpectedly." If your 'SW Version' reads V8-0RSC801-LF1V041, you're OK. Otherwise, download the firmware update at TCL's website onto any FAT-formatted device. (I used my phone.) Remember to wait at least 10 seconds after it says "Completed" before unplugging the USB cord. (I waited 30 seconds to be safe.) I'm guessing this is where some people might have messed up and broke the TV.
PICTURE ***** (5 stars)
The LCD panel is made by Samsung with their logo visible in the back (picture posted). As with most LCD TVs these days, the screen is glossy and not matte, so you do have to watch out for glare. After powering up the TV which took about 15 seconds, I changed the preset picture setting from the default 'ECO' to 'Cinematic'. Cinematic/Movie mode is usually the setting that comes closest to a professional calibration. (If you're interested in doing your own TV calibration, check out the Disney WOW blu-ray, search "AVS HD 709" for a free one, or try my "quick picture calibration" below.) It has 5 zoom modes, with 'No Overscan' being preferred. If it isn't available, choose 'Full' for the least amount of cropping. I watched the TV from an Amazon recommended distance of about 7 to 8 feet. After hooking up my blu-ray player with HDMI (not included) and making sure it's 1080p (by pressing the 'Info' button), I tried watching some dark movies (Batman Begins and The Dark Knight) as a stress test. I didn't notice any obvious picture defects. The viewing angle is very good for an LCD. The contrast is good, with listed 4000:1 contrast ratio. I compared it to my living room LED with 10 million:1 contrast ratio. The LED has slightly better contrast with deeper blacks, though definitely not 2500 times better, so I wouldn't read too much into contrast ratios when shopping for TVs. There are a few nitpicks. There's a slight uniformity problem (light bleed) in the upper corners, noticeable in an all black picture. There's slight motion blurring due to its slightly-slow 8 ms response time (shadow trails) and 60 Hz refresh rate (jerkiness on 24 frames/sec sources). The yellow color is a little off. None of these are major problems; I've seen much worse at this price range, so no stars are deducted.
AUDIO *** (3 stars)
The two 8 watt speakers are passable for a bedroom. It has a nice equalizer menu with presets and 5 manually adjustable bars. It has Dolby Digital sound, but you definitely need to add your own speakers to take advantage of it. You can hook up your speakers via coaxial digital audio out, RCA out (white/red), or headphone out. There's no optical digital audio out (Toslink) and no ARC (audio return channel). I hooked up a Sony bookshelf system via RCA out which did improve the sound dramatically. The headphone out wasn't working on my unit, but I'm ok with it since I don't use headphones.
GAMING ***** (5 stars)
I hooked up my Xbox 360 via HDMI, changed the Xbox 'HDTV settings' to 1080p and 'Reference Levels' to Expanded, and turned off all image processing on the TV using my settings below. I tried a couple games (MW3, BF3, Skyrim, Madden 12, and Forza 4) and didn't notice any input lag. (Results should be similar with PS3 and Wii.) By the way, never hook up your gaming system with yellow composite RCA cables. LCD/LED and plasma TVs can't natively display interlaced video, so they'll need to spend time deinterlacing and therefore create additional input lag.
PC **** (4 stars)
I connected my PC with a VGA cable. I had to change my Windows monitor settings to "unhide modes that this monitor cannot display" in order to get the native resolution of 1920x1080. (This resolution is not supported for the VGA port. It might not work, so you might need to settle for 1280x720 if you have to use VGA. Or connect with DVI or HDMI for 1080p support.) For testing, I opened a Word document set to Times New Roman 6-point font and had no trouble reading it with 'Sharpness' at 0. You can use it as a big monitor as long as you don't expect it to have the clarity of a 22" monitor when viewing within 3'. (It's got the same amount of pixels spread across 3.4 times the area.) When viewed at 5' or more, clarity won't be a problem.
MEDIA *** (3 stars)
The USB port accepts pictures and music but not videos. There's no internet streaming, which I preferred. I have plenty of devices capable of streaming, so I don't want to pay extra for a feature I don't need.
RELIABILITY **** (4 stars)
The TCL FHDF11TA series has over 1000 reviews on Amazon with an average rating of 4 stars, which is probably as good as it gets for a generic brand. I also like the fact that it has a 2 year warranty instead of 1. The only concern is that the warranty is being done by A & D Electronics (the company that TCL has outsourced for its warranty claims) which has an F rating on BBB. The poor rating is a result of, I think, a shortage of personnel. If you're lucky and catch them on a low volume of repairs, you'll get prompt service; otherwise, you might need to be patient and persistent to get your TV repaired. (FYI, their number is 877-470-7766, 9AM-5PM PST, M-F.) If all else fails, try contacting Amazon. Some people did have success even after the 30 day return period. You can also add 1 extra year of warranty by purchasing with Mastercard or AmEx. And if you have Costco membership, you can purchase SquareTrade to add 3 extra years of warranty for a total of 5 for $30 (cheaper than Amazon).
PRICE ***** (5 stars)
Free shipping, free 30 day return (save the box for this), delivered to your door in 2 days for under $300 is hard to beat. Amazon also lets you do a price adjustment if the price drops within 14 days.
Here are 2 TVs I considered before settling on the TCL:
LG 32LK330 - This is a good, basic, name-brand 32" LCD TV suitable for a bedroom. It only has 64% of the TCL's viewing area though.
LG 42LK450 - This 42" LCD TV has good all-around performance and is suitable as a primary TV in an apartment, albeit at a price premium.
I'd be careful about getting the LG 42LV4400 LED, despite its attractive specs and price, due to its reliability problem (and hence its low ratings). Until it's resolved, check out the LG 42LK520 instead if you want 120 Hz.
MISC - QUICK PICTURE CALIBRATION
1. Change preset to 'Cinematic'. After checking out some calibration patterns, I find both the default 'Brightness' of 50 and 'Contrast' of 80 to be spot on.
2. Change 'Sharpness' to 0. With a clear HD source, you shouldn't need to artificially boost the sharpness. If words look blurry, you can play around with it.
3. Change 'Noise Reduction' to low. Similar to Sharpness, you don't need much image processing with a clear source.
4. I find the default 'Backlight' of 60 to be suitable for a dimly-lit room. With most lights on, 80 looks about right. If sunlight is present, boost it to 100. Adjust it according to your room lighting and eye comfort level.
5. (optional) For adjusting colors, you normally need to use filters with a calibration disc. I like to do it by eye using my own pictures (preferably scanned studio pictures). We should all be able to pick out the nuances of our own skin tones. Alternatively, play a familiar movie and pause when you have a clear shot of a face, then adjust. I find the default 'Color' of 40 to be satisfactory. If you can't get 'Color' to look right, try changing 'Color Temperature' by 1 and then go back to changing 'Color'.
353 of 373 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2011
Since writing this review, I was contacted by phone both by TCL directly and the management of A&D Electronics and they are currently shipping me a new unit, 2-day air, and have profusely apologized for the extensive communication issues I received during the service process.
I still believe TCL would benefit from a significant investment and restructuring in their customer service workflow, and the frustrations of my customer-service experience will weigh into my decision to purchase again from them. But they have finally resolved my issue in a very high-touch manner, so I have moved my original review of one star to three stars. I hope that others who experience similar customer service woes can also find resolution for their issues.
ORIGINAL REVIEW: (1 Star)
I have loved this TV and actually bought two more, for my family and my office. The picture quality for the price is unbeatable. However, after 5 months, the screen developed a weird issue where a 2 inch strip of pixels displayed a reversed (left to right) image. I call customer service, and after a long wait talked with someone who took my info and asked me to unplug the TV and plug it back in. When that didn't work, she said "I cannot help you further, so I'm escalating your case to level 2." She gave me a different number to call which is for some company called AD Electronics USA. I called it for 4 days straight and got a perpetual busy signal. Finally, I was able to get through. The guy I talked with (email@example.com) asked me to email him my receipt and a short description of the problem, and then said he would call me back because they were closing for the night.
That was 10 days ago. He will not respond via email or phone. So I'm stuck with a broken TV and little recourse to get it fixed. I am absolutely flabbergasted at how this company treats customers and sick that I have loudly recommended it to other people as a quality TV.
89 of 91 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2011
12/6/11 -Update regarding the random powering on issue. Finally called TCL customer service. They were aware of this bug and walked me through doing a firmware update. Phone call and update took all of 10 minutes. You go to the website, download the update, put it on a memory stick, plug the stick into the USB port on the TV et voila! 2 clicks and 30 seconds later you're done.
Bought this t.v. for a new apartment and with a few caveats, am pleased with my purchase. The picture quality is great, sound completely adequate for my needs. The only oddities are these. The T.V. turns itself on randomly. I turn it off and somewhere between 1 and 8 hours later it turns back on. read the manual - found nothing to explain it, googled and found one user with a similar complaint who was advised to contact the manufacturer. That seems somewhat ominous - I will contact the company and post later with the outcome. The second oddity is that COMCAST does not have the codes from TCL to program the Comcast remote. The installer had thought I would find something on the Internet and I did, but not for my model. However, after reading that TCL builds many RCA t.v.s I went back to Comcast page on programming your remote and checked the RCA codes. Turned out that the "most likely" RCA code worked like a charm.
From Comcast page
Others to try: 11447, 11347, 11547, 11247, 11147, 10679, 11661, 11958, 10093, 12002, 10051, 10090, 11047, 11602"
Hope that helps someone else out there. :-)
47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2011
I got this on the special for $259. I missed out on the back Friday deal for $199.
Let me start out by going over some of the negatives I read online:
1) Shipping. I saw lots of people complain about broken tv's etc. While not directly related to the TV it does affect people's decision on if they are going to be buy a TV online.
This was shipped FedEx with Super Save shipping (free). I may have just lucked out by I live in Philidelpha and the shipping place was 130 miles from where I live. I got this from FedEx the next day! Everything was in excellent shape. The FedEx guy even helped me in the door with it although I am sure he didnt have to.
2) Dead pixels. I saw numerous people say they had dead pixels. I know this can be a problem for any LCD set... I have read about this problem on sets costing $1000.00 more. You would assume the number of sets with dead pixles for those higher price sets will be lower... I have no idea, but my set arrived with zero dead pixels.
3) Stand was hard to put on or the screws were missing or the screws would not go all the way in. To be honest I was worried about this one. Set came with glass bottom stand. Suprised it wasn't cheap plastic. My wife held it until I got the first screws in. We had zero problems. The stand is solid as my $1500.00 Sony. I had zero problems.
4) TV sometimes shuts off. I have not had the set long enough but will give an update later. I did flash the TV which took all of 5 min and was very simple. This is supposed to fix that problem.
5) Light bleeds at corners. Poor picture quality, etc. I will state 1000% for the record I am not a video expert. I bought my Sony based on the reviews from the "people that know" video. I am happy with my Sony. It is 3 years old so the tech is old but it does pretty much everything I need. I did pay $1500.00 dollars for it though and it is only a 40 inch. What 3 years can do with technology...
This set to me is every bit as good any maybe better than the Sony as far as picture quality. I have tried Blue Ray, xbox via the HDMI port and composite, componet with Wii. No problems what so ever. I even stream video from Netflix via xbox and its perfect in my opinion.
6) Sound. Absolutely in line with every other TV I have ever seen. Sure its not movie quality sound. But I personally have not bought a TV set that is. That's why you spend another 2-50k on a sound system.
I have not tried anything using the USB yet except the firmware upgrade so can't comment on that.
I used the settings for calabrating the video on AVS forum for other TCL LED LCD and worked flawlessly.
I was hesitating on buying this set but at the price I got it plus Amazon's great support I couldnt pass it up. I honestly would paid more and been happy though. How many things today can you say that about?
As for longevity. Not sure yet. TCL has the 2 year warranty with mixed results I guess, but they have plenty of repair centers close to me. What TV gives you 2 years warrarnty for parts and labor any more?
No 3D, it is just LCD tech without LED, but it is just fine for everything I need. It is also Energy Star compliant and if the sticker is even close to true it is light in the electricy cost department.
I recommend with six stars if I could. I will come back and update in a few months.
66 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2011
I bought this set based on reviews of both it and the earlier model (and the fact it was just over $400). By the time I placed the order it had dropped to $399 and the next morning it was $20 less. Amazon refunded the $20 without a hassle and if it goes lower in the next week and a half, well my bad for not waiting to claim the lower price guarantee. I really don't care because this is a great TV even at the higher price. I had it up and running less than an hour after the UPS guy knocked at the door and it would have been even less if I had someone to help hold the set while I screwed in the base. The time includes the entire channel scan (I have it hooked to cable without a box). The picture on the HD channels is great and the same goes for the picture from my DVD upconverting player. I'm hooking up a Blu-Ray soon and I expect it to be even better, I'll update if I'm disappointed. I haven't hooked up my laptop yet but again, if I'm not happy I'll post the results. I've seen complaints about the sound but because I immediately connected it to a surround system I can't speak to that. I'm not a major gamer but I could go nuts with Tiger Woods on this set. I was originally looking for a 32" TV - I'm glad I shopped the larger ones because I would have saved only $12 on the 32" set I was about to buy. Great deal plus it has a 2 year warranty.
52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2011
Fast delivery with price guarantee and free 30-day returns is hard to beat. But reviews and ratings should be about the product, not the fulfillment service.
Since I don't run or work in an Electronics Store like Best Buy, it is hard for me to give an objective review of this set's picture quality. It's like the people that give good reviews on their new tires for their car. If your old tires or TV were on their last legs, pretty much anything new is going to seem pretty good.
It is a fairly unknown brand and with many consumers obsessed with what brands they own, you won't find this brand in your local Best Buy or Costco, yet. But the fact it has a 2-year warranty is saying something as most sets have only a 1-yr warranty, especially in the sub $400 40" category.
Amazon must have just listed this as when I bought it the new 12A model had only 3 reviews. I found a link for the 12A manual to try to determine the differences with the 11A. It showed a back input panel with one less component input, but the digital audio out is SPDIF instead of coaxial. There were some other differences too, but I'm not going to try to list them all. Looked like nothing major. Unfortunately both manuals don't list detailed specifications. TCL doesn't even list the 12A on their website yet and when I called it was because they hadn't updated the site yet.
When the 12A arrived, I was disappointed to find the input panel is identical to the 11A and the manual matches so the TV may be identical to the 11A, I'm not sure. The link to the manual on Amazon appears to also confirm this so either Amazon updated the manual or I downloaded some BETA 12A manual from some other site. I've seen some mentions of something different about the remote and fixing other 'issues' but no one seems to be able to elaborate. We need someone familiar with the specs or that has owned the 11A and 12A to confirm any changes.
Note, as of 11/17/2011 that you have to intall the updated firmware or your TV will probably turn on by itself once a day even though the Auto Power On in the Time Setup is turned off. This is a minor inconvenience and bugs in electronics software are quite common. (Less inconvenient than sending the set back!)
Bottom line is the set looks good, and I have a 57" Panasonic Viera Plasma in the Family Room to compare to. This is in Natural mode on the color. Have not got my calibration disc out for further tweaking and this is with all the dynamic setting on. The last setting is a little weird though since it changes the backlight depending on the scene. When you are fast forwarding a DVR recording it is strange to watch the color of the red progress bar go darker, then lighter, then darker as you flip fast through the scenes but the transition is fairly seamless when watching at normal speed. I think these dynamic settings are great for watching in a dark bedroom. Easier on the eyes.
Out of the box the speakers, as with most all sets, sound flat and terrible especially if you are use to listening to a TV through a Home Theater System. I've seen complaints about audio on all brands of sets. What do you expect from a pair of 8W rear-firing speakers!? But if you really tweak the EQ it will sound much better. Try setting EQ to personal and turn 100Hz 90% up, 500Hz 60% up, 1K Hz to 50%, 5K (or is it 3K?) to 30% and 10K to 60%. It's a matter of personal preference but this seems to sound the best to me. It will vary depending on room size and TV position too. In the bedroom I don't need 5.1 sound with a subwoofer (will wake the kids up anyway.) But I'm probably going to get a pair of high-quality self-powered bookshelf/PC speakers since this set is not as wide as my old one and I have room on the dresser for them now. But in my opinion, the sound, when set correctly, is adequate for a bedroom where you don't want to shake the kids walls next door.
So why didn't I give this set 5 stars? Firmware update inconvenience and the 4:3 content looks too stretched. On my old 2-ton Philips 42" Plasma, I liked how it changed aspect ratio from 16:9 wide to 4:3 stretch automatically based on the signal. With this set, if you switch to 4:3, it looks really stretched. But this is no longer a big issue since nowadays 90% of what we watch in the bedroom is 16:9 wide screen (Blu-Ray, DVD or HDTV channels) now that most every channel has an HD version. I also take a little off because the case of this TV feels a bit cheap/plasticky compared to my old Plasma but that's nit picking.
I did panic for a second that there were terrible artifacts when watching the Seahawks game. I went downstairs to the Panasonic Plasma and realized it wasn't the LCD but 90% the really crappy/heavy compression that CBS Sports (HD) via Comcast was using. Looked terrible on both sets! Shame on CBS! Also note that I saw some reviews complaining that the TV was only registering 720P from the cable box. This is because you need to go into the setup menu on the cable box (press menu button at the same time or right after turning the box on or off) and set the output to 1080i. (My Philips was 720P so the cable box was still on 720P and I had to change it.)
With a 2-year warranty, it has to be quality components or this manufacturer is going to be inundated with repair requests in 12-24 months and that gives me peace of mind I will probably be replacing this set later rather than sooner if I would have got the Walmart special sets selling for close to $300 or less. My personal opinion is you are getting the quality of a Toshiba or Samsung here for a great price and longer warranty. Just some people won't be able to get past the strange brand. Some will opt to save $100 on the Walmart special only to have to replace their TV probably a couple years ealier (pay now or pay later.) If you are concerned about having a more widely known brand, get a Toshiba 40ExxxU for close to the same price.
62 of 68 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2011
The TCL was great while it lasted, about 6 weeks and then died. Called customer service several times and you are immediatly put on hold. Two times, after being on hold for about 20 minutes I was disconnected. When I finally got through on the 7th call, I spoke with a lady who asked me to turn it on & off manually without the remote, unplug and replug, etc. It still did not work and was told that my call would be escalated to another tier. Normally with most "decent" companies you are transfered, but no, I was given a toll free number to call. For three days I called and called and it was always busy. I finally called Amazon.com and they were gracious enough to give me a refund even though it was past their return policy. Amazon.com gets 5 stars for customer service, TCL gets 1 star for quality and TCL customer service get negative stars for some of the worst experience ever.
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2011
My experience for this TV has been great for the price!
-3 HDMI inputs
-2 Component inputs (Wii, etc)
-Samsung-made panel (shine a flashlight in the holes in the back -- the stickers says Samsung)
-Good, wide viewing angles
-Great HD picture
-Good remote, easy to adjust picture aspect ratio and turn on sleep!
-There is some flashlighting, which is to be expected of a cheap TV. Samsung obviously keeps the best ones for their $500+ TVs! On my TV it is very minimal on the top corners.
-Okay SD quality
The out of box picture settings leave lots to be desired, but after the following:
Backlight - 60
Light Sensor, Dynamic Backlight, SABC - OFF
Noise Reduction - Low
The TV gives a pretty good, natural picture. Bonus turning the backlight down will help it last longer. NOTE: As you turn the backlight down, the color temp will go down (it will get redder), so if you go below 60, you'll have to adjust the color and tint settings.
The sound out of the box is tinny, but after the following sound settings:
100Hz - 85
300Hz - 70
1Khz - 50
3Khz - 60
10Khz - 50
It sounds a lot better! I'm still adjusting, but these are a good starting point. I left surround off, it just makes it sound funny. Auto volume control can be turned on if you enjoy it.
Overall, I would definitely buy this TV at the sub-300 price point. It is a great deal!
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2011
Go easy on me... first review I've ever written.
I bought this as part of the recent lightnight deal for $260 and paid for the guaranteed Christmas Eve delivery. After purchasing I noticed the recent batch of DOA reviews that had been written and admittedly got worried about the quality of the product that was in route.
The TV arrived FedEx this morning, packaging was in great shape and the TV was clearly brand new and had not been a return or anything like that. After opening and assembling the stand, which went super easy because the TV is upside down in the package so you do not need to flip it like other tv's I've purchased, I powered it on. Turned right on, went through the quick set up and am now watching the NFL pregame shows as I write this.
The picture quality is rediculously good im my opinion. Our main TV is a Sony Bravia 46" LED and though I certainly won't make a case that this is better than the Sony it is very difficult to see the difference. So far the football clips look good and I'm not noticing any blurring on fast action. I'm running the default 'home' settings and picture looks like it would only need minor tweaking, but at this point it looks great and I probably won't bother with calibrating.
Sound was a bit tinny when I first turned it on, but as I've watched it I don't think its bad. Movies or video games I might consider a sound bar, but for a $260 dollar purchase I havent had a better first impression.
I'll keep this short, but I was hoping to provide some recent feedback to reassure others that bought this or consider this in the future that the TV I received at least is great. Admittedly this is a very early review and certainly doesnt attest to the longevity or warranty experience, but right now I'm happy and think others who have purchased should feel really good about what they are getting.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2011
I had low expectations and assumed DOA for this TV after it arrived via FedEx with a huge hole on the side of the box (like someone punched it) that even ripped the inside bag holding the TV. I was happy with Amazon's sooner than expected delivery BUT very unhappy with FedEx's treatment of packages! After testing, I was glad everything worked and the image was very clear.
Things that should be in the manual but weren't (from personal experience):
1) When configuring the remote control use a RCA setting such as RCA L32HD41
2) When connecting a computer via HDMI, use "no Overscan" or you'll crop corners off your display
3) When using the VGA connection, to get the full 1080P display, not the default 720P resolution or less than 1366x768, you have to manually force a 1920x1080 display by unchecking "Hide modes that this monitor cannot display" in Windows 7's Display/Screen Resolution/Advanced Settings/Monitor under Control Panel. Hopefully the next firmware update can fix this because the TV is reporting to the computer a lower supported resolution than it can handle.
I was pretty skeptical when people were comparing the image quality to Samsung brand TVs but after shining a flashlight into the back left heat dissipation holes I saw a Samsung logo on the panel. The Samsung sticker inside the TV reads Samsung model LTA400HM09. You should definitely check for yourself, since I'm not sure if everyone's will be made by them as their press release regarding the Samsung assembly is very general.
Overall, I am very happy with this under $300 purchase (after an Amazon price match and a MasterCard promotion). This TV does not offer a lot of bells and whistles but its basic features work. If customer service is as bad as some have experienced, I hope I never have to go through them. However, if you purchased this with a credit card, I know MasterCard offers a 1 year product warrantee on top of the manufacturer's warrantee. Of course, I hope I never have to use that either.