TCL has announced a one-day sale that marks its P605 Roku TV down to $500 at Best Buy. The Chinese tech firm says the deal will apply to stock at Best Buy’s retail stores and website, but the discount will only be available on May 12.
The P605 is the Best Buy-specific variant of TCL’s P607 Roku TV, a 55-inch 4K set that launched last year and was generally lauded among critics for being a strong value. This model typically goes for $600, so the deal is good for a $100 price cut.
TCL launched its latest crop of Roku TVs, the 6-Series, earlier this month. That includes a 55-inch set for $650 and a 65-inch model for $1,000. TV manufacturers and retailers commonly discount older sets to clear out inventory as new models arrive—this appears to be another example of that, but it looks like a good deal for the budget-conscious either way.
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What you’re getting
The P605 has the same design and picture quality as the P607, but it comes with an infrared remote instead of a Wi-Fi-based one. That means its remote needs a direct line of sight to the TV to work. The P605’s remote also lacks the headphone jack that is built into the P607’s counterpart and allows users to privately listen to whatever’s playing onscreen. It’s still possible to listen to the TV through headphones using a feature in the Roku mobile app, however.
Otherwise, the P605 still packs an appealing set of features for a $650 4K TV, let alone a $500 one. It supports the two major HDR formats, HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and has the kind of strong contrast and high-enough brightness to make effective use of them. It also supports full-array local dimming, which helps it produce better contrast than most LCD TVs in this price range.
Generally speaking, the more local dimming “zones” a TV has, the more precise control it has over its backlighting, allowing it to more accurately keep the bright parts of an image bright and the dark parts of an image dark. The P605 has 72 local dimming zones; by contrast, a newer $500 TV like Vizio’s latest 55-inch E-Series set has 10.
To be clear, zone count isn’t everything—a poor local dimming algorithm can hinder well-equipped hardware—but there’ve been several reviews over the past year that said the Roku TV punched above its price class when it came to contrast ratio and colors. TCL includes a “Game Mode” that helps the TV keep input lag low as well, if that’s a factor.
The other big feature is the P605’s Roku OS interface, which is near-identical to the software baked into Roku’s streaming media boxes. It is aging from an aesthetic standpoint, but this interface still tends to make it simpler to find and launch apps than most smart TV offerings created by rival manufacturers.
The P605 is not without flaws. Its viewing angles are mediocre, so anyone watching the TV from a side angle will not see as nice of a picture, and it struggles at points with color uniformity, making some parts of a dark image look lighter than others (“clouding,” in TV geek parlance). The build quality of the TV itself is made from a cheapish plastic. And while the Roku TV’s HDR performance, brightness, and contrast are very good for the money, “for the money” is the key phrase—paying more for something like a Sony X900E or one of LG’s 2017 OLED sets will still yield a better image on the whole.
The P605’s biggest competition, however, includes the successors TCL just launched. Early reviews suggest the new 6-Series TVs are indeed an improvement over the P6-Series: they include a larger model, for one, but also a sturdier metal design, voice controls in the Roku OS, and more local dimming zones. (The 55-inch set has 96, the 65-inch model has 120.) We haven’t tested the new TVs for ourselves, but the initial feedback suggests it does a bit better with brightness and color reproduction, which isn’t unexpected.
All of that suggests the new Roku TVs may be worth it if you’re trying to stay under $1,000 and your priorities lean a little more toward image quality. But if you’d prefer not to spend the extra $150, the older P605 still looks to be a good value, particularly since the non-Best Buy model has been in and out of stock at most major retailers as of late.