TCL 85C805K 4K Mini LED TV review

hcchighreccomendHuge screen, big ambitions, puny price. TCL's 85C805K Mini LED model is everything John Archer likes to see in a TV, basically

It might have taken longer than we'd hoped, but king-sized TVs are starting to hit prices us regular Joes can actually afford. No brand is leading this 'massive screens for less cash' charge more aggressively than TCL – and no other giant TCL TV proves this point more than the 85in 85C805K, which can be yours for £1,575.

The first thing that will strike you once you (and a pal) have freed it from its box is just how big an 85in screen looks. Stepping up to even a 75in display from a 65in model feels like moving from watching TV to being at the cinema. This feeling increases exponentially with the extra 10 inches that the 85C805K adds to the mix.

Get in the zone
Helpfully, for those with frail backs or feeble walls, this set is relatively light considering how huge it is. Build quality doesn't look particularly flimsy from a regular viewing distance, however, and the centrally attached desktop 'plate' stand provides robust support.

The 85C805K also boasts some impressive specifications considering its mid-range status (higher up the ladder are TCL's C845K models, reviewed here). Its contrast-friendly VA-type screen is lit by an array of Mini LEDs that form a local dimming system operating across 880 individual zones. Colour is handled by a Quantum Dot system that should hopefully 'keep up' in saturation terms with the set's measured peak brightness of 1,350 nits (on a 10 per cent HDR window), and this blend of brightness and QD colour should prove handy in unlocking the potential of the TV's HDR playback, which includes both Dolby Vision and HDR10+.

Play time
Naturally, TCL is keen to position the 85C805K as a gamer's paradise, and not just because of its massive screen real estate. Two of its four HDMI inputs are ready for variable refresh rates (including AMD FreeSync Premium Pro), and one is specced to 144Hz should your PC be capable. Select the TV's PC/Game for a low input lag performance (down to just 13.4ms) and to view a menu of game specific information and features.

Smart feature provision is a little less impressive. Like TCL's other current models, the 85C805K integrates Google TV. This isn't the most intuitive of systems, and while it carries a sizable roster of apps (including Disney+, Netflix, YouTube and Prime Video), it's still lacking some key UK catch-up services, most notably BBC iPlayer. To make up for this, TCL pledges to send any buyer a free Roku TV stick if you request one.

All the world's a stage
Joining the 85C805K's largescale pictures is a stereo audio system, rated at 2 x 15W, that's been designed in tandem with sound brand Onkyo. This will accept Dolby Atmos and DTS tracks, and there's definitely some clever processing at work, as despite the down-firing nature of the drivers it conjures a surprisingly expansive soundstage. Sound effects in movie mixes are pushed comfortably out beyond the TV's sides and, to a lesser extent, its top edge.

TCL_TV_352.03_angle copy

The 85in model is the second-largest in TCL's C805K lineup – there's also a 98in option

This performance feels appropriate in scale for the 85in screen, and gets some value out of the monster Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Ready Player One (4K Blu-ray). During the first big race sequence, for instance, you can hear cars in the race doing their thing off-screen, and there's enough vertical layering in the sound to give you a sense of vehicles flying off the track and the T-Rex and Kong doing their noisy stuff from somewhere above. Dialogue has intelligibility and usually sounds like it's coming from the screen rather than the speakers below.

Unlike the C845K series and most premium TVs, however, this range doesn't carry a dedicated subwoofer, which robs its sonics of some cinematic weight. It's still rather impressive overall, though.

As for the 85C805K's pictures, these are notable for being both big and bright. That ability to reach peaks in excess of 1,300 nits makes its presence felt right away, revealing the intensity of the bright, colourful highlights of Ready Player One's computer-generated virtual world, as well as the deliberately stark, slightly bleached feel of the film's depictions of a near-future Columbus, Ohio (which is actually Birmingham, England).

It's not just in the true HDR feel of the brightest image parts that the 85C805K delivers the goods; it's also capable of reaching up to 725 nits with full-frame visuals. That's around double the fullscreen brightness the best OLED TV can achieve, and on a screen as big as this it hits hard. This works well with the varying worlds shown in Ready Player One's aggressive 4K BD transfer, and ensures that material that's almost exclusively bright and colour-rich, such as The Super Mario Bros. Movie (4K BD) comes across as brilliantly punchy.

There's always a concern that a display that's this large and this affordable will suffer from poor backlight controls and black levels. Actually, though, dark scenes such as those set in Aech's virtual garage in Ready Player One benefit from deep and neutral black colours, and these are blighted much less than I'd expect by either inconsistent backlight clouding or light 'blooms' around stand-out image elements.

I'm not saying blooming from TCL's Mini LED backlighting system is non-existent. But it's typically faint and limited in how far it spreads, therefore managing to avoid becoming a significant distraction from the immersive qualities of the 85C805K's colossal screen. Furthermore, this relatively tight grip on its backlight is achieved without noticeable dimming of bright objects, a trick that some rival TVs employ.

The most vibrant moments of Ready Player One, such as its ghost-riddled virtual world homage to The Shining, appear boldly saturated. And if you stay away from TCL's over-the-top Dynamic picture preset, colours don't cross over into gaudiness either.

Tipping the scales
The 85C805K's pictures aren't perfect, of course. Compared with some of the best (and costlier) TVs, there's both a slight softness to 4K sources and a slight coarseness to some colour rendering – including slightly plasticky skin tones. Motion can also look a touch soft, particularly in the first couple of minutes after firing the TV up from cold.

Yet the good here far outweighs the bad, and the set's performance niggles are seldom severe enough to come between you and an enjoyable cinematic experience that until recently would have cost much, much more. This is a bigscreen bargain!

HCC Verdict: 4.5/5

TCL 85C805K
Price: £1,575

We say: The 85C805K is essentially a surprisingly-good-for-85in TV going for the price of a good 65in TV. And what's not to like about that?


4K: Yes. 3,840 x 2,160 HDR: Yes. HDR10; HLG; HDR10+; Dolby Vision CONNECTIONS: 4 x HDMIs; 1 x USB; optical digital audio output; headphone jack; Ethernet 4K/120 PLAYBACK: Yes SOUND (CLAIMED): 2 x 15W BRIGHTNESS (CLAIMED): 1,500 nits CONTRAST: Not given DIMENSIONS (OFF STAND): 1,890(w) x 1,089(h) x 78(d)mm WEIGHT (OFF STAND): 38.7kg

FEATURES: Mini LED lighting; local dimming across 880 zones; QLED colour; 4K/144Hz HFR; ALLM; Game Menu; Google TV smarts (Roku stick available on demand); USB multimedia playback; Google Assistant built-in; Works with Alexa; Dolby Atmos sound