At the moment, the market for 4K TVs is about 60% of the market, 37% of which reaps devices that cost less than 500 euros. This purchase category is targeted at the new TCL 55EP680 we are testing.
The EP680 series is not the best, but it is the one that satisfies the price-performance ratio. This is an Android TV with VA technology LCD screen type direct LED that stands out from its wide color range to be compatible with most HDR systems on the market. The device satisfies almost all HDR formats, such as Dolby Vision, HDR10 +, HDR10 and HLG, something rare in this price range.
So the EP680 is compatible with Netflix Dolby Vision, Amazon Prime HDR10 + and YouTube HDR. The TV has metal elements in its most important parts and protection glass in front of the screen panel. Its base, which is a four-component metal, ties it extremely well and offers great security support.
Its margins (bezel) are very thin, its overall image exudes quality construction. In addition to the 55-inch test, it is available in 65, but also in some markets in 50-inch. The next largest line of TCL is the EC78 which has the advantage of a better sound system that is even curated by Onkyo.
The EP680 image engine is the IPQ 2.0 (Intelligent Picture Quality) processor, referred to by the company as smart, because it uses AI algorithms that analyze the content and dynamically apply adjustments to the image. The TV supports Dolby AC-4 and Dolby Atmos systems, of course there are no speakers and speakers to achieve the required immersion.
The TV does not have DTS Master audio, this is in most TCL series. Therefore we immediately recommend the use of a sound bar like the one of Crystal Audio that we try on other pages, while as Dolby Atmos it does not have the immersion we expected.
The 55EP680 is the first TV released in Europe with Android TV version 9 (Pie), the TV is literally “hung” by this software that provides it with features and all its functionality. So we have Chormecast to easily stream content from other (mobile) devices to it, but Google Voice Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
It has three HDMI 2.0 ports, one of which has ARC, two USB, optical, headphone and satellite receiver. TCL delivers two remote controls, a small one for everyday use with a microphone for voice assistants connected via Bluetooth to “catch” even from a distance, so you do not need to aim for a classic minute in thickness that has a Netflix key.
As Android TV you can download other applications, without this meaning that you will find a good web browser.
The TV panel is referred to as 10bit, in essence it is 8bit + FRC 2bit, which means that it can show 10bit signal conversion. The processor is quad-core with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage for applications and other components that “drives” Android satisfactorily.
You have seen that these Android TVs look like a smartphone, only they have a large screen. Of course, the EP680 is not equipped with any powerful image processor, as it is an introductory model with VA panel that results in a narrow viewing angle.
The image of the TV needs a relative adjustment to show properly, you immediately understand that there is contrast, rich colors and sufficient brightness. The noise reduction system works satisfactorily, while in order to perform well it wants a good signal source, ie a quality player.
Otherwise its image is like all standard LCD TVs with dark gradations having no resolution and approaching gray. The EP680 is essentially a TV for channels and content services with no particular picture quality requirements.
In other words, it plays as much as it costs, with light color exclusions and not correct outlines. As a result, the sharpness is not as we are used to the big models, but the HDR performance is not very satisfactory but it is decent. The additional image settings provided slightly enhance some elements of the image but affect others. But the TV has features, satisfactory brightness (about 350nits) and a wide color gamut that only expensive models can deliver, which is one of the positives of the EP680.
TCL 55EP680: Conclusion
The price and category of the EP680 do not indicate that it is a flagship. It is an honest economic proposal – in this category there are no excellent TVs – with features, a competitive price that will surely make a brilliant course in the market because it gives a lot without asking for much.
TCL 55EP680: Specifications
TYPE: 55-inch TV 4K / UHD
PANEL: 3,840 × 2,160 pixels, VA LCD with direct LED
OPERATING SYSTEM: Android TV 9.0
RECEIVERS: Analog and digital DVB- TB / SHB one : 3x ARC, 2xUSB 2.0, 1xPsifiaki Optical output, 1xStereo mini jack (headphones), 1xEthernet, 1xCI +, 2xRF (RF, Sat)