A Tale of Two TVs

On second count there’s 6 TVs referenced in one way or another, but don’t let that throw you off my story:

My very cheap ‘FFalcon’ brand TV (which I believe is a rebadged TCL) which for a 65″ 4K TV cost ~$500AU from JB Hi-Fi (link is for a similar model). It actually functioned fine for a year or so, but like a frog slowly heating up in a pot of water, the backlight slowly went from reasonable, to the state you see below and I finally noticed how bad it was; which I couldn’t unsee:

New TV time! I started my research and read article after article, while keeping an eye out for potential bargains. One TV came up – an 85″ Samsung Q80B which has a hot sale down from ~$6000AU to ~$2300AU direct from the Samsung site. As I spoke to their online chat about it to answer a few questions about panel type, the TV sold out. I was annoyed at the effort it took to get to that point, found a great price and missed out. The person on chat gave me a discount coupon to use on any other product, but the prices had gone up across the board and nothing seemed worth it.

A few days later during my sadness of a great deal lost, a new deal came up. 1 day only – the Linsar 82″ TV was down to $999 from $1799. There was also a way to buy the TV via eBay, sign up for Zip and get $150 off – after delivery, that price came up as $904. For an 82″ TV, I thought it was worth a shot!

The TV arrived a few days later, and after having a friend reinforce the wall mount for the TV weight going from less than 20KG up to 41KG, we put this giant rectangle up on the wall, with my brain having visions of a smashed TV lying on the ground, and half the wall ripped out:

55″ TV in background for reference (also a Ffalcon, but no issues with that one and was stupidly cheap a few years ago at $350AU, still going strong)

There was no TV smashing. However, when turning on the TV for the first time, I had a different disappointment:

That line isn’t supposed to be there. It wasn’t an absolutely broken line of pixels or anything like that, but a clear difference in brightness or contrast running down the TV. It was reasonably visible in most shows I watched – and after a bit of back and forth with The Good Guys, they organised a replacement to be sent out and for this TV to be sent back, a relatively easy process thankfully.

The replacement TV did not have the same line in question, but it did have worse backlighting line issues – again quite visible when watching anything on the TV and to me, not really acceptable even in a cheap unit.

After visiting The Good Guys again, and their sales people telling me how bad Linsar is and complaining that they shouldn’t even sell them with statements like “If you want another Linsar I won’t sell it to you”, but then trying to upsell me to $3000AU+ TVs, I asked for a refund (which they had no issue in providing) and went back to the drawing board.

More research again, and I landed on the TCL C825. Reviews were very positive in the value of the TV compared to cost, and complementing the Mini LED technology in it. The TV had been quite cheap recently (sub $2000AU) but had gone up again at most places to mid $2500’s or more, with an ETA of a few months for more stock to arrive. Other models (C7xx, C6xx) didn’t have overly positive reviews, and the C9xx was pricier. I managed to find the unit in stock at Appliances Online for $1745 delivered (including a $50 off voucher) which despite not being as big as the 82″ TV and twice the price, was still an amount I was happy to pay to get a decent TV experience.

After receiving the TCL 825 and mounting it on the wall, the first test of course was a grey screen:

I was much happier with these results!

Everything about this TV is better than the last one – apart from the 7″ less viewing surface I have, it’s a great image quality experience. Impressively, the inbuilt Google TV feels faster than the Chromecast with Google TV device I had plugged in, so I’ll actually use the native experience; first time I’ve been happy with that.

As always, it takes me a while to be completely happy with all the screen settings and I’m fine tuning them searching for perfection, but out of the box I was already content with what it was doing.

The inbuilt sound is fine by me, including a small subwoofer in the back of the TV itself. I’m not audiophile, but I don’t hear anything tinny or annoying.

What is the point of this story? A few lessons learnt – try to find out if the place you’re buying a TV from has a decent returns policy (better to search online than purely ask and trust them), but also taking a shot at a bargain TV that has no reviews online whatsoever may be worth it, but don’t expect it. Also, giant TV boxes are annoying and hard to get rid of.