A 98-inch that’s available at the most accessible price yet, but the price tag for the TCL 98P745K does come with a few picture/sound caveats that may not make it quite the bargain it initially seems to be.
- AiPQ processor 3.0Helps upscale 1080p to near 4K quality
- Gaming refresh ratesCan support refresh rates up to 144Hz at 4K resolution
- HDRFull support for Dolby Vision IQ, HDR10+, HDR10, and HLG
Big screen TVs are becoming popular around the world, and TV brands are looking to bring that big screen experience to affordable prices. Case in point the TCL 98P745K.
Projectors have often been considered the best way to get an enormous screen into the living room, but one of the complications they suffer from is a less enthusiastic HDR performance. They can’t offer the same precision TVs can with local dimming.
The 98P745K isn’t the only mammoth 98-inch screen that TCL sells, but it is available for a quite frankly extraordinary £2300. Towards the end of 2023, I went to Warsaw for a closer look. Here are my impressions of TCL’s gargantuan entry-level screen.
- Slim bezels
- Heavy weight
- Average viewing angles
The 98P745K was already set-up so there’s not much I can say about the complexities of assembly. It would seem relatively straightforward enough for a big screen, with all 98-inches sitting on a couple of blade feet splayed out towards its edges.
It does mean you’ll need a wide surface, but this is a 98-inch screen – plenty of space in a room should be a given. A depth of 68mm without the stand is also relatively thin for a screen of this size, though if you have designs on fixing it to a wall, prepare yourself (and a few others) for hauling its 54kg weight onto a wall. Provided the wall can support that weight…
The bezels are surprisingly slim for such a large screen and sat in front of it you’ll obviously get the best experience head-on, but if you (somehow) find yourself to the sides, colours do become slightly desaturated, and the set’s backlight issues become more prevalent.
- Google TV interface
- UK version is missing Freeview Play
- Hands-free Google Assistant
The TCL 98P745K smarts integrates the Google TV interface, though owners of this TCL set will get a different version based on their location.
Countries such as the UK get the full Google TV solution – though currently there’s no Freeview Play integration. Nordic countries get the ‘Lite’ version, which has fewer sections and curated content areas. Eastern European countries get ‘Basic’, which lacks a watch list and has less curated content – that’s the version you see in the pictures.
Google Assistant is available in its hands-free form, and there’s ‘Works With’ Alexa support if you have a compatible speaker to connect to the 98P745. There is an ‘Ambient’ mode that features in Google (and Android) TV models whereby power is reduced, and slideshow of images are shown on screen.
All the big streaming apps are available in the UK, though the catch-up and on-demand apps require access through a streaming device to get them.
- Up to 240Hz refresh rates
- Full HDR support
- Dolby and DTS audio processing
While the TCL can do justice to movies with its formidably-sized screen, in the time I was in Warsaw, emphasis was placed on games having an equally meritable billing.
There’s support for VRR (HDMI and AMD FreeSync Premium Pro) with refresh rates up to 144Hz (for PC gaming). With TCL’s Dual Gate processing, that can further be improved to 240Hz but only at 1080p resolution.
There’s compatibility with Dolby Vision Game mode (where it is supported) to improve brightness, contrast, and colours, as well as the HGiG HDR standard. ALLM puts the TV in its lowest latency – 13.2ms was the measured lag at 4K/60Hz, but at higher refresh rates that can be reduced to 2.8ms at 1080p/240Hz.
TCL has its own version of the Game bar feature sweeping across the TV market that shows real-time figures for HDR, VRR, and frames-per-second for the competitive gamers that want this information easily available.
Connectivity includes four HDMI inputs (two HDMI 2.1, two HDMI 2.0), USB 2.0 and 3.0 inputs, terrestrial and satellite ports, CI+ 1.4, Ethernet, Digital optical audio out, and a headphone out. The eARC input is on HDMI 4, leaving the two HDMI 2.1 inputs free for other sources you have.
HDR covers Dolby Vision IQ, to HDR10+, HDR10, and HLG. The 60W Onkyo 2.1 system can process Dolby Atmos and DTS Virtual-X tracks, though of course it’s worth noting the TV’s speakers can’t provide the spatial, three-dimensional impact of immersive audio. But if you hook up a compatible soundbar, the 98P745 can pass-through immersive soundtracks for a better experience.
- Plain HDR performance
- Not the sharpest image
- Sound lacks punch
The weakest area of the TCL 98P745K’s performance is, unfortunately, its picture and sound. It is the entry-level model, and features a less assured performance than the step-up C805.
This was an opinion only formed from a few hours in the TV’s company, and it’s not to say there weren’t decent aspects about the 98P745’s A/V performance. Black levels initially appeared good enough out of the box watching in a dimly-lit room, and colours looked accurate enough in the TV’s Cinema mode, but this TV lacked a real flair for HDR content.
Which is not helped by a peak brightness of 468 nits on a 5% window in its Standard mode, with a similar figure registered in its Dynamic mode (465 nits). There’s not the level of brightness required to give HDR vibrancy or, perceptually, the volume to provide a wider range of colours. That led to colours looking on the plain side in HDR.
Its ‘Global dimming’ LED system found it tricky to handle big, bright objects, such as the credits and text that informs the opening of Blade Runner 2049, causing to screen to flash. Black uniformity wasn’t great on this sample either, with different coloured strips running down the screen causing the Dirty Screen Effect with dark HDR content.
Contrast was lacking in the night-based scenes from The Peripheral – the dynamic range between the darkest and brightest parts rather meek, and examining the black levels further revealed they lacked a fair bit of depth.
There was no pixelation with motion, but neither was it sharp, with some blurriness evident in dark scenes. There aren’t any modes to set MEMC control, and while setting it to 5/5 did produce stable motion with fewer artefacts, it wasn’t the slickest performance with instances of judder apparent.
It’s with SDR content that the TCL 98P745K felt most comfortable with. A Prime Video stream of No Time to Die wasn’t the sharpest, but levels of detail were satisfactory, digging out enough fine detail from the top-quality tailoring on show. Colours looked solid; though there was a fuzzy sense of sharpness with quick movement, and some characters’ faces, like Léa Seydoux’s Madeleine Swann, didn’t look as detailed as they could.
In terms of sound, the TCL’s Onkyo system was perfunctory. Audio isn’t projected outwards so it can feel as if the action is happening at a remove on a screen this big.
The TV feels more confident and dynamic with stereo than in Atmos, the music in the opening of No Time to Die is given a good enough rendition, though the 2.1 system can sound boomy with dialogue once it gets to volume 38 or so, while action scenes lack weight and punch. While gunshots in the Matera scene feel as if they’re in the right place on the screen, the windshield cracking effects sound tame and lack power.
With The Tomorrow War (Dolby Atmos) it was slightly hard to hear what was said in some instances – the TCL isn’t the sharpest or clearest, sounding a little muddy overall.
There’s no denying a 98-inch screen for less than £2500 brings a big screen TV experience to more accessible levels, but it’s clear it comes with compromises too.
The TCL P745K isn’t the sharpest, brightest, or most colourful screen, and the sound system doesn’t liven things up either. While this is not a full review, I’m confident writing that if you are interested in shelling for a 98-inch TV, you likely have considerable funds at your disposal and should consider dipping further into your bank balance.