TCL vs Vizio: Which TV brand is the better buy in 2022?

TCL and Vizio offer some of the best-priced 4K TVs you can find. At first glance, Vizio delivers better value for money, as its models come with some advanced features and great specs. That said, TCL comes out on top in many essential categories, mainly when it comes to panel technology. We’ve done a thorough TCL vs Vizio comparison to determine which brand is the better choice for budget-minded shoppers.

TCL vs Vizio – Quick Comparison

TCL, the TV manufacturer, is a subsidiary of TCL Technology, a Chinese-owned enterprise. Founded in 1999, the manufacturer has enjoyed a steady rise over the past few years, reaching a global annual sales volume of nearly 24 million TV sets in 2020, putting it in third place of the largest TV manufacturers in the world.

Vizio was founded in 2002, just three years after TCL. Based in Irvine, California, its primary goal was to provide HDTVs at lower prices than its top US competitors. This business model proved to be very fruitful. As of 2020, the company was the second-largest seller of flat-screen TVs in the US. By early 2021, Vizio had reportedly sold over 80 million TVs in less than two decades of its existence.

Features Face to Face

Panel Technology

TCL has experimented with its panel technology over the years. Up until the last couple of years, the company has mostly used LED technology. But, now you can find a variety of TCL sets with both LED and QLED panels. The latter is particularly interesting as TCL is one of the very few manufacturers that has obtained QLED panel technology licenses from Samsung.

Quantum dots on a QLED display
Quantum dots on a QLED display

In comparison, Vizio has exclusively used traditional LED panel technology for all of its models. These TVs are more energy-efficient than QLED models but struggle to provide the in-depth blacks and rich colors that QLED panels can deliver. With this in mind, TCL models have the edge over Vizio sets in terms of panel technology.

Besides producing classic LED TVs, Vizio also manufactured an OLED TV back in 2020. This model received excellent reception and is one of the best TVs the company has made to date and is more comparable to the latest TCL QLED TVs.

Image Processor

Most TCL models come with the AiPQ Engine processor. Regrettably, this is a pretty unimpressive image processor with disappointing capabilities compared to most Smart TV image processors. The company also announced a new Gen 2 AiPQ Engine processor for its upcoming models, which will hopefully deliver more image processing power.

The latest Vizio Smart TVs use the Vizio IQ Active image processor. This processor includes multi-step algorithms that enable it to accurately upscale Full HD content to 4K, reduce image noise, and enhance the contrast with pixel-level brightness adjustments. Taking all of this into consideration, Vizio TVs offer significantly more capable image processors.

Motion Technology

TCL TVs, especially those from the 5 and 6 Series, come with excellent motion technology. Most TCL models can fully transition between scenes with excellent response times. And, although they’re not flicker-free, TCL TVs use PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) to dim their backlight. In other words, you shouldn’t encounter any bothersome flickering when watching under normal conditions.

TCL S535 2020
TCL Series 5 QLED

Most Vizio models offer good motion technology. Of course, results can differ depending on the specific models. For example, the 2020 Vizio V Series delivers mediocre motion technology with considerably slower transition times. On the other hand, models like the Vizio OLED 2020 have near-instantaneous response times with almost no motion blur.

Keeping all of this in mind, we can say that TCL models generally offer better motion technology across all models. However, you can find some Vizio TVs with outstanding motion technology properties.

Picture Quality

Being budget-oriented brands, TCL and Vizio offer impressive picture quality for their price tag. That said, to determine the nuanced differences between the two brands, we need to compare them across several key categories. These include:

Contrast Ratio / Black Level

TCL TVs are known for delivering superb native contrast ratios and for their ability to produce deep blacks. Additionally, TCL models that include a local dimming feature allow you to further improve the contrast ratio and enjoy even better performance. 

The native contrast ratio is equally outstanding on most Vizio models as it is on TCL sets. You can expect deep blacks and impressive dark scenes when viewing the content in dark rooms. Plus, some models like the Vizio OLED TV have an infinite contrast ratio, as they can individually turn off pixels and deliver perfect blacks.

Local Dimming

It’s difficult to compare these two brands through their local dimming properties, as their models are all over the map in this category. Most TCL and Vizio models come with a full-array backlight configuration. This is the preferred backlight configuration and includes a local dimming feature.

Some models from both manufacturers come with basic direct backlight configuration and lack local dimming properties. As a result, these models can’t darken portions of the picture to provide the best viewing experience in a dark environment.

Peak Brightness

Most TCL models deliver better peak brightness than their Vizio counterparts in the same price range. While some Vizion models offer excellent peak brightness, like the P Series Quantum X, most of this manufacturer’s TVs fail to perform in this category. To get a better general perspective on this, we’ll compare two 2021 models in the same price range:

Peak Brightness MeasureTCL 5 Series 2021 QLEDVizio M7 Series Quantum 2021
SDR Real Scene Peak Brightness480 cd/m²Around 345 cd/m²
SDR Peak 2% WindowAround 255 cd/m²Around 195 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 100% Window475 cd/m²Around 375 cd/m²
HDR Real Scene Peak Brightness480 cd/m²300 cd/m²
HDR Peak 2% Window270 cd/m²Around 195 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 100% Window500 cd/m²Around 375 cd/m²
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Color

Most TCL TVs have excellent color gamuts and fantastic coverage of the DCI P3 color space. Although some models have limited Rec. 2020 coverage, they still offer very respectable performance in this category. Furthermore, thanks to the wide color gamut and excellent contrast that most of these TVs come with, they can display colors at a wide range of luminance levels.

Likewise, most Vizio models that have come out in the past couple of years offer impressive color properties for their price. For instance, the M7 Series and the P Series deliver splendid color volume and have the option to enable wide color gamuts. Moreover, the Vizio P Series Quantum X has one of the best color gamuts you can find on any TV on the current market. 

Viewing Angle

TCL TVs fail to deliver decent viewing angles, as you can expect most of the manufacturer’s models to lose image quality as you move even slightly off-center. Although performance can vary from model to model, most TCL sets aren’t suitable for wider seating arrangements, as they quickly start losing brightness and displaying gamma shift. That said, this isn’t a notch against the brands, as most VA panels struggle to produce solid viewing angles.

In comparison, Vizio TVs offer slightly better viewing angles across the board. Although some models like the M7 Series Quantum 2021 offer abysmal viewing angles, models like the Vizion V Series provide decent viewing angles. Again, for a VA LED panel, even average viewing angles are an upside.

Vizio V Series
Vizio V Series

Reflections / Anti-glare

The bulk of TCL TVs comes with a semi-gloss screen finish, meaning that they have acceptable but not overly impressive reflection handling properties. Most TCL models reflect between five and six percent of total light that hits their display surface. In contrast, you can find many Vizio models with a semi-gloss or glossy screen finish. To put it differently, you have a more varied choice depending on your needs and requirements.

Vizio models with a semi-gloss finish have the same performance properties as TCL models, while glossy models reflect just around two percent of total light. Simply put, this means that Vizio is the better performer in this category. For reference, a glossy screen finish is good for ambient light but not for direct reflections.

Sound Quality

The built-in speakers that come with every TCL model have a good frequency response and can get very loud, making these TVs a good choice for big rooms or noisy environments. That said, most TCL models don’t produce a significant amount of bass, if any at all.

Vizio TVs deliver decent sound quality. These TVs can get reasonably loud and have a well-balanced sound profile, so you can still hear clear dialogue even at higher volume levels. They can also produce a solid bass but lack the power to deliver the punch you can find in higher-end TV sets from other brands.

So, regardless of which brand you decide to go with, you should ideally look to pair up your new TV with a dedicated subwoofer or a soundbar for a better audio-visual experience.

Smart TV Platform (Operating System)

The newest TCL models utilize the Google TV operating system, although you can find models with the Roku TV smart platform. In comparison, modern Vizio TVs come with the SmartCast platform. Here’s how the two OS platforms compare:

OS FeaturesTCL TVsVizio TVs
OS VersionGoogle TV / Roku TVSmartCast
App Selection/Variety8/108/10
App Smoothness9/106/10
Ease of Use6/108/10
Interface Layout7/107/10

Connectivity

While picture and sound quality properties are arguably the most important aspects of every TV, connectivity features can significantly affect the overall user experience. If you want to pair up your TV with additional devices or want to take advantage of voice control options, you need to know what connectivity traits you have at your disposal. With that in mind, we’ll compare the two brands through their supported voice assistants, wireless technologies, and input specifications.

Inputs

TCL and Vizio TVs come with all the physical input connection specifications you can expect from a modern Smart TV. Additionally, most TCL and Vizio TVs offer exceptionally low input lag time across all supported resolutions. To see how the two brands compare in terms of physical input specifications, we’ll take a closer look at the evenly matched TCL 6 Series 2021 and Vizio M7 Series 2021:

Input PortsTCL 6 Series 2021Vizio M7 Series 2021
HDMI Ports4 HDMI 2.0 Ports4 HDMI 2.0 Ports
USB Ports2 USB 2.0 Ports1 USB 2.0 Ports
Digital Optical Audio Out1 Port1 Port
Ethernet PortYesYes
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As you can see from the comparison table above, both brands have put in a solid variety of inputs in their models. Nevertheless, the number of featured USB ports is lower than what you can expect with TVs from other brands. This is especially noticeable in Vizio’s case, as this model only comes with 1 USB port, which is simply not enough for some users.

Voice Assistants

As most TCL TVs employ the Google TV smart platform, they come with the Android TV remote app. And, since Google Assistant is currently one of the best AI-powered voice assistants in the world, you can rely on first-rate voice control features. Looking at the specific voice control options available in TCL TVs, you can open apps, search for content, change between input ports and channels, and give several other voice commands for more convenient use.

Vizio recently redesigned its Smart TV remote to include a built-in microphone you can use to control their TVs with your voice. While this does add a level of convenience, Vizio’s voice assistant can only carry out a handful of basic tasks. Most notably, you can open up apps or switch between inputs, but even this doesn’t work on every try. Overall, TCL TVs have much better voice assistant properties than their Vizio counterparts.

TCL 6 Series 2021 8K QLED
TCL 6 Series 2021 8K QLED

Wireless Technologies

All TCL and Vizio Smart TV models come with the same Wi-Fi support features, which are 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Many TVs from the two manufacturers also include Bluetooth support. That said, we should highlight that some TCL and Vizio models only support Bluetooth LE, which is not powerful enough to enable speaker connection but only allows you to connect your phone or tablet.

Standout Features

Although TCL and Vizio have many dissimilarities, neither brand has any significant standout features over the other one. However, they share several standout features that set them apart from other budget brands. More specifically, this includes VRR, FreeSync, and G-SYNC. Although these features aren’t available in every TCL and Vizio TV, you can find them in a lot of models from these two manufacturers.

On top of this, many TCL and Vizio TV sets come with HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision. Again, this is particularly impressive when you compare the price of these TVs to some big brand names like Samsung, Sony, and LG.

Price

After comparing the two brands through a long list of criteria, it’s crucial to mention them in the context of their market prices. Even though both brands offer some of the most affordable TVs you can find, Vizio is the better choice if you’re buying a TV on a tighter budget. This is because Vizio models are noticeably cheaper than TCL ones across all available sizes.

Conclusion

Choosing the winner of this TCL vs Vizio comparison comes down to your personal preferences and overall budget. Vizio TVs are the more affordable brand of the two. They also come with more capable image processors, better reflection handling properties, and wider viewing angles.

In comparison, TCL TVs are slightly more expensive but have their advantages. They can get noticeably brighter thanks to their QLED panels, support a better voice assistant, and generally deliver better motion technology.

About Jon

Hey, I'm Jon. I'm an engineer by trade, so it makes sense that I'm obsessed with anything technology related! On the weekends, you can find me playing around with my computers or fixing something around the house. Feel free to leave a comment if you want to get in touch.

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