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One of the best QLED TVs I've tested is $400 off ahead of Super Bowl weekend

Surprise, surprise, TCL's QM8 QLED model proves that the brand known for its budget-friendly TVs can compete with big names like Samsung and LG.
Written by Taylor Clemons, Staff Writer
A TCL QM8 TV showing the start screen for the game Hades
Taylor Clemons/ZDNET

The TCL QM8 made our list of the best 85-inch TVs, and the 65-inch version is just as good. It features a QLED panel as well as support for both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos for better picture quality and virtual surround sound. And, it's on sale right now. 

Also: Should you buy an 8K TV? How to decide, according to an expert

Its dedicated gaming mode allows you to monitor frame rates and VRR status. Plus, our testing of the QM8 proves itself to be a well-rounded TV -- and for a price that is a little easier on the wallet than competing brands.

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I'm sure you've heard of TCL and even seen its more budget-friendly TVs at Walmart or on Amazon, but the QM8 is the brand's newest iteration of its mid-range line, boosting a QLED screen with support for Dolby Vision as well as HDR10+, which helps to create bolder colors and deeper contrast.

Setting up the HDR was a quick, 2-3 minute process, and you can make changes later in the TV's settings; and when you set up game consoles like the PlayStation 5, you can set up game-specific HDR settings. 

A TCL QM8 TV showing a scene from the TV show Teen Titans
Taylor Clemons/ZDNET

There's also a dedicated game mode, which can be accessed by holding the hamburger menu button while using a game console via HDMI. The mode creates a top and bottom bar, which allows you to monitor your frame and refresh rates as well as choose different color temperature settings or even share screenshots and videos of your gameplay.

Also: Best TVs for the PS5: LG, Samsung, Hisense, and more

The picture quality of the QM8 is much better than what I was expecting, being more familiar with TCL's budget TVs. The QLED panel is bright, clear, and vibrant, which makes it a great choice for gaming as well as for revisiting old favorite shows and movies. 

I sat down for my semi-regular re-watch of the original Teen Titans show from Cartoon Network, and even though the cartoon is twenty years old, the resolution upscaling was clean, eliminating that odd "fuzziness" that older, pre-1080p media can have. 

And by playing around with the picture settings, I was able to tweak contrast and color to really take advantage of the dynamic art style, which is full of dark shadows and bright, colorful superhero costumes.

For gaming, the QM8 worked wonderfully with both my PS5 and Nintendo Switch, offering smooth playback and great picture quality. Though I will say to keep in mind that your Switch hardware may not support 4K output, especially if it's a first-iteration model (which is what I have). 

Also: Best TVs from Samsung, LG, Sony, and TCL compared

Although the Switch graphics looked a bit chunky with some titles, especially Wheel of Fortune (but it sort of added to the charm,) they never looked bad, per se. Other games like Hades looked amazing, with smooth animations and on-screen action, and vivid colors.

A TCL QM8 TV showing a scene from the movie To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar
Taylor Clemons/ZDNET

The built-in speakers of the QM8 sound respectable but quiet, so I recommend picking up a soundbar like the TCL Alto 6+ to boost dialogue and enhance the sound in movies, music, shows, and games. 

Another drawback to the QM8 is that it doesn't automatically power on when a connected device is. I own several other televisions, and each of them automatically turns on when I power on a game console or DVD player. It's a very small gripe, but it's a quality-of-life feature that I personally like to have in my TVs.

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