Curved panels need not be expensive
There’s this idea that TVs with curved panels are generally more expensive than regular non-curved models, since the manufacturing process involved in making them are more complex and extensive than regular models. That maybe true a few years ago, but with the advances in modern panel manufacturing companies like TCL can now churn out more affordable curved displays for the average consumer.
That’s the case for their P3. Priced at just Php 35,595 for the 49-inch curved model, the P3 has all the things that you’d want in a budget Smart TV.
Budget TV, premium design
The P3 may be affordable by curved TV standards but it doesn’t look it. It comes in a nice looking champagne gold color, and has relatively skinny bezels on the side (11.1mm) and top (8.6mm). On the bottom of the panel sits the front-facing, Dolby Audio speakers.
Overall thickness for the P3 100mm from the panel to the back that holds all the hardware, which isn’t bad – we’ve seen other TVs before that had gigantic rear bumps for all the hardware.
The TV comes with its own stand, and much like most regular TVs you can mount it to your wall using standard VESA wall mounting hardware.
There’s manual controls hidden at the rear of the TV, but for the most part you’ll be relying on the remote control to navigate and use the P3.
Speaking of the remote control, it’s a skinny, spartan and does the job but could have been designed better. At the very least TCL could have included a backlight for the remote to make it easier to use it in the dark, but no dice there.
There’s a plethora of connections available on the P3 – a USB 2.0 port for plugging in your flashdrives, LAN connection for hardwiring the thing into your home network, 3 HMDI ports, legacy ports for terrestial TV and AV as well as an optical out. There’s also Wireless LAN available if you don’t like messing around with wires.
The panel has decent specs for the price – it’s an LED panel from China Star Optoelectronics Technology, a company owned by TCL that’s located in Shenzen, China. It’s only a full HD panel, running at around 60MHz with a decent response time of 8ms. The P3 has an advertised contrast ratio of 4,000,000:1, which is more than enough for most applications.
It’s a Netflix box, basically
The TV has an unspecified Quad Core A7 processor Dual Core MALI450MP2 GPU,running TCL’s own take on the smart TV OS. You get the standard Smart TV capabilities here: the ability to browse the web, download additional apps to use as well as surf YouTube and use Netflix if you have your own account. Of those, only the last two are useful – most apps that you can download are, well, bad and browsing the web on your TV? That’s what your PC and phone is for.
What’s nice about having a smart TV is that once it’s connected to your network, you can pretty much push whatever you’re watching on YouTube to the big screen with a simple push of the button. You can also control Netflix content from your phone as well if you have the app installed on your phone (and are using the same account).
Navigating through the OS is okay, and we didn’t notice any weird delay in launching apps like YouTube or Netflix during its time with us but obviously that depends entirely on your internet connection at home. There’s a dedicated NetFlix button on the remote, which pretty much tells that you need to have a subscription to that service to maximize your use of the TV.
Easy on the eyes in more ways than one
How does the P3 perform? Pretty well actually. There are some caveats that apply to most curved TVs though – you’ll have to sit directly in front of the display of the to get the full effect of the curved panel, and there’s been talk about the actual benefits of a curved display versus a regular one. Viewing angles are generous though, coming in at 178 degrees, and there’s no noticeable color shift while you’re in those angles.
Color reproduction is good, and while it’s not an OLED panel, blacks stil look great. Colors look nice and natural, and is typically better than the panels we’ve seen in the past. It’s not as great compared to more expensive TVs made by brands like Samsung or LG, but it’s pretty close.
As far as sound goes, the P3’s speakers gets loud, though it lacks depth when it comes to explosions and what not. There’s really no replacement for a dedicated audio system – but the TCL P3 manages just fine without one.
Verdict: It’s a great balance between performance and cost
At Php 35,595 the TCL P3 isn’t exactly something you’d buy on a whim. But for what you’re getting for your money, it’s a slam dunk. You’ll probably be using an external media player or Netflix most of the time with it and ignoring the largely useless app market, but that’s more than enough for the average Joe.