When it comes to cheaper smart TVs that run on Roku OS, there are two brands that stand out: Hisense and TCL. These two smart TVs have the same design and offer many of the same things as one another. However, in what areas do they differ, and which one is the better TV?
When deciding between Hisense and TCL smart TVs, Hisense is probably the better option. Hisense TVs are usually cheaper than their TCL counterparts and they tend to have more HDMI ports to connect devices. Additionally, TCL’s customer support seems to have a very negative reputation online.
These are the general areas where Hisense is the better option, but there are some more important things to consider. Let’s get into this topic in more detail to help settle this debate once and for all: Hisense or TCL?
Which Has Better Design and Display Features?
Something you may have noticed when looking into these two TV brands is that their TVs look strikingly similar to one another. You may think that this means the two TVs have the same design. However, is this really the case?
Similarities Between the Brands
First, we need to cover the basic display features of each device. One of the most important aspects to compare is the resolution capabilities of each TV, as resolution is going to determine how clear the picture on your device looks. In this area, both devices are about the same.
Even on their cheapest models, both the Hisense and the TCL are going to be able to reach HD resolutions of 1080p. If you’re willing to shell out the cash for their more expensive models, you can even get both brands to reach 4K resolution and even 8K.
Both brands are also similar in the area of refresh rate. On their cheapest models, you’ll be seeing refresh rates at about 60Hz, while on their average models, you’ll get 120Hz. However, on the 4K and 8K TVs for both brands, you’ll reach an impressive 144Hz refresh rate.
Finally, for lighting and color contrast, both brands offer Quantum LED models for their cheaper TVs. For their more expensive models, you can get your TV lit by Mini-LED lights, almost giving you control of each pixel of your TV individually, leading to much better color contrast.
Differences Between the Brands
The one area where one brand comes out on top in design is with the ports on the TV. It seems like, when a TCL and Hisense TV are the same price, the Hisense TV will have one more HDMI port than the TCL. For example, the Hisense 40H4F has 4 HDMI ports while the similarly priced TCL 40S325 only has 3.
While this is only one extra HDMI port, it could make the difference between you being able to connect something to your TV and not being able to without unplugging something else.
Essentially, Hisense and TCL are pretty neck and neck when it comes to design. However, the idea that you could get an extra HDMI port with a Hisense TV does slightly sway things in Hisense’s favor.
It is important to note that Hisense TVs having an extra HDMI port is just a general pattern we noticed and is not guaranteed, so if this is important to you, be sure to check how many HDMI ports your TV comes with before purchasing.
Which TV Has Better Smart Features?
The main reason someone would even be considering getting a TCL or Hisense TV is for their smart TV features. Using these TVs, you can stream content like Netflix and Hulu without having to use an exterior device like a Firestick. So, how do TCL and Hisense smart features compare to one another?
First off, the OS your TV runs off of does not depend on the brand of TV you get, but rather the type of TV you get. It’s not like TCL only makes Roku smart TVs and Hisense only makes Android smart TVs. You can get a Hisense TV that runs off of Roku, Google, or Android operating systems, and the same goes for TCL. And either Roku TV option is still going to let you access core Roku features like browsing the internet and screen mirroring or streaming your favorite content, even from your phone.
The smart OS you choose will not significantly change based on what brand of TV you use. This means that a TCL TV with Roku will work pretty much the exact same as a Hisense TV with Roku.
Pro Tip: You can use other streaming devices, like a Firestick or Apple TV, on your Roku TV.
Since each brand has multiple different choices for OS providers, the smart features on your TV will depend on the OS it has rather than whether it’s a Hisense or a TCL TV. Essentially, smart features are not going to determine which brand you should go with, but they might determine which OS you should pick.
Even on their cheapest models, both Hisense and TCL TVs will come with a built-in pair of stereo speakers. However, does one of them have better audio quality than the other? To answer this question, we first need to discuss the speakers on each TV.
TCL TVs use speakers developed by brands like Onkyo and Dolby. This means that their TVs are likely going to have more advanced features, like Dolby Atmos, especially in their higher-end models.
On the other side, Hisense TVs use speakers developed by brands like Dolby and Harman Kardon. This allows them to output some advanced audio features like DTS Virtual:X, which can make it seem like the sound is coming from specific directions.
Just like with TCL, higher-end features like this are much more common with their higher-end models.
Essentially, TCL and Hisense are pretty much tied as far as sound quality. This may seem like it’s becoming a pattern, but the sound quality coming from your TV depends more on what model of TV you get, rather than what brand of TV you get. TVs with better sound often cost more than TVs with worse sound.
It is worth noting that both TCL and Hisense sell external speakers built with compatibility with their respective TVs in mind. So, if you don’t like the way your TV sounds out of the box, you can always just purchase a pair of external speakers.
Which is More Budget-Friendly?
The most important determining factor for what brand of TV a person buys is the price. Simply put, people are more likely to buy the cheapest smart TV in the size they want. So, which brand is cheaper on average? In order to determine this, we need to compare some TV models.
TCL’s cheapest model when brand new is the 32” Full HD 3-Series TV, which will cost you around $180. On the other hand, Hisense’s cheapest model is the 32” HD H55 TV, which will cost you around $160.
These are both 32-inch HD TVs, but the Hisense model is slightly cheaper than the TCL.
For 4K TVs, TCL’s cheapest model is the 43” 4-Series TV, which costs around $300. However, Hisense’s cheapest 4K model is the 43” A6 TV, which will run you about $270. Once again, Hisense is offering the same size TV with the same resolution, but for slightly cheaper.
Finally, for 8K TVs, TCL offers the 75” 6-Series TV, which will cost about $2,000. To close it out, Hisense’s cheapest 8K model is the 75” U800GR, which will cost you around $1,800. Even with 8K TVs, Hisense manages to be the cheaper option.
To put this all together, in pretty much every case when TCL offers a TV, Hisense will offer the same size of TV with the same resolution quality and a slightly lower price. Essentially, if you want the same quality TV for a lower price, you likely want to go with Hisense over TCL.
If price is the most important factor to you, this may have already settled your debate. However, there are still a couple more things worth discussing.
One of the most important things to look at when considering a new TV (or even just a new electronic device in general) is what other people have said about it. Thankfully, there are several websites (such as ConsumerAffairs and Trustpilot) where customers of these brands can write what they think about their products.
At the time of writing, on their ConsumerAffairs page (found here), Hisense is currently sitting at a 3.8/5 with over 600 different user-submitted reviews. Though it is worth noting that of the last 30 reviews posted, 28 were 1-star reviews, 1 was a 2-star review, and 1 was a 5-star review.
5-star reviews on Hisense TVs mention a very clear and colorful picture for such an inexpensive TV, and many mention the great sound quality. On the other side of the fence, 1-star reviews commonly mention problems with the TV’s screen no longer working as well as fragile glass used in the TV’s screen.
TCL seems to have a much worse reputation on review websites. At the time of writing, on their Trustpilot page (found here), TCL currently has a rating of 1.3/5 with over 500 reviews. This means that 89% of all the reviews they have on that website are 1-star reviews.
One bad review mentions their screen going black after only six months of use. We’ve seen more of this over time (enough that we put together a specific guide on it). Another mentions having to tilt their TV back and forth to get it to work properly. On the other hand, their 5-star reviews mention their TVs having great picture quality with many different visual options.
Basically, when it comes to customer reviews, Hisense is the clear winner, although they don’t have a perfect track record. TCL seems to be constantly bombarded with negative reviews, while Hisense has about 50% positive reviews and 50% negative.
Something important that many TV shoppers may fail to consider is the quality of the customer support that is associated with their TV. If you ever have an issue with your TV, the customer support agents are the people you will need to contact in order to get a refund through your warranty or even have the TV repaired for free.
So, who has the better customer support between Hisense and TCL?
In a significant portion of the bad reviews for Hisense, as we discussed in the last section, their main issue was poor customer service. One review mentions that despite the fact that they wanted the issue fixed urgently, Hisense wasn’t able to send a technician until more than a week later.
Another bad review mentions having to fight with their customer service over the phone for over a month in order to get a refund.
On the other hand, good reviews for Hisense TVs commonly mention having a good experience with their customer support. One review mentions a helpful support agent coming up with a unique solution to the user’s problem that ended up working.
Another mentions getting a free 4K upgrade after their TV couldn’t be repaired.
For TCL, it is also extremely common for their reviews to mention their customer support. One user’s review talks about how the technician that was supposed to fix their TV just didn’t show up on the day they were supposed to. Another bad review talks about them not honoring a warranty the user claims was still valid.
According to users on review websites, neither Hisense nor TCL have perfect customer support. Though, Hisense’s customer support seems to be either good or bad depending on what customer support agent is assigned to your case, and TCL’s customer support seems to just be consistently poor.
Now we’ve covered pretty much everything you would need to consider before purchasing a new TV, from design all the way to customer support. So which TV comes out on top, Hisense or TCL?
In general, when it comes to TV it seems like Hisense is the safer option. First off, if price is the most important factor to you when it comes to electronics, Hisense TVs are usually cheaper than their TCL alternatives.
Hisense also came on top in design due to them usually having slightly more HDMI ports than their TCL counterpart. Other than that though, both TVs were extremely similar in the design and display department.
In audio quality, both TVs pretty much have the same specs, but in the customer reviews, Hisense is absolutely better than TCL. This is mainly due to complaints about TCL’s poor customer support. Although, Hisense’s customer support has some complaints on the internet as well.
You may have noticed that while Hisense comes out as the winner in certain categories, and both brands tie in others, there was not a category in which TCL won. For this reason, Hisense seems to be the much safer choice. And if you’re still not sure, be sure to check out our related guides comparing Hisense to Onn TVs and TCL to Onn TVs for more discussion on how to pick the best option for you!