TCL Google TVs have been pulled from Best Buy due to concerns about slow and unreliable software

Both the 6-Series and 5-Series listings have vanished.

TCL released an improved version of its high-end 6-Series TV in late summer. Aside from minor technological upgrades — the newer set supports HDMI 2.1 and 4K gaming at 120Hz — the largest difference was software, with the current 6-Series running Google TV rather than the Roku OS that has been included with many of TCL’s most popular sets in the US. Although TCL has already delivered Android TV-enabled TVs abroad and on a few inexpensive models in North America, the 2021 6-Series was intended to be a showcase for both TCL hardware and Google software.

So far, everything hasn’t worked out that way, and things aren’t moving as smoothly as TCL had planned.

Some early purchasers of the BMW 6-Series with Google TV (model R646) have expressed dissatisfaction with the buggy and sluggish user interface. While the Google TV home page appears to perform reasonably well, it didn’t take long for me to notice some overall slowness when pulling up and going through the settings menu. There may be a lag between when the TV responds to remote control commands and when the TV responds to the commands. Apps have crashed and the TV has stopped and become unresponsive, according to my housemates. Some internet reviews mention more vexing issues that necessitate unplugging the TV entirely.

Similar early critiques have been levied at the 5-Series with Google TV; Caleb from Digital Trends found his review unit to be laggy and bug-ridden.

TCL has already released a number of software upgrades aimed at boosting performance and stability. TCL representative Rachelle Parks told The Verge in late November that “our aim is to create an optimum user experience with Google TV and have a cadence of planned software upgrades for TCL devices.” Some of the changes appear to have had a favourable impact.

Best Buy, the sole US retailer of TCL Google TVs, has abruptly withdrawn both models from its shop listings as of this week. TCL’s own website contains a broken link to Best Buy. The 65-inch 6-Series I’m evaluating had an average review rating of 3.5 stars before it was removed. Many reviewers compliment the panel and Mini LED visual quality, but then go on to complain about software troubles.

While TCL is experienced with Android TV, the Google TV software experience is new to the firm, and it appears to be having some difficulties at this early stage. I’m hoping that more updates will address many of the performance concerns; this is a beautiful TV with fantastic peak brightness and good contrast thanks to the Mini LED backlighting. However, it is not where it needs to be at this time.

In fact, purely to prevent the sluggishness and jank, I’ve already inserted an Apple TV 4K into one of the HDMI connections. Streaming devices are a wonderful way to speed up low-cost TVs, but they shouldn’t be considered a necessary bandage for a television that costs more than $1,000.

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