TCL 4-Series (2021) review: Roku on the cheap, 4K screen included

The TCL 4-Series Is So Affordable And Capable You May Start To Question Why multimillion dollar tv Absolutely. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use TV with great picture, this is a great place to start. It’s Ridiculously Affordable, Offer 4K Resolution in a wide range of sizes and the same excellent Roku interface as that company’s megapopular streaming device.

do not like it

  • cheap remote
  • only average performance
  • HDR doesn’t look much better than SDR

The downside is that picture quality is pretty average, especially if you compare it with TVs that cost more. The remote — that is, the thing you’ll interact with the most — is a bit sluggish. And its HDR image isn’t much better than non-HDR, for reasons I’ll cover below.

One of its closest competitors is the Vizio V555-J, both in price and in picture quality. Their images looked very similar in comparison to mine, and while Vizio offers More settings to help you dial in the best quality and includes a voice remote, tcl is easier to use and better for streaming.

However, despite its image quality issues, you really can’t ignore that price tag. The 55-inch I reviewed retails for only $400, and other sizes are equally affordable—new for 2021, the 4-Series Available all the way up to 85 inches. It’s simple, looks great and is perfect if you don’t need the bells and whistles found on expensive TVs.

Basic Features and Connections

The S435 is a basic 4K TV — no fancy extras here like next generation gaming benefitshandjob local dimminghandjob wide color gamut or ton light. Its best feature, Roku’s smart TV interface, is a ClearTips favorite, with large icons for both streaming services and various inputs to the television. If you’re buying this TV because you’ve used a Roku before, you’ll be right at home. Its marriage of television and streamer frees up the number of devices you need to plug in.

Its and Roku streaming devices like the . the only major difference between Roku Express 4K Plus The remote is the same. Myself, I’ve used a Roku media streamer for years and have found that the smaller tablet-sized remotes work great. TCL’s version looks similar, but feels much cheaper and relies on infrared (IR) signals – so you have to remember to aim it at the TV. Once you get used to how handy Wi-Fi and Bluetooth remotes are (point anywhere!), IR feels like a step back. The hard plastic buttons also feel cheap and click cheap. It’s one of the few things that reminds you that this is a budget TV.

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Geoffrey Morrison / ClearTips

You can also use Roku’s mobile app for iOS or Android, which at least simplifies your various logins and passwords. The app also has voice search, something the TCL remote doesn’t have. It lets you say something like “Tacoma FD” and it finds all the places where you can stream/buy a show or movie. It’s Fast: Once you get used to it, you’ll wonder why not all streaming platforms work this way.

By the way, you can buy Roku’s $30 Voice Remote Pro If you really miss the voice remote aspect that brings the price more or less in line with the Vizio V555.

The Vizio V555 already has a Bluetooth remote with voice control. However, its user interface isn’t quite as friendly as that of the Roku, and it doesn’t have as much accessibility as streaming services. In particular, the V555 does not have hbo max Still, though you can stream that service from your phone.

If you send TCL 24 frames per second contentLike most shows on Blu-ray or Movies and Streaming, it will switch to 48Hz. it ends 3:2 Judge So any movement in the image is going to look smoother and more natural. it is not soap opera effect (SOE), which is smoother but less natural in appearance. The 4-Series doesn’t have SOE, and like most budget TVs it has 60-Hz refresh rate, not 120-Hz.

The 55-inch gets an Energy Star rating of $12, which is on the low (good) end compared to similar TVs.

tcl-side-1-of-1

Geoffrey Morrison / ClearTips

Connectivity is enough for a budget TV. There are four HDMI inputs, and one of them has ARC (though not the new EARCIf you have no imagination of sound With ARC input, you can receive audio from the TV via the 3.5mm headphone jack or optical cable.

  • HDMI Inputs: Four (43-inches have three)
  • Composite Analog Input
  • USB port
  • Internet: Wired and 802.11ac (2.4 and 5GHz)
  • antenna input
  • Headphone Jack (3.5mm)
  • optical digital audio output
  • Speakers: Two downward facing, 8W each

Set-up

The 4-Series setup is intuitive and easy. You’ll need a Roku account. If you don’t already have an account, you can choose some channels depending on which streaming services you subscribe to. If you already have a Roku account, a lot of it will be done for you.

And how many channels do you have to choose from. Basically, if there’s a streaming service it’s probably available on Roku (well, In general, or at least In the end) so it means NetflixOf course, with HBO Max, Disney Plushandjob Vudu’shandjob amazon prime And just about anything you can think of.

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Geoffrey Morrison / ClearTips

Those on the back are also four HDMI inputs—so if you want to connect a game console, or multiple game consoles, plus a cable box and a few more, you’ve got connections. The lack of an “input” button on the remote feels a bit odd, though I appreciate the mentality of treating the inputs as if they were just another streaming channel.

At least there are picture controls, though for such a cheap TV that seems fine. The picture out of the box was fairly accurate: I put the TV into movie mode and I was good to go. If you have a setup disc like world of wonder You can fine-tune contrast and brightness, but they were also within a click or two on my sample.

picture quality comparison

I compared the TCL 4-Series with two TVs: the Vizio V555-J and the Samsung QN55Q60A. The Vizio V555 is a direct competitor and is about 10% more expensive. Samsung QN55Q60A is its entry level QLED The model, but “entry-level” to Samsung, is different, and the Q60 is more than twice the price of the S435. My intention was to give buyers an idea of ​​what they could get if they spent a little more. I connected all three through a Monoprice 1×4 distribution amplifier and tuned them side by side.

As you’d probably expect, Visio and Tcl are pretty close. Both have highly accurate colors and color temperatures out of the box. TCL measures about 10% brighter, but even in a side-by-side comparison you can’t really tell. The Vizio’s contrast ratio is a bit high, but again, it’s hard to tell because the difference is so minor.

It’s a different story with HDR content. Both the TCL and Vizio have a spot-on color gamut for non-HDR content, but neither seems to push beyond that. One of the things you get with Samsung is the wide selection of colors. So with HDR content it looks far more colorful with deeper, richer tones. none of these are tv local dimming, so they don’t do much in the way of dynamic range for HDR content.

Does the lack of HDR punch matter when it comes to TCL? I wouldn’t really say for the price, but better HDR performance is definitely one of the things you’ll get if you spend more. If you send an HDR signal to TCL, it remaps it nicely, so there are no obvious artifacts or severe highlight clipping (for example, white, snow-capped peaks turn gray). It doesn’t look much better than just non-HDR content.

Like almost all LCDs, the TCL doesn’t look great if you’re not sitting directly in front of it. Even with my couch flipped over a few seats, the black level went up and the color saturation went down. That was the case with comparable TVs, though, so we’ll call it a wash.

There are also some uniformity issues, where different parts of the screen have different brightness levels. This is especially noticeable on full-screen white or black images and increases if you’re not directly in line with the TV. The Vizio was about the same, although the Samsung was a bit better.

tcl-55s435-4-of-6

Geoffrey Morrison / ClearTips

rokuino

The question is, can you get a good 55 inch TV for $400? the answer is yes. But the question: Is the TCL 4-series going to offer it? The Vizio V555 could potentially be tweaked for a better picture and has a higher quality remote, but it doesn’t have as many streaming options nor is it as easy to use. It’s hard to beat the Roku interface for simplicity and comprehensiveness of content. If someone told me “my parents need a new TV” or “I just want something that looks and works good,” it’s Tcl I point them out. Of course, you’ll need to spend more to get a better image, but the 4-series looks better than you’d expect for the price.

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