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

Victoria D. Doty

The TCL 4-Series is so inexpensive and capable you could get started to problem why there are any multithousand-dollar TVs at all. If you might be just wanting for an quick-to-use Tv set with decent photo, this is an superb area to get started. It can be ridiculously inexpensive, offers 4K resolution in a vast array of dimensions and has the exact same superb Roku interface as that company’s megapopular streaming gadgets.


  • Hard to beat the price tag
  • Quick-to-use Roku interface

Do not Like

  • Low cost-sensation remote
  • Only regular performance
  • HDR won’t glimpse much superior than SDR

The draw back is that the photo quality is rather regular, specifically if you review it to TVs that value additional. The remote — that is, the issue you will interact with most — is a little bit of a letdown. And its HDR impression is just not appreciably superior than non-HDR, for reasons I will include down below.

In both equally price tag and photo quality, a person of its closest competition is the Vizio V555-J. Their visuals seemed quite related in my comparison, and though the Vizio offers additional options to help dial in the greatest quality and includes a voice remote, the TCL is less difficult to use and superior for streaming.

Having said that, inspite of its impression quality problems you seriously cannot ignore that price tag. The fifty five-inch I reviewed retails for just $400, and the other dimensions are likewise inexpensive — new for 2021, the 4-Series is obtainable all the way up to eighty five inches. It can be simple, appears very good and would make excellent feeling if you will not require the bells and whistles discovered on costly TVs.

Fundamental options and connections

The S435 is a primary 4K Tv set — no fancy extras right here like upcoming-gen gaming benefitsarea dimmingvast colour gamut or tons of light. Its greatest aspect, Roku’s wise Tv set interface, is CNET’s preferred, with substantial icons for both equally streaming providers and the television’s various inputs. If you might be getting this Tv set since you’ve got used Roku in the earlier, you will be correct at property right here. Its relationship of tv and streamer frees up the variety of gadgets you require to plug in.

The only significant variance between this and a Roku streaming system like the Roku Express 4K In addition is the remote itself. Myself, I have used a Roku media streamer for several years and have discovered the little pill-formed controllers operate great. TCL’s variation appears related, but feels considerably more affordable and is dependent on infrared signals — so you will require to keep in mind to goal it at the Tv set. At the time you get used to how quick Wi-Fi and Bluetooth controllers are (point any where!), IR feels like a stage again. The difficult plastic buttons also come to feel low cost and make a low cost-sounding click. It can be a person of the number of issues that reminds you that this is a finances Tv set. 


Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

You can also use Roku’s cell application for iOS or Android, which at the quite the very least would make putting in your various logins and passwords less difficult. The application also has voice research, anything the TCL remote won’t. This allows you just say anything like “Tacoma FD” and it finds all the places you can stream/obtain a demonstrate or movie. It can be quickly: At the time you get used to it, you will speculate why all streaming platforms will not operate that way. 

By the way, you can purchase Roku’s $thirty Voice Remote Professional if you seriously pass up that voice remote part, which delivers the price tag additional or a lot less in line with the Vizio V555. 

The Vizio V555 already has a Bluetooth remote with voice regulate. Having said that, its user interface is just not really as friendly as Roku’s a person, and it won’t have entry to as lots of streaming providers. Notably, the V555 won’t have HBO Max but, although you can stream that support from your mobile phone.

If you mail the TCL 24 frames for each next written content, like from a Blu-ray or videos and most shows on streaming, it will swap to 48 hertz. This eliminates the 3:two judder so any movement in the impression is smoother and additional all-natural-wanting. This is just not the cleaning soap opera outcome, which is even smoother but a lot less all-natural wanting. The 4-Series won’t have SOE, and like most finances TVs it has a 60-hertz refresh price, not a hundred and twenty-hertz.

The fifty five-inch receives an Vitality Star ranking of $12, which is on the small (very good) conclusion when compared to related TVs. 


Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Connectivity is enough for a finances Tv set. There are 4 HDMI inputs, and a person of them has ARC (although not the newer eARC). If you will not have a fancy soundbar with an ARC enter, you can get the audio out of the Tv set by means of a 3.5mm headphone jack or optical cable. 

  • HDMI inputs: 4 (43-inch has a few)
  • Composite analog inputs
  • USB port
  • Internet: Wired and 802.11ac (two.4 and 5GHz)
  • Antenna enter
  • Headphone jack (3.5mm)
  • Optical electronic audio output
  • Speakers: two downward-dealing with, 8W just about every

Set up

The 4-Series setup is intuitive and quick. You can expect to require a Roku account if you will not have a person already, then you can select a number of channels dependent on what streaming providers you subscribe to. If you already have a Roku account, much of this will be performed for you.

And what a bevy of channels you have to pick from. Mainly, if there is certainly a streaming support it truly is possibly obtainable on Roku (perfectly, generally, or at the very least eventually). So that implies Netflix, of course, together with HBO Max, Disney In addition, Vudu, Amazon Primary and just about just about anything else you can imagine of.


Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

There are also people 4 HDMI inputs on the again — so if you want to connect a match console, or various match consoles, additionally a cable box and anything else, you’ve got bought the connections. The absence of an “enter” button on the remote does come to feel a very little unusual, although I do value the way of thinking of dealing with inputs as if they were a further streaming channel. 

There are negligible photo controls, although for these kinds of an inexpensive Tv set that would seem fine. Out of the box the photo was really accurate: I just put the Tv set in Motion picture mode and I was very good to go. If you have a setup disc like Earth of Wonder you can fine-tune contrast and brightness, but even people were inside of a click or two of suitable on my sample.

Image quality comparisons

I when compared the TCL 4-Series from two TVs: the Vizio V555-J and the Samsung QN55Q60A.The Vizio V555 is a direct competitor and around 10{394cb916d3e8c50723a7ff83328825b5c7d74cb046532de54bc18278d633572f} additional costly. The Samsung QN55Q60A is its entry-level QLED design, but “entry-level” is different for Samsung, and the Q60 is additional than twice the price tag of the S435. My intention was to give potential buyers an strategy what they can get if they devote a little bit additional. I related all a few by means of a Monoprice 1×4 distribution amplifier and viewed them facet-by-facet-by-facet.

As you would possibly assume, the Vizio and TCL are quite close. The two have really accurate shades and colour temperature out of the box. The TCL measures about 10{394cb916d3e8c50723a7ff83328825b5c7d74cb046532de54bc18278d633572f} brighter, but even in facet-by-facet comparisons you cannot seriously convey to that. The Vizio has a a little bit better contrast ratio, but once again, which is difficult to convey to since the variance is so slight.

It can be a little bit of a different tale with HDR written content. The two the TCL and Vizio have a location-on colour gamut for non-HDR written content, but neither would make much of a drive beyond that. 1 of the issues you get with the Samsung is a wider range of shades. So with HDR written content it appears considerably additional colorful with deeper, richer tones. None of these TVs have area dimming, so they will not do much in the way of dynamic array for HDR written content. 

Does absence of HDR punch issue when it comes to the TCL? I would say not seriously for the price tag, but superior HDR performance is undoubtedly a person of the issues you will get if you devote additional. If you do mail the TCL an HDR signal, it does remap it perfectly, so there are no blatant artifacts or severe highlight clipping (white, snow-capped peaks turning out grey, for example). It just won’t glimpse much superior than non-HDR product.

Like virtually all LCDs, the TCL won’t glimpse great if you might be not sitting down right in front of it. Even sliding above a number of seats on my sofa, the black level went up and the colour saturation went down. The exact same was genuine with the comparison TVs, although, so we are going to contact that a wash. 

There are also some uniformity problems, the place different pieces of the monitor have different brightness levels. This is specifically apparent on comprehensive-monitor white or black visuals and is exacerbated if you might be not right in line with the Tv set. The Vizio was about the exact same, although the Samsung was a very little superior.


Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


The problem is, can you get a very good fifty five-inch Tv set for $400? The reply is indeed. But the problem: Is the TCL 4-Series the a person to give it? The Vizio V555 is equipped to be tweaked for a possibly superior photo and has a better-quality remote, but it won’t have as lots of streaming solutions nor is it really as quick to use. It can be difficult to beat the Roku interface for simplicity and breadth of written content. If someone stated to me, “My mothers and fathers require a new Tv set” or, “I just want anything that appears very good and operates,” this TCL is what I’d point them toward. You can expect to require to devote additional to get a superior impression, of course, but the 4-Series appears superior than you would assume for the price tag.

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