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

The TCL 4-Sequence is so affordable and capable you may possibly begin to query why there are any multithousand-dollar TVs at all. If you might be just wanting for an quick-to-use Television set with first rate picture, this is an outstanding place to begin. It’s ridiculously very affordable, offers 4K resolution in a huge vary of dimensions and has the similar outstanding Roku interface as that firm’s megapopular streaming equipment.


  • Hard to beat the selling price
  • Straightforward-to-use Roku interface

Really don’t Like

  • Inexpensive-emotion remote
  • Only average functionality
  • HDR doesn’t glimpse significantly much better than SDR

The draw back is that the picture high-quality is fairly average, especially if you assess it to TVs that value far more. The remote — that is, the point you are going to interact with most — is a little bit of a letdown. And its HDR graphic just isn’t appreciably much better than non-HDR, for good reasons I’ll protect underneath.

In the two selling price and picture high-quality, one particular of its closest competitors is the Vizio V555-J. Their pictures seemed pretty identical in my comparison, and while the Vizio offers far more configurations to assistance dial in the ideal high-quality and contains a voice remote, the TCL is simpler to use and much better for streaming.

Even so, in spite of its graphic high-quality troubles you seriously won’t be able to forget that selling price. The fifty five-inch I reviewed retails for just $400, and the other dimensions are in the same way very affordable — new for 2021, the 4-Sequence is obtainable all the way up to eighty five inches. It’s easy, appears to be like very good and would make best perception if you never have to have the bells and whistles discovered on high-priced TVs.

Standard features and connections

The S435 is a basic 4K Television set — no fancy extras listed here like following-gen gaming perksneighborhood dimminghuge colour gamut or tons of light. Its ideal function, Roku’s intelligent Television set interface, is CNET’s preferred, with large icons for the two streaming services and the television’s numerous inputs. If you might be purchasing this Television set mainly because you’ve used Roku in the earlier, you are going to be proper at property listed here. Its marriage of television and streamer frees up the number of equipment you have to have to plug in.

The only significant difference involving this and a Roku streaming machine like the Roku Convey 4K As well as is the remote itself. Myself, I have used a Roku media streamer for yrs and have discovered the little capsule-shaped remote controls get the job done good. TCL’s model appears to be like identical, but feels much less costly and depends on infrared signals — so you are going to have to have to remember to aim it at the Television set. As soon as you get used to how quick Wi-Fi and Bluetooth remote controls are (point anywhere!), IR feels like a action back again. The tricky plastic buttons also come to feel affordable and make a affordable-sounding click on. It’s one particular of the couple things that reminds you that this is a price range Television set. 

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You can also use Roku’s cellular app for iOS or Android, which at the pretty least would make placing in your numerous logins and passwords simpler. The app also has voice lookup, a thing the TCL remote doesn’t. This allows you just say a thing like “Tacoma FD” and it finds all the spots you can stream/buy a present or film. It’s fast: As soon as you get used to it, you are going to question why all streaming platforms never get the job done that way. 

By the way, you can acquire Roku’s $thirty Voice Distant Pro if you seriously miss that voice remote factor, which delivers the selling price far more or a lot less in line with the Vizio V555. 

The Vizio V555 presently has a Bluetooth remote with voice manage. Even so, its consumer interface just isn’t very as pleasant as Roku’s one particular, and it doesn’t have entry to as a lot of streaming services. Notably, the V555 doesn’t have HBO Max but, although you can stream that services from your cell phone.

If you send the TCL 24 frames for each second content, like from a Blu-ray or movies and most displays on streaming, it will swap to forty eight hertz. This gets rid of the 3:two judder so any movement in the graphic is smoother and far more natural-wanting. This just isn’t the cleaning soap opera effect, which is even smoother but a lot less natural wanting. The 4-Sequence doesn’t have SOE, and like most price range TVs it has a 60-hertz refresh amount, not 120-hertz.

The fifty five-inch will get an Electricity Star rating of $12, which is on the lower (very good) finish when compared to identical TVs. 


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Connectivity is enough for a price range Television set. There are four HDMI inputs, and one particular of them has ARC (although not the newer eARC). If you never have a fancy soundbar with an ARC input, you can get the audio out of the Television set by way of a 3.5mm headphone jack or optical cable. 

  • HDMI inputs: four (forty three-inch has 3)
  • Composite analog inputs
  • USB port
  • Online: Wired and 802.11ac (two.4 and 5GHz)
  • Antenna input
  • Headphone jack (3.5mm)
  • Optical electronic audio output
  • Speakers: two downward-experiencing, 8W each

Set up

The 4-Sequence set up is intuitive and quick. You’ll have to have a Roku account if you never have one particular presently, then you can decide a couple channels based mostly on what streaming services you subscribe to. If you presently have a Roku account, significantly of this will be accomplished for you.

And what a bevy of channels you have to opt for from. Essentially, if there is a streaming services it really is likely obtainable on Roku (effectively, usually, or at least eventually). So that indicates Netflix, of system, alongside with HBO Max, Disney As well as, Vudu, Amazon Key and just about everything else you can consider of.


Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

There are also all those four HDMI inputs on the back again — so if you want to link a sport console, or multiple sport consoles, in addition a cable box and a thing else, you’ve acquired the connections. The deficiency of an “input” button on the remote does come to feel a small strange, although I do value the way of thinking of managing inputs as if they have been yet another streaming channel. 

There are minimal picture controls, although for such an affordable Television set that appears to be wonderful. Out of the box the picture was very precise: I just put the Television set in Movie mode and I was very good to go. If you have a set up disc like Globe of Surprise you can wonderful-tune contrast and brightness, but even all those have been in just a click on or two of suitable on my sample.

Image high-quality comparisons

I when compared the TCL 4-Sequence against two TVs: the Vizio V555-J and the Samsung QN55Q60A.The Vizio V555 is a immediate competitor and about 10% far more high-priced. The Samsung QN55Q60A is its entry-stage QLED product, but “entry-stage” is unique for Samsung, and the Q60 is far more than 2 times the selling price of the S435. My intention was to give potential buyers an strategy what they can get if they devote a little bit far more. I related all 3 by way of a Monoprice 1×4 distribution amplifier and seen them side-by-side-by-side.

As you’d likely anticipate, the Vizio and TCL are pretty shut. Both of those have really precise hues and colour temperature out of the box. The TCL actions about 10% brighter, but even in side-by-side comparisons you won’t be able to seriously convey to that. The Vizio has a a little bit larger contrast ratio, but yet again, which is tricky to convey to mainly because the difference is so slight.

It’s a little bit of a unique story with HDR content. Both of those the TCL and Vizio have a spot-on colour gamut for non-HDR content, but neither would make significantly of a press beyond that. Just one of the things you get with the Samsung is a broader range of hues. So with HDR content it appears to be like much far more colorful with further, richer tones. None of these TVs have neighborhood dimming, so they never do significantly in the way of dynamic vary for HDR content. 

Does deficiency of HDR punch make a difference when it arrives to the TCL? I would say not seriously for the selling price, but much better HDR functionality is unquestionably one particular of the things you are going to get if you devote far more. If you do send the TCL an HDR sign, it does remap it effectively, so there are no blatant artifacts or really serious emphasize clipping (white, snow-capped peaks turning out grey, for illustration). It just doesn’t glimpse significantly much better than non-HDR material.

Like just about all LCDs, the TCL doesn’t glimpse good if you might be not sitting directly in entrance of it. Even sliding above a couple seats on my sofa, the black stage went up and the colour saturation went down. The similar was real with the comparison TVs, although, so we will connect with that a wash. 

There are also some uniformity troubles, the place unique parts of the monitor have unique brightness amounts. This is especially noticeable on full-monitor white or black pictures and is exacerbated if you might be not directly in line with the Television set. The Vizio was about the similar, although the Samsung was a small much better.


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The query is, can you get a very good fifty five-inch Television set for $400? The solution is indeed. But the query: Is the TCL 4-Sequence the one particular to present it? The Vizio V555 is equipped to be tweaked for a likely much better picture and has a larger-high-quality remote, but it doesn’t have as a lot of streaming solutions nor is it very as quick to use. It’s tricky to beat the Roku interface for simplicity and breadth of content. If an individual explained to me, “My mom and dad have to have a new Television set” or, “I just want a thing that appears to be like very good and is effective,” this TCL is what I would point them toward. You’ll have to have to devote far more to get a much better graphic, of system, but the 4-Sequence appears to be like much better than you’d anticipate for the selling price.