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

The TCL four-Series is so inexpensive and able you could get started to concern why there are any multithousand-dollar TVs at all. If you happen to be just on the lookout for an uncomplicated-to-use Tv with good photograph, this is an outstanding put to get started. It is ridiculously economical, offers 4K resolution in a extensive assortment of dimensions and has the identical outstanding Roku interface as that company’s megapopular streaming products.


  • Tricky to beat the price
  • Simple-to-use Roku interface

Really don’t Like

  • Low-priced-experience distant
  • Only common effectiveness
  • HDR does not seem a great deal greater than SDR

The downside is that the photograph quality is fairly common, specially if you compare it to TVs that value much more. The distant — that is, the thing you can expect to interact with most — is a bit of a letdown. And its HDR impression just isn’t appreciably greater than non-HDR, for causes I’ll protect underneath.

In both price and photograph quality, one particular of its closest competition is the Vizio V555-J. Their images looked really related in my comparison, and though the Vizio offers much more settings to enable dial in the best quality and involves a voice distant, the TCL is easier to use and greater for streaming.

On the other hand, in spite of its impression quality problems you definitely cannot forget that price. The fifty five-inch I reviewed retails for just $four hundred, and the other dimensions are similarly economical — new for 2021, the four-Series is available all the way up to 85 inches. It is straightforward, looks excellent and would make great feeling if you never need to have the bells and whistles observed on costly TVs.

Primary options and connections

The S435 is a standard 4K Tv — no extravagant extras right here like next-gen gaming benefitsnearby dimmingextensive shade gamut or tons of mild. Its best attribute, Roku’s intelligent Tv interface, is CNET’s preferred, with large icons for both streaming solutions and the television’s numerous inputs. If you happen to be buying this Tv for the reason that you’ve got made use of Roku in the past, you can expect to be proper at home right here. Its marriage of television and streamer frees up the amount of products you need to have to plug in.

The only significant variance among this and a Roku streaming machine like the Roku Express 4K Additionally is the distant itself. Myself, I’ve made use of a Roku media streamer for several years and have observed the compact tablet-formed remotes get the job done excellent. TCL’s model looks related, but feels considerably less costly and is dependent on infrared indicators — so you can expect to need to have to keep in mind to intention it at the Tv. As soon as you get made use of to how uncomplicated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth remotes are (issue wherever!), IR feels like a action back. The really hard plastic buttons also experience cheap and make a cheap-sounding click. It is one particular of the several issues that reminds you that this is a price range Tv. 


Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

You can also use Roku’s cellular application for iOS or Android, which at the really least would make putting in your numerous logins and passwords easier. The application also has voice research, a little something the TCL distant does not. This allows you just say a little something like “Tacoma FD” and it finds all the places you can stream/obtain a display or film. It is quick: As soon as you get made use of to it, you can expect 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 definitely overlook that voice distant component, which provides the price much more or significantly less in line with the Vizio V555. 

The Vizio V555 already has a Bluetooth distant with voice regulate. On the other hand, its consumer interface just isn’t pretty as welcoming as Roku’s one particular, and it does not have accessibility to as lots of streaming solutions. Notably, the V555 does not have HBO Max however, while you can stream that assistance from your cellular phone.

If you ship the TCL 24 frames for each next articles, like from a Blu-ray or motion pictures and most demonstrates on streaming, it will swap to 48 hertz. This removes the 3:2 judder so any motion in the impression is smoother and much more natural-on the lookout. This just isn’t the cleaning soap opera influence, which is even smoother but significantly less natural on the lookout. The four-Series does not have SOE, and like most price range TVs it has a sixty-hertz refresh charge, not one hundred twenty-hertz.

The fifty five-inch receives an Electricity Star ranking of $12, which is on the low (excellent) conclude as opposed to related TVs. 


Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

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

  • HDMI inputs: four (43-inch has three)
  • Composite analog inputs
  • USB port
  • Online: Wired and 802.11ac (2.four and 5GHz)
  • Antenna input
  • Headphone jack (3.5mm)
  • Optical electronic audio output
  • Speakers: two downward-going through, 8W each


The four-Series setup is intuitive and uncomplicated. You can expect to need to have a Roku account if you never have one particular already, then you can choose a several channels based on what streaming solutions you subscribe to. If you already have a Roku account, a great deal of this will be finished for you.

And what a bevy of channels you have to pick from. Mainly, if you will find a streaming assistance it is likely available on Roku (very well, ordinarily, or at least inevitably). So that implies Netflix, of course, along with HBO Max, Disney Additionally, Vudu, Amazon Primary and just about anything else you can imagine of.


Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

There are also all those four HDMI inputs on the back — so if you want to join a sport console, or numerous sport consoles, in addition a cable box and a little something else, you’ve got got the connections. The deficiency of an “input” button on the distant does experience a minor weird, while I do recognize the way of thinking of treating inputs as if they ended up yet another streaming channel. 

There are small photograph controls, while for these types of an inexpensive Tv that would seem fantastic. Out of the box the photograph was pretty correct: I just set the Tv in Motion picture mode and I was excellent to go. If you have a setup disc like Entire world of Ponder you can fantastic-tune contrast and brightness, but even all those ended up in just a click or two of appropriate on my sample.

Photo quality comparisons

I as opposed the TCL four-Series versus two TVs: the Vizio V555-J and the Samsung QN55Q60A.The Vizio V555 is a direct competitor and around ten% much more costly. The Samsung QN55Q60A is its entry-stage QLED design, but “entry-stage” is various for Samsung, and the Q60 is much more than 2 times the price of the S435. My intention was to give buyers an thought what they can get if they commit a bit much more. I related all three by means of a Monoprice 1×4 distribution amplifier and seen them facet-by-facet-by-facet.

As you’d likely assume, the Vizio and TCL are really close. The two have hugely correct hues and shade temperature out of the box. The TCL actions about ten% brighter, but even in facet-by-facet comparisons you cannot definitely tell that. The Vizio has a a bit higher contrast ratio, but again, which is really hard to tell for the reason that the variance is so slight.

It is a bit of a various story with HDR articles. The two the TCL and Vizio have a location-on shade gamut for non-HDR articles, but neither would make a great deal of a force beyond that. 1 of the issues you get with the Samsung is a broader variety of hues. So with HDR articles it looks considerably much more colorful with further, richer tones. None of these TVs have nearby dimming, so they never do a great deal in the way of dynamic assortment for HDR articles. 

Does deficiency of HDR punch make a difference when it will come to the TCL? I would say not definitely for the price, but greater HDR effectiveness is definitely one particular of the issues you can expect to get if you commit much more. If you do ship the TCL an HDR signal, it does remap it very well, so there are no blatant artifacts or serious highlight clipping (white, snow-capped peaks turning out grey, for illustration). It just does not seem a great deal greater than non-HDR materials.

Like almost all LCDs, the TCL does not seem excellent if you happen to be not sitting directly in front of it. Even sliding above a several seats on my couch, the black stage went up and the shade saturation went down. The identical was correct with the comparison TVs, while, so we are going to phone that a clean. 

There are also some uniformity problems, where various areas of the screen have various brightness concentrations. This is specially recognizable on entire-screen white or black images and is exacerbated if you happen to be not directly in line with the Tv. The Vizio was about the identical, while the Samsung was a minor greater.


Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


The concern is, can you get a excellent fifty five-inch Tv for $four hundred? The response is indeed. But the concern: Is the TCL four-Series the one particular to offer you it? The Vizio V555 is able to be tweaked for a likely greater photograph and has a higher-quality distant, but it does not have as lots of streaming options nor is it pretty as uncomplicated to use. It is really hard to beat the Roku interface for simplicity and breadth of articles. If anyone stated to me, “My moms and dads need to have a new Tv” or, “I just want a little something that looks excellent and works,” this TCL is what I’d issue them towards. You can expect to need to have to commit much more to get a greater impression, of course, but the four-Series looks greater than you’d assume for the price.

Maria J. Danford

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