Picking out a new TV is honestly a pain in the butt. It’s like choosing something from about 10,000 options. But these days, there are a few criteria that are no brainers. The first criteria is that if it’s not a smart TV you’re looking for, then you’re way behind the times. Secondly, it must have a very thin profile. Buying anything that’s thicker than 2″ max is a mistake. Finally, the price needs to be good. I’ve seen TVs that cost $5000, and I could get a comparable model that’s almost as good for about a sixth of that price.
Enter the 55S405 Model from TCL. How does $500 grab you? It has Smart TV apps, 4K resolution, HDR capability, and built in Android and Roku OS. TCL is practically giving this beautiful 55″ TV away. In fact, the TCL 55S405 could be the best TV deal anywhere on the planet.
TCL 55S405 Picture
Firstly, the TCL 55S405 is very thin, and audio is pretty good on this sucker. Now let’s get down to brass tax…the picture. The picture quality on this LED backlit LCD 4K UHD screen is gorgeous. Contrast and black levels are right on point, offering a super clear, vibrant and definitive picture. It’s also really bright and has great light absorption, so you’re not getting much reflection or glare as compared to a TV with less of these characteristics.
The 4K resolution screen is backlit with direct full array backlighting, though not with local dimming zones as seen on high end LED TVs. But that’s OK. It still looks great. Upscaling to 4K is performed by the Creative Pro upscaling engine and does a great job with most content, even standard definition. It’s not a $10,000 4k picture, but it does a pretty good job, especially for the price. HDR compatibility on the TCI 55S405 has a fairly wide color gamut, and HDR playback is decent.
From side angles, color saturation and contrast are way above average, as is the refresh rate and smoothing feature, which means that you won’t get much judder or motion blur. TCL advertises the TCL 55S405 has a 120Hz processing speed, but it’s actually a 60Hz native panel.
While the S405 doesn’t have full array direct lit backlighting that most top-end TVs have, it does have full array direct lit LED to LCD, which is an inexpensive way to get a similar effect. What’s that mean to you? It means that your wallet will thank you.
Gray scale on the TCL 55S405 is also pretty good. This means that you won’t see much clouding along the edges or corners when displaying a black or very dark screen. Bottom line is that for the price, the picture is awesome!
The picture settings menu keeps it simple. There are 5 preset picture modes: Movie, Low Power, Vivid, Normal and Sport. The Movie mode is the most natural and accurate with color temperature set to Warm. Additionally, the picture size settings for Aspect Ratio are located in the Advanced Picture Settings Menu. Options include Zoom, Stretch, Direct, Auto and Normal. One added note is that the TCI 55S405 is great for gaming, maybe not the best gaming TV out there, but way above average.
Roku has a killer Smart TV platform, perhaps the most robust of any media player. Normally the Roku 3 or Roku Premier Box would run you $75, and with the TCL 55S405, you get it built-in, so that’s a nice savings for you. You also get the same performance with the player in this TV, so you don’t lose any functionality compared to if you had a separate Roku player.
After you set up Roku, the home screen appears with the App boxes, the search function, the settings and the Channel store. The selection of Roku Apps is the best on the market with around 1800+, and includes such apps as NFL Now, Rdio, Showtime Anytime, HBO GO, Notably, TWC, Redbox Instant, Crackle, Vudu, Amazon Instant, Hulu Plus, and of course, Netflix.
Roku’s search function is also, very cool with a special feature that allows you to compare prices of shows and movies before deciding which to purchase. This is important because occasionally a show or movie may be free by one provider such as Amazon Instant with a Prime membership, and costly on another such as Hulu. In short, Roku gives you sort of a price checker for most of the content you’d like to watch. Cool!
The TCL Roku Remote is understated, but works really well and is a breeze to use. It’s speedy and the few buttons control everything. There’s also a headphone jack on the Roku remote. The audio/volume and mute buttons are located on the right side of the remote, and the picture and other menu settings are accessed from the asterisk wheel button.
There’s also dedicated buttons for Mgo, Rdio, Amazon Instant and Netflix on the remote face, and there are free Apps for iOS and Android smart phones that even contain a voice controlled search.
For the money, you can’t beat the TCL 55S405. It’s super inexpensive at right under $500, it has Smart TV apps, 4K resolution, HDR capability, and built in Android and Roku OS. It also has good audio, a great picture, and a simple but very functional remote. For the money and features, as I said, this is an opportunity to get in on a large Smart TV for the price of a much smaller television. For more information or to purchase, visit TCL here.