Should you buy the TCL 4-Series? If you’re in the market for a cheap LCD TV and want to know you’re getting a modicum of quality, you may well have your eye on this budget set from the Chinese electronics maker.
While you’ll want to opt for the 5-Series QLED or 6-Series QLED for a step up in picture quality – with their quantum dot upgrades improving color and contrast – the 4-Series undercuts both on price and may just be the entry-level screen that you’re after. (On the other hand, the even cheaper TCL 3-Series might be a good choice for those after one of the best small TVs.)
TCL has good form for aggressive pricing that often brings mid-range or even premium features within reach of smaller budgets – and the inclusion of the Roku platform is very notable on such a value TV.
But what sacrifices will you have to make at this price, and is the overall package worth it? Here’s everything you need to know about the TCL 4-Series TV.
TCL 4-Series pricing and availability
The TCL 4-Series is a budget set, starting at just $289 for a 43-inch size (43S435), and $349 for a 50-inch size (50S435) – going up to $399 for a 55-inch model (55S435) and $799 for a 75-inch option (75S435).
You’ll notice that’s quite a big uptick for its largest size – almost twice the price – and in general we advise against getting truly budget screens at such massive sizes, as it’s a lot harder to make a 75-inch 4K TV look good with a cheap processor than it is a 32-inch screen.
By comparison, the TCL 5-Series QLED starts at $499 for a 50-inch size, showing a significant uptick in price.
It may be worth looking out for the older TCL 5-Series (2018), though, where you can still find it. It ships without QLED panel tech but is on a par with the 4-Series pricing, starting at $299 for a 43-inch model, and featuring an interim 65-inch size for $569.
Rtings reports that the 2019 4-Series model has “somewhat low input lag, which is great for video games, and delivers a little crisper motion thanks to the faster response time,” but that the 2018 5-Series “can get brighter” and displays “a wider color gamut, which helps HDR performance.”
TCL 4-Series specs and features
Before you buy, though, it’d be good to know what you’re getting for the money! The TCL 4-Series does pack in 4K resolution across all sizing options, as well as basic HDR support (meaning the HDR10 standard) and the HLG SDR/HDR broadcast standard.
The main draw is the Roku TV platform, which offers expansive app support with the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Spotify, YouTube, Apple TV Plus, Disney Plus, and more – as well as the Roku Channel with thousands of hours of free television content. The Roku OS is a real joy compared to many basic, proprietary platforms often found on cheap sets, and there’s a reason you’ll find it on TCL TVs, Hisense TVs, and Roku streaming sticks alike.
The TCL 4-Series also comes with Apple AirPlay support for casting from Apple devices, and compatibility with the Siri, Alexa and Google voice assistants when connected to other smart devices.
You’re getting three HDMI ports, with one that support ARC (audio return channel), which means it can passthrough audio from the TV to a soundbar and be controlled by the TV’s remote. Wi-Fi is supported too.
The 4-Series packs in a total 16W audio output (x2 8W speakers), which is decent for a television of this price (cheap TVs often cap out at 10W).
Should I buy the TCL 4-Series TV?
The TCL 4-Series is a cheap TV that ticks the main boxes for a television of 40 inches and above: 4K resolution, basic HDR support, and some voice assistant smarts.
The Roku TV platform is one big advantage for this set, though it’s worth noting that a Roku Express streaming stick will only set you back around $30 – meaning it may be cheaper to get a plug-in dongle rather than purchase a whole new television if you only want a better platform.
You don’t have to pay too much more to get a decent uptick in picture quality either, with the 5-Series QLED still offering relatively good value. If you’re sticking to a 43-inch size, though, or don’t have the cash for a QLED model, then the 4-Series should meet your needs a cheap, small TV with the basic specifications expected of a 4K TV today. Just don’t expect anything too impressive from the picture.