One minute look back
The TCL 5 series (S535) is a great example of high-end technology moving from more expensive models to budget sets. In this case, this technology is QLED – quantum dots – borrowed from last year’s excellent TCL 6 series (R625) for the new 5 series.
When you first hear about it, quantum dots act like a filter between the LEDs and the screen to increase color saturation. This makes the colors look more vibrant and improves the contrast of the screen, especially when combined with a local full array dimming system.
To this end, the new TCL 5 series is the cheapest QLED TV on the market – it costs significantly less than Samsung’s QLED entry-level cost, but retains the expanded color gamut and premium appearance. With full array local dimming for better black levels and built-in Roku TVs, the 5 Series offers a number of advantages over non-smart LED LCD TVs, making it a great option for the price.
Still, the new 5 Series isn’t perfect. It may have the benefits of quantum dots, but if you don’t want to keep it in its standard vivid image mode which oversaturates the image, you’ll have to choose between color accuracy and higher peak brightness. If you don’t go for the latter, the 5 Series won’t have the brightness required to really make HDR content glow, which makes shows and movies look a bit bland compared to other TVs.
Add to that poor upscaling and lousy motion processing, and it feels like a real step down from the spectacular new TCL 6 series (R635) that are only a few hundred more.
Price and release date
While we have some image performance issues, it’s hard to get annoyed at the price of the TCL 5 series – it starts at a little over $ 400 for the 50-inch version (TCL 50S535) while the largest Size is the 75 inch version (TCL 50S535). TCL 75S535) costs just under $ 1,000.
While we don’t have any problems with the price of the TV, the TCL 5 series is rather precarious in the 2020 TCL TV series. You could potentially save $ 250 more to get the much better TCL 6 series R635, which increases screen brightness, or save $ 100 by upgrading to the non-Dolby Vision compliant TCL 4 series .
Your other option, if you’re tied to that price, is the spectacular Hisense H8G Quantum. Hisense doesn’t have the clout or name recognition of TCL, but the H8G offers many of the same features – minus the built-in Roku TV – and higher brightness of around 600 nits in HDR for about the same price.
The price for the TCL 5 series (S535) is at the lower end of the mid-range, but it certainly doesn’t look like it. With a minimal bezel and metal frame, the 5 Series should look modern and elegant in any living room.
For a number of entertainment centers, the 5 Series is available in four sizes: 50 “, 55”, 65 “and 75”. We received the 50-inch model for review, but outside of the number of dimming zones, the technical data and features remain the same.
This year, TCL added a minimalist cable management system to the back of the two hollowed-out legs that can be used to route HDMI and power cables. Unfortunately, we found that the legs couldn’t hold all four HDMI cables we ran to the TV, but people with fewer connections should be able to hide cables without too much trouble.
Speaking of cables: the 5 series offers a set of older cinch inputs and four HDMI connections, all of which are HDMI 2.0b-compatible and one eARC-capable. This last connection allows you to connect an AV receiver or soundbar system and use a remote control to control the volume and inputs – a very useful function if your home entertainment system consists of several components.
Probably the biggest flaw in the design, however, is the IR remote control that comes with the TV. Without built-in Bluetooth connectivity, it cannot be used for voice searches and always requires line of sight to the IR receiver at the bottom of the TV.
The last bit is by no means a deal breaker, and you can still use the Roku app if you want to use voice search on the TV, but the lower quality plastic IR remote is just another minor drawback compared to the minor one more expensive TCL 6 series.
Smart TV (Roku TV)
The TCL 5 series S535 uses Roku TV, an egalitarian smart TV platform with a fair and robust search function and most major streaming apps.
You can find everything from Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV and Amazon through lesser known channels like Pluto.tv, tubi, Crackle and others to new streaming services like Peacock, HBO Max, Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus, too.
With so many options, a full search comes in handy. Unlike Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV, both of which you’d prefer to stream from their additional streaming services through one of the third-party providers, Roku isn’t connected to a major streaming service, which means it isn’t. Don’t push yourself in a direction you don’t want to go.
If you’re a cable cutter you’ll love the Featured Free section on the home page, which shows you what’s available for free on the various services, and Roku’s own streaming service, The Roku Channel, which has its own collection of completely free movies offers to switch on and off every few months. These are invaluable resources for cable cutters looking to live cordless, and a great alternative to channel surfing for people who still have a box.
One nice surprise that TCL and Roku put in the TV is that they are screencast-ready – a handy feature that lets you cast content from your mobile device to your TV. This is nice when you have a group of friends and they all want their favorite YouTube clip to show up, or when you want to use your TV as a digital photo frame when family comes to visit.
The platform’s overall performance leaves much to be desired – like it took Netflix to load in a second or two – but overall speed isn’t a huge issue.
When it comes to smart assistants, Roku TV uses the Roku assistant, which is really only good for finding shows and movies. However, it does connect to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant if you want to control the TV through one of these smart home platforms.
This assistant is nowhere near as convenient as integrating Alexa or Google Assistant directly into the TV, but all in all, that’s a relatively minor complaint.
The TCL 5 series’ performance is a bit mixed. Parts of the performance, like the way the local full array dimming system keeps the black level low, is incredible, and yet the TV has a real brightness issue that keeps it from being a really great experience.
The most disadvantageous aspect of the TV’s performance is its lack of brightness, especially when watching HDR content. The maximum brightness is around 450 nits of peak brightness, which is roughly half the performance of other mid-range 4K HDR TVs.
Since the brightness is a noticeable weak point for the TCL 5 series, the color saturation is also of great importance. While the quantum dots offer a wider gamut, you won’t get the best color saturation and lose a lot of vibrancy without a brighter backlight.
Likewise, upscaling is not wonderful, which is not surprising when you consider that the 5-series uses the AIPQ processor from TCL, which we found largely unsuccessful in the upconversion of the TCL 6-series. To make matters worse, due to the lower native refresh rate of 60 Hz, the motion processing is nowhere near as good as the TCL 6 series, which is only one step higher.
What can you do about it? Well, we’ve had some success by tweaking the settings (we’ve set Action Smoothing to High and LED Motion Clarity to On), but we still found motion artifacts in quick camera pans. It’s just something you have to live with.
In terms of off-axis viewing angles, you want this TV to be all but head-on. The 5-series does a slightly better job of maintaining off-axis color saturation than some of its competitors like last year’s Vizio V-series, but more than a few degrees detracts from image fidelity significantly.
Sound is also not something to write home about. It can be waited for clear dialogue with a focus on the middle range, but lacks any twinkle in the highs or real rumble in the bass. It’s fine, but a soundbar is definitely recommended.
If the 5 Series has a silver lining, it only has an 11ms delay and a game mode that turns on automatically when you turn on a video game. Combined, these two features certainly make games feel more responsive – which we can confirm after several hours of intense UFC 3 gaming in the 5 Series – but without HDMI 2.1 and / or 120 Hz support, it really is not a good solution for Xbox Series X or PS5 games.
Finally, the 5 Series offers Dolby Vision support and Dolby Atmos passthrough. The former allows the TV to access the highest quality content through streaming services, while the latter can route spatial audio to your soundbar without a dedicated streaming player.
Both are routinely found on more expensive TVs, but finding them here at this price point feels like a real hidden treasure.
Should You Buy the TCL 5 Series (S535)?
Buy it when …
You want an affordable and easy-to-use smart TV
Roku TV is one of the big highlights of the TCL 5 series. It’s incredibly easy to use, pretty comprehensive in terms of the apps available on it, and has a free streaming service built right in if you want to cut the cable.
You are curious about Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos
The TCL 5-Series S535 is currently one of the cheapest Dolby Vision televisions available and can even transmit Dolby Atmos audio via the eARC HDMI port. If you’ve been curious about these technologies and don’t want to spend a lot of money to try them out, the 5 Series is the cheapest ticket in town.
Don’t buy it if …
You are a stickler for perfect colors and high brightness
The 5 Series is by no means boring, but with only 450 nits of peak brightness, it doesn’t touch the 1,000 nits of peak brightness required for the best HDR performance.
You’re buying a new television for the Xbox Series X or PS5
Since it only has a native refresh rate of 60Hz and uses HDMI 2.0 ports, if you want to get the maximum performance from the PS5 and Xbox X Series, there is no way you should buy this TV. Instead, look for a 120 Hz, HDMI 2.1 TV – like the LG CX OLED, the Vizio OLED, or the Sony X900H – instead.
Source link : https://www.techradar.com/reviews/tcl-5-series-2020-qled-tv/