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TCL 3 Series 32-inch Roku TV review: A small smart TV that’s cheap

The TCL 3 series is smart and soft on your wallet

TCL 3 Series 32-inch Roku TV review
(Image: © Roku)

Our Verdict

The TCL 3 Series 32-inch Roku TV (32S327) is a good, cheap Roku TV. This set provides a comprehensive smart TV experience, but the low price reflects in its performance.

For

  • Inexpensive
  • Good for gaming
  • Roku software
  • Alexa and Google voice control

Against

  • Mediocre performance
  • Limited volume capacity
  • Lackluster design
  • No ethernet cable

TCL makes some of the best cheap TVs around. We’re talking $170 cheap, like the TCL 3 Series 32-inch Roku TV (32S327). While you sacrifice the 4K resolution found among the excellent TCL 5 Series, the smallest of the 3 Series is a highly capable, sub-$200, full-HD smart TV. 

This TCL 3 Series TV performs up to par, sounds decent and is plenty smart. Roku, one of our favorite smart TV platforms, provides a user-friendly experience and expansive library to third-party streaming providers. The included TCL 3 Series remote even sports dedicated buttons for popular services, like Netflix and Sling TV.

And if you want hands-free control, the TCL 3 Series 32-inch Roku TV (32S327) can pair with an Alexa or Google Assistant-enabled smart speaker, too. That’s more connectivity than competing TVs at this size and price currently offer.

TCL 3 Series 32-inch Roku TV (32S327) specs

Price$169.99
Screen size32 inches
Resolution1920 x 1080
HDRN/A
Refresh rate120Hz
Ports3 HDMI, 1 USB 2.0
Audio2 Channel x 5-Watt, with Dolby Digital support
Smart TV softwareRoku TV
Size28.8 x 17.1 x 3.0 inches
Weight9.3 pounds

TCL 3 Series 32-inch Roku TV (32S327) price and availability

As of this writing, the TCL 3 Series 32-inch (32S327) Roku TV retails for $169.99. The 40-inch 3 Series (40S325) costs $269.99, and the 43-inch 3 Series (43S325) goes for $319.99. The largest 3-Series model sports a 49-inch screen (49S325) and costs $389.99.

Right now, you can get the 32-inch model we tested for $149.99, or $20 off TCL’s suggested retail price, at Best Buy, Amazon and Walmart

The TCL 32-inch (32S327) Roku TV may be the smallest and least expensive option in the 3-Series lineup, but when it comes to features, it keeps up with its extended family. The device has the same 1080-pixel, full-HD resolution and 3 HDMI ports as all the larger models have. 

TCL 3 Series 32-inch Roku TV (32S327) design

The TCL 3 Series 32-inch Roku TV (32S327) is a compact 28.8 x 17.1 x 3.0 inches   well-suited for a smaller space.Although its rear casing protrudes, this doesn’t add extra bulk to the 9.3-pound set: The simple, V-shaped feet expands the casing's width to just 6.8 inches.

(Image credit: Roku)

Keep in mind that the 40S325, 432325 and 29S325 3 Series models have larger specs. We made a guide to help you choose the right TV size if you’re unsure which TCL 3 Series set works best for you. 

(Image credit: Roku)

When it comes to appearance, this TCL 3 Series TV probably won’t impress you. There’s an odd curved triangle pattern on the back, while the matte-plastic casing looks lackluster. However, the black bezel border on the front has an attractive shine.

TCL 3 Series 32-inch Roku TV (32S327) ports

As mentioned above, this TV has 3 HDMI ports. One supports an audio return channel (ARC) that lets you send a Dolby Audio signal to additional home-theater hardware, like a soundbar, with a single cable connection.

(Image credit: Roku)

The TV has a single USB-A port, an antenna port for a coaxial cable, a composite-video cable, an optical audio out and a headphone jack. The AC-power port is off to the right. 

Though an ethernet port would be a welcome addition, the TCL 3 Series TV does support dual-band, 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi to enable the set’s smart functions.

TCL 3 Series 32-inch Roku TV (32S327) performance

Based on its price and specs, I didn’t expect the TCL 3 Series 32-inch Roku TV (32S327) to perform nearly as well as the TCL 6 Series on our best TVs list. But the 1920 x 1080p resolution satisfies for the set’s size. Plus, it feels like a thorough step up from the 720p TCL 32S325 32-inch Roku TV.

(Image credit: Roku)

As Spidey hesitated on the splintering Washington Monument in Spider-Man: Homecoming, I could see his suit’s knitted texture against the marble stone. I struggled to catch the subsequent action sequence’s details, though. The picture blurred as Peter Parker propelled from the obelisk over the blades of a hovering helicopter and back through the Monument’s window. Expect clearer action and elevated performance from a 4K set, like the TCL 5 Series 55-inch Roku TV (55S405).

But his iconic red suit looked true to color throughout the sequence. The scene’s blue sky didn’t reproduce in bands, like it did in our Vizio 24-inch D-Series review, and even held up as I moved around the set, although it began to fade past 45-degree viewing angles.

These observations reflect our Tom’s Guide TV lab test, in which the TCL 32S327 reproduced 98.2% of the sRGB color gamut. That’s a bit better than the Vizio 24-inch D-Series’s 97.9%, establishing this TCL unit one of the top performers among less expensive sets.

And with a lag time of 12.3 milliseconds, the 32S327 is a viable gaming vehicle, too. Bayek’s hand-to-hand combat felt precise as I played Assassin’s Creed Origins on an Xbox One X. This set is a good option for gamers looking for a versatile unit as their console.

TCL 3 Series 32-inch Roku TV (32S327) audio

As with performance, I did not expect the TCL 3 Series 32-inch Roku TV’s audio to blow me away. It only holds dual 5-watt speakers; without a subwoofer, I was prepared for a dismal bass bump.

But Kevin MacLeod’s Fearless First thumped as I launched it on the set. The midranges sounded full, while the flute’s reedy highs remained clear on low to medium volumes. 

As I approached 75% volume, the sound began to distort. The bass gained a layer of static and the midranges absorbed the flute. Not to mention, the set didn’t seem to produce louder sound when I scaled to full volume.

You’re able to connect the TCL 32S327 to an external speaker or an entire entertainment system for an enhanced listening experience using the HDMI ARC port. The TV supports Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS, and also auto-detects the capabilities of your sound system.

TCL 3 Series 32-inch Roku TV (32S327) smart features

Setting up the TCL 3 Series 32-inch Roku TV (32S327) smarts is a painless process. You’ll just need a computer or phone nearby to verify your Roku credentials. You can add your preferred channels en masse during initial set up, or install them individually later .

Roku offers several streaming channels for free, while others – like Google Play – let you purchase or rent recent movie releases or popular TV series. More than 4,000 services such Netflix, HBO Now and Disney Plus can be accessed by signing in with existing credentials. 

Roku also uses automatic content recognition to collect information from your viewing habits on cable or connected devices to personalize your recommendations and show you more relevant ads. You can opt in or out of data collection at any time in the Roku Settings menu. Choose "Privacy," then "Smart TV experience" and uncheck ‘Use info from TV input.’

Check out our in-depth Roku user guide for more on making the most of your Roku TV experience.

Though voice assistants aren’t for everyone, I’m keen on the TCL 3 Series 32-inch Roku TV’s compatibility with Google Assistant and Alexa. While the set itself doesn’t house a microphone for fielding queries, I could say “Hey Alexa, show me rom-coms” near my Echo speaker and receive a selection of my favorite movies across Roku channels.

TCL 3 Series 32-inch Roku TV (32S327) remote control

I’ve never seen a more spare, proprietary TV remote than the TCL Roku TV’s "Easy-to-Use"’ one. It’s hierarchical, top-heavy structure is pleasing to the eye, plus the royal-blue directional pad and oblong, dedicated-streaming service buttons pop off the matte black body nicely.

(Image credit: Roku)

I like how I can call up Netflix, Sling, Hulu and Amazon Prime TV with the push of a dedicated button. But if you don’t use these services frequently, you might feel limited by the TCL 3 Series’ included remote. For $20, you can upgrade to a Roku voice remote and be able to launch content by speaking to it. 

The remote that comes in the box fared fine for testing, though. It’s small enough to use one-handed, but big enough that it shouldn’t get lost in the couch. The plastic directional pad responds quickly, even when I tried scanning content faster than I could read the show titles. The rubber-coated buttons, though, require a stern press to carry out functions.

Bottom line

TCL 3 Series 32-inch Roku TV (32S327) is a capable, full-HD, smart TV that you can get on a tight budget. For $170, and often less, you’ll have unyielded Roku access and a smart home device that cooperates with your Alexa or Google Assistant ecosystems. If you’re looking for a small, cheap, streaming TV or gaming monitor, the TCL 3 Series 32-inch Roku TV (32S327) is an excellent place to start. 

However, as the price rises for larger 3 Series variants, you might want to consider one of our best cheap 4K TVs. For example, you can find 2018’s TCL 5 Series Roku Smart 4K TV for less than $300. It’s an older model, but its performance is far from dated.