The TCL Roku 49S405 is a modestly priced TV that nonetheless manages to deliver good quality for it's entry-level price. The 49-inch 4K TV offers high-dynamic range (HDR) support, decent sound and Roku's excellent smart TV platform. It even has short lag time for better gaming.
While it could do with an extra HDMI port and better backlight, the fact is that the TCL Roku 49S405 offers some pretty great performance and features that belie its affordable price. If you want to get a 4K smart TV without breaking the bank, you should consider this set: It is one of the best TVs under $500 on the market, replacing the Insignia Roku TV 4K Ultra HD 55-Inch (NS-55DR620NA18) as our budget pick for 4K TVs.
TCL Roku 49-inch 49S405 Specs
3840 x 2160
3x HDMI, 1x USB 2.0
2 Channel x 8W
Smart TV Software
43.7 x 27.3 x 3.0 inches
The 49-inch set has the same basic design as all of the models in TCL's S-Series, with glossy, black-plastic bezels and a matte-black cabinet for all of the TV's internals. The set measures 43.7 x 27.3 x 3.0 inches without the stand and weighs a manageable 24.9 pounds. Hanging it on a wall or attaching the TV to an adjustable arm stand can be done with a 200-millimeter VESA mount.
The TCL Roku 49S405 does come with its own stand, consisting of a pair of triangular plastic feet. They attach easily with a screwdriver, and when attached, they make the total depth of the set 8.5 inches.
On the left-hand side of the chassis, you'll find most of the TCL's connections. There are three HDMI ports, including one with ARC support for use with external audio without the need for a separate receiver. You'll also find a coaxial connector for antenna, a single USB 2.0 port and a digital audio port.
On the rear panel, you'll find inputs for composite video and sound. The set has built-in 802.11 Wi-Fi, but there's also an Ethernet port if you'd rather opt for a wired connection.
While the selection of ports and connections is adequate, we were hoping to find a fourth HDMI port. When you connect a Blu-ray player, game console and soundbar, you'll find yourself out of ports, so you may want to invest in a cheap HDMI switcher. We'd also like to see another USB port, both for powering dongles and streaming sticks, like the Google Chromecast, and for connecting your own storage to view saved media files.
The TCL Roku 49S405 is an Ultra HD set with HDR support, but beyond the 3840 x 2160 resolution, it keeps things basic, with support for HDR10 but no other HDR formats (like Dolby Vision or Technicolor HDR). It also lists "120Hz CMI," which refers to TCL's Clear Motion Index, but that's only an effective refresh rate achieved through processing to make the picture look smoother. The panel itself has a basic refresh rate of 60Hz, which isn't a surprise in this price range.
The color accuracy really came through in scenes with faces. In Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds' face looked true to life.
In our testing, the 49S405 offered better-than-average color accuracy for sets in the sub-$500 price range, with a Delta-E score of 2.1 (closer to zero is better). That's better than we saw on either the TCL Roku 43-inch 43S403 (2.8) or the Hisense 43H6D (2.4), and significantly better than most sets in our roundup of inexpensive 4K TVs, where we saw accuracy scores ranging as high 5.5.
That accuracy really came through in scenes with faces. In romantic conversations in Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds' face looked true to life, while he looked appropriately ill in later scenes that showed him stricken with cancer. On lesser sets, it can be more difficult to tell a grey- or yellow-tinged healthy face from an intentional sickly pallor.
Vibrant colors also looked good, from the bright blue skies and orange flames of Mad Max: Fury Road to the giant fighting robots of the Power Rangers movie. However, in our testing, the panel reproduced only 96 percent of the Rec. 709 color space. We generally like to see results closer to 100 percent, if not higher.
The edge-lit panel had some trouble with backlight consistency. When I viewed a single-color test screen, it was easy to see that the corners were darker than the rest of the picture, though the difference was subtle.
The TCL Roku 49S405 also had issues with flaring in dark scenes. When I viewed the interior of the alien ship in Arrival, the frequent high-contrast scenes had unwanted halos around brightly lit images, and the darker parts of an image were over-illuminated.
The TCL Roku 49S405 offers nice, short lag times in Game Mode, with a response time of just 15.1 milliseconds.
HDR did make some of these scenes look better, but the inconsistencies in backlight muted the wow-factor often seen when using HDR on more-expensive sets. In Arrival, a shot of a glow stick in a dark cavern didn't have the same vibrant glow that we've seen on more-premium sets that boast full-array backlight with dimming or the pixel-by-pixel lighting of OLED sets.
The TCL Roku 49S405 does offer nice, short lag times in Game Mode, with a response time of just 15.1 milliseconds. That makes this set a pretty good choice for anyone who wants a reasonably priced TV for 4K gaming.
The 49S405 has two-channel audio, with a pair of 8-watt speakers driving all of the sound. Unlike with the smaller 43S403, the audio on the TCL Roku 49S405 had no significant distortion except at the very top volume; everything under 80 percent volume sounded quite clear.
Bass levels were predictably anemic at lower volume, but once the volume came up, the built-in speakers provided a surprisingly good thump for a low-end TV.
TCL's decision to use the Roku platform for this set's smart functions makes it easy to navigate apps and streaming channels. Whether you're jumping from one streaming app to another or switching between your Blu-ray player and OTA antenna, Roku's accessible interface makes the process simple. There are no submenus to get lost in, and getting back to the home screen is as simple as pressing the home button.
Roku has repeatedly impressed us with both the simplicity of its interface and its wealth of streaming services and content channels. You'll get popular standards like Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu and Google Play. Roku also offers streaming channels from major networks (CBS, Fox, CW, etc.) and premium channels (HBO, Starz, Showtime), and supports Sling TV. It's a mix of free and paid options, with lots of channels and apps to wade through, but the sheer amount of content is impressive.
Initial setup is also pretty painless. You'll need to sign in to your home Wi-Fi and then sign in to your Roku account. If this is your first time using Roku, the system points you to a new-account-creation page to visit on your phone or laptop, which will walk you through the first-time setup.
Roku has repeatedly impressed us with both the simplicity of its interface and its wealth of streaming services and content channels.
The remote bundled with the TCL Roku 49S405 is nicely laid out, with a large directional pad for easy navigation; clearly marked buttons for Home, Back, Restart and Settings; basic media-playback controls; and dedicated buttons for Netflix, Amazon, CBS News and Sling TV.
We do wish that the included remote were the same advanced model that comes with the TCL Roku TV 55P607, because that version includes handy features like voice search and a mini jack that lets you use headphones directly from the remote. But even without those features, the Roku remote is still pretty great.
The TCL Roku 49S405 has something for just about everyone. It's a 4K TV with HDR support and solid overall performance, and its price won't break the bank. The Roku smart TV functions are great for cord cutters and movie lovers alike, and short lag times make this set a good choice for gamers, too. The addition of HDR support and great performance means this set replaces the 55-Inch Insignia Roku TV (NS-55DR620NA18) as our top pick for budget-friendly 4K.
While we wish it had more ports and better backlighting, these are small compromises to make for the affordable sub-$500 price. If you're looking for an inexpensive TV but still want smart features and 4K picture, the TCL Roku 49S405 is a good choice, doing the job quite well.
Credit: Tom's Guide