TCL Roku 55-inch 55S405 Review: Very Good 4K TV Under $400

TCL has become one of the biggest players in the TV landscape by offering great value and features for affordably priced TVs. The TCL Roku 55-inch 55S405 continues this track record with a solid feature set, basic 4K and HDR support, and Roku's popular smart-TV interface. It's not without its flaws, like mediocre backlighting and imperfect color quality, but this set is so affordable that you may not care.

TCL Roku 55-inch 55S405 Specs

Price
$369.99
Screen Size
55 inches
Resolution
3840 x 2160
HDR
HDR10
Refresh Rate
60Hz
Ports
3x HDMI, 1x USB 2.0
Audio
2 Channel x 8W
Smart TV Software
Roku
Size
49.1 x 28.5 x 3.0 inches
Weight
29.5 pounds

Design

Apart from the 55-inch screen, the 55S405 has the same look as the other S405 model we reviewed, the TCL Roku 49S405. The TV enclosure is plastic, with a glossy, black finish on the bezel surrounding the display panel and a matte finish on the back of the chassis. Measuring 49.1 x 28.5 x 3.0 inches without the stand, the 29.5-pound TV can be wall-mounted using a 200-millimeter VESA mount.

The included plastic stand is made up of two triangular feet that have a silvery metallic finish. The feet add both height and depth to the set, bringing the dimensions to 49.1 x 30.8 x 8.7 inches with the stand attached.

Ports

On the left side of the TV, you'll find most of the 55S405’'s ports: three HDMI ports (including one with ARC), a single USB 2.0 port, a coaxial connection for antenna or cable, a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack, and a Toslink optical port for digital surround sound. On the back of the set, you'll find composite video output and an Ethernet port for wired network connectivity. This TCL set is also equipped with dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

The limited number of HDMI ports is a bit of a bummer; we usually recommend shoppers look for four, but if you don't have too many devices to connect, it won't be an issue. As it is, three HDMI ports is enough for connecting a cable or satellite box, a game console, and a Blu-ray player. If you also have a soundbar or other HDMI-connected device, you'll need to swap them out manually or invest in an HDMI switcher.

We'd also like to see a second USB port, because they are often used to power streaming sticks, like the Google Chromecast. But that may be less of an issue, thanks to the robust Roku interface that TCL uses for its smart TVs.

Performance

The 55-inch display checks all the expected boxes for a budget-friendly 4K TV: Ultra HD resolution, basic HDR support and a native refresh rate of 60Hz.

In our testing, the 55S405 offered adequate color accuracy. It scored a respectable Delta-E rating of 2.2 (closer to zero is better). This is pretty much identical to the results from the slightly more expensive TCL Roku TV 55P607 (2.2), just a hair less accurate than the score of its smaller sibling, the TCL 49S405 (2.1), and again slightly less accurate than the showing from the Insignia Roku NS-55DR620NA18 (2.0). Both the TCL 49S405 and the Insignia are in the same pricing tier as the 55S405. Step to the next price level, however, and you'll see significantly better accuracy; the Vizio SmartCast E-Series E65-E0 had a Delta-E score of 1.4.

In our viewing tests, we saw some good HDR performance, with brightly glowing neon signs in Deadpool and flashlights that pierced the darkness in Arrival.

The 55S405 reproduced a fairly good 98.4 percent of the Rec. 709 color space in standard mode. This is, again, very similar to the result for the 49-inch model from the same S407 series (98.1 percent) and better than that from the 55-inch Insignia Roku TV (96 percent), but the more expensive Vizio E65-E0 (99.2) had even better color representation.

Colors also seemed slightly skewed during our hands-on viewing. Blue objects sometimes had an unwanted purple tint, an especially noticeable issue when you're viewing beach scenes, in which the blue ocean should have a slight green tint instead. Reds and yellows were a bit oversaturated as well, but nothing as egregious as the purplish blues.

Fine details were often lost to shadow, and nighttime scenes lost a lot of detail in between the bright highs and the dark blacks. In Deadpool, this meant that nighttime scenes seemed extra dark, and in a dark bar, it looked like someone had turned off some of the lights. In a different test video, aerial shots of Manhattan looked great, with sharp detail, but the shadowy streets between buildings often had less clarity than we'd like, and the busy city looked far less lively.

The TCL Roku 55S405 is a solid option for anyone looking to get a 4K TV without breaking the bank.

Black levels also came out as dark gray. This is a common problem with LED-backlit displays — the technical term is "elevated black levels" — but you'll notice it every time a dark scene is shown, or when the movie cuts to black before showing the credits.

The set offers HDR10 support, but we would like to see support for other HDR formats, like Dolby Vision, though we don't really expect it on sub-$500 4K sets. That said, HDR performance was pretty good. In our viewing tests, we saw some good HDR performance, with brightly glowing neon signs in Deadpool and flashlights that pierced the darkness in Arrival.

Backlighting was also a little uneven, with noticeable shadows in the corners that can easily be seen during normal viewing. While we tend to be forgiving of this when it's subtle, it was hard to miss on the TCL, with shadows in the corners that are starkly apparent whenever a bright background or solid color, like a blue sky, is shown.

Audio

The 55S405 has two-channel sound, with a built-in set of 8-watt speakers. They offer room-filling volume with no noticeable distortion, but the limited dynamic range did leave some sound falling flat.

MORE: Our Favorite Soundbars for Small and Big TVs

When we tested bass levels with Daft Punk's "Around the World," the thumping bass line was slightly muffled, as expected in a set with no subwoofer. If you want better audio, we recommend investing in a good, cheap soundbar.

Smart TV Features

TCL has avoided the awkward growing pains that come with trying to use a proprietary smart TV interface by using Roku's popular operating system. This is almost entirely a good thing, because Roku boasts a large app ecosystem and an easy-to-navigate menu with big, readable icons, and it has all sorts of compatibility with other services, like Plex and Sling TV. It's a very good one-size-fits-most solution, but some users may be irritated that they can't use Kodi on their Roku TV, or they may want more customization than Roku’' standard large-icon interface allows.

Remote Control

The small Roku remote is a good, basic design that prioritizes simplicity over sophistication. Where some smart TV remotes are so minimal in their design as to be inscrutable, the Roku remote is straightforward, with a large directional pad, simple action buttons for navigation to home and back, and standard media-playback controls. There are a few dedicated app buttons for Netflix, Amazon Video, HBO Now and Sling, but they're placed such that they can be easily ignored if you don't want to use them.

About the only complaint I have with the remote is that it lacks some of the more-advanced features found on the TCL 55P607, namely a microphone for voice control and an integrated headphone jack for private listening. That last one is a real boon for anyone who wants to watch movies late at night without waking a sleeping spouse or fussy baby. The good news is that these features are still available for the TV through the Roku mobile app, even if they aren't built in to the remote.

Bottom Line

The TCL Roku 55S405 is a solid option for anyone looking to get a 4K TV without breaking the bank. The set offers acceptable color quality and decent (if basic) HDR support, and the use of Roku's smart TV interface makes this set just as capable for streaming and apps as any other smart TV.

You will give up the color quality and advanced features you would get on the more expensive TCL Roku TV 55P607, but the absence of features like Dolby Vision and voice search may not be a deal breaker given that the nicer set costs nearly $800. If you're a TV buyer who values savings over premium features, the TCL Roku 55S405 is a strong option to consider.

Credit: Tom's Guide

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