The TCL 55 inch TV is one Roku TV I’ve been looking forward to checking out. Our TCL 55S425 review unit is one of the most affordable 4K TV that TCL has ever made, and in smaller sizes, it sells for prices that are very affordable than most bargain-level 1080p smart TVs out there.
But there’s a lot more to this TCL 55 inch TV, from the robust Roku TV experience to speedy response times, that will be a sure win for gamers on a budget. Yes, the TCL 55S425 isn’t all perfect, it has some issues, like flawed motion handling and middling HDR performance, but on the whole, it’s a very good 4K TV for a very reasonable price. Read our full TCL 55 inch TV Review to see why it earns a place on our best cheap 4K TVs list.
TCL 55S425 SPECS
|3,840 by 2,160
|Composite, HDMI, RF, USB
|Input Lag (Game Mode)
The TCL 55 inch TV is part of the TCL 4-series that’s inherently the company’s entry-level 4K line, meaning all sets in this family are a bit chunkier than the premium 6-Series line. The 55S425 is flat, with glossy black plastic bezels that are much wider than its pricier siblings, like the TCL 55R617 that sports a more stylish design and a gunmetal frame.
It’s not much thicker than the 6-Series, measuring just over three inches at the bottom half, from where it bulges significantly from the curved, two-inch depth of the top half. There is a small strip of textured black plastic on the bottom bezel that adds some visual flair, alongside silver TCL and Roku TV logos in the center and right corner.
All ports are located on the right side, except for the power cord that sits on the left side of the back of the TV. The available ports include three HDMI ports, one USB port, an Ethernet port, an antenna/cable connection, optical and 3.5mm audio outputs, and a 3.5mm composite video input that can be used alongside the included 3.5 mm-to-composite-RCA dongle.
Above the ports, there is a small reset button and the only other control available is a single multifunction Power button – located behind the infrared receiver under the middle of the bottom bezel.
Roku TV & Remote
The included Roku TV remote is a standard, infrared-only model. You should not confuse it with the high-end microphone-equipped Enhanced Roku TV remote that allows you to use Roku’s voice search features. This one is a small plastic wand with curved ends and a distinct direction pad. The Roku app for Android and iOS lets you use voice search if you wish, though Roku’s functions are still limited compared to Amazon Alexa that’s found on amazon Fire TV, Google Assistant on Android TV devices, and Siri on the Apple TV.
With the Roku TV platform, the TCL 55S425 can access a wide range of streaming services. The major players here include Amazon Prime Video, DirecTV Now, Google Play Movies & TV, Hulu, Netflix, Vue, Sling, Vudu, and YouTube. As expected, Apple is missing from the list and Google Music isn’t also available, but you still have Amazon Music, Pandora, Spotify, and many other streaming services.
Many other satellite providers have Roku apps that allow you access to their VOD libraries and even TV directly via the TV, without necessarily connecting a set-top box. In case you don’t want to subscribe to any service, the Roku Channel features its own library of free movies and TV shows.
This TCL 55 inch TV checks all the expected boxes for a budget-friendly 4K TV: Ultra HD resolution, basic support for HDR, and a native refresh rate of 60Hz. It offers adequate color accuracy that easily matches that of the slightly expensive TCL 55R625, making it a worthwhile budget TV. It can display 4K high dynamic range (HDR) content in HDR 10, but it doesn’t support Dolby Vision or other HDR content types.
The TCL 55S425 doesn’t stand out when it comes to brightness, even in Bright (HDR) mode with the backlight turned up; it maxes out at 244.05cd/m2, which is half the 488. 01cd/m2 peak brightness on the 6-series. Again, it lacks local dimming that’s available on the 6-series, and its Dynamic Contrast settings can only brighten or dim the entire screen simultaneously.
When watching BBC’s Planet Earth II, the scenes look great though you can easily notice the TV’s dimmer screen and smaller color range as compared to the 6-Series or more expensive sets like LG’S OLED55C9PUA or Samsung’s QN55Q70RAFXZA. Still, the trees and blue greens in the “Islands” episode look clear and natural, though fine textures like fur and bark are crisp when well-lit. That said, shadows become a bit blurry and the fairly dim screen doesn’t look quite as lifelike as they do on brighter panels.
Input lag is the amount of time it takes for a display to update after receiving a signal, and this is one of the few areas in which the 55S425 puts forward a modest score. The HDTV showed an input lag of 32.4 milliseconds, which is better than most budget sets we’ve reviewed.
If you enable Game Mode, the input lag improves at a slight cost of picture quality, dropping to an excellent 15.3 ms. For watching HD movies and videos, this is about the best 4K performance you can get on a budget TV.
TCL 55 inch TV Review: Verdict
The TCL 55 inch TV (55S425, 2019 Model) is a solid option for anyone looking to nab a 4K TV without breaking the bank. The set offers acceptable color quality and decent (albeit) HDR support, and the integration of Roku’s Smart TV interface makes this set just as capable of media streaming and apps as any other smart TV out there.
You’ll give up the color quality and advanced features you would get on the more expensive TCL 55R625 6-Series, but the lack of features like Dolby Vision and voice search may not be a deal breaker given that the nicer set costs almost twice as much.
Is there a better alternative?
The TCL 55S425 in this review was released in 2019, and at that time, it was one of the best 4K TVs you’d buy for under $500. However, since then the TCL 4-Series has been updated each year with better hardware and competitive prices than ever before. In fact, most of TCL’s affordable TVs have dominated our top pick picks across different price points.
Again, it’s our tradition not to recommend any gadget that’s over two years, and for that reason, we will not be recommending the TCL 55S425 as a great buy in 2022; not when there are better budget 4K TVs will sleeker design and rock-bottom prices. That’s not to mean this TCL 55 inch TV is bad; not in any way, only that it has been overtaken by events and we now have newer, better sets in the market.
For this year, I will recommend the TCL 4-Series 55S455 (2022 model). This newer model boasts a 4K display with a full 3840 x 2160 resolution with backlighting and HDR (high dynamic range) support. The result is a fairly good viewing experience and even better picture and color quality than you’d expect at this price range.
On the other hand, if you’re not a fan of Roku TV smart platform, the Hisense 58U6HF is yet another excellent 4K TV released in 2022, too. The Hisense 58U6HF features a quantum-dot, full-array display that delivers incredible contrast and rich, accurate color production – among the best we’ve seen in this price range. Its built-in Fire TV software is a great choice for everyday streaming, and it packs a surprising amount of gamer-friendly features for the money.
Should you buy it?
Maybe, but there are more recent alternatives. If you’re in the market for an affordable, 55-inch 4K TV, TCL offers better alternatives and you can choose from your preferred smart TV platform. Both the TCL 55S455 and Hisense 58U6HF are excellent 4K TVs you can buy out there.
The TCL 55S425 is a solid option for anyone looking to nab a 4K Roku Smart TV without breaking the bank, but still enjoy high quality picture
- Affordable 4H TV with HDR
- Solid Roku TV experience
- No local dimming