Recently I decided to take the plunge into the 4K TV experience. My first attempt was with the TCL 55S405 55-Inch 4K Ultra HD Roku Smart LED TV
, and I'll just say it right here and now; this was NOT a good 4K experience. There ARE some good things to say about the TV itself, but at the end of the day, I wanted high picture quality, and this TV did not deliver, at least not for what was supposed to be the next great step in High Definition, with 4K.
The one good thing I have to say is that as much as I loved the menu and navigation on my 32” TCL Roku TV
, this was even better, because while the presentation was exactly the same, the speed was lightning fast! It actually blew my mind how quickly any given app loaded, or any given stream started. I have so far never experienced that level of speed in any comparable device. Streaming the content on my local Media Server felt like the files were sitting on the TV itself, and pre-loaded or something.
To be honest, it was my love for the 32” version that convinced me to buy this TV in the first place, and my awe for how fast the system was almost convinced me to settle for what can really be called a 1080p TV posing as 4K. For about a day I even tried to convince myself that the quality wasn't too bad, that it almost looked better than my 55” LG TV.
I tried streaming various 4K videos from YouTube. I downloaded several 4K video samples from various sites to stick on a USB drive and play through the TV (I downloaded them so as to make sure there wasn't a quality loss while streaming, if my Internet connection wasn't strong enough). But the final straw came when I bought a Samsung 4K Blu-Ray player
(review on that to come), and a 4K Blu-Ray that also happened to come with a regular Blu-Ray disc.
With this new device, and the dual Blu-Ray disc types at my disposal, I decided to stage a little experiment; I setup my 2015 LG 55” 1080p TV
next to the new TCL 4K TV, a standard Blu-Ray player hooked up to the former, and the new 4K player next to the latter. To the best of my ability, I set both TVs playing the same movie as close to in sync as I could; one in 1080p, the other in 4K, and I compared, side by side (both TVs muted of course).
The end result was that, over all, both TVs look relatively the same. I'm not going to say that they were exactly identical, but the fact is that the 4K TV should have blown the 1080p TV away in terms of quality; that's the whole point of upgrading to 4K after all.
And for the record, I did try adjusting the various settings, multiple times, in an attempt get an ideal picture quality. And while those adjustments did tweak the picture quality a bit, it never rose to any level greater than that of a 1080p TV.
If this had been a few hundred dollars cheaper, and labeled as simply 1080p, it would have been a great buy. Even with me already owning a 55” 1080p TV, the Roku aspect alone would have made this a great replacement (again, had it been a few hundred dollars cheaper). But as a 4K TV? I'm afraid that this particular TV, at least, is not the way to go.
Now, to be fair, what I bought, and what I am reviewing here, was the S405 series. I see that TCL also has a P607
, and C807
series for 4K, and maybe those lines produce actual 4K quality, but I was not willing to keep trying.
My next purchase however, (once this was returned) would really show just how poor of a 4K experience this TCL (S405) was...