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[Review] TCL 50S535: (Possibly) The Best Budget QLED 4K TV

TCL 50S535: analysis

Pros
  • 50-inch screen with 4K resolution
  • Compatible with virtual assistants (Google Assistant & Alexa)
  • Dolby Vision support
  • Wi-Fi 5 wireless connectivity
Cons
  • No Bluetooth 
  • Only one USB input


Getting a TV set with cinema-like picture quality has literally never been more affordable than it is today. With so many interesting proposals it's easy to get lost in the sea of options and technical terms. It's with that in mind that today we've taken the liberty to review the newest TCL 50S535 of the latest TCL 5 series

TCL's latest venture onto the mid-range has managed to quickly stand out when we look at its competitors by delivering some top-notch features such as a QLED display, 4K resolution, and the integration of the ever more popular Dolby Vision technology, all at an extremely adjusted price point. But, is this your next TV? Let's get on with this review to figure that out.


Index



For whom is it?


The TCL 50S535 is an excellent option for you if you're looking for a big-screen TV with a good quality image to have in a relatively spacious room - you should be at least 7 feet away from the TV to enjoy it properly -. It's not the TV we would recommend for a cramped apartment where a 32-inch model would suffice.

It's a great TV if you care about features such as a 4K resolution, Quantum dot technology, and Dolby Vision if you want to truly enjoy a cinematic experience with as close a cinematic HDR as you're going to get within this price range. 

It's also suitable for gaming thanks to its default gaming mode though if you're planning on this being your main activity and you can afford to splurge a bit more we would strongly urge you to look at the 6 series model, the recently reviewed TCL 55R635. The latter is a bit more expensive but offers gaming-centric features such as THX certification and a variable refresh rate so you don't lose any frames. 

Technical specifications


Make modelTCL 50S535
Dimensions without stand111.50 x 64.26 x 7.62 cm
Weight without stand11.79 kg
PanelQLED (50 inch)
Resolution4K UHD (3840 x 2160 pixels)
Refresh rate240 NM (Natural Motion)
HDR supportYes (HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision)
OSRoku
Sound power2 x 8W (Dolby Digital Plus)
VESA supportYes (200 x 200 mm)
Voice controlYes (Roku Search)
ConnectivityAlexa | Google Assistant 
Roku APP 
Wi-Fi 5 
RJ-45 
AV | HDMI (x4) | eARC (x1) 
USB 2.0 
Optical audio output (S / PDIF) 
3.5mm headphone output 
RF connector 
Digital tuner (ATSC / NTSC / Clear QAM)


An elegant and imposing Smart TV

TCL 50S535: 50 '' Smart TV with Roku, Alexa and Google Assistant support and 4K resolution

From a design standpoint, this Smart TV benefits from the same benefits of its peers of other sizes, standing out for its robust and elegant 
silver chassis with a brushed metal finish, with very thin side and top bezels that contribute towards creating a more immersive experience. 

Let's be real; TCL didn't really re-invent the wheel on the design of this TV but it's definitely in line with what's expected design-wise from a 2020/2021 TV set and we quite like it with its very minimalistic approach. 

Support-wise, it opts for a solid system of double legs located at both ends with easy assemby, in case you prefer to do without them to anchor it on the wall, using a compatible 200 by 200 mm VESA mount

A 4K panel ready for multimedia entertainment


Though we can appreciate a fine design it's pointless if the picture quality is deficient as it would render the device an expensive paperweight. Fortunately for us, that is not the case, and despite its very low price point TCL has made a point to deliver an impressive picture quality as many customers have been quick to point out.

Most notably, we appreciate the 4K resolution, the Quantum Dot technology that delivers a richer range of colors and - when content is available - we're happy to see that this TV packs Dolby Vision support. 

In case you don't know what Dolby Vision is, it's essentially a type of Dynamic Range support that allows the creators of content to "tell the television" through metadata how the content was meant to be seen, what the TV then does is consider it's owns specs and regulates accordingly to achieve the most faithful result to the creators intent. 

It's a noticeable difference to owning a TV with standard HDR and something that takes you one step closer to truly immersing yourself in the narrative of what you're watching. Though if we're being honest here, we lack a bit more brightness to truly make the HDR pop, it's good just not mind-blowing. 

There's also a gaming mode, which includes Natural Motion technology to achieve a refresh rate 120 Hz, it's literally half what the TCL 55R635 delivers but if you're not an avid next gen gamer that's dead set on getting the best quality visuals then it's not something you're bound to care that much about, also this TV has very low latency which is worth taking into account.

Ultimately, what this all boils down to is that the picture quality looks very good, with sharp images, vibrant colors, an interesting contrast and a lot of nuance to the images which allow us to really notice the details and that's what we truly care about.

An intelligent, complete, and intuitive software

As you probably know, the TCL 50S535 comes with Roku TV as its operating system. Frankly we appreciate it and would much rather have a consolidated OS such as Roku TV running the show then have to endure yet another attempt by a manufacturer to deliver their own take on the Smart TV OS. Seriously guys, stop it!

In the event you're not familiar with Roku TV then you should know it's basically the same OS we've seen on the Roku hardware. This means its an increadbly intuitive and fluid platform that supports most content apps such as Disney, Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime and AirPlay 2 and the likes

A couple of notable exceptions at the time of writing this review are HBO Max and Peacock, at the moment these services are not supported but you could always use a third device such as a chromecast to stream through these services.

As far as interaction goes, you can interact with your TV either through the dedicated Roku app - recommended - or through the remote control, though unlike the 6-Series this model does not come with a microphone. 

Additionally, this TV is also compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa which means you could use the latest echo smart speaker to interact with it - or any previous generation will also work - . 

What about the speakers?


When it comes to audio quality we would advise you to purchase this TV alongside a soundbar if you don't already have one, you can buy some really good ones below 100 bucks. Overall, sound quality is decent with its double 8W speakers but the base isn't very deep and the sound lacks texture to really appreciate the dialogue.

It would be a bit of a shame for a device with such a nice picture quality to not be accompanied by a similarly good sound system. Also, the TV doesn't have Bluetooth so consider that before thinking about connecting a full 5.1 audio system, to do that you'd definitely need to get a Bluetooth transmitter. 


What connectivity solutions does it integrate?


We could not finish this review without addressing the connections and ports incorporated in this equipment, starting with its compatibility with the Roku APP mobile application, to enable remote control from Android and iOS devices. 

The internet connection is provided by Wi-Fi 5 technology and the network port, RJ-45 . To connect laptops, consoles, speakers and peripherals, it has 4 HDMI outputs (not 2.0) , an AV port, a USB 2.0 input, and 3.5 mm and optical audio connectors. 

For the rest, highlight the incorporation of an RF connector for antennas and digital TV tuners: NTSC, ATSC and Clear QAM.


Verdict: Should you buy it?


Wrapping up this review of the TCL 50S535, it's clear we're looking at a TV that has managed to stand out in the market for its competitive price. Is it an overachiever? No. Is it comparable to a high-end OLED TV set? No. Is it better than most TV sets within its price range? Definietly. 

What TCL has managed to do here is deliver a TV that offers us a sharp 4K resolution, Quantum Dot technology that highlights and uncovers new colors and Dolby Vision which provide an experience that's closer to what the content creator intended, ultimately creating the go-to smartTV for most families who're not looking to break the bank on this purchase.