TCL 5er (S535) 4K HDR TV Test | The price is correct


TCL 65 “5 series 4K UHD television

“The TCL 5 Series is well above its price”

  • Local dimming backlight with full array

  • Fixed black levels

  • Excellent backlight control

  • Extended color gamut

  • Low entry delay

  • Doesn’t get particularly bright

  • HDR isn’t impressive

  • Setup process involved

The TCL 6 series TVs get a lot of press, but what about the 5 series? Perhaps the reason it didn’t get that much attention is because it has never really been a remarkable television. Until now.

With the 5-series 4K HDR TV (S535) now packed with many of the 2019 6-series features, TCL can offer similar performance to its 6-series predecessor at a much cheaper price. Let’s see if it works.

TCL 5 Series 4K HDR TV Details (S535)

While we tested the 65-inch model S535, our test also applies to the 50-inch, 55-inch, and 75-inch models.

Screen size Model no RRP
50 inches 50S535 400 dollars
55 inches 55S535 $ 450
65 inches 65S535 $ 630
75 in 75S535 $ 1200

First impressions

Dan Baker / Digital Trends

This TV was much thinner than expected – especially for a TV with a local full array dimming backlight system. There are practically no bezels on the edge, just a thin aluminum strip on the bottom. While the TV’s plastic feet feel a little light and cheap after unpacking, their slim appearance is quite nice, and the feet can be placed in two different positions: wider towards the edges of the TV or closer to the center for a smaller footprint. Additionally, the feet offer some cable management, although we found it difficult to get more than a few HDMI cables into each cable.


TCM 5 Series HDMI Dan Baker / Digital Trends

The 5 series has four HDMI 2.0b inputs, ARC on the fourth input. The ports aren’t HDMI 2.1 capable, so you won’t get any next generation gaming features like variable refresh rate or 4K at 120Hz. But it can handle 4K up to 60Hz, which should be fine for most people. And while this TV isn’t a powerhouse for next-generation gaming, it’s still a good TV for casual gaming, especially given its low input delay of around 11ms in game mode.

The remote control and the operating system

TCL 5 Series Roku remote controlDan Baker / Digital Trends

The biggest difference in remote control between the 6 and 5 series is that you lose voice control. In terms of user experience, the Roku operating system has a “slightly updated” feel and the system now includes AirPlay and HomeKit as well. Adjustments to the picture settings, sound and other settings must be selected and adjusted separately for each input. Hence, between these settings and other mandatory software and app updates, you’ll need to be patient to get this Roku TV working.

picture quality

Let’s get to the picture, which has some admirable properties. The 5 series has very good black levels for its price, partly because of its VA panel (which unfortunately means that viewing outside of the angle is not great), but also because of its local dimming backlighting system – you can’t destroy the blacks, but still provide deep blacks and minimize all kinds of halo effects around light objects on a dark background that you may get from systems with lower backlighting.

TCL 5 seriesDan Baker / Digital Trends

Unfortunately, the backlight system of the 5 series does not offer a very high peak brightness. We hardly noticed any difference between SDR brightness and HDR peak brightness, regardless of whether we saw HDR 10 or Dolby Vision. Indeed, it could be questioned whether this should actually be called an HDR TV, given that the brightness isn’t enough to really give you the sparkling highlights of high-performance HDR. The contrast is there, but the peak brightness is not, so the HDR images don’t pop as much as other HDR TVs.

“It’s an absolutely respectable television”

The color benefits from using quantum dots, so you get a wider gamut. However, due to the lower brightness potential, you will not get a significantly increased color volume.

Overall, I think the picture quality will be an improvement over what someone could get from a midsize TV about four years ago. It’s an absolutely respectable TV, and we’d even say it beats its price.


The 5 Series is also good with movement. There’s still a tiny bit of motion blur on fast-moving objects, but it’s not very easy to spot, so it works well enough for sports content. The 5 series has a native 60 Hz panel, so that a more even movement can be achieved without avoiding the so-called “soap opera effect”.

For movie content, 24 fps content looks very smooth and there is no stuttering, which is fantastic for a TV at this price point.

Sound quality

As for sound quality, let’s put it this way: get a soundbar. There’s a lack of depth and not a lot of bass, resulting in thin sound quality. Dialogue clarity also suffers, so a soundbar would be a good idea for most people.


TCL 5 Series GamingDan Baker / Digital Trends

As mentioned earlier, this TV does not have HDMI 2.1 ports and therefore does not support variable refresh rate or other high-end features like automatic low latency mode. At 4K 60 Hz with a small input delay of 11 ms in game mode, however, casual gaming works great. The only problem – back to what we said about image quality – is that if you want to get something out of the HDR gaming experience, you’ll need a slightly brighter TV.

Our opinion

TCL 5 Series Roku TvDan Baker / Digital Trends

The TCL 5-Series is a great all-purpose TV that caters to those who aren’t very picky about HDR performance. The TV’s use of quantum dots expands the gamut of color for a rich picture, while the solid full array backlight controls provide better black levels and better reduced halo effects than almost any other TV in its price range. While it won’t get bright enough to pull off HDR impressively, most people who just want a solid TV at a reasonable price are unlikely to find a deal breaker.

Is there a better alternative?

There is only one TV that competes with the TCL 5 series in its price range and that is the Hisense H8G Quantum, which sells for roughly the same price, runs Android TV instead of Roku TV, and can get significantly brighter. The TCL, while not as bright, has better color accuracy. Otherwise, competing LG and Samsung televisions will not offer quantum dots or full array backlights and will not be able to compete in terms of black levels and backlight control.

How long it will take?

So far, TCL’s track record in terms of build quality looks pretty good. We expect the 5 Series to be the owner for many years to come.


TCL offers a one year limited warranty. You can find more information about TCL’s TV warranty here.

Should you buy it?

Yes. For those looking for a quality TV with better performance than what is usually expected for the price, the TCL 5 series is one of the best budget-friendly options out there.

If you want cheaper TV options, you can also consider the best 4K TV deals currently available.

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