Updated

TCL Smart TV Platform 2016 Review
Roku TV

7.5Remote
8.0Design
9.0Usability
0Web Browser
8.0Extra Features

For those familiar with Roku's platform, you will find right at home on TCL smart TVs, Their remote and overall interface is identical to what you would find on the Roku set top boxes, with complete 4k support which is unlike most of their lineup.

Picture quality of TCL smart TVs

Smart TV OS Remote Our Reviews
FS3750 Roku Basic See review
FS3800 Roku Basic See review
US5800 Roku Basic See review
UP130 Roku Smart See review

TCL offers only budget oriented TVs in the US, and their picture quality is nothing exceptional. They’re good value, though, since next to no other manufacturers can pack all the same features at the same price point. The quality of their smart platform also aids at upping the value of the range.

See our reviews for TCL TVs

Remote Controls

The TCL Smart TVs come with a remote you would think was mistakenly placed in the box. This isn’t a bad thing, since its very comfortable and responsive. The TCL branding is impressively minimal and much like the interface, it’s a carbon copy of the ones you can find with the Roku boxes.

There are two versions of the remote, one is slightly thicker and has a 3.5mm TRS connector right onto it, so you can listen to the TV with headphones. This version also has a microphone for use with the voice search of the Roku operating system. It can be found with the UP130. The other remote, found with all the other TCL TVs is thinner and doesn't have these upgrades, it is otherwise the same. 

Don't worry, though; you don't need to buy that fancy remote to get those features. You can instead download the Roku app on Android or iOS and get all of them.The app is responsive and connects to the TV very easily. The audio lag when using the private listening feature on the phone isn't noticeable, just make sure to keep a good Wi-Fi connection to avoid any issues.

Main Interface

TCL home menu

When you first boot up the TCL smart TVs, you're greeted first with what they call the home page. Unlike most other manufacturers, TCL brings you straight to your inputs before anything else. Since the smart features are only one button press away, it's quite intuitive.

TCL menu feed

Next up is the "my feed" page. It's an easy way to browse a lot of the content available on the platform across a multitude of apps. It aggregates everything that's available for free, to buy or to rent, even if you don't have the app it originates from installed. It also allows you to follow Movies and shows and notifies you when they're available.

The search feature works much like the feed, except user-driven instead of automated. It allows you to search through all types of contents as well as find apps and channels in one go. For example: if you look for "Willis," it will find movies and shows containing that word as well as apps. Even within streaming apps like Netflix.

TCL Store

Then comes the Channel Store. This is where you'll find all the apps available on Roku, and there is quite a lot of them. All the big ones like Netflix, Amazon Video, HBO GO, and Hulu and many more are available.

Roku Remote App

One of the best features of the Roku platform is its remote app you can find on both iOS and Android. It's capable of doing all that the smart remote found with the UP130 can do and more, so it's quite fully featured.

As you can see, all the basic remote controls are available, even powering the TV on and off. You can plug in headphones to your device and listen to the TV privately through the app as well.

The app is also really great for searches and logging into apps since you can use your phone's keyboard instead of having to wrangle with the arrow keys on the remote.

Much like the smart remote, you can also use your phone's microphone for voice search. Another faster alternative to fiddling with the directional controls to input text.

USB Playback

When testing out the USB playback, an issue arose. The TV didn't seem to recognize any of the USB drives we use. After further testing with different brands, we managed to find other drives that did work, but we couldn't find a particular reason as to why our specific ADATA drives had problems.

Web Browser

Unfortunately, there is no real web browser available on the Roku system. You can get the Firefox app, but all that allows you to do is to sync with your Android phone and send videos to the TV from the Firefox browser on your phone, kind of like Google Cast.

Codec Support

H.264 (AVI, MP4, MKV) Yes
H.265 (AVI, MP4, MKV) Yes
VP9 (WebM) Yes

Conclusion

Nowadays, Roku is arguably the most mature smart platform available today. It still has some limitations, but it's one of the most intuitive and is one of the top performers.

Unfortunately, you can only find it on the TCL TVs we've tested, and those tend to be lower end models. While it would be a strong contender when compared to our favorite, WebOS 3.0, it's limited availability and lack of a web browser makes it hard to compare. Still, for budget buyers looking to get the best smart features combined with pretty good picture quality, the Roku TVs are a great choice.

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