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TCL 3 Series 2020 TV Review

Tested using Methodology v1.5
Reviewed Oct 29, 2020 at 10:23 am
TCL 3 Series 2020 Picture
5.2
Mixed Usage
Value for price beaten by
: Hisense H4F
4.4
Movies
Value for price beaten by
: none
5.6
TV Shows
Value for price beaten by
: Hisense H4F
6.6
Sports
Value for price beaten by
: Hisense H4F
5.9
Video Games
Value for price beaten by
: Hisense H4F
4.1
HDR Movies
3.5
HDR Gaming
6.0
PC Monitor
Value for price beaten by
: Hisense H4F
Type LED
Sub-Type
VA
Resolution 720p

The TCL 3 Series is a very basic 720p TV with poor overall performance. The built-in Roku TV is easy-to-use and there's a large selection of apps available to download, so you don't have to worry about buying an external box for streaming. It has a VA panel that provides a great contrast ratio, but the narrow viewing angles make the image look too bright when viewing off-center. The 32S330, also known as the 32S331 at Walmart, displays 480p and 720p content well and can display chroma 4:4:4 if you want to use it as a computer monitor. It has a decent response time, but its input lag may be too high for some gamers. As expected from a TV in this price range, it's limited on extra features and doesn't support HDR.

Our Verdict

5.2 Mixed Usage

The TCL 3 Series is a poor all-around TV. It's limited to a 720p resolution, so it's only suitable for watching cable TV or DVDs. It displays deep blacks if you want to watch content in dark rooms, but it has narrow viewing angles that make the image look inaccurate when viewing from the side. It has a decent response time but its input lag may be too high for some gamers.

Pros
  • Great native contrast.
  • Decent reflection handling.
  • Decent response time.
Cons
  • Limited to a 720p resolution.
  • Doesn't get bright.
  • Narrow viewing angles.
  • Fairly high input lag for gaming.
4.4 Movies

The TCL 3 Series is poor for watching movies. Its great contrast ratio helps it display deep blacks, but it has poor black uniformity. It's limited to a 720p resolution, so it's not suitable for watching high-resolution content, such as from Blu-rays.

Pros
  • Great native contrast.
Cons
  • Limited to a 720p resolution.
  • No local dimming.
5.6 TV Shows

The TCL 3 Series is sub-par for watching TV shows. It has decent reflection handling, but it doesn't get bright enough to combat glare in well-lit environments. It also has narrow viewing angles, and the image loses accuracy when you view it from the side. Luckily, it displays 720p content well.

Pros
  • Decent reflection handling.
Cons
  • Limited to a 720p resolution.
  • Doesn't get bright.
  • Narrow viewing angles.
6.6 Sports

The TCL 3 Series is okay for watching sports. It has a decent response time that makes fast-moving content look fairly smooth. It has decent reflection handling but doesn't get bright enough to battle glare. It displays 720p content, such as from cable TV, well.

Pros
  • Decent reflection handling.
  • Decent response time.
Cons
  • Limited to a 720p resolution.
  • Doesn't get bright.
  • Narrow viewing angles.
5.9 Video Games

The TCL 3 Series is disappointing for gaming. It has a decent response time but its input lag may be too high for reaction-based games. Also, the 720p resolution is too low for most modern games. Luckily, it displays deep blacks if you want to game in dark rooms.

Pros
  • Great native contrast.
  • Decent response time.
Cons
  • Limited to a 720p resolution.
  • No local dimming.
  • Fairly high input lag for gaming.
4.1 HDR Movies

The TCL 3 Series doesn't support HDR.

3.5 HDR Gaming

The TCL 3 Series doesn't support HDR.

6.0 PC Monitor

The TCL 3 Series isn't bad to use as a PC monitor. It displays chroma 4:4:4 and has a fairly low input lag that should be good enough for computer use. However, its 720p resolution may be too low for some.

Pros
  • Decent reflection handling.
  • Displays chroma 4:4:4.
Cons
  • Limited to a 720p resolution.
  • Doesn't get bright.
  • Narrow viewing angles.
  • 5.2 Mixed Usage
  • 4.4 Movies
  • 5.6 TV Shows
  • 6.6 Sports
  • 5.9 Video Games
  • 4.1 HDR Movies
  • 3.5 HDR Gaming
  • 6.0 PC Monitor

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The TCL 3 Series is the entry-level TV in TCL's 2020 lineup. It replaces the TCL 3 Series 2019 and there are two versions of it: the 32S335 has Roku TV and the 32S330 has Android TV. There aren't many options available in this size but its main competitors are the Hisense H4G and the Konka H3.

Design
6.5
Design
Style
Curved No

The TCL 3 Series has a simple design that looks very similar to the TCL 3 Series 2019, except the back is different. It has fairly thick bezels that are made out of glossy plastic, and the overall build feels cheap.

Design
Stand

The plastic stand is almost as wide as the TV itself and supports it well. However, there's still some wobble.

Footprint of the 32" inch TV: 24.6" x 7.3".

Design
Back
Wall Mount VESA 100x100

The back of this TV is slightly different from the TCL 3 Series 2019 as the inputs are placed in the center. The top portion is made out of metal while cheap plastic makes up the bottom part and where the inputs are. Sadly, there's no cable management.

Design
Borders
Borders 0.55" (1.4 cm)

The TCL 3 Series has fairly thick, glossy borders, but they shouldn't be too distracting.

Design
Thickness
Max Thickness 2.91" (7.4 cm)

This TV is fairly thick, but it shouldn't stick out much when wall-mounted.

5.5
Design
Build Quality

This TV has a disappointing build quality, and the overall build feels cheap. The plastic around the inputs flexes easily, and you can see the components through the air vents. The metal on the back feels cheap and weak. You can actually twist the TV quite easily, which can be a problem when you're holding it during setup.

Picture Quality
8.1
Picture Quality
Contrast
Native Contrast
3333 : 1
Contrast with local dimming
N/A

This TV has a VA panel with a great contrast ratio and displays deep blacks. Note that contrast may vary between units.

0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming
Local Dimming
No
Backlight
Direct

This TV doesn't have a local dimming feature. The video above is provided for reference only.

4.3
Picture Quality
SDR Peak Brightness
SDR Real Scene Peak Brightness
155 cd/m²
SDR Peak 2% Window
131 cd/m²
SDR Peak 10% Window
182 cd/m²
SDR Peak 25% Window
182 cd/m²
SDR Peak 50% Window
182 cd/m²
SDR Peak 100% Window
182 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 2% Window
131 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 10% Window
182 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 25% Window
182 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 50% Window
182 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 100% Window
181 cd/m²
SDR ABL
0.024

The SDR peak brightness is poor and it doesn't get bright enough to combat glare in well-lit rooms. Its brightness remains consistent for the most part, except small highlights are dimmer due to the TV's frame dimming.

We measured peak brightness in the 'Movie' Picture Mode with Color Temperature set to 'Warm'. You can achieve a brighter, but less accurate, image in the 'Vivid' Picture Mode.

0
Picture Quality
HDR Peak Brightness
HDR Real Scene Peak Brightness
N/A
HDR Peak 2% Window
N/A
HDR Peak 10% Window
N/A
HDR Peak 25% Window
N/A
HDR Peak 50% Window
N/A
HDR Peak 100% Window
N/A
HDR Sustained 2% Window
N/A
HDR Sustained 10% Window
N/A
HDR Sustained 25% Window
N/A
HDR Sustained 50% Window
N/A
HDR Sustained 100% Window
N/A
HDR ABL
N/A

This TV doesn't support HDR.

6.0
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
5.998 %
50% DSE
0.234 %
5% Std. Dev.
1.787 %
5% DSE
0.110 %

This TV has mediocre gray uniformity, but this may vary between units. The corners of the screen are noticeably darker and there's backlight bleed at the edges. There's also dirty screen effect in the center, which could be distracting during sports. Uniformity in the center is better in near-dark scenes, but there's still backlight bleed along the edges.

6.7
Picture Quality
Viewing Angle
Color Washout
67 °
Color Shift
26 °
Brightness Loss
68 °
Black Level Raise
12 °
Gamma Shift
12 °

As expected from most VA panels, this TV has narrow viewing angles, so you don't get an accurate image when viewing from the side. It scores higher than it actually looks because it retains its brightness and color at wide viewing angles, but the gamma and black levels quickly rise as you move off-center, causing the image to look a lot brighter than it should be.

5.4
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
2.412 %
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
N/A

The black uniformity is poor, but this may vary between units. The entire screen looks blue and there's backlight bleed along the edges. However, there isn't much blooming around bright objects.

7.4
Picture Quality
Reflections
Screen Finish
Semi-gloss
Total Reflections
5.2 %
Indirect Reflections
0.5 %
Calculated Direct Reflections
4.7 %

This TV has decent reflection handling. It performs well in moderately-lit rooms but may struggle a bit if you place it opposite a window.

3.7
Picture Quality
Pre Calibration
White Balance dE
7.32
Color dE
4.80
Gamma
1.99
Color Temperature
7502 K
Picture Mode
Movie
Color Temp Setting
Warm
Gamma Setting
Setting Not Available

This TV has bad out-of-the-box accuracy. White balance is very off and most colors are inaccurate. The color temperate is cold, giving the image a blueish tint. Gamma seems to follow a target of 2.0 instead of 2.2, and there's no setting to change it. However, color accuracy may vary between units.

3.7
Picture Quality
Post Calibration
White Balance dE
7.32
Color dE
4.80
Gamma
1.99
Color Temperature
7502 K
White Balance Calibration
No
Color Calibration
No
Auto-Calibration Function
No

There's no way to calibrate this TV, so sadly, our unit has bad color accuracy.

You can see our recommended settings here.

7.5
Picture Quality
480p Input

The TCL 32S335 upscales 480p content, such as from DVDs, well. However, it doesn't show 4:3 content very well and stretches the image.

7.5
Picture Quality
720p Input

This TV's native resolution is 768p, so it doesn't upscale 720p content perfectly. However, it looks good and shouldn't be much of an issue.

0
Picture Quality
1080p Input

This TV accepts and displays a 1080p signal, but it's not true 1080p since the resolution is limited to 768p.

0
Picture Quality
4k Input

This TV can't display a 4k signal.

0
Picture Quality
8k Input

This TV doesn't support an 8k signal.

Picture Quality
Pixels

This TV has an uncommon horizontal pixel structure, similar to the one on the TCL S Series/S305 2018.

5.9
Picture Quality
Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
No
DCI P3 xy
64.12 %
DCI P3 uv
72.36 %
Rec 2020 xy
46.16 %
Rec 2020 uv
53.12 %

This TV doesn't support HDR and can't display a wide color gamut for HDR content, but it should be good enough for SDR content.

5.4
Picture Quality
Color Volume
Normalized DCI P3 Coverage ITP
62.9 %
10,000 cd/m² DCI P3 Coverage ITP
18.7 %
Normalized Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
45.7 %
10,000 cd/m² Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
13.5 %

This TV has a poor color volume, mainly due to the lack of a wide color gamut. It doesn't display a wide range of colors at different luminance levels.

6.1
Picture Quality
Gradient
Color Depth
8 Bit
Red (Std. Dev.)
0.133 dE
Green (Std. Dev.)
0.192 dE
Blue (Std. Dev.)
0.134 dE
Gray (Std. Dev.)
0.345 dE

This TV has an 8-bit panel, and the gradient handling is mediocre. There's noticeable banding in the dark greens and grays, and some in the reds and blues. Unfortunately, there's no setting to improve gradient handling.

10
Picture Quality
Temporary Image Retention
IR after 0 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 2 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 4 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 6 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 8 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 10 min recovery
0.00 %

There are no signs of image retention, but this may vary between units.

10
Picture Quality
Permanent Burn-In Risk
Permanent Burn-In Risk
No

We don't expect VA panels to experience permanent image retention, as the VA panel in our long-term test appears immune.

Motion
7.3
Motion
Response Time
80% Response Time
5.8 ms
100% Response Time
16.0 ms

This TV has a decent response time, but you may notice motion blur with fast-moving content. The overshoot in dark transitions may lead to motion artifacts in dark scenes.

4.7
Motion
Flicker-Free
Flicker-Free
No
PWM Dimming Frequency
180 Hz

This TV has a flicker-free backlight when its backlight is set to max, but it uses Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) to dim its backlight at any level below max. It flickers at 180Hz and may create some image duplication.

4.6
Motion
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
Optional BFI
No
Min Flicker for 60 fps
180 Hz
60 Hz for 60 fps
No
120 Hz for 120 fps
N/A
Min Flicker for 60 fps in Game Mode
180 Hz

This TV doesn't have a Black Frame Insertion feature. You can make it flicker at 180Hz at any backlight level below its max.

Motion
Motion Interpolation
Motion Interpolation (30 fps)
No
Motion Interpolation (60 fps)
No

This TV doesn't have a motion interpolation feature.

7.9
Motion
Stutter
Frame Hold Time @ 24 fps
25.7 ms
Frame Hold Time @ 60 fps
0.7 ms

Due to the TV's slow response time, there's not much stutter with lower-frame rate content.

5.6
Motion
24p Judder
Judder-Free 24p
Yes
Judder-Free 24p via 60p
No
Judder-Free 24p via 60i
No
Judder-Free 24p via Native Apps
No

It automatically removes judder from native 24p sources, such as a DVD, but there aren't any settings to remove it from native apps.

0
Motion
Variable Refresh Rate
Native Refresh Rate
60 Hz
Variable Refresh Rate
No
HDMI Forum VRR
No
FreeSync
No
G-SYNC Compatible
No
4k VRR Maximum
N/A
4k VRR Minimum
No VRR support
1080p VRR Maximum
N/A
1080p VRR Minimum
No VRR support
1440p VRR Maximum
N/A
1440p VRR Minimum
No VRR support
VRR Supported Connectors
No VRR support

The TCL 32S335 has a simple 60Hz refresh rate and no variable refresh rate support.

Inputs
7.3
Inputs
Input Lag
1080p @ 60 Hz
26.9 ms
1080p @ 60 Hz Outside Game Mode
43.6 ms
1440p @ 60 Hz
N/A
4k @ 60 Hz
N/A
4k @ 60 Hz + 10 bit HDR
N/A
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4
N/A
4k @ 60 Hz Outside Game Mode
N/A
4k @ 60 Hz With Interpolation
N/A
8k @ 60 Hz
N/A
1080p @ 120 Hz
N/A
1440p @ 120 Hz
N/A
4k @ 120 Hz
N/A
1080p with Variable Refresh Rate
N/A
1440p with VRR
N/A
4k with VRR
N/A
8k with VRR
N/A
Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)
No

This TV has a fairly low input lag, but it may be too high for reaction-based video games. You can achieve the lowest input lag in 'Game' mode, but for it to work, you need to restart the TV for the 'Game' mode to activate. Once you're in 'Game' mode and you go back to the Roku homepage, you need to restart the TV to get the lowest input lag once again.

The TV automatically detects when a computer is connected, switching it into 'PC' mode and providing you with the lowest input lag possible. We measured an input lag of 26.8 ms with a PC connected whether the TV was in or outside of 'Game' mode.

Note: We measured a 1080p input lag because it displays a 1080p signal, but it's not true 1080p due to the limited 768p resolution.

0
Inputs
Supported Resolutions
1080p @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4
No
1080p @ 120 Hz
No
1440p @ 60 Hz
No
1440p @ 120 Hz
No
4k @ 60 Hz
No
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4
No
4k @ 120 Hz
No
8k @ 30 Hz or 24 Hz
No
8k @ 60 Hz
No

This TV can display up to a 1080p signal, but it's not true 1080p because its resolution is 768p. It displays chroma 4:4:4 when a PC is connected, which is important for reading text, but it's a bit fuzzy.

Inputs
Input Photos
Inputs
Total Inputs
HDMI 3
USB 1
Digital Optical Audio Out 1
Analog Audio Out 3.5mm 1
Analog Audio Out RCA 0
Component In 0
Composite In 1 (adapter required, not incl.)
Tuner (Cable/Ant)