TCL 4 Series 2019 TV Review

Updated Nov 21, 2019 at 08:49 am
TCL 4 Series 2019 Picture
Usage Ratings - Version 1.3
7.3
Mixed Usage
Value for price beaten by
: none
6.4
Movies
7.0
TV Shows
7.1
Sports
8.4
Video Games
6.6
HDR Movies
7.9
HDR Gaming
8.1
PC Monitor
Type LED
Sub-Type
VA
Resolution 4k

The TCL 4 Series 2019 Roku Smart TV is a decent TV overall. It delivers decent picture quality and displays deep blacks in a dark room thanks to its high native contrast ratio. It can't get very bright, and although it has good reflection handling it isn't suitable for a bright room. It lacks a wide color gamut, and due to its low HDR peak brightness, it can't deliver HDR content with vivid colors and bright highlights. The response time is fast and the TV displays fast-moving content with very little blur trail. It offers a responsive gaming performance thanks to the low input lag but unfortunately, it lacks any support for advanced gaming features like FreeSync.

Update 11/21/2019: The TCL 4 Series 2019 was originally reviewed on May 1 2019. The text has been updated, but our overall findings haven't changed.

Our Verdict

7.3 Mixed Usage

The TCL 4 Series is a decent TV for mixed usage. It has a decent picture quality but can't get very bright, so it's more suitable for dim rooms. It has decent motion handling and a fast response time that leaves only a small blur trail behind fast-moving objects. It has a very low input lag, and it's very responsive, suitable for gaming or use as a PC monitor.

See our Mixed Usage recommendations
6.4 Movies

The TCL 4 Series 2019 is a mediocre TV for watching movies. It delivers deep blacks in a dark room but lacks a local dimming feature, and the black uniformity is just decent. There is no motion interpolation feature and unfortunately, the TV can't remove 24p judder from all sources. On the upside, upscaling 1080p content like from Blu-rays is excellent.

See our Movies recommendations
7.0 TV Shows

The TCL 4 Series 2019 is a decent TV for watching TV shows. It's more suitable for an average lit room as it can't get very bright, but it can handle reflections well so a few more lights won't be an issue. You'll enjoy your TV shows more if you sit straight in front, as the image loses accuracy when viewed from the side. It has decent gray uniformity and the Roku TV smart interface gives you access to a large number of streaming channels.

See our TV Shows recommendations
7.1 Sports

The TCL 4 Series is a decent TV for watching sports. It has a fast response time, so fast-moving content has only a small blur trail. It can handle reflections well, but it can't get bright enough for a bright room. Unfortunately, the viewing angles are poor, and if you're watching a game with a group of friends, those watching from the side won't enjoy the same accurate image as those sitting directly in front. Finally, some sports fans might be bothered by the amount of dirty screen effect this TV has.

See our Sports recommendations
8.4 Video Games

This is an impressive TV for playing video games. The input lag is very low and you'll enjoy a responsive gaming experience, while the response time is very fast and delivers crisp motion. Unfortunately, there's no support for any advanced gaming features like FreeSync that more serious gamers are usually looking for, but there's an auto low latency mode that is great for casual gaming.

See our Video Games recommendations
6.6 HDR Movies

The TCL 4 Series is decent for watching HDR movies. It delivers deep and fairly uniform blacks in a dark room where HDR is meant to be watched, but there's no local dimming support to improve performance. When in HDR, the peak brightness is low and since the TV can't display a wide color gamut either, HDR content doesn't have the vivid colors and the bright highlights as it's supposed to.

See our HDR Movies recommendations
7.9 HDR Gaming

This is a good TV to play HDR games. This is mainly due to the very low input lag that makes it very responsive, and the fast response time that leaves only a small blur trail behind fast-moving content. The HDR performance of the TV isn't very good as it can't get very bright and it doesn't have a wide color gamut, so it lacks the means to deliver a great HDR picture.

See our HDR Gaming recommendations
8.1 PC Monitor

The TCL 4 Series is a great TV for use as a PC monitor. It has a very low input lag, and it responds immediately to your actions. It has no risk of permanent burn-in and the response time is very fast and leaves only a small blur trail behind a fast-moving object. Unfortunately, the viewing angles are poor, and you will have some uniformity issues on the sides of the screen.

See our PC Monitor recommendations
  • 7.3 Mixed Usage
  • 6.4 Movies
  • 7.0 TV Shows
  • 7.1 Sports
  • 8.4 Video Games
  • 6.6 HDR Movies
  • 7.9 HDR Gaming
  • 8.1 PC Monitor
Pros
  • Very low input lag, great for games.
  • Great smart features.
Cons
  • Can't get bright enough.
  • Image degrades when viewed at an angle.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The TCL 4 Series is a budget VA panel TV. It sits below the TCL S517. It's the replacement of last year's TCL S Series S405. It's comparable to most other manufacturers' budget models, like the Samsung RU7100, the LG UK6300, or the Vizio E Series 2018.

Design
6.5
Design
Style
Curved No

The TCL 4 Series has a decent design. It has a wide plastic stand that supports it well, but can't prevent wobble if the TV is nudged. The back of the TV is very similar to last year's TCL S405. The top half is metallic, while the bottom part and the body are plastic. It isn't very thick and won't protrude much if wall-mounted. The build quality is decent, and you shouldn't have any issues with it.

Design
Stand

The TCL 4 Series' stand is made of plastic and supports the TV well. It's almost as wide as the TV and looks like the stand from last year's TCL S405, though that had a silver finish. The legs can't be reversed, and the TV will wobble if nudged.

Footprint of the 43" model stand: 32.2" x 7.3"

Design
Back
Wall Mount VESA 100x100

The back of the TV is plain. The top part is metal, while the bottom half and the rest of the body are plastic. The TCL 4 series is available in many sizes and not all of them fit the same VESA mount size. Check here to see which VESA mount size is suitable for each TV size.

There isn't any cable management.

Design
Borders
Borders 0.59" (1.5 cm)

The borders are plain and have an average thickness. They won't distract you while you watch TV.

Design
Thickness
Max Thickness 2.91" (7.4 cm)

The TV has an average thickness when viewed from the side, and it won't stick out much if wall-mounted.

Design
Temperature
Maximum Temperature
96 °F (35 °C)
Average Temperature
85 °F (29 °C)
6.5
Design
Build Quality

The TCL 4 Series has decent build quality. There aren't any gaps or loose ends, and although the TV doesn't have a premium look, we don't expect you to have issues with it.

Picture Quality
9.1
Picture Quality
Contrast
Native Contrast
6054 : 1
Contrast with local dimming
N/A

The native contrast ratio is outstanding. Blacks look deep in a dark room and it's a significant improvement over last year's TCL S405. Unfortunately, there's no local dimming feature to improve dark room performance further.

0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming
Local Dimming
No
Backlight
Direct

The TCL 4 Series doesn't have a local dimming feature. The video is for reference only.

5.4
Picture Quality
SDR Peak Brightness
SDR Real Scene Peak Brightness
168 cd/m²
SDR Peak 2% Window
142 cd/m²
SDR Peak 10% Window
177 cd/m²
SDR Peak 25% Window
177 cd/m²
SDR Peak 50% Window
177 cd/m²
SDR Peak 100% Window
177 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 2% Window
141 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 10% Window
177 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 25% Window
177 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 50% Window
177 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 100% Window
177 cd/m²
SDR ABL
0.017

Disappointing SDR peak brightness. The performance is in the same ballpark figure as last year's TCL S405. This TV is okay for a moderately lit room, but it isn't suitable for a bright room. On the upside, the brightness remains unchanged no matter the scene, except for small highlights.

We performed our measurements after calibration with picture mode set to ‘Movie.’ Different settings may produce a brighter picture.

You can check our settings page to see how to set the brightness.

5.1
Picture Quality
HDR Peak Brightness
HDR Real Scene Peak Brightness
191 cd/m²
HDR Peak 2% Window
199 cd/m²
HDR Peak 10% Window
206 cd/m²
HDR Peak 25% Window
207 cd/m²
HDR Peak 50% Window
207 cd/m²
HDR Peak 100% Window
207 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 2% Window
199 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 10% Window
206 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 25% Window
207 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 50% Window
207 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 100% Window
207 cd/m²
HDR ABL
0.003

The TCL 4 Series has poor HDR peak brightness and can't display bright HDR highlights. Just like in SDR, the brightness remains unchanged no matter the scene. This is a similarly bad performance to last year's TCL S405.

We performed our measurements without calibration with picture mode set to ‘dark HDR' and 'brighter.' Different settings may produce a brighter picture.

You can check our settings page to see how to set the HDR settings.

6.8
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
2.926 %
50% DSE
0.203 %
5% Std. Dev.
3.116 %
5% DSE
0.112 %

The TCL 4 Series has decent gray uniformity. There's some vignetting, which is more visible at the corners, and some dirty screen effect, which might disappoint sports fans. Unfortunately, in near-dark scenes, there are noticeable uniformity issues on both sides of the screen, but the uniformity is better in the center.

4.8
Picture Quality
Viewing Angle
Color Washout
19 °
Color Shift
23 °
Brightness Loss
27 °
Black Level Raise
15 °
Gamma Shift
12 °

The TCL 4 Series has poor viewing angles, as expected for a VA panel TV. Any move off-center and the image loses accuracy. This is similar behavior to last year's TCL S Series S405. This TV isn't a good choice for a room with a wide seating arrangement. If viewing angles are important to you, then check out an IPS TV like the LG UK6300.

7.3
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
1.142 %
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
N/A

The black uniformity is decent. There's visible backlight bleed at the edges which, however, is only noticeable when you watch a very dark scene in a dark room.

7.8
Picture Quality
Reflections
Screen Finish
Semi-gloss
Total Reflections
5.3 %
Indirect Reflections
0.6 %

The TCL 4 Series has good reflection handling. The semi-glossy finish limits indirect reflections, and you shouldn't have issues if you place the TV in a room with lots of small lights. However, if you place it across from a large window, reflections might become distracting.

5.9
Picture Quality
Pre Calibration
White Balance dE
3.36
Color dE
5.69
Gamma
2.33
Color Temperature
6130 K
Picture Mode
Movie
Color Temp Setting
Warm
Gamma Setting
2.2

Unfortunately, the out-of-the-box color accuracy is disappointing. The errors we measured both in the white balance dE and in the color dE are large. The color error, especially, might be noticeable by many. The TV clips reds and whites when it isn't in PC mode. In order to see a significant improvement, you'd have to lower the contrast a lot, but we don't recommend that as it affects the picture quality. The color temperature is warmer than the 6500K target, so the image has a slight reddish and yellow tint. The gamma doesn't follow the target, so dark scenes are significantly darker than they should be.

9.1
Picture Quality
Post Calibration
White Balance dE
0.50
Color dE
2.10
Gamma
2.22
Color Temperature
6532 K
White Balance Calibration
11 point
Color Calibration
Yes
Auto-Calibration Function
No

After calibration, the TCL 4 Series has excellent accuracy. It's almost impossible to spot any remaining white balance inaccuracies. On the other hand, some color inaccuracies, mainly in the reds and the greens, remain after calibration and some enthusiasts might be able to spot them. Just like with other TCL TVs, calibration is only possible via the mobile app, but you still need to use a colorimeter.

You can see our recommended settings here.

8.0
Picture Quality
480p Input

Upscaling of low-quality content, such as DVDs, is good.

8.0
Picture Quality
720p Input

720p sources, such as cable, are upscaled well. Details remain clear.

9.0
Picture Quality
1080p Input

1080p content, like Blu-rays or game consoles, looks good with no obvious issues.

10
Picture Quality
4k Input

Native 4k content has no issues.

7.2
Picture Quality
Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
No
DCI P3 xy
80.17 %
DCI P3 uv
86.24 %
Rec 2020 xy
57.74 %
Rec 2020 uv
63.53 %

The TCL 4 Series doesn't have a wide color gamut. The true color gamut of the TV is shown by the maximum red, green, and blue in the Rec 2020 gamut picture. Unfortunately, all other colors in the Rec 2020 picture and all the P3 colors are under-saturated. We assume that this happens because the TV is prioritizing brightness over color accuracy because it's so dim. These tests were done at 75% brightness stimulus. When we performed the same tests at a dimmer 50% stimulus, the accuracy was much better as can be seen in the following images:

The TV's EOTF is dimmer than the PQ curve, and at about 50% stimulus gray it starts to roll off very early to smooth the transition to the TV's low peak brightness. The same performance is found in 'Game' mode as you can see here.

If you wish to make the HDR brighter, you can set gamma to 1.8 in the phone app. This will result in this EOTF which is a little brighter than before.

6.3
Picture Quality
Color Volume
Normalized DCI P3 Coverage ITP
70.9 %
10,000 cd/m² DCI P3 Coverage ITP
22.8 %
Normalized Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
55.7 %
10,000 cd/m² Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
17.8 %

The TCL 4 Series has mediocre color volume. The TV can't display very dark saturated colors. When the TV is trying to display bright P3 colors, the gamut narrows significantly, probably due to the TV's tone mapping prioritizing brightness over color accuracy because the TV is so dim.

8.3
Picture Quality
Gradient
Color Depth
10 Bit
Red (Std. Dev.)
0.099 dE
Green (Std. Dev.)
0.109 dE
Blue (Std. Dev.)
0.084 dE
Gray (Std. Dev.)
0.109 dE

This TV has impressive gradient handling. A little banding is visible, especially in darker shades of green and gray, but nothing major. Overall, it performs slightly worse than last year's TCL S405 and a little better than the Samsung NU7100.

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 isn't any temporary image retention on the TCL 4 Series.

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.

Picture Quality
Pixels
Motion
8.9
Motion
Response Time
80% Response Time
4.7 ms
100% Response Time
12.1 ms

The TCL 4 Series 2019 has an excellent response time. Fast-moving content has only a small blur trail. In dark scenes, however, some smearing may be present due to the longer transition between darker shades, such as from 0% to 20%. Nonetheless, this is an improvement over last year's TCL S405.

4.0
Motion
Flicker-Free
Flicker-Free
No
PWM Dimming Frequency
120 Hz

The TV uses PWM to dim the backlight, but only below 17/100 backlight setting. Backlight PWM dimming results in a 120Hz flicker which might bother some people. This is a very different behavior than the TCL S405, which used PWM dimming throughout the entire range of its backlight levels.

5.4
Motion
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
Optional BFI
No
Min Flicker for 60 fps
120 Hz
60 Hz for 60 fps
No
120 Hz for 120 fps
N/A
Min Flicker for 60 fps in Game Mode
120 Hz

Just like last year's S405, the TCL 4 Series can't reduce its flicker frequency to 60Hz to make the image look crisper. However, at lower brightness levels, its 120Hz PWM backlight does help somewhat to make motion look clearer but causes duplications.

0
Motion
Motion Interpolation
Motion Interpolation (30 fps)
No
Motion Interpolation (60 fps)
No

The TCL 4 Series, just like last year's TCL S405, doesn't provide any motion interpolation feature to please the soap opera effect fans.

7.2
Motion
Stutter
Frame Hold Time @ 24 fps
29.6 ms
Frame Hold Time @ 60 fps
4.6 ms

The TCL 4 Series has a little stutter due to the very fast response time that results in a higher frame hold time of 24p content, like movies. Unfortunately, the TV doesn't offer any option to help you reduce stutter.

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

Unfortunately, the TCL 4 Series can only remove judder from 24p movies when they are played from 24p sources like DVDs or Blu-rays. 24p movies played from 60p/60i sources like cable, satellite boxes, or even through the native apps will have some judder.

There's no specific feature or option to turn on so as to remove judder from 24p movies on 24p sources. The TV detects it and displays the movie properly.

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

The TCL 4 Series has a 60Hz panel and doesn't support any advanced gaming features like FreeSync.

Inputs
9.8
Inputs
Input Lag
1080p @ 60 Hz
12.9 ms
1080p @ 60 Hz Outside Game Mode
48.6 ms
1440p @ 60 Hz
12.8 ms
4k @ 60 Hz
13.0 ms
4k @ 60 Hz + 10 bit HDR
12.9 ms
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4
13.0 ms
4k @ 60 Hz Outside Game Mode
29.7 ms
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