The TCL 4 Series/S434 Android 2020 is an entry-level 4k TV. It's a variant of the TCL 4 Series/S435 2020, running the Android TV smart interface instead of the Roku TV smart interface usually found on past TCL 4 Series TVs. The Android TV interface is easy-to-use, and there's a huge selection of additional streaming apps available through the built-in Google Play Store. Its VA panel has an amazing contrast ratio and great black uniformity, resulting in deep, uniform blacks when viewed in the dark. Sadly, this also results in narrow viewing angles, so it's not a good choice for a wide seating arrangement. It has really low input lag for gaming, but it doesn't support any advanced gaming features like variable refresh rate (VRR) support to reduce screen tearing, and its HDMI ports are limited to HDMI 2.0 bandwidth.
The TCL S434 is an okay TV overall. It isn't bad for watching movies in dark rooms because it has an amazing contrast ratio and great black uniformity, but it lacks a local dimming feature to improve contrast. It's decent for gaming, thanks to its low input lag and decent response time, but it doesn't support any advanced gaming features like variable refresh rate technology. Lastly, although it supports HDR, this adds very little, as it can't get bright enough to bring out bright highlights, and it can't display a wide color gamut.
The TCL S434 isn't bad for watching movies in a dark room. It has an amazing contrast ratio and great black uniformity, so it's a great choice for watching movies in dark rooms, as blacks are deep and uniform. It upscales lower resolution content well, great if you like watching movies on DVD or Blu-ray. Sadly, it doesn't have a local dimming feature to improve contrast, and it can't remove judder from any source when watching low frame rate content, like movies.
The TCL S434 is alright for watching TV shows in a bright room. It upscales lower-resolution content without any issues, like from cable boxes, and the built-in Android TV smart interface has a huge selection of streaming apps. It has decent reflection handling, but it doesn't get bright enough to combat glare in well-lit rooms. Also, it has narrow viewing angles, so it's not ideal for a wide seating arrangement or if you like to move around with the TV on.
The TCL S434 is okay for watching sports. It has a decent response time, but there's some noticeable motion smearing with fast-moving content in dark scenes. It performs best in dim to moderately-lit rooms, as it has decent reflection handling, but it doesn't get bright enough to combat glare in well-lit rooms. Lastly, it has narrow viewing angles, so it's not ideal for watching the big game if you have a wide seating arrangement.
The TCL S434 is decent for gaming. It has low input lag, ensuring your actions are in-sync with the action on-screen. The response time is decent, but there's significant smearing behind fast-moving dark objects. It has an amazing contrast ratio and great black uniformity, ideal for dark room gaming. Unfortunately, it lacks advanced gaming features like variable refresh rate support, and its HDMI ports are limited to HDMI 2.0 bandwidth, so you can't game at 4k @ 120Hz from the PS5 or Xbox Series X.
The TCL S434 is mediocre for watching HDR movies in a dark room. It looks good in a dark room thanks to its amazing contrast and great black uniformity, but sadly, there's no local dimming feature to improve the contrast. It can't display a wide color gamut, so vivid colors in some HDR content look dull and muted, and it's not bright enough for small highlights to stand out.
The TCL S434 is alright for HDR gaming. It has fairly low HDR input lag, ensuring a responsive gaming experience. The response time is decent, but there's noticeable smearing behind dark objects. It has an amazing contrast ratio that helps it display deep blacks; however, HDR content doesn't look good because it can't display a wide color gamut and isn't bright enough for highlights to pop.
The TCL S434 is decent for use as a PC monitor. It has low input lag, and chroma 4:4:4 is displayed properly from a PC, which is important for reading text. Unfortunately, although it has decent reflection handling, it's not bright enough to combat glare in well-lit rooms. It has narrow viewing angles, so the edges of the screen are appear washed out if you're sitting too close to the screen.
We tested the 55 inch TCL 4 Series Android TV and expect the results to be valid for the 43 inch (43S434), 50 inch (50S434), 65 inch (65S434), 70 inch (70S434), and 75 inch (75S434) models as well. The 55 inch, 65 inch, and 75 inch models are also available in Canada, but we don't know about any variants outside of North America. This TV is a variant of the TCL 4 Series/S435 2020, which is extremely similar but with Roku TV.
|Size||Android Model (S434)||HDMI Ports|
If someone comes across a different type of panel or their TCL 55S434 doesn't correspond to our review, let us know, and we'll update the review.
You can see the label for our unit here.
The TCL S434 is a basic, entry-level 4k TV with okay overall performance. It's extremely similar to the TCL 4 Series/S435 2020, with the only major difference being its built-in Android TV instead of Roku TV; choosing one over the other really comes down to personal preference. If you don't mind spending just a bit more money, the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED offers much better overall performance.
The TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED is much better than the TCL 4 Series/S434 Android 2020. The 5 Series has a local dimming feature, which can help improve picture quality in dark scenes. It's also better for watching HDR content because it displays a wide color gamut and gets brighter. The 5 Series has Roku TV, which is easier to use than the Android TV on the 4 Series. The S434 has better reflection handling, so it performs better in bright environments.
The Samsung TU7000 is a bit better overall than the TCL 4 Series/S434 Android 2020. The Samsung is better for gaming because it has a lower input lag, and it's better for watching TV shows and sports because it gets brighter. However, the TCL has much better out-of-the-box accuracy, and even though this can vary between units, you may not need to get it calibrated to enjoy it to the fullest.
The Hisense H6510G is slightly better overall than the TCL 4 Series/S434 Android 2020. The Hisense is better for watching movies because it has slightly better contrast and improved black uniformity, but each of these may vary between units. It also gets brighter and has better reflection handling, so it's a better choice for fairly well-lit rooms. However, the TCL has lower input lag for gaming and it has significantly better out-of-the-box accuracy, so you may not need to get it calibrated.
The TCL 4 Series/S435 2020 and the TCL 4 Series/S434 Android 2020 are variants of each other, with few differences. The S435 has Roku TV as its operating system, while the S434 has Android TV. Roku is generally easier to use, but there's a larger selection of apps available on the Google Play store on Android. Each TV has nearly the same performance, except the S435 removes 24p judder, which helps with the appearance of motion in movies. Our unit of the S434 also has much better black uniformity, but this may vary between units.
This TV has an okay design and looks exactly like the TCL 4 Series/S435 2020. It's made out of a mix of plastic and metal and feels cheap overall. It has wide-set feet and relatively thin bezels, which is a nice touch for a budget-friendly model.
The plastic feet are nearly as wide as the TV itself. The stand holds the TV fairly well, but there's still a bit of wobble. There's no alternate position for the feet, and they're fairly low. If you plan on placing a soundbar in front of the TV, it'll block part of the screen.
Footprint of the 55 inch TV: 38.7" x 12.2".
The back panel is the same as the TCL 4 Series/S435 2020. It's a thin sheet of metal, and the part where the inputs are has a cheap plastic covering. Unfortunately, there's no cable management, and the inputs are close to the center of the screen, so they're difficult to access when the TV is wall mounted.
The borders are relatively thin, especially for an entry-level TV, so they're not very distracting.
The TCL 55S434 has an okay build quality. All the materials used feel cheap, it wobbles a bit, and there's noticeable flex. There's nothing that stands out about it.
The TCL 55S434 has an amazing contrast ratio, resulting in deep blacks in a dark room. Unfortunately, there's no local dimming feature to improve the contrast ratio.
This TV uses direct LED backlighting instead of edge-lit, but unfortunately, it doesn't have a local dimming feature. We still film these videos on the TV, though, so you can see how the backlight performs and compare it with a TV that has local dimming.
The TCL 55S434 has poor SDR peak brightness. The peak brightness doesn't fluctuate with different scenes, which is great, but it's not bright enough to overcome glare in a bright room. It's best-suited for a dim to moderately-lit environment.
These measurements were made after calibration in the 'Movie' Picture Mode. If you don't care about image accuracy and want the brightest image possible, the 'Vivid' Picture Mode is significantly brighter, reaching a peak brightness of 277 cd/m² with a 2% slide.
The TCL 55S434 has bad peak brightness in HDR. It gets brighter than in SDR, but it's not bright enough for small specular highlights to stand out the way the creator intended.
These measurements were taken in the 'Movie HDR' Picture Mode. The 'Vivid HDR' Picture Mode is a lot brighter, reaching a peak brightness of 279 cd/m² with a 2% slide, but it's also less accurate.
The TCL 55S434 has okay gray uniformity. The edges are noticeably darker, and there's some backlight bleed as well. There's significant dirty screen effect in the center, which is distracting when watching sports or if you're using the TV as a PC monitor. The uniformity is a bit better in near-dark scenes, but the backlight bleed is more noticeable.
This TV has narrow viewing angles. It's not a good choice for a wide seating arrangement, or if you like to move around with the TV on, as the image loses accuracy and fades as you move off-center.
This TV has great black uniformity. There's some noticeable backlight bleed, but thanks to the amazing contrast ratio, the screen isn't cloudy at all. There's no blooming around bright objects, as there's no local dimming feature.
This TV has decent reflection handling. It handles a moderate amount of light well but struggles a bit with direct reflections in a bright room. Considering its low peak brightness, it can't overcome glare in a bright room.
The TCL 55S434 has amazing out-of-the-box accuracy. It's great if you want accurate colors and don't want to spend extra to get it calibrated. There are hardly any noticeable inaccuracies with most colors and white balance. The color temperature is a bit colder than the 6500K target, but it's not enough to be noticeable. Unfortunately, gamma doesn't follow the target very well, and most scenes are darker than expected.
The TCL 55S434 has incredible accuracy after calibration. Any remaining inaccuracies can't be spotted with the naked eye. Gamma follows the target almost perfectly, and even though the color temperature didn't improve, it's still close to the target.
You can see our recommended settings here.
The TCL 4 Series Android TV displays 480p content, like from DVDs, well. It doesn't have the same scaling issues as the TCL 4 Series/S435 2020.
720p content, like from a cable box, is upscaled well without any obvious artifacts.
1080p content, like Blu-rays, looks almost as good as native 4k content.
The TCL 55S434 displays native 4k content perfectly, and there aren't any visible issues.
This TV uses a BGR subpixel layout, which affects the way text is rendered when using the TV as a PC monitor. You can read about it here.
The color gamut is decent, with good coverage of the DCI P3 color space used by most current HDR content. It has very limited coverage of the wider Rec. 2020 color space, though, and since it can't display a wide color gamut, vivid colors in some HDR content appear dull and muted instead.
The EOTF follows the target curve fairly well, except most scenes are a bit too dark. The brightness rolls off smoothly as it approaches the TV's peak brightness, preserving fine details in bright scenes. 'Game' mode is a bit brighter, as you can see in this EOTF. If you find HDR too dim, setting Gamma to '1.8' and Dynamic Contrast to 'High' increases the brightness of dim scenes, as you can see in this EOTF, but the overall peak brightness of the TV remains the same.
This TV has mediocre color volume. It's mainly limited by its lack of wide color gamut and low peak brightness. However, it displays dark colors well, thanks to its high contrast ratio.
This TV has amazing gradient handling, better than the TCL 4 Series/S435 2020. There's only a bit of banding in the grays and light greens, but it's not very noticeable. The Gradation Clear setting doesn't improve the gradients in the test pattern or real content.
There aren't any signs of temporary image retention. The patchy areas on the screen are from the gray uniformity and aren't signs of image retention.
This TV isn't expect to have VA panels that experience permanent image retention, as the VA panel in our long-term test appears immune.
The TCL 55S434 has a decent response time. However, there's noticeable smearing with fast-moving content because of its slower response time and overshoot in darker transitions. The backlight's flicker frequency also causes image duplication.
The TCL 55S434 uses pulse width modulation (PWM) to dim its backlight. It flickers at 120Hz whenever you set the Brightness setting to '28' or below, which causes duplication in motion and can bother some people. It's flicker-free above that backlight level. Since this TV is very dim, it's unlikely that you would be using it at such a low backlight setting.
This TV doesn't have an optional backlight strobing feature, commonly known as black frame insertion. It flickers at 120Hz if you set the Brightness to '28' or below, which reduces the amount of persistence blur but causes a double image to appear when watching 60fps content.
This TV doesn't have a motion interpolation feature.
Due to the slower response time, low frame rate content, like movies, doesn't appear to stutter.
Unlike the TCL 4 Series/S435 2020, the TCL 55S434 can't remove judder from any source when watching low frame rate content, like movies.
The TCL 4 Series Android TV has a basic 60Hz panel and doesn't support any variable refresh rate technology.
This TV has an excellent low input lag, and it's even lower than the TCL 4 Series/S435 2020. It's equally low whether you're gaming in 1080p or 4k. Sadly, it's too high for competitive gamers when gaming in HDR. You need to be in 'Game' mode to achieve the lowest input lag possible, and there's no 'Auto Low Latency Mode' that automatically switches the TV into 'Game' mode.
This TV supports most common resolutions at 60Hz. It displays chroma 4:4:4 properly with 1080p and 4k signals, which is important for reading fine text if you want to use it as a monitor. You simply need to be in 'Game' or 'PC' mode for it to work.
Unlike the TCL 4 Series/S435 2020, the TCL 55S434 comes with an adapter for the Composite In, which is great if you have old video sources, like a DVD player or an old console.
There's no setting you need to enable to achieve HDMI 2.0 bandwidth, and it works by default.
The TCL 55S434 only supports the Dolby Digital audio format over optical or ARC. Unfortunately, it doesn't support DTS, which is still the main audio track for many Blu-ray movies. If you have a lot of movies that use DTS as their main track, you might want to consider connecting your player to your soundbar or home theater instead of using ARC. Set Digital Audio Out to 'Pass Through' and enable T-Link for it to work. If you need a TV that can pass DTS audio, get the TCL 4 Series/S435 2020 instead.
The TCL 55S434 has a disappointing frequency response. It has a well-balanced sound profile, which is good for listening to dialogue. Unfortunately, it doesn't produce much bass, so you will need to get a soundbar to get true bass.
This TV has okay distortion performance. There isn't much distortion at moderate listening levels, but it gets a lot more audible at its max volume.
What sets this TV apart from the TCL 4 Series/S435 2020 is the Android TV instead of Roku TV. Android TV is fairly easy-to-use, and the menu navigation feels smooth for the most part. It's the same version of Android found on Sony TVs, like the Sony X750H, but there aren't as many picture settings available.
Unfortunately, there are ads and suggestions on the home screen. You can't opt-out of the ads, and even though you can choose to opt-out of suggested content, you'll simply receive non-targeted content instead.
Android TV's Google Play Store has a massive selection of apps available to download, and they run smoothly for the most part.
The TCL 55S434 comes with a basic remote with shortcut buttons to Netflix, YouTube, and Google Assistant. You can use voice control to ask for most common demands, like searching for content, opening apps, and changing inputs, but you can't ask it to change certain settings. There's a CEC setting, but this remote doesn't have a working CEC feature, so you can't use it as a universal remote. There's a feature with an on-screen remote that aims to be a digital universal remote, but it doesn't work properly, and it's not easy to use.
There's a single button underneath the TCL branding at the center of the screen. You can power the TV On/Off and change inputs.