The TCL 4 Series/S434 Android 2020 is a basic entry-level 4k TV. It's a variant of the TCL 4 Series 2020 that seems to be only sold at Best Buy and is one of TCL's first few 4k TVs available in North America with Android TV. The Android TV is fairly easy-to-use and you get an excellent selection of apps that you can download through the app store. It offers okay overall performance and is limited on features. Its VA panel has an amazing contrast ratio and great black uniformity, so it displays deep blacks when viewed in the dark. Sadly, this comes at the cost of narrow viewing angles, so you lose image accuracy as you move off-center. It has really low input lag for gaming, but it lacks extra gaming features like variable refresh rate (VRR) support.
The TCL S434 is an okay overall TV. 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. It's decent for gaming thanks to its low input lag and decent response time, but you still may notice motion blur with fast-moving content. Lastly, HDR content doesn't look very different from SDR content because it can't display a wide color gamut and doesn't get bright enough to make highlights stand out.
The TCL S434 isn't bad for watching movies. It has an amazing contrast ratio and great black uniformity, so it's a great choice for watching movies in dark rooms. It also upscales 1080p content, such as from Blu-rays, without issue. Sadly, it lacks a local dimming feature and doesn't remove judder from any source.
The TCL S434 is alright for watching TV shows. It upscales lower-resolution content without any issues, such as from cable boxes. 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 you lose image accuracy when viewing from the side.
The TCL S434 is okay for watching sports. It has a decent response time, but you may notice motion smearing with fast-moving content. It performs well in dim 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 with a large group of people.
The TCL S434 is decent for gaming. It has low input lag that stays low whether you're gaming in 4k or 1080p. The response time is decent, but there's overshoot that results in motion blur. There's also no Black Frame Insertion feature to improve the appearance of motion, and it lacks VRR support. On the upside, it has an amazing contrast ratio and great black uniformity, which are ideal for dark room gaming.
The TCL S434 is mediocre for HDR movies. It fails to display to a wide color gamut and doesn't get bright enough to make highlights pop. It's good for dark room viewing because it has amazing contrast and great black uniformity, but sadly, there's no local dimming feature to improve the contrast.
The TCL S434 is alright for HDR gaming. It has fairly low HDR input lag, but it may be too high for competitive gaming. The response time is decent, but there's noticeable motion blur. It has an amazing contrast ratio that helps it display deep blacks; however, HDR content doesn't look good because it doesn't display a wide color gamut and fails to make highlights pop.
The TCL S434 is decent for use as a PC monitor. It has low input lag, and it displays chroma 4:4:4, which is important for reading text. 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 the edges of the screen may appear washed out if you sit too close.
This TV has an okay design and looks exactly like the TCL 4 Series 2020. It's made out of a mix of plastic and metal and feels cheap overall. It has wide-set feet and relatively thin borders, which is a nice touch for a budget-friendly model.
The plastic feet are nearly as wide as the TV itself, so you may need a large table to place it on. The stand holds the TV fairly well, but there's still a bit of wobble.
Footprint of the 55" TV: 38.7" x 12.2".
The borders are relatively thin, especially for an entry-level TV, and shouldn't be distracting.
This TV is somewhat thick, but shouldn't stick out too much when wall-mounted.
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, but that's expected for an entry-level model.
The TCL 55S434 has an amazing contrast ratio, which is expected from a VA panel. It displays deep blacks, but there's no local dimming feature to improve it. Note that contrast may vary between units.
This TV doesn't have a local dimming feature. The video above is provided for reference only.
The TCL 55S434 has poor SDR peak brightness. Although it maintains its brightness very consistent across different content, it doesn't get bright enough to combat glare.
We measured peak brightness after calibration in the 'Movie' Picture Mode. If you don't care about image accuracy and want the brightest image possible, we reached 277 cd/m² in the 2% window in the 'Vivid' Picture Mode.
The TCL 55S434 has bad HDR peak brightness. It gets brighter than in SDR, but it's not enough to make highlights pop the way the creator intended.
We measured peak brightness in the 'Movie HDR' Picture Mode. We reached a brighter but less accurate image in the 'Vivid HDR' Picture Mode, as we achieved 279 cd/m² in the 2% window.
The TCL 55S434 has okay gray uniformity. The edges are noticeably darker, and there's some backlight bleed as well. There's also dirty screen effect in the center, which could get distracting during sports. The uniformity is a bit better in near-dark scenes, but the backlight bleed is more visible. Note that gray uniformity may differ between units.
This TV has narrow viewing angles, which is expected from a VA panel. You quickly lose image accuracy as you start to move off-center.
Black uniformity is great. There's noticeable backlight bleed along the left and right edges, but besides that, there's no clouding or blooming around the center cross. Uniformity may vary between units.
This TV has decent reflection handling. It handles a moderate amount of light well but struggles if you place it in a room with a ton of glare.
The TCL 55S434 has amazing out-of-the-box accuracy. This is 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, so the image may seem like it has a blue tint. Unfortunately, gamma doesn't follow the target very well, and most scenes are darker than they should be. Note that out-of-the-box accuracy may vary between units.
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, such as from DVDs, well. It doesn't have the same scaling issues that we experienced with the TCL 4 Series 2020.
720p content, such as 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 can affect the way text is rendered when using the TV as a PC monitor. You can read about it here.
Note: We received reports that the 65 inch model has a different panel type, with the pixel structure looking similar to the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED, as you can see here. We don't know how this affects picture quality, as it's also a VA panel. If you have the same panel type on a 65 inch model, let us know.
The color gamut is okay, but it's not considered a wide color gamut for HDR content. It has good coverage of the commonly-used DCI P3 color space, but its coverage of the wider Rec. 2020 is limited.
The EOTF follows the target curve fairly well, except most scenes are a bit too dark. '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' results in a brighter image, as you can see in this EOTF.
This TV has a disappointing color gamut. 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 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 image retention, but this may vary between units.
We don't expect VA panels to 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. It's flicker-free above that backlight level.
There's no optional Black Frame Insertion feature. The TV flickers at 120Hz if you set the Brightness to '28' or below.
This TV doesn't have a motion interpolation feature.
Due to the slower response time, lower-frame rate content doesn't appear to stutter.
Unlike the TCL 4 Series 2020, the TCL 55S434 can't remove judder from any source.
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 2020. It's equally low whether you're gaming in 1080p or 4k. Sadly, it increases when gaming in HDR, and it may be too high for competitive gaming. 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.
If you want to use this TV as a computer monitor and want the lowest input lag, set the Picture Mode to 'PC' or 'Game'.