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TCL 4 Series/S446 2021 TV Review

Tested using Methodology v1.6
Reviewed Nov 26, 2021 at 10:41 am
TCL 4 Series/S446 2021 Picture
6.7
Mixed Usage
Value for price beaten by
: Vizio V5 Series 2021
5.9
Movies
Value for price beaten by
: Vizio V5 Series 2021
7.6
TV Shows
Value for price beaten by
: none
7.3
Sports
Value for price beaten by
: none
6.6
Video Games
Value for price beaten by
: Vizio V5 Series 2021
5.5
HDR Movies
Value for price beaten by
: Vizio V5 Series 2021
6.6
HDR Gaming
Value for price beaten by
: Vizio V5 Series 2021
8.1
PC Monitor
Value for price beaten by
: none
Type LED
Sub-Type
IPS
Resolution 4k

The TCL 4 Series/S446 2021 is an entry-level 4k TV. It's a basic TV in TCL's 4 Series lineup that includes the TCL 4 Series 2020 and the TCL 4 Series/S434 Android 2020, and the difference between each model is their smart platform, where they're sold, and their panel type. The 4 Series 2021 is Best Buy exclusive and has Google TV, which is user-friendly and has a ton of apps you can download through the Google Play Store. Unlike the other models, the 65 inch model we tested has an IPS-like panel with wide viewing angles and low contrast, but there are some variants with a VA panel that has a higher contrast at the cost of viewing angles. Besides that, its picture quality isn't special because it doesn't get bright, so glare is an issue in really bright rooms, and highlights don't pop in HDR. It also lacks extra features like local dimming or Dolby Vision and HDR10+ support, and it can't display a wide color gamut, so it doesn't deliver a satisfying experience if you normally stream content in HDR.

Our Verdict

6.7 Mixed Usage

The TCL 4 Series is okay overall. It performs well in wide seating arrangements, like watching TV shows or sports, thanks to the wide viewing angles on the IPS-like panel, but some of the sizes have different panels with worse viewing angles. It's alright for gaming because it has low input lag, but its response time is on the slow side, and it lacks extra gaming features. Unfortunately, it's disappointing for watching movies in SDR or HDR in dark rooms because its IPS-like panel has a low contrast ratio, and it lacks local dimming, meaning blacks look gray.

Pros
  • No issues upscaling lower-resolution content.
  • Image looks the same from the side on the IPS-like panel models.
  • Good reflection handling.
Cons
  • IPS-like panel has low contrast ratio.
  • Low peak brightness in SDR and HDR.
  • Some motion blur behind fast-moving objects.
5.9 Movies

The TCL 4 Series is disappointing for watching movies in dark rooms. It has an IPS-like panel with a low contrast ratio and bad black uniformity, and because there's no local dimming feature, blacks look gray in dark rooms. However, some of the sizes have VA panels instead, which have better contrast. Also, it doesn't have trouble upscaling 1080p content, and it removes judder from 24p sources.

Pros
  • No issues upscaling lower-resolution content.
  • Removes judder from 24p sources and native apps.
Cons
  • IPS-like panel has low contrast ratio.
  • No local dimming feature.
  • Bad black uniformity.
7.6 TV Shows

The TCL 4 Series is good for watching TV shows in bright environments. It performs well in rooms with a few lights around because it has good reflection handling, but it doesn't get bright enough to fight a ton of glare. It also doesn't have issue upscaling lower-resolution content if you connect a cable box, and the interface has a ton of apps you can download. Its IPS panel has wide viewing angles, but there are a few variants with different panels and worse viewing angles.

Pros
  • No issues upscaling lower-resolution content.
  • Image looks the same from the side on the IPS-like panel models.
  • Good reflection handling.
Cons
  • Low peak brightness in SDR and HDR.
  • Disappointing built-in speakers.
7.3 Sports

The TCL 4 Series is decent for watching sports. Its IPS-like panel provides wide viewing angles, making it a good choice for watching the game with a few friends as the image looks accurate from the side. However, there are some variants with a VA panel and narrow viewing angles. It has good reflection handling if you want to use it in a room with a few lights, but its peak brightness is disappointing. Also, fast-moving content looks a bit blurry because of the only decent response time.

Pros
  • No issues upscaling lower-resolution content.
  • Image looks the same from the side on the IPS-like panel models.
  • Good reflection handling.
Cons
  • Low peak brightness in SDR and HDR.
  • Disappointing built-in speakers.
  • Some motion blur behind fast-moving objects.
6.6 Video Games

The TCL 4 Series is okay for gaming, but it doesn't have any advanced gaming features. It lacks variable refresh rate and HDMI 2.1 support, so it's not ideal for the PS5 or Xbox Series X. However, it still has low input lag for a responsive gaming experience, but its response time is a bit slow, so motion is blurry. Also, it's not a good choice for dark room gaming because its IPS-like panel has low contrast.

Pros
  • Good reflection handling.
  • Low input lag.
Cons
  • IPS-like panel has low contrast ratio.
  • Some motion blur behind fast-moving objects.
  • No extra gaming features like HDMI 2.1 or VRR.
5.5 HDR Movies

The TCL 4 Series is disappointing for watching HDR movies. It only supports HDR10 and not Dolby Vision or HDR10+, and it can't display a wide color gamut. Also, it doesn't get bright enough to make highlights pop. Its IPS-like panel has a low contrast that makes blacks look gray, and even though there are variants with VA panels and higher contrast, the TV lacks a local dimming feature and doesn't deliver an impactful HDR experience.

Pros
  • Removes judder from 24p sources and native apps.
Cons
  • IPS-like panel has low contrast ratio.
  • No local dimming feature.
  • Low peak brightness in SDR and HDR.
  • Can't display a wide color gamut.
6.6 HDR Gaming

The TCL 4 Series is alright for HDR gaming. It has low input lag for a responsive gaming experience, but it doesn't have any extra features like VRR support or HDMI 2.1 inputs. Also, it doesn't offer a good HDR experience because it has a low contrast ratio, poor HDR peak brightness, and it can't display a wide color gamut, so highlights and colors aren't vivid as they should be.

Pros
  • Low input lag.
Cons
  • IPS-like panel has low contrast ratio.
  • Some motion blur behind fast-moving objects.
  • No extra gaming features like HDMI 2.1 or VRR.
8.1 PC Monitor

The TCL 4 Series is great to use as a PC monitor. Your mouse movements feel responsive thanks to the low input lag, but you may notice some motion blur due to the slow response time. The image also remains accurate at the edges if you sit close, thanks to the IPS-like panel's low contrast, but there are variants with narrow viewing angles. Also, it displays proper chroma 4:4:4 with 1080p and 4k signals, but not with 1440p, and it's limited to HDMI 2.0 bandwidth.

Pros
  • Image looks the same from the side on the IPS-like panel models.
  • Good reflection handling.
  • Low input lag.
Cons
  • Low peak brightness in SDR and HDR.
  • Some motion blur behind fast-moving objects.
  • 6.7 Mixed Usage
  • 5.9 Movies
  • 7.6 TV Shows
  • 7.3 Sports
  • 6.6 Video Games
  • 5.5 HDR Movies
  • 6.6 HDR Gaming
  • 8.1 PC Monitor
  1. Updated Nov 26, 2021: Review published.
  2. Updated Nov 24, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The TCL 4 Series TV is part of TCL's 4 Series lineup that includes the TCL 4 Series/S434 Android 2020 and the TCL 4 Series 2020. It's a Best Buy exclusive TV, and it's different from the other two because it uses Google TV, while the S434 uses Android TV, and the 4 Series 2020 has Roku. It competes with other entry-level TVs like the Hisense A6G, Toshiba C350 Fire TV 2021, and the Amazon Fire TV 4-Series.

Design
Design
Style
Curved No

The TCL 4 Series looks very similar to the TCL 4 Series/S434 Android 2020 with a simple design made mostly of plastic throughout. Its bezels are thicker than most premium TVs, but the TV still looks nice in most setups.

Design
Stand

The stand is basic and doesn't support the screen all that well because there's wobble from front to back. It raises the screen enough to place a soundbar in front without blocking the screen.

Footprint of the 65 inch TV: 43.5" x 12.6" x 2" to the bottom bezel (3" from the table to the bottom of the screen).

The 85 inch version has a different stand, similar to the one on the TCL R745 QLED.

Design
Back
Wall Mount VESA 300x300

The TCL 4 Series has a metal back panel, with plastic at the bottom section, and where the inputs are. Sadly, there's no cable management. The inputs are side-facing, but they may be a bit hard to reach on the larger sizes when wall-mounted because they're at the center of the screen.

Design
Borders
Borders 0.47" (1.2 cm)
Design
Thickness
Max Thickness 3.37" (8.6 cm)

The bottom section where the inputs are sticks out, so the TV doesn't sit flush against the wall when mounted.

6.5
Design
Build Quality

The build quality is okay. It's mainly plastic, with metal only on the back panel, which flexes a bit. The plastic in the back and on the borders also feel flimsy, and the TV wobbles noticeably from front to back. Overall, it's well-put-together as there aren't any issues with that, but it feels cheap.

Picture Quality
6.4
Picture Quality
Contrast
Native Contrast
1,253 : 1
Contrast with local dimming
N/A

Unlike the TCL 4 Series/S434 Android 2020, the 65 inch version of the TCL 4 Series has an IPS-like panel with a low contrast ratio, so blacks look gray in a dark room. There's also no local dimming feature to improve it. Contrast can vary between units, but we don't expect it to be much higher for IPS-type panels.

Note: The 50 and 85 inch models have VA panels, so they're expected to have a higher contrast. TCL doesn't advertise what panels the 43, 55, and 75 inch models have, so it's possible they perform differently than the 65 inch version we tested.

5.8
Picture Quality
SDR Brightness
Real Scene Peak Brightness
223 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
277 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
276 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
275 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
275 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
274 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
276 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
276 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
275 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
275 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
274 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.000

The SDR peak brightness is disappointing. It doesn't get bright enough to fight glare in well-lit rooms, but its consistent between different scenes as there's no frame dimming.

We tested the SDR brightness after calibration in the 'Movie' Picture Mode with the Brightness and Contrast at their max, Color Temperature set to 'Warm -5', and Gamma at '2.2'. If you want the brightest image possible and don't care about image accuracy, we measured 309 cd/m² in the 2% window using the 'Vivid' Picture Mode with everything else at their default settings.

0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming
Local Dimming
No
Backlight
Direct

The TCL 4 Series doesn't have a local dimming feature. The videos are still filmed so you can see how the backlight performs versus another TV.

0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming In Game Mode
Local Dimming
No
Backlight
Direct

Once again, there's no local dimming feature. The videos are still filmed so you can see how the backlight performs versus another TV.

4.8
Picture Quality
HDR Brightness
Real Scene Highlight
228 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
271 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
271 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
271 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
271 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
271 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
271 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
271 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
271 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
271 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
271 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.000

The HDR brightness is poor, as it doesn't get bright enough to make highlights pop. The EOTF doesn't follow the target PQ curve well either, as most scenes are darker than they should be.

We tested the HDR brightness before calibration in the 'Movie' HDR Picture Mode with the Contrast and Brightness at their max, and the Color Temperature at 'Warm -5'. If you find the image too dark, you can use the same settings and enable Dynamic Tone Mapping and set the Gamma to '1.8'. This results in a slightly brighter image as you can see in this EOTF, but it doesn't change the peak brightness.

4.8
Picture Quality
HDR Brightness In Game Mode
Real Scene Highlight
228 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
271 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
271 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
271 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
272 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
272 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
271 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
271 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
271 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
272 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
272 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.000

The HDR brightness is the same in Game Mode as outside of it. The image looks the same, and any differences in the test results are down to margin of error.

6.9
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
5.496%
50% DSE
0.204%
5% Std. Dev.
0.645%
5% DSE
0.080%

The TCL 4 Series has okay gray uniformity. The screen is noticeably darker near the edges, and there's dirty screen effect in the center, which could get distracting during sports. Uniformity is better in near-dark scenes, but there's still a bit of backlight bleed. Also, uniformity can vary between units.

4.8
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
2.790%
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
N/A

The black uniformity is bad, but this can vary between units. There's a ton of backlight bleed, especially towards the bottom right corner, and there's no local dimming feature to improve it.

Note: The 50 and 85 inch models have VA panels, so they're expected to display deeper blacks than we see in the photo. TCL doesn't advertise what panels the 43, 55, and 75 inch models have, so it's possible they perform differently than the 65 inch version we tested.

7.8
Picture Quality
Viewing Angle
Color Washout
29°
Color Shift
60°
Brightness Loss
31°
Black Level Raise
70°
Gamma Shift
59°

With an IPS-like panel, the TCL 4 Series has wide viewing angles, so the image remains accurate when viewing from the sides. It's a good choice for wide seating arrangements.

Note: The 50 and 85 inch models have VA panels, so they're expected to have worse viewing angles. TCL doesn't advertise what panels the 43, 55, and 75 inch models have, so it's possible they perform differently than the 65 inch version we tested.

7.8
Picture Quality
Reflections
Screen Finish
Semi-gloss
Total Reflections
4.4%
Indirect Reflections
0.9%
Calculated Direct Reflections
3.6%

The reflection handling is good. It handles a moderate amount of light well, but because it doesn't get bright, we don't suggest placing it in a really bright room.

9.2
Picture Quality
Pre Calibration
White Balance dE
0.87
Color dE
0.86
Gamma
2.20
Color Temperature
6,951 K
Picture Mode
Movie
Color Temp Setting
Warm
Gamma Setting
2.2

The out-of-the-box accuracy is incredible. There are minimal inaccuracies to the white balance and colors. Gamma is great overall, but really dark and really bright scenes are too bright, while others are a bit too dark. The color temperature is on the cold side, but it's still good. Keep in mind that accuracy can vary between units.

9.4
Picture Quality
Post Calibration
White Balance dE
0.51
Color dE
0.91
Gamma
2.19
Color Temperature
6,769 K
White Balance Calibration
20 point
Color Calibration
Yes

The accuracy after calibration is remarkable. We didn't have to adjust the colors at all, and the white balance is slightly better. Both the gamma and the color temperature improved a bit, but not by much because we couldn't calibrate it too aggressively.

You can see our recommended settings here.

8.0
Picture Quality
480p Input

The TCL 4 Series upscales lower-resolution content without any issues. 480p content doesn't have the same scaling issues that we saw with the TCL 5 Series/S546 2021 QLED.

8.0
Picture Quality
720p Input

The TCL 4 Series TV doesn't have trouble upscaling 720p content like from cable boxes.

9.0
Picture Quality
1080p Input

The TCL 4 Series looks similar to the TCL 4 Series/S434 Android 2020 with the way it upscales 1080p content, which is fantastic.

10
Picture Quality
4k Input

4k content is displayed perfectly, and there aren't any visible issues.

0
Picture Quality
8k Input

This is a 4k TV that can't display an 8k signal.

Picture Quality
Pixels

The 65 inch model has an ADS panel, which is a type of IPS, similar to the Sony X80J. Unlike most other TVs, it uses an RGB subpixel layout, which helps with text clarity. The 50 and 85 inch models have VA panels, but since TCL doesn't advertise the panel type for the 43, 55, and 75 inch versions, it's unclear which panels they have.

6.7
Picture Quality
Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
No
DCI P3 xy
75.83%
DCI P3 uv
80.29%
Rec 2020 xy
54.49%
Rec 2020 uv
58.60%

The TCL 4 Series can't display a wide color gamut for HDR content. It has disappointing coverage of the Rec. 2020 color space, and while it has better coverage of the DCI P3 color space used in most HDR content. However, it's still not as good as higher-end TVs.

5.6
Picture Quality
Color Volume
Normalized DCI P3 Coverage ITP
64.8%
10,000 cd/m² DCI P3 Coverage ITP
24.9%
Normalized Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
46.8%
10,000 cd/m² Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
17.9%

The color volume is disappointing. It's limited by the narrow color gamut, low contrast, and low peak brightness. The 50 and 85 inch models have VA panels and are expected to have better contrast, so their color volume should be better because they can display darker colors.

7.3
Picture Quality
Gradient
Color Depth
10 Bit
Red (Std. Dev.)
0.122
Green (Std. Dev.)
0.126
Blue (Std. Dev.)
0.089
Gray (Std. Dev.)
0.206

The gradient handling is just decent. There's noticeable banding with most colors, especially darker shades, noticeable in scenes with shades of similar colors, like in a sunset. Setting the Gradation Clear setting to 'Low' or 'High' does a decent job at reducing the banding with the test pattern and in real content, but it also causes the loss of fine details in high-quality content.

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 aren't any signs of temporary image retention on our unit, but this may vary.

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

Although some IPS-type panels can suffer from temporary image retention, this doesn't appear to be permanent as seen in our long-term test.

Motion
7.3
Motion
Response Time
80% Response Time
6.1 ms
100% Response Time
15.8 ms

The TCL 4 Series has a decent response time, but there's overshoot in most transitions that leads to motion artifacts like inverse ghosting. However, unlike the TCL 4 Series/S434 Android 2020, there's no black smearing because that's more typical of VA panels.

2.1
Motion
Flicker-Free
Flicker-Free
No
PWM Dimming Frequency
150 Hz

The TCL 4 Series uses pulse width modulation (PWM) to dim its backlight at low brightness levels. Nearly all picture modes flicker at 150Hz if you set the Brightness to anything above '28', but the 'Low Power' mode starts flickering at '37', and 'Smart HDR' doesn't flicker at all. However, we don't expect this to be an issue for most people because setting it to '28' with most picture modes results in such a dim image.

10
Motion
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
Optional BFI
Yes
Min Flicker For 60 fps
60 Hz
60Hz For 60 fps
Yes
120Hz For 120 fps
N/A
Min Flicker for 60 fps in Game Mode
60 Hz

There's a backlight strobing feature, known as black frame insertion, to improve the appearance of motion. It flickers at 60Hz, and it reduces motion blur trail behind fast-moving objects. Keep in mind that the BFI score is based on the flicker frequency, and not the actual performance.

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

There's a motion interpolation feature that causes the soap opera effect. It looks similar to the TCL 5 Series/S546 2021 QLED, as it handles slow scenes well, but there more artifacts like halos when there are fast-moving objects on the screen.

7.8
Motion
Stutter
Frame Hold Time @ 24 fps
25.9 ms
Frame Hold Time @ 60 fps
0.9 ms

Due to the slower response time, low-frame-rate content doesn't stutter much.

7.8
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
Yes

The TCL 4 Series removes judder from native apps and 24p sources, which helps with the appearance of motion in movies.

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

This TV doesn't support any variable refresh rate technology.

Inputs
9.5
Inputs
Input Lag
1080p @ 60Hz
11.0 ms
1080p @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode
111.8 ms
1440p @ 60Hz
14.9 ms
4k @ 60Hz
14.9 ms
4k @ 60Hz + 10-Bit HDR
14.9 ms
4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4
14.9 ms
4k @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode
99.2 ms
4k @ 60Hz With Interpolation
99.2 ms
8k @ 60Hz
N/A
1080p @ 120Hz
N/A
1440p @ 120Hz
N/A
4k @ 120Hz
N/A
1080p with Variable Refresh Rate
N/A
1440p with VRR
N/A
4k with VRR
N/A
8k with VRR
N/A

The TCL 4 Series has low input lag in Game Mode. It increases with a 4k or 1440p resolution compared to 1080p, but most people won't notice that. Sadly, you can't enable the motion interpolation in Game Mode, so the input lag increases as you need to switch out of Game Mode.

8.3
Inputs
Supported Resolutions
1080p @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4
Yes
1080p @ 120Hz
No
1440p @ 60Hz
Yes (forced resolution required)
1440p @ 120Hz
No
4k @ 60Hz
Yes
4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4
Yes
4k @ 120Hz
No
8k @ 30Hz or 24Hz
No
8k @ 60Hz
No

This TV support most common resolutions up to 4k @ 60Hz, including 1440p @ 60Hz if you create a custom resolution from your PC. It also displays proper chroma 4:4:4 with 1080p and 4k signals at 60Hz, which helps with text clarity, but text looks blurry with 1440p signals.

Inputs
Advanced Console Compatibility
Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)
Yes
PS5, 4k @ 120Hz + HDR
No
PS5, 4k @ 120Hz
No
PS5, 4k @ 60Hz + HDR
Yes
PS5, 1440p @ 120Hz
No
PS5, 1080p @ 120Hz
No
PS5, Variable Refresh Rate
No
Xbox Series X, 4k @ 120Hz + HDR
No
Xbox Series X, 4k @ 120Hz
No
Xbox Series X, 4k @ 60Hz + HDR
Yes
Xbox Series X, 1440p @ 120Hz
No
Xbox Series X, 1080p @ 120Hz
No
Xbox Series X, Variable Refresh Rate
No

Since this is a basic 60Hz TV and lacks HDMI 2.1 inputs, it doesn't support high frame rate signals from the PS5 or Xbox Series X. However, you can still play 4k games up to 60 fps in HDR10 from either console, and there's an Auto Low Latency Mode that automatically switches the TV into Game Mode when you launch a game from a compatible device.

Inputs
Inputs Specifications
HDR10
Yes
HDR10+
No
Dolby Vision
No
HLG
Yes
HDMI 2.0 Full Bandwidth
Yes (HDMI 1,2,3)
HDMI 2.1 Class Bandwidth
No
CEC Yes
HDCP 2.2 Yes (HDMI 1,2,3)
USB 3.0
No
Variable Analog Audio Out Yes
Wi-Fi Support Yes (2.4 GHz, 5 GHz)
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 (incl. adapter)
Tuner (Cable/Ant) 1
Ethernet 1
DisplayPort 0
IR In 0
SD/SDHC 0
Inputs
Audio Passthrough
ARC
Yes (HDMI 1)
eARC support
Yes
Dolby Atmos via TrueHD via eARC
Yes
DTS:X via DTS-HD MA via eARC
No
5.1 Dolby Digital via ARC
Yes
5.1 DTS via ARC
No
5.1 Dolby Digital via Optical
Yes
5.1 DTS via Optical
No

The TCL 4 Series has eARC support, and it can pass Dolby Atmos signals to a compatible receiver through a single HDMI connection. When we tried to pass DTS:X or DTS signals via eARC, ARC, or optical, a DTS prompt would show up on the screen, but our receiver wasn't reading it as DTS:X or DTS. We tried this with a Blu-ray player, and it didn't work either. We don't expect DTS:X or DTS signals to work, and TCL doesn't advertise it either.

Sound Quality
5.8
Sound Quality
Frequency Response
Low-Frequency Extension
106.79 Hz
Std. Dev. @ 70
5.57 dB
Std. Dev. @ 80
5.65 dB
Std. Dev. @ Max
6.49 dB
Max
86.7 dB SPL
Dynamic Range Compression
3.71 dB

The frequency response is disappointing. It doesn't get loud, and there's no bass, if at all. Its sound profile isn't that well-balanced either, and it's fine for listening to dialogue, but you'll want to get a soundbar or receiver for the best sound experience.

7.0
Sound Quality
Distortion
Weighted THD @ 80
0.073
Weighted THD @ Max
0.215
IMD @ 80
4.16%
IMD @ Max
12.68%

The distortion handling is decent. There isn't too much distortion unless you're listening to content at its max volume, in which case, there's more. However, this depends on the content, and not everyone may hear it.

Smart Features
8.0
Smart Features
Interface
Smart OS Google TV
Version 11
Ease of Use
Average
Smoothness
Very Smooth
Time Taken to Select YouTube
2 s
Time Taken to Change Backlight
2 s
Advanced Options
Many

The TCL 4 Series uses Google TV, which is essentially an upgraded version of the Android TV used on the TCL 4 Series/S434 Android 2020, but with a few aesthetic differences. Menu navigation feels smooth, and we didn't experience any bugs, but it may take some time for you to get used to the interface. If you don't need the smart interface, Google TV is advertised to support Basic Mode, which removes the smart features so you can just focus on using the antenna and inputs.

There's even an Ambient Mode setting that can either display your Google Photos or art photos, similar to the Samsung The Frame 2021.

0
Smart Features
Ad-Free
Ads
Yes
Opt-out
No
Suggested Content in Home
Yes
Opt-out of Suggested Content
No

Like most smart interfaces, there are ads throughout the interface, and there's no way to disable them.

9.0
Smart Features
Apps and Features
App Selection
Great
App Smoothness
Very Smooth
Cast Capable
Yes
USB Drive Playback
Yes
USB Drive HDR Playback
Yes
HDR in Netflix
Yes
HDR in YouTube
Yes

The Google Play Store has a massive selection of apps you can download.

7.0
Smart Features
Remote
Size
Small
Voice Control
Many Features
CEC Menu Control
Yes
Other Smart Features
No
Remote App Android TV

This TV comes with the same remote as the TCL 5 Series/S546 2021 QLED. It's a straightforward remote with the necessary buttons to navigate the interface, and there are shortcut buttons to popular streaming services. It has a built-in mic for voice control, and you can ask it to change inputs, search for content, or open apps, but you can't ask it to change settings like the brightness.

Smart Features
TV Controls

There's a single button underneath the center branding to turn the TV On/Off and change the inputs.

Smart Features
In The Box

  • Remote (with 2x AAA batteries)
  • Composite In adapter
  • Power cable
  • User guide

Smart Features
Misc
Power Consumption 53 W
Power Consumption (Max) 119 W
Firmware V8-R51MT05-LF1V177.020179

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

We tested the 65 inch TCL 4 Series, which is also available in 43, 50, 55, 75, and 85 inch sizes. The 65 inch version has an IPS-like panel, but since TCL doesn't specify which panel type it has, it's unclear if the other sizes also have IPS-like panels. The 50 and 85 inch models have VA panels because IPS panels don't exist in this size, so if you have the 43, 55, or 75 inch model, let us know which panel type it has, and we'll update the review. Our results are valid for the models with IPS-like panels.

Size US Model Panel Type VESA Mount Notes
43" 43S446 Unknown 200x200  
50" 50S446 VA 200x300  
55" 55S446 Unknown 300x300  
65" 65S446 ADS (IPS-like) 300x300  
75" 75S446 Unknown 300x300  
85" 85S446 VA 600x400 Different stand configuration

If someone comes across a different type of panel or if their TCL 4 Series doesn't correspond to our review, let us know, and we'll update it. Note that some tests, like gray uniformity, may vary between units.

Our unit was manufactured in September 2021, and you can see the label here.

Compared To Other TVs

The TCL 4 Series TV is a basic entry-level TV that doesn't deliver good picture quality, as its IPS-like panel has a low contrast ratio and it lacks local dimming. However, for a cheap option, it has a few more features than similarly-priced TVs, like motion interpolation, backlight strobing, and judder-removal.

Also see our recommendation for the best TVs under $500, the best smart TVs, and the best budget TVs.

Hisense A6G
43" 50" 55" 58" 60" 65" 70" 75" 85"

The Hisense A6G and the TCL 4 Series/S446 2021 are both okay entry-level TVs. The 65 inch models we tested both have IPS-type panels, but each TV is available in a variety of sizes, and some have VA panels instead. Picture quality is similar between each, except the reflection handling is better on the TCL. The TCL also has motion interpolation and backlight strobing features, both of which the Hisense doesn't have. The Hisense uses Android TV while the TCL has Google TV, and while they're essentially the same interface, Google TV is an upgraded version, so apps and settings open more quickly.

TCL 4 Series 2020
43" 50" 55" 65" 75" 85"

The TCL 4 Series 2020 and the TCL 4 Series/S446 2021 are both part of the same lineup from TCL, but they have different features. The 4 Series 2020 uses Roku TV and has a VA panel with high contrast, while the 4 Series 2021 we tested has an IPS-like panel with wide viewing angles, but there are variants with a VA panel instead, and it has Google TV. The 4 Series 2021 is a better choice for bright rooms because it gets bright and has better reflection handling, and it has a quicker response time. The 4 Series 2021 also has a motion interpolation feature, which the 4 Series 2020 doesn't have, and it has lower input lag for a more responsive gaming experience.

Amazon Fire TV 4-Series
43" 50" 55"

The Amazon Fire TV 4-Series and the TCL 4 Series/S446 2021 are basic entry-level TVs, and the models we tested have different panel types with strengths and weaknesses. The Amazon TV has a VA panel, which has a higher contrast, while the TCL we tested has an IPS-like panel with wider viewing angles, but there are variants of the TCL with a VA panel instead. The TCL has much better accuracy out-of-the-box, and you can calibrate it if the colors are inaccurate, which you can't do with the Amazon TV. The TCL also upscales 480p content better because it doesn't crop the image, and it displays 4k content without issues. Both TVs remove 24p judder from native sources and apps, but the Amazon TV also removes it from 60p/i sources, which is great.

Toshiba C350 Fire TV 2021
43" 50" 55" 65" 75"

The TCL 4 Series/S446 2021 is a better entry-level TV than the Toshiba C350 Fire TV 2021. Both models we tested have IPS-type panels, but they're each available with VA panels, depending on the size. The TCL has a few more features the Toshiba doesn't have, like backlight strobing and motion interpolation features, and it can remove judder from 24p sources. It also displays chroma 4:4:4 with 1080p and 4k signals, and the Toshiba doesn't display it with any signal. Lastly, the TCL doesn't have any issues displaying 720p and 480p content, but the Toshiba has problems with them.

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