TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED TV Review

Tested using Methodology v1.6
Updated Nov 02, 2020 at 08:29 am
TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED Picture
7.7
Mixed Usage
Value for price beaten by
: Hisense U6G
8.4
Movies
Value for price beaten by
: Hisense U6G
7.1
TV Shows
Value for price beaten by
: Hisense U6G
7.1
Sports
Value for price beaten by
: Hisense U6G
7.9
Video Games
Value for price beaten by
: Hisense U6G
7.9
HDR Movies
Value for price beaten by
: Hisense U6G
7.9
HDR Gaming
Value for price beaten by
: Hisense U6G
7.7
PC Monitor
Value for price beaten by
: LG UP8000
This TV was replaced by the TCL 5 Series/S546 2021 QLED
Type LED
Sub-Type
VA
Resolution 4k

The TCL 5 Series 2020 is a mid-range TV in TCL's 2020 lineup and a good upgrade over its predecessor, the TCL 5 Series/S525 2019. The TCL S535 is a QLED TV that displays an excellent wide color gamut for HDR content, but it doesn't get bright enough in HDR to deliver a true HDR experience. Its VA panel has an exceptional contrast ratio, so it displays deep blacks when viewed in the dark. It has a full-array local dimming feature that improves the contrast a bit and performs fairly well overall. Sadly, it has narrow viewing angles, so you quickly lose image accuracy when viewing from the side. Unlike the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED, it doesn't have variable refresh rate (VRR) support and is limited to a 60Hz panel, but it has a good response time and incredibly low input lag. Although it has decent reflection handling, it doesn't get bright enough to combat glare. On the upside, it removes 24p judder from any source, which is rare for a 60Hz TV.

Our Verdict

7.7 Mixed Usage

The TCL S535 is a good overall TV. With a VA panel, it has an exceptional contrast ratio that displays deep blacks, making it a great choice for watching movies. Despite not having many extra gaming features like VRR support, it's a great gaming TV because it has an incredibly low input lag and a quick response time. Unfortunately, it isn't the best for watching shows or sports with a large group of people because it has narrow viewing angles. Lastly, it displays a wide color gamut for HDR content but doesn't get bright enough in HDR to bring out highlights.

Pros
  • Exceptional contrast ratio.
  • Decent full-array local dimming feature.
  • Incredibly low input lag.
  • Displays wide color gamut.
Cons
  • Narrow viewing angles.
  • Doesn't get very bright.
  • No VRR support.
8.4 Movies

The TCL 5 Series 2020 is impressive for watching movies. It has an exceptional contrast ratio, displaying deep blacks. It has a full-array local dimming feature that performs fairly well and there isn't much blooming around bright objects. This TV upscales 1080p content without any issues and it removes 24p judder from any source, which is rare for a 60Hz TV. Sadly, because it has a quick response time, lower-frame rate content may appear to stutter at times.

Pros
  • Exceptional contrast ratio.
  • Removes 24p judder from any source.
  • Decent full-array local dimming feature.
Cons
  • Lower frame rate content may appear to stutter.
7.1 TV Shows

The TCL 5 Series 2020 is decent for TV shows. It doesn't have any issues upscaling lower-resolution content, such as from cable boxes. Even though it has decent reflection handling, it's not the best choice for a well-lit room as it doesn't get very bright. Also, it has narrow viewing angles, so it's not ideal for watching your favorite show with the entire family.

Pros
  • Upscales lower-resolution content well.
  • Decent reflection handling.
Cons
  • Narrow viewing angles.
  • Doesn't get very bright.
7.1 Sports

The TCL 5 Series QLED is decent for sports. Motion looks good because of its quick response time that results in minimal motion blur, and it has a Black Frame Insertion feature. However, it has narrow viewing angles, so you don't get the same accurate image when viewing from the side. It doesn't perform well in well-lit rooms as it doesn't get bright, but the reflection handling is decent.

Pros
  • Decent reflection handling.
  • Very good response time.
Cons
  • Narrow viewing angles.
  • Doesn't get very bright.
7.9 Video Games

The TCL 5 Series is great for gaming. It has an incredibly low input lag, quick response time, and a Black Frame Insertion feature to help reduce motion blur. Sadly, it's limited to a 60Hz refresh rate and doesn't support any VRR technology. It's great for dark-room gaming because of its exceptional contrast ratio and good black uniformity, but it doesn't get very bright, so it's not the best for gaming in bright rooms.

Pros
  • Exceptional contrast ratio.
  • Very good response time.
  • Incredibly low input lag.
  • Black Frame Insertion feature.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very bright.
  • No VRR support.
7.9 HDR Movies

The TCL 5 Series 2020 is good for HDR movies. It displays a wide color gamut for HDR content, but doesn't get bright enough to truly bring out highlights. It has an exceptional contrast ratio and decent full-array local dimming feature that helps further deepen any blacks. Also, it can remove 24p judder from any source, which helps with the appearance of motion.

Pros
  • Exceptional contrast ratio.
  • Decent full-array local dimming feature.
  • Displays wide color gamut.
Cons
  • Lower frame rate content may appear to stutter.
  • Doesn't get very bright.
7.9 HDR Gaming

The TCL 5 Series 2020 is good for HDR gaming, mainly due to its great gaming performance. It has a very good response time and incredibly low input lag, but it doesn't support any VRR technology. It displays an excellent wide color gamut for HDR content, but it doesn't get bright enough to make highlights pop the way they should.

Pros
  • Exceptional contrast ratio.
  • Incredibly low input lag.
  • Displays wide color gamut.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very bright.
  • No VRR support.
7.7 PC Monitor

The TCL S535 is a good choice to use as a PC monitor. It has a very low input lag to provide a responsive desktop experience, and fast-moving content looks smooth thanks to the quick response time. It displays chroma 4:4:4, which is important for reading text clearly. Sadly, it has narrow viewing angles and the edges of the screen may appear inaccurate if you sit too close.

Pros
  • Incredibly low input lag.
  • Displays chroma 4:4:4.
Cons
  • Narrow viewing angles.
  • Doesn't get very bright.
  • 7.7 Mixed Usage
  • 8.4 Movies
  • 7.1 TV Shows
  • 7.1 Sports
  • 7.9 Video Games
  • 7.9 HDR Movies
  • 7.9 HDR Gaming
  • 7.7 PC Monitor
  1. Updated Jul 16, 2021: Uploaded the real content local dimming videos.
  2. Updated Mar 01, 2021: We previously indicated that 1440p @ 60Hz is supported natively, which is wrong. It only works through a forced resolution.
  3. Updated Mar 01, 2021: Converted to Test Bench 1.6.
  4. Updated Oct 06, 2020: Updated review for accuracy and clarity.
  5. Updated Sep 16, 2020: Review published.
  6. Updated Sep 09, 2020: Early access published.

Video

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The TCL 5 Series is a mid-range TV in TCL's 2020 lineup and it sits just below the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED. It replaces the TCL 5 Series/S525 2019. Its main competitors are the Hisense H8G, Samsung TU8000, and the LG UN7300.

Design
Design
Style
Curved No

The TCL 5 Series has a good design. It's an improvement over the TCL 5 Series/S525 2019 because it has thin bezels and a new design on the back. This TV also has new feet that include cable management, which is a nice addition. It's made out of metal and plastic, but it doesn't have the same premium look as the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED.

Design
Stand

The stand is as wide as the TV itself, so you need a large table to place it on. The legs feel a bit flimsy, but they hold the TV well and there isn't much wobble. You can't place the feet in a reverse position either.

Footprint of the 55" stand: 47.1" x 11.5"

Design
Back
Wall Mount VESA 300x200

The back of the TV is mostly made out of metal, except the part where the inputs are housed in is plastic. Cable management is serviced through the feet.

Design
Borders
Borders 0.35" (0.9 cm)

The borders are thin and aren't distracting.

Design
Thickness
Max Thickness 3.43" (8.7 cm)

This TV is somewhat thick. The bottom part where the inputs are stands out a bit, so the TV sticks out when wall-mounted.

7.0
Design
Build Quality

The build quality is decent. The TCL 5 Series is a well-built TV overall and feels solid. The top half of the back is made out of thin metal that feels fairly solid, but flexes a bit. The bottom half is plastic and feels cheap. The stand is a bit flimsy too, but it holds the TV well.

Picture Quality
9.4
Picture Quality
Contrast
Native Contrast
7,200 : 1
Contrast with local dimming
7,402 : 1

The TCL 5 Series has an exceptional contrast ratio. It displays deep blacks when viewed in the dark. The full-array local dimming feature improves the contrast a bit. Note that contrast may vary between units.

6.1
Picture Quality
SDR Brightness
Real Scene Peak Brightness
242 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
186 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
325 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
372 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
309 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
291 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
184 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
325 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
370 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
308 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
290 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.041

The SDR peak brightness is mediocre, and significantly worse than the Hisense U6G. This TV's brightness doesn't remain consistent across different content, as very small and very large areas don't get as bright. For the most part, it doesn't get bright enough to combat glare.

We measured the peak brightness after calibration, in the 'Movie' Picture Mode with Local Contrast set to 'High', Gamma set to '2.2', and Backlight at max.

If you don't care about image accuracy and want the brightest image possible, use the 'Normal' Picture Mode with Backlight at max.

7.0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming
Local Dimming
Yes
Backlight
Full-Array

Update 07/16/2021: We uploaded the real content local dimming videos.

New to the TCL 5 Series compared to the TCL 5 Series/S525 2019 is a full-array local dimming feature and it performs fairly well. It raises the black level, which causes the image to appear a bit brighter and black backgrounds to appear closer to gray, but it also helps the screen look more uniform. There isn't any black crush, so small light sources pop well, such as in a star field.

There's only a bit of blooming in our test pattern and it's not very noticeable in real content. Subtitles don't get very bright and there's a lot less blooming than the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED. Fast-moving objects transition between zones quickly and there's a bit of blur trail behind fast-moving objects in our test pattern. However, it's not distracting and it's hardly visible in real content.

We tested local dimming with Local Contrast set to 'High'. Also, the larger variants have more dimming zones, so they may perform better.

7.0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming In Game Mode
Local Dimming
Yes
Backlight
Full-Array

Update 07/16/2021: We uploaded the real content local dimming videos.

5.1
Picture Quality
HDR Brightness
Real Scene Highlight
247 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
214 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
376 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
432 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
358 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
337 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
213 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
375 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
429 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
356 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
335 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.040

The TCL S535 has poor HDR peak brightness. It only gets a bit brighter in HDR than in SDR and it's not nearly as bright as the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED. Once again, its brightness doesn't remain consistent with different content.

We measured the peak brightness in the 'Dark HDR' Picture Mode with Local Contrast set to 'High', Gamma set to '2.2', and both Contrast and Backlight at their max.

If you want the brightest image possible and don't care about image accuracy, use the 'Normal HDR' Picture Mode with Local Contrast on 'High' and Backlight at its max.

5.2
Picture Quality
HDR Brightness In Game Mode
Real Scene Highlight
252 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
214 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
380 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
437 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
364 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
343 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
213 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
379 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
435 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
362 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
341 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.041
6.6
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
4.445%
50% DSE
0.210%
5% Std. Dev.
1.490%
5% DSE
0.123%

The gray uniformity is okay, but this may vary between units. The edges of the screen are visibly darker and there's dirty screen effect in the center, which may be distracting when watching sports. In near-dark scenes, the screen is more uniform, but there's vignetting in the corners.

7.7
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
0.903%
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
1.413%

Black uniformity is good, but this may vary between units. There's a bit of backlight bleed and clouding throughout, but there's no blooming around the center cross. With local dimming, there's less backlight bleed but more blooming around the cross.

5.0
Picture Quality
Viewing Angle
Color Washout
23°
Color Shift
20°
Brightness Loss
32°
Black Level Raise
12°
Gamma Shift
15°

The viewing angles are poor, which is expected from a TV with a VA panel. You quickly lose image accuracy when viewing from the side, so it's not suggested if you have a wide seating arrangement.

7.0
Picture Quality
Reflections
Screen Finish
Semi-gloss
Total Reflections
6.0%
Indirect Reflections
1.0%
Calculated Direct Reflections
5.0%

The TCL S535 has decent reflection handling. It performs well in moderately-lit rooms. However, if you place it opposite a window, the reflections may become too distracting.

8.0
Picture Quality
Pre Calibration
White Balance dE
2.63
Color dE
2.38
Gamma
2.22
Color Temperature
6,085 K
Picture Mode
Movie
Color Temp Setting
Warm
Gamma Setting
2.2

The out-of-the-box color accuracy is great, but this may vary between units. Most colors and shades of gray are accurate, except the color temperature is a bit warm, giving the image a red/yellow tint. Gamma follows the target almost perfectly, so most scenes are displayed at their correct brightness.

9.5
Picture Quality
Post Calibration
White Balance dE
0.20
Color dE
1.28
Gamma
2.20
Color Temperature
6,493 K
White Balance Calibration
11 point
Color Calibration
Yes

The TCL S535 has remarkable accuracy after calibration. Except for cyan, most colors are accurate and the color temperature is extremely close to the 6500K target.

In order to calibrate this TV, you have to download the Roku app on your mobile device and connect it to your TV.

You can see our recommended settings here.

8.0
Picture Quality
480p Input

480p content looks great, with no obvious issues.

8.0
Picture Quality
720p Input

720p content, like from cable TV, looks great.

9.0
Picture Quality
1080p Input

1080p content looks excellent, almost as good as native 4k content.

10
Picture Quality
4k Input

The TCL 5 Series displays 4k content perfectly.

0
Picture Quality
8k Input

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

Picture Quality
Pixels

The TCL S535 uses a BGR subpixel layout, which can affect the way text is displayed when using the TV as a PC monitor. You can read about it here.

8.5
Picture Quality
Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
Yes
DCI P3 xy
93.96%
DCI P3 uv
96.35%
Rec 2020 xy
71.50%
Rec 2020 uv
78.83%

The TCL S535 has an excellent color gamut. It's a QLED TV that displays a really wide color gamut for HDR content, and it's a significant improvement over the TCL 5 Series/S525 2019. It has outstanding coverage of the commonly-used DCI P3 color space and good coverage of the wider Rec. 2020.

The EOTF follows the target curve almost perfectly until it rolls off at its peak brightness. The image is a bit brighter in 'Game' mode, as you can see the EOTF here.

If you find HDR too dim, use the 'Dark HDR' Picture Mode, set Contrast and Backlight to their max, and Local Contrast to 'Medium'. It makes the image a bit brighter, as you can see in this EOTF. Setting Local Contrast to 'Medium' results in a higher EOTF than setting it to 'High', but we got a max brightness of 397 cd/m² with 'Medium' versus 414 cd/m² with 'High'.

7.7
Picture Quality
Color Volume
Normalized DCI P3 Coverage ITP
84.1%
10,000 cd/m² DCI P3 Coverage ITP
29.6%
Normalized Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
70.6%
10,000 cd/m² Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
24.8%

This TV has good color volume. It displays deep, saturated colors well due to its exceptional contrast. However, it fails to display bright blues, which is typical of an LCD TV.

8.4
Picture Quality
Gradient
Color Depth
10 Bit
Red (Std. Dev.)
0.086
Green (Std. Dev.)
0.092
Blue (Std. Dev.)
0.075
Gray (Std. Dev.)
0.140

The TCL 55S535 has impressive gradient handling, much better than the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED. There's some banding with grays and darker colors, but overall, it shouldn't be noticeable with most content. Sadly, the Noise Reduction setting doesn't improve the gradient handling at all.

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%

This TV shows no signs of temporary 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
7.9
Motion
Response Time
80% Response Time
5.2 ms
100% Response Time
12.1 ms

The response time is very good. It's a bit slow with darker transitions, which may lead to some motion blur, but there's no overshoot. Overall, fast-moving content on this TV looks smooth.

9.9
Motion
Flicker-Free
Flicker-Free
No
PWM Dimming Frequency
960 Hz

This TV uses Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) to dim its backlight at all brightness levels. The high flicker frequency shouldn't bother most people.

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 Black Frame Insertion (BFI) feature to help reduce motion blur. It reduces the flicker frequency to 60Hz and doesn't dim the screen much. However, it may cause some image duplication, as seen in the photo above. To enable the BFI, simply turn on LED Motion Clarity.

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

The TCL 5 Series can interpolate motion up to 60fps, which is known as the 'Soap Opera Effect'. It doesn't look good with real content because it seems as if it's not doing much. It smooths out slower-moving content a bit, but it seems to stop when the scene gets too busy.

See the settings for the motion interpolation feature here.

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

Due to the TV's quick response time, there's some stutter with lower-frame rate content because each frame is held longer.

10
Motion
24p Judder
Judder-Free 24p
Yes
Judder-Free 24p via 60p
Yes
Judder-Free 24p via 60i
Yes
Judder-Free 24p via Native Apps
Yes

This TV can remove 24p judder from any source, such as native apps, which is rare for a 60Hz TV. Enable Natural Cinema to remove judder.

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

Unlike the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED, the TCL S535 doesn't support any variable refresh rate technology. If you want a similar TV that supports variable refresh rate technology, check out the Vizio M7 Series Quantum 2020.

Inputs
9.7
Inputs
Input Lag
1080p @ 60Hz
11.2 ms
1080p @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode
111.1 ms
1440p @ 60Hz
10.9 ms
4k @ 60Hz
10.8 ms
4k @ 60Hz + 10-Bit HDR
10.8 ms
4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4
10.9 ms
4k @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode
110.9 ms
4k @ 60Hz With Interpolation
111.0 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

This TV has an incredibly low input lag, and it's much better than the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED. It slightly increases at 1080p compared to 4k, but this shouldn't make much of a difference when gaming. It has an 'Auto Low Latency Mode' that automatically switches the TV into 'Game' mode when a game is launched from a compatible device, and you don't need to turn on any settings for it to work.

If you want to use this TV as a computer monitor, the TV automatically switches into 'PC' mode to ensure a low input lag. Just enable HDMI 2.0 for it to work.

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

Update 02/15/2021: We previously indicated that 1440p @ 60Hz is supported natively, which is wrong. It supports it, but only through a forced resolution.

This TV supports most common resolutions at 60Hz. It displays proper chroma 4:4:4, which is important for reading text if you use it as a PC monitor. However, it displays chroma 4:4:4 only with a 1080p or 4k resolution, as the text looks fuzzy with a 1440p resolution.

To achieve full bandwidth, set the HDMI Mode setting to 'HDMI 2.0'.

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
Inputs
Inputs Specifications
HDR10
Yes
HDR10+
No
Dolby Vision
Yes
HLG
Yes
HDMI 2.0 Full Bandwidth
Yes (HDMI 1,2,3,4)
HDMI 2.1 Class Bandwidth
No
CEC Yes
HDCP 2.2 Yes (HDMI 1,2,3,4)
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 4
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) 1
Ethernet 1
DisplayPort 0
IR In 0
SD/SDHC 0

The Composite In input needs an adapter, but unlike the TCL 5 Series/S525 2019, this TV doesn't come with one.

Inputs
Audio Passthrough
ARC
Yes (HDMI 4)
eARC support
Yes
Dolby Atmos via TrueHD via eARC
Yes
DTS:X via DTS-HD MA via eARC
Yes
5.1 Dolby Digital via ARC
Yes
5.1 DTS via ARC
Yes
5.1 Dolby Digital via Optical
Yes
5.1 DTS via Optical
Yes

The TCL 5 Series has eARC support, which allows you to send uncompressed, high-quality audio through an HDMI connection. For it to work, enable S/PDIF in the 'Audio' settings page, and set eARC to 'Auto Detect.'

Sound Quality
6.6
Sound Quality
Frequency Response
Low-Frequency Extension
126.99 Hz
Std. Dev. @ 70
4.17 dB
Std. Dev. @ 80
3.85 dB
Std. Dev. @ Max
4.83 dB
Max
90.3 dB SPL
Dynamic Range Compression
3.19 dB

The built-in speakers' frequency response is just okay. It doesn't produce much bass, so you should get a soundbar to get the best sound experience possible. It has a fairly well-balanced sound profile overall and it gets loud enough for noisy environments.

6.0
Sound Quality
Distortion
Weighted THD @ 80
0.231
Weighted THD @ Max
1.082
IMD @ 80
13.99%
IMD @ Max
29.89%

The distortion performance is mediocre. There's not much distortion at moderate listening levels, but it increases significantly at its max volume. However, distortion may change depending on the content, and most people may not hear it.

Smart Features
8.0
Smart Features
Interface
Smart OS Roku TV
Version 9.3.2
Ease of Use
Easy
Smoothness
Very Smooth
Time Taken to Select YouTube
4 s
Time Taken to Change Backlight
3 s
Advanced Options
Many

This TV runs on Roku OS, which is user-friendly and operates very smoothly.

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

Unfortunately, like all Roku TVs we've tested, there are large ads on the home screen and they can't be disabled.

8.0
Smart Features
Apps and Features
App Selection
Great
App Smoothness
Average
Cast Capable
Yes
USB Drive Playback
Yes
USB Drive HDR Playback
Yes
HDR in Netflix
Yes
HDR in YouTube
Yes

Roku's app store has a great selection of apps you can download.

7.0
Smart Features
Remote
Size
Small
Voice Control
Search, Some Other Features
CEC Menu Control
Yes
Other Smart Features
No
Remote App Roku

Update 10/29/2020: We used the voice control through the mobile app. The remote doesn't have a microphone for voice control.

The TCL 5 Series has the same Roku remote that comes with most TCL TVs. It's small, simple, and it comes with shortcut buttons to popular streaming services. However, it doesn't have voice control and you can only use voice control through the Roku app on your mobile device. It can be a hit or miss at times, as we could search for specific content in apps, but when we asked it to change the backlight setting, it changed the volume instead.

Smart Features
TV Controls

There's a single button on the back of the TV that controls the power and inputs.

Smart Features
In The Box

  • Remote (with 2x AAA batteries)
  • Power cable (Not shown)
  • Manual

Smart Features
Misc
Power Consumption 44 W
Power Consumption (Max) 109 W
Firmware 9.3.2 build 5006-88

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

We tested the 55 inch TCL 5 Series QLED (55S535), and for the most part, we expect our review to be valid for the 50 inch, 65 inch, and 75 inch sizes too. TCL's lineup outside of North America is very different, so we're not aware of any equivalents outside Canada and the United States.

Size US Canada Dimming Zones VESA Mount
50" 50S535 50S535-CA 40 200x200 
55" 55S535 55S535-CA 48 300x200 
65" 65S535 65S535-CA 56 400x200
75" 75S535 75S535-CA 80 400x200

If someone comes across a different type of panel or if their TCL 5 Series doesn't correspond to our review, let us know and we will update the review. Note that some tests, such as gray uniformity, may vary between individual units.

You can see the label for our unit here.

Compared To Other TVs

The TCL 5 Series 2020 is a good overall TV and it offers great value for its price. It displays a much wider color gamut than other TVs in its price range, such as the Hisense H8G, but it's outperformed but some newer budget models, like the Hisense U6G. Although some slightly more expensive options perform better overall, such as the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 or the Hisense H9G, most people should be happy with this TV. Also see our recommendations for the best TVs, the best 55 inch TVs, and the best budget TVs.

Hisense U6G
50" 55" 65" 75"

The Hisense U6G is much better than the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED. The Hisense is a lot brighter, has better reflection handling, better black uniformity, and better gray uniformity. On the other hand, the TCL has better contrast, although this isn't a very noticeable difference, and it can remove judder from 60Hz sources, like a cable box.

TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED
55" 65" 75"

The TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 is better overall than the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020. The 6 Series gets significantly brighter, so highlights pop the way they should in HDR. It also has a 120Hz refresh rate, VRR support, and a quicker response time. However, the 5 Series has better out-of-the-box color accuracy, gradient handling, and it has much lower input lag.

Vizio M7 Series Quantum 2021
50" 55" 58" 65" 70" 75"

The Vizio M7 Series Quantum 2021 and the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED are both good 4k TVs. They have the same panel type with similar picture quality as they each have a high contrast ratio, but the full-array local dimming feature is better on the Vizio. The Vizio gets much brighter and has better reflection handling, making it a better choice for well-lit rooms. Also, the Vizio has VRR support, which the TCL doesn't have. However, the TCL doesn't have any trouble upscaling lower-resolution content like the Vizio, and the built-in Roku smart platform is better overall than the Vizio SmartCast system.

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

The TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED is much better than the TCL 4 Series 2020. The 5 Series has a better contrast ratio, a full-array local dimming feature, and it gets brighter. It also displays a wide color gamut for HDR content, has a much quicker response time, and lower input lag. However, the 4 Series has better out-of-the-box color accuracy and better reflection handling.

Samsung TU7000
43" 50" 55" 58" 60" 65" 70" 75" 82"

The TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED is much better than the Samsung TU7000. The TCL has better picture quality, mainly because its full-array local dimming feature allows it to display deep blacks. It also gets a bit brighter and displays a wide color gamut for HDR content, which the Samsung can't do. Lastly, the TCL has a much quicker response time, so motion looks smoother.

Hisense U8G
55" 65"

The Hisense U8G is significantly better than the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED. The Hisense is much brighter, and it has better reflection handling, making it a better choice for a bright room. The Hisense is also a better gaming TV, with a 120Hz refresh rate and support for the latest gaming technologies, including two HDMI 2.1 ports and support for a variable refresh rate.

TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED
55" 65" 75"

The TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED is better than the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED. The R646 is a higher-end version so it has more features like HDMI 2.1 inputs, VRR support, and a 120Hz panel for a superior gaming experience. It uses Mini LED backlighting that allows to get much brighter, especially in HDR, so highlights pop more. They each have decent local dimming features that perform similarly to each other because they raise the black levels in dark scenes to reduce blooming, but that comes at the cost of not having deep blacks.

Samsung TU8000
43" 50" 55" 65" 75" 85"

The TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED is better overall than the Samsung TU8000. The TCL has a full-array local dimming feature, which the Samsung doesn't have, and it displays a much wider color gamut, so it's a better choice for watching HDR content. Other than that, the TVs are very similar with a 60Hz panel, quick response time, and low input lag for gaming.

Samsung Q60/Q60T QLED
43" 50" 55" 58" 65" 75" 82" 85"

The TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 is better overall than the Samsung Q60/Q60T QLED. The TCL has a full-array local dimming feature, it displays a wider color gamut, it has better gradient handling and quicker response time. On the other hand, the Samsung gets brighter, handles reflections a bit better, and has better out-of-the-box color accuracy.

TCL 4 Series/S434 Android 2020
43" 50" 55" 65" 75"

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.

Hisense H8G
50" 55" 65" 75"

The Hisense H8G is slightly better than the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020. The Hisense gets brighter and it has better reflection handling, so it's a better choice for well-lit environments. However, the TCL has a better contrast ratio, wider color gamut, better gradient handling, and the built-in Roku TV is easier to use.

TCL 6 Series/R625 2019
55" 65"

The TCL 6 Series/R625 2019 is slightly better than the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED. The 6 Series 2019 gets much brighter, has a better-performing local dimming feature, and better black uniformity. However, the 5 Series 2020 has better contrast ratio, response time, color accuracy, and reflection handling.

TCL 4 Series 2019
43" 49" 50" 55" 65" 75"

The TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED is much better than the TCL 4 Series 2019, mainly because it sits higher up in the lineup. The 5 Series has a decent-performing full-array local dimming feature, which the 4 Series doesn't have. It also displays a wide color gamut and gets much brighter, so it's a better choice for watching HDR content. Lastly, the 5 Series removes 24p judder from any source, while the 4 Series can only remove it from native 24p content.

Hisense R6090G
43" 50" 55" 65"

The TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED is much better than the Hisense R6090G. The TCL has a full-array local dimming feature, it displays a much wider color gamut, has much better gradient handling, and has a quicker response time. However, the Hisense has better reflection handling.

TCL 5 Series/S525 2019
43" 50" 55" 65"

The TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 is a big improvement over its predecessor, the TCL 5 Series/S525 2019. The S535 has a full-array local dimming feature, it displays a much wider color gamut, it has a Black Frame Insertion feature, and it's better-built. However, the S525 gets a bit brighter and it has better out-of-the-box color accuracy, but this may vary between units.

Vizio M7 Series Quantum 2020
50" 55" 65"

The Vizio M7 Series Quantum 2020 and the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED score similarly overall, but there are a few notable differences between them. The Vizio has higher peak brightness, better reflection handling, and supports variable refresh rate technology. The TCL has a higher contrast ratio, better local dimming, and can remove judder from all sources.

Hisense H9G
55" 65"

The Hisense H9G is much better than the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020. The Hisense gets much brighter, so HDR content pops the way it should. It also has much better reflection handling, a quicker response time, and a 120Hz panel. On the other hand, the TCL displays a wider color gamut, it has lower input lag, and better out-of-the-box color accuracy.

LG CX OLED
48" 55" 65" 77"

The LG CX OLED is much better than the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED. The LG has an OLED panel, resulting in an infinite contrast ratio and perfect black uniformity. It also gets brighter, has wider viewing angles, a near-instantaneous response time, and VRR support. However, the TCL has lower input lag and it doesn't have the risk of permanent burn-in.

Vizio M6 Series Quantum 2021
43" 50" 55" 65" 70" 75"

The TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED is better overall than the Vizio M6 Series Quantum 2021. The TCL has a local dimming feature to improve the picture quality in dark scenes, which the Vizio doesn't have. The TCL also does a better job at upscaling lower-resolution content, and the built-in Roku has an app store, unlike the Vizio SmartCast system. Motion also looks a lot smoother on the TCL thanks to the quicker response time. One of the few advantages the Vizio has over the TCL is that it supports FreeSync, which the TCL doesn't.

Sony X750H
55" 65" 75"

The TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED is better overall than the Sony X750H. The TCL has a full-array local dimming feature, which the Sony doesn't have, so it's able to display deeper blacks. The TCL is also able to remove 24p judder from any source, while the Sony can only remove it from native 24p sources. The Sony gets brighter, so it's a bit better choice for well-lit rooms.

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