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To try to better understand how long a TV should last, we're running 100 TVs through an accelerated longevity test for the next two years. We've just posted our 1-year video update with our latest findings on temporary image retention, burn-in, and more!

TCL 5 Series/S546 2021 QLED TV Review

Tested using Methodology v1.11
Review updated Feb 13, 2023 at 12:01 pm
Latest change: Retest Feb 13, 2024 at 11:44 am
TCL 5 Series/S546 2021 QLED Picture
7.2
Mixed Usage
Value for price beaten by
: no price info
6.8
TV Shows
Value for price beaten by
: no price info
7.2
Sports
Value for price beaten by
: no price info
7.9
Video Games
Value for price beaten by
: no price info
7.0
HDR Movies
Value for price beaten by
: no price info
8.0
HDR Gaming
Value for price beaten by
: no price info
7.9
PC Monitor
Value for price beaten by
: no price info

The TCL 5 Series/S546 2021 QLED is a mid-range 4k LED TV released in 2021. It's part of TCL's 2021 lineup, and although it's meant as an upgrade from the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED, it's not a direct replacement because they're both still available as part of the 5 Series lineup. It uses Google TV, which is a user-friendly smart interface with an excellent selection of apps available to download through the Google Play Store. You also have access to Google Assistant through the built-in mic on the TV for hands-free voice control. There are a few more gaming features like variable refresh rate (VRR) support to reduce screen tearing, but it's still limited to HDMI 2.0 bandwidth.

Our Verdict

7.2 Mixed Usage

The TCL 5 Series is a good TV for most uses. It's great for gaming thanks to its low input lag, quick response time, and variable refresh rate support. It's very good for watching movies in a dark room thanks as it displays deep blacks and has a full-array local dimming feature, but the local dimming feature isn't the best, and there's some blooming around bright areas of the screen. It's good for watching sports and decent for shows in a bright room, as it has good enough brightness to overcome some glare. However, it has a narrow viewing angle, so the image degrades when viewed from the side, making it a poor choice for a wide seating arrangement.

Pros
  • High contrast ratio.
  • Displays 720p, 1080p, and 4k content well.
  • Removes judder from 24p sources.
  • Gets bright in SDR.
  • Quick response time for smooth motion.
Cons
  • Local dimming raises the black level and causes blooming.
  • Can't properly upscale 480p content, like from DVDs.
  • Narrow viewing angle.
6.8 TV Shows

The TCL S546 is decent for watching TV shows in a bright room. It has decent reflection handling, and it gets bright enough to fight glare in most well-lit rooms. It displays 720p content like from cable boxes well, but it has trouble with 480p content if you watch standard definition TV shows or DVDs from an older source that doesn't upscale the image. It also has a narrow viewing angle, so the image appears washed out from the sides, so it's not ideal for a wide seating arrangement or if you like to move around with the TV on.

Pros
  • Removes judder from 24p sources.
  • Gets bright in SDR.
  • Decent reflection handling.
Cons
  • Can't properly upscale 480p content, like from DVDs.
  • Narrow viewing angle.
7.2 Sports

The TCL 5 Series 2021 is good for watching sports in a bright room. Motion looks smooth thanks to the quick response time, and it performs well in bright rooms because it gets bright enough to fight glare and has decent reflection handling. Unfortunately, there's some dirty screen effect in the center, which is distracting when watching sports. It also has narrow viewing angles, so it's not a good choice for watching sports with a large group of friends as only people sitting directly in front will see a proper image.

Pros
  • Displays 720p, 1080p, and 4k content well.
  • Removes judder from 24p sources.
  • Gets bright in SDR.
  • Quick response time for smooth motion.
Cons
  • Narrow viewing angle.
  • Uniformity issues with dirty screen effect.
7.9 Video Games

The TCL S546 is great for gaming. It has a quick response time and low input lag for a smooth and responsive gaming experience. It has a few extra gaming features like FreeSync and ALLM support, but it's limited to HDMI 2.0 bandwidth, so you can't take full advantage of the PS5 or Xbox Series X. It's great for dark room gaming as it has a high contrast ratio, but the local dimming feature isn't anything special.

Pros
  • High contrast ratio.
  • Displays 720p, 1080p, and 4k content well.
  • Removes judder from 24p sources.
  • Quick response time for smooth motion.
  • VRR support.
Cons
  • Local dimming raises the black level and causes blooming.
  • Limited to HDMI 2.0 bandwidth.
7.0 HDR Movies

The TCL 5 Series is very good for watching HDR movies. It delivers deep and uniform blacks thanks to its fantastic contrast and excellent uniformity. It has a full-array local dimming feature, but it doesn't do much to improve the picture quality in dark scenes as there's blooming around bright objects. It supports both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision and displays a wide color gamut, but doesn't get bright enough to make highlights pop.

Pros
  • High contrast ratio.
  • Displays 720p, 1080p, and 4k content well.
  • Removes judder from 24p sources.
  • Wide color gamut.
Cons
  • Local dimming raises the black level and causes blooming.
  • Mediocre peak brightness in HDR.
8.0 HDR Gaming

The TCL S546 is very good for HDR gaming. It has great gaming features like a great response time, low input lag, and VRR support. However, it has a 60Hz panel and it's limited to HDMI 2.0 bandwidth, so you're limited to 4k @ 60 fps games. HDR content also looks good because it displays deep blacks and has a wide color gamut, but it doesn't get very bright in HDR, and its local dimming feature causes blooming around bright objects.

Pros
  • High contrast ratio.
  • Removes judder from 24p sources.
  • Quick response time for smooth motion.
  • VRR support.
Cons
  • Local dimming raises the black level and causes blooming.
  • Mediocre peak brightness in HDR.
7.9 PC Monitor

The TCL 5 Series is good to use as a PC monitor. It has low input lag for a responsive desktop experience, and motion looks good thanks to the quick response time. It displays chroma 4:4:4 properly with 1080p and 4k signals, which is important for clear text on the desktop. However, there are a few gray uniformity issues noticeable with web pages or documents and has a narrow viewing angle, meaning the image looks shifts and fades at the edges if you sit too close.

Pros
  • Removes judder from 24p sources.
  • Gets bright in SDR.
  • Quick response time for smooth motion.
  • Displays chroma 4:4:4 with 1080p and 4k signals.
Cons
  • Narrow viewing angle.
  • Uniformity issues with dirty screen effect.
  • 7.2 Mixed Usage
  • 6.8 TV Shows
  • 7.2 Sports
  • 7.9 Video Games
  • 7.0 HDR Movies
  • 8.0 HDR Gaming
  • 7.9 PC Monitor
  1. Updated Feb 13, 2024: We uploaded the latest brightness measurements and uniformity photos for the Accelerated Longevity Test.
  2. Updated Dec 05, 2023: We uploaded the latest brightness measurements and uniformity photos for the Accelerated Longevity Test.
  3. Updated Oct 12, 2023: We uploaded the latest brightness measurements and uniformity photos for the Accelerated Longevity Test.
  4. Updated Aug 29, 2023: Added mention of the newly released TCL Q6/Q650G QLED in the HDR Brightness section of this review.
  5. Updated Aug 09, 2023: We uploaded the latest brightness measurements and uniformity photos for the Accelerated Longevity Test.
  6. Updated Jul 24, 2023: Converted to Test Bench 1.11. With this update, we've added a new Upscaling: Sharpness Processing test and revamped our Blooming test so the scores and picture better match the real world experience. With this change, it was necessary to remove the Black Crush test. Finally, we've updated our usage scores to better align our scores with user expectations.
  7. Updated Jun 22, 2023: Converted to Test Bench 1.10. With this update we've revamped our Gradient testing, added a new test for Low Quality Content Smoothing, and expanded our Audio Passthrough testing.
  8. Updated Jun 07, 2023: We uploaded the latest brightness measurements and uniformity photos for the Accelerated Longevity Test.
  9. Updated Apr 03, 2023: We uploaded the brightness measurements and uniformity photos after running the TV for four months in our Accelerated Longevity Test.
  10. Updated Feb 13, 2023: We've updated the text in the review to reflect our latest test methodology updates.
  11. Updated Feb 06, 2023: We uploaded the brightness measurements and uniformity photos after running the TV for two months in our Accelerated Longevity Test.
  12. Updated Dec 12, 2022: Updated to Test Bench 1.9, modifying our Contrast testing and splitting our local dimming testing into multiple sections covering Blooming, Black Crush, and Lighting Zone Transitions. You can see our full changelog here.
  13. Updated Nov 30, 2022: Updated to Test Bench 1.8, adding a new box for PQ EOTF tracking and updating our Color Volume and Color Gamut tests to better reflect real world usage. You can see our full changelog here.
  14. Updated Nov 23, 2022: We bought and tested the TCL 5 Series/S555 2022 QLED. We've added a few relevant comparisons to this review.
  15. Updated Nov 22, 2022: We tested the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED Series and added a few relevant comparisons to this review.
  16. Updated Nov 17, 2022: We uploaded the initial brightness measurements and uniformity photos for the Accelerated Longevity Test.
  17. Updated Oct 26, 2022: Updated to Test Bench 1.7 with an updated HDR Brightness test that better reflects real world usage. We've also split the console compatibility boxes into separate PS5 Compatibility and Xbox Series X|S Compatibility tests. You can see our full changelog here.
  18. Updated Apr 28, 2022: We tested the TV with the PS5's new variable refresh rate feature and confirmed that it's working properly. Since the PS5 only supports HDMI Forum VRR, this also confirmed that the TV supports that type of VRR.
  19. Updated Jan 24, 2022: We looked into a suggested color fix for this TV.
  20. Updated Dec 16, 2021: We updated our TV and took another look at the interface.
  21. Updated Oct 20, 2021: Review published.
  22. Updated Oct 18, 2021: Early access published.
  23. Updated Sep 20, 2021: Our testers have started testing this product.
  24. Updated Sep 15, 2021: The product has arrived in our lab, and our testers will start evaluating it soon.
  25. Updated Aug 28, 2021: We've purchased the product and are waiting for it to arrive in our lab.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

We tested the 65-inch TCL 5 Series 2021, and our review is also valid for the 50, 55, and 75-inch models. This model is a 4k TV with Google as its smart platform, and it's part of the 5 Series lineup that includes the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED, which is a 2020 model with Roku TV that's still available in 2021.

Size US Model Canada Model VESA Mount
50" 50S546 50S546-CA 200x200
55" 55S546 55S546-CA 200x300
65" 65S546 65S546-CA 300x300
75" 75S546 75S546-CA 400x300

The unit we bought was manufactured in June 2021. You can see the full label here.

Compared To Other TVs

The TCL 5 Series is a good mid-range TV with gaming features like VRR support, but nothing stands out against the competition. It gets brighter than the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED, which is great, but it also worsens with local dimming. You can get similarly-priced or cheaper options with better local dimming and/or HDMI 2.1 bandwidth, like the Hisense U7G or Hisense U6G.

See our recommendations for the best gaming TVs, the best smart TVs, and the best 65-inch TVs.

TCL Q6/Q650G QLED
55" 65" 75" 85"

The TCL Q6/Q650G QLED and TCL 5 Series/S546 2021 QLED are similar TVs with different strengths and weaknesses. The 5 Series has much better contrast than the Q6, helped by its local dimming feature, which the Q6 doesn't have. However, the Q6 has better overall peak brightness in HDR. Both TVs have bad color accuracy and are tough to calibrate, although the 5 Series is even worse than the Q6.

Hisense U6/U6H
50" 55" 65" 75"

The TCL 5 Series/S546 2021 QLED and the Hisense U6/U6H are both good budget-friendly TVs. They have many of the same features, but the Hisense delivers better overall picture quality because it has a better local dimming feature, upscales lower-resolution content well, and has better out-of-the-box accuracy than the TCL. However, the TCL is better for gaming because it has better motion handling.

Hisense U7H [U7, U75H]
55" 65" 75" 85"

The Hisense U7H is better than the TCL 5 Series/S546 2021 QLED. The U7H is the better option for gaming due to its HDMI 2.1 bandwidth and the ability to play games in 120Hz. The U7H is also better for watching content in HDR, as it has better color volume and gets much brighter in HDR, so highlights pop much more than on the TCL.

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

The TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED sits higher up in the lineup than the TCL 5 Series/S546 2021 QLED, so it has more features and better performance. The main differences are that the R646 has Mini LED backlighting and has HDMI 2.1 inputs, allowing you to play higher frame rate games than the S546. The local dimming features perform similarly as they raise the black level in real content, but there's less blooming on the R646. The R646 also gets brighter and has much better reflection handling, so it's a better choice for well-lit rooms. The built-in speakers are also much better on the R646, but that won't make a difference if you get a soundbar or receiver anyways.

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

The TCL 5 Series/S546 2021 QLED and the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED are both very good TVs. The R635 is a higher-end than the TCL, so it has a 120Hz panel with a quicker response time, but both TVs have HDMI 2.0 inputs. The R635 also gets brighter and doesn't have issues upscaling lower-resolution content from DVDs, so it's a better choice for watching shows. The R635 uses Roku TV as its smart system, which is user-friendly, while the S546 has Android TV, which has a bigger app store.

TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED
50" 55" 65" 75"

The TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED and the TCL 5 Series/S546 2021 QLED are both good TVs. The S546 is an upgraded version of the S535, and while it gets better in some areas, it gets worse in others. The S546 gets brighter, making it a better choice for daytime viewing, and it has VRR support, which the S535 doesn't have. The S546 also supports both Dolby Vision and HDR10+, while the S535 only supports Dolby Vision. One area where the S535 is better is with the local dimming because the one on the S546 causes more blooming. Another main difference is that the S535 uses Roku TV as its smart OS while the S546 has Google TV, and while they have some differences, both OS are great.

TCL 5 Series/S555 2022 QLED
50" 55" 65" 75"

The TCL 5 Series/S555 2022 QLED is better than the TCL 5 Series/S546 2021 QLED. The S555 has much better accuracy both before and after calibration, and it looks better in a dark room thanks to its better local dimming feature and better black uniformity.

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED Series 2022
65" 75"

The Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED Series 2022 is slightly better than the TCL 5 Series/S546 2021 QLED. The Amazon has much better accuracy before calibration, so colors look more natural, and shades of gray are displayed properly. The Amazon TV also has a better local dimming feature.

Hisense U7G
55" 65" 75"

The Hisense U7G is better overall than the TCL 5 Series/S546 2021 QLED. The Hisense is more well-rounded and has a few more gaming features like a 120Hz panel and HDMI 2.1 inputs, while the TCL is limited to a 60Hz panel. The Hisense also delivers a better HDR experience because it gets brighter, and although its local dimming is just decent, it performs better than the one on the TCL. The Hisense doesn't have any trouble upscaling 480p content from DVDs the same way the TCL has. The TCL uses Google TV, which is essentially a slightly upgraded version of the Android TV the Hisense has, but the two operating systems are equally great.

Hisense U6G
50" 55" 65" 75"

The Hisense U6G is better for most uses than the TCL 5 Series/S546 2021 QLED. They both have VA panels with a high contrast ratio, but the local dimming feature is better on the Hisense because there's less blooming. The Hisense also has slightly better reflection handling, making it a better choice for bright rooms, and it doesn't have trouble upscaling 480p content if you want to watch DVDs. The main advantage the TCL has over the Hisense is VRR support to reduce screen tearing in games, which the Hisense doesn't have. They have similar operating systems as the Hisense uses Android TV, and the TCL has Google TV, which is simply an upgraded version, but there are only a few minor differences between each.

Samsung AU8000
43" 50" 55" 60" 65" 70" 75" 85"

TCL 5 Series/S546 2021 QLED is better than the Samsung AU8000. The TCL has higher peak brightness in SDR, so it overcomes glare better in a bright room. The TCL also looks better in a dark room due to its much higher contrast ratio and local dimming feature, so blacks are much deeper than the AU8000. HDR content looks better on the TCL due to its better color volume and wider color gamut, so colors are more vibrant and lifelike. The TCL is also better for gaming, as it supports VRR, 1440p gaming, and has a quicker response time for less blur behind quick moving objects.

Vizio M6 Series Quantum 2022
43" 55" 65" 70" 75"

The TCL 5 Series/S546 2021 QLED is better overall than the Vizio M6 Series Quantum 2022. Thanks to its local dimming feature and higher peak brightness, the TCL delivers better overall picture quality.

+ Show more

Video

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
Curved No

The TCL 5 Series has a simple design, but it looks more premium than most comparably-priced models. It has thin borders on three sides, and you can place the stand in two different positions. There's a Google speaker underneath the bottom bezel.

Design
Accelerated Longevity Test
Uniformity Pictures
Design
Stand

The plastic feet do a good job of holding the screen in place, and there's minimal wobble. They don't raise the TV much off the table as there are 1.77 inches from the table to the speaker and 2.71 inches to the bottom of the screen. However, the remote functions still work if you place a soundbar in front. You can put the feet in two different positions.

Footprint of the 65-inch TV:

  • Narrow position (Pictured above): 26.5" x 12.7"
  • Wide position (Pictured here): 50.7" x 12.7"

Design
Back
Wall Mount VESA 300x300

The back of the TCL 5 Series consists of a smooth metal top portion and a textured plastic bottom portion. There are clips on the legs and on the back for cable management.

Design
Borders
Borders 0.35" (0.9 cm)
Design
Thickness
Max Thickness 3.16" (8.0 cm)
7.0
Design
Build Quality

The TCL S546 has a decent build quality. It's a mix of metal and plastic, and it feels solid overall. The plastic feet are sturdy, but they don't feel as premium as metal feet. The bottom bezel is brushed plastic meant to mimic aluminum, but it feels a bit cheap. The back panel has a bit of flex on the metal part, and there's more on the plastic, but it's not that concerning.

Picture Quality
9.0
Picture Quality
Contrast
Contrast
46,612 : 1
Native Contrast
7,775 : 1

The TCL 5 Series has a remarkable contrast ratio. It displays deep blacks, and the local dimming feature is extremely effective at boosting the contrast with real content.

6.5
Picture Quality
Blooming

Unfortunately, there's some noticeable blooming around bright objects in dark scenes. Subtitles on a dark background are especially distracting, but even bright lights stand out a bit. If this bothers you, there's no blooming with the local dimming feature disabled, but this also reduces the dynamic range of the TV.

6.0
Picture Quality
Lighting Zone Transitions
Local Dimming
Yes
Backlight
Full-Array
Dimming Zones Count Of Tested TV
45

Unfortunately, due to the limited number of dimming zones, the zone transitions are quite noticeable. The processor also can't quite keep up even with slow-moving objects, so the leading edge appears darker than the rest, as it's not turning on the zones in time.

8.5
Picture Quality
Contrast And Dark Details In Game Mode

Switching to 'Game' mode has no noticeable impact on dark scene details.

5.7
Picture Quality
HDR Brightness
Hallway Lights (~1950 cd/m²)
362 cd/m²
Yellow Skyscraper (~700 cd/m²)
230 cd/m²
Landscape Pool (~300 cd/m²)
84 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
227 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
433 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
506 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
485 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
440 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
226 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
429 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
502 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
483 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
439 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.048

The HDR brightness is alright. It's an improvement from the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED, but it's not enough to make highlights pop in HDR. Like in SDR, it doesn't maintain its brightness consistently across different scenes, and small highlights are the most dim. If you like this level of brightness but would prefer a TV that can consistently maintain it, check out the TCL Q6/Q650G QLED.

These measurements are after calibrating the white point, in the 'Movie' HDR Picture Mode with the Local Contrast set to 'High', Color Temperature on 'Warm -5', and Contrast and Brightness at their max.

5.5
Picture Quality
HDR Brightness In Game Mode
Hallway Lights (~1950 cd/m²)
349 cd/m²
Yellow Skyscraper (~700 cd/m²)
218 cd/m²
Landscape Pool (~300 cd/m²)
78 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
228 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
433 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
506 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
484 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
440 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
226 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
429 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
501 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
483 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
439 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.048

The HDR peak brightness is okay, as it's very similar to how it is outside of Game Mode. These measurements are with the 'Game' Picture Mode, but with everything else set the same as outside of Game Mode. There are some slight differences between the two modes, but it's not noticeable.

8.4
Picture Quality
PQ EOTF Tracking
600 Nit Tracking Delta
0.0101
1000 Nit Tracking Delta
0.0102
4000 Nit Tracking Delta
0.0097

The TV tracks the content creator's intent in HDR well. Most scenes are slightly darker than they should be, but it's not really noticeable. The TV's tone mapping kicks in pretty late, and there's a sharp cutoff with content mastered at 600 and 1,000 nits. It tone maps better with content mastered at 4,000 nits, preserving more fine details in really bright content.

8.1
Picture Quality
SDR Brightness
Real Scene Peak Brightness
481 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
253 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
477 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
552 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
527 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
477 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
249 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
471 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
547 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
525 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
476 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.046

The SDR peak brightness is great and it's a significant improvement over the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED. It gets bright enough to fight glare in most rooms, but small highlights aren't as bright due to aggressive frame dimming.

These measurements are after calibration in the 'Movie' Picture Mode with the Local Contrast set to 'High', Color Temperature on 'Warm -5', Gamma on '2.2', and Contrast and Brightness at their max.

8.6
Picture Quality
Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
Yes
DCI P3 xy
94.12%
DCI P3 uv
96.23%
Rec 2020 xy
76.07%
Rec 2020 uv
77.74%

The TCL 5 Series QLED has an excellent color gamut. It has fantastic coverage of the DCI-P3 color space used by the vast majority of current HDR content. It also has excellent tone mapping, so fine details are well preserved.

7.2
Picture Quality
Color Volume
1,000 cd/m² DCI P3 Coverage ITP
54.8%
10,000 cd/m² Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
27.2%
White Luminance
240 cd/m²
Red Luminance
54 cd/m²
Green Luminance
161 cd/m²
Blue Luminance
24 cd/m²
Cyan Luminance
185 cd/m²
Magenta Luminance
79 cd/m²
Yellow Luminance
216 cd/m²

The color volume is good. Thanks to its wide color gamut and fantastic contrast, it displays colors at a wide range of luminance levels.

3.1
Picture Quality
Pre Calibration
White Balance dE
8.99
Color dE
4.87
Gamma
2.21
Color Temperature
5,899 K
Picture Mode
Movie
Color Temp Setting
Warm
Gamma Setting
2.2

Unfortunately, this TV has bad accuracy before calibration. All colors are inaccurate, and the white balance is horrible, so shades of gray and white look awful. The color temperature is also warm, giving the image a significant red tint. On the plus side, gamma is great as it follows the 2.2 target well for the most part, but some scenes are either a bit too dark or too bright.

6.6
Picture Quality
Post Calibration
White Balance dE
4.87
Color dE
2.93
Gamma
2.21
Color Temperature
6,271 K
White Balance Calibration
20 point
Color Calibration
No

The accuracy after calibration is okay. Even after calibrating it, the white balance is significantly off and the red tint to the screen is still there.

You can see our full calibration settings here.

7.4
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
2.542%
50% DSE
0.195%
5% Std. Dev.
1.257%
5% DSE
0.109%

Unfortunately, there are some issues with the gray uniformity. There are some minor vertical bands across the entire screen, and there's dirty screen effect in the center, which is noticeable when watching sports. Uniformity is better in near-dark scenes, but the bands are still there, and there's backlight bleed in the corner.

9.0
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Std. Dev.
0.585%
Native Std. Dev.
0.816%

The TCL S546 has excellent black uniformity. Without local dimming, the screen looks a bit blue, and there's clouding throughout. The image is a lot more black with local dimming enabled, but there's more blooming around the center cross.

5.5
Picture Quality
Viewing Angle
Color Washout
26°
Color Shift
38°
Brightness Loss
32°
Black Level Raise
12°
Gamma Shift
18°

Unfortunately, the TCL 5 Series has a poor viewing angle, so the image fades and looks washed out when viewed from the side. It's not an ideal TV for a wide seating arrangement or if you like to move around with the TV on.

7.1
Picture Quality
Reflections
Screen Finish
Semi-gloss
Total Reflections
5.9%
Indirect Reflections
0.8%
Calculated Direct Reflections
5.0%

The TCL 5 Series Google TV has decent reflection handling. It handles a moderate amount of light well, but it reflects light directly back, like a mirror, which is distracting if you have a lot of windows or lights.

7.5
Picture Quality
HDR Native Gradient
100% Black to 50% Gray
4.0
50% Gray to 100% White
8.0
100% Black to 50% Red
8.0
50% Red to 100% Red
10
100% Black to 50% Green
6.0
50% Green to 100% Green
8.0
100% Black to 50% Blue
8.0
50% Blue to 100% Blue
8.0
5.6
Picture Quality
Low-Quality Content Smoothing
Smoothing
5.0
Detail Preservation
7.0
6.5
Picture Quality
Upscaling: Sharpness Processing

Like the TCL 6 Series/R646 2021 QLED, the TCL 5 Series QLED doesn't properly display 480p content. It scales 480p signals to 576p instead, and the image looks bad. Changing the Aspect Ratio setting doesn't fix anything. Overall, although this is a noticeable issue, most players upscale DVDs to at least 1080p, in which case you won't have any issues with it.

Picture Quality
Pixels
Subpixel Layout
BGR
Type LED
Sub-Type
VA

The TCL 5 Series 2021 uses a BGR (Blue-Green-Red) subpixel layout instead of the traditional RGB layout. For video content, it doesn't cause any issues, but if you're planning on using this TV as a PC monitor, it impacts text clarity, and some text will look blurry. You can read about it here.

Motion
8.1
Motion
Response Time
80% Response Time
4.3 ms
100% Response Time
12.2 ms

The TCL 5 Series Google TV has a quick response time. Motion looks great for the most part, but the response time in dark transitions is slow, leading to black smearing in dark scenes.

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

The TCL S546 uses pulse width modulation (PWM) to dim its backlight. It flickers at 960Hz with all settings and backlight levels. Luckily, it's such a higher frequency that most people won't notice it.

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 an optional backlight strobing feature, commonly known as black frame insertion. It flickers at 60Hz, but the timing is off, leading to image duplication.

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

The TCL 5 Series has a motion interpolation feature to interpolate 30 fps content up to 60 fps. It looks okay with slow scenes, like when there's dialogue, but there are noticeable artifacts with fast-moving objects that could get distracting.

7.2
Motion
Stutter
Frame Hold Time @ 24 fps
29.5 ms
Frame Hold Time @ 60 fps
4.5 ms

Due to the quick response time, lower-frame rate content appears to stutter a bit as each frame is held on longer. Enabling the motion interpolation feature can help reduce this issue.

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 5 Series TV removes 24p judder from native sources like apps or Blu-ray players, but unlike the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED Series 2022, it can't properly remove judder from 60Hz sources. It can't do it at all from 60i sources, and from 60p when the Judder Reduction setting is set between '5-10', it can't properly remove judder as you can see in this photo.

7.1
Motion
Variable Refresh Rate
Native Refresh Rate
60 Hz
Variable Refresh Rate
Yes
HDMI Forum VRR
Yes
FreeSync
Yes
G-SYNC Compatible
No
4k VRR Maximum
60 Hz
4k VRR Minimum
48 Hz
1080p VRR Maximum
60 Hz
1080p VRR Minimum
48 Hz
1440p VRR Maximum
60 Hz
1440p VRR Minimum
48 Hz
VRR + Local Dimming Yes

The TCL 5 Series supports variable refresh rate technology to reduce screen tearing, which is a nice addition compared to the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED. It supports both FreeSync and HDMI Forum VRR, so you'll enjoy a nearly tear-free gaming experience from almost any source.

Inputs
9.5
Inputs
Input Lag
1080p @ 60Hz
12.0 ms
1080p @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode
111.4 ms
1080p @ 120Hz
N/A
1080p @ 144Hz
N/A
1440p @ 60Hz
14.9 ms
1440p @ 120Hz
N/A
1440p @ 144Hz
N/A
4k @ 60Hz
14.9 ms
4k @ 60Hz + 10-Bit HDR
15.0 ms
4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4
14.9 ms
4k @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode
99.3 ms
4k @ 60Hz With Interpolation
99.3 ms
4k @ 120Hz
N/A
4k @ 144Hz
N/A
8k @ 60Hz
N/A

The TCL 5 Series has low input lag for a responsive gaming experience.

7.1
Inputs
Supported Resolutions
Resolution 4k
480p @ 59.94Hz (Widescreen)
Yes
720p @ 59.94Hz
Yes
1080p @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4
Yes
1080p @ 120Hz
No
1080p @ 144Hz
No
1440p @ 60Hz
Yes (forced resolution required)
1440p @ 120Hz
No
1440p @ 144Hz
No
4k @ 60Hz
Yes
4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4
Yes
4k @ 120Hz
No
4k @ 120Hz @ 4:4:4
No
4k @ 144Hz
No
8k @ 30Hz or 24Hz
No
8k @ 60Hz
No

The TCL 5 Series 2021 displays most common signals up to 60Hz, including 1440p if you create a custom resolution through your PC. It displays chroma 4:4:4 properly in either 'PC' or 'Game' Picture Mode with 1080p and 4k signals, which is essential for clear text from a desktop PC.

Inputs
PS5 Compatibility
Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)
Yes
4k @ 120Hz
No
1440p @ 120Hz
No
1080p @ 120Hz
No
HDR
Yes
VRR
Yes

This TV can't take full advantage of the PS5 as it's limited to a 60Hz refresh rate. It's still great if you prefer to use the "Fidelity" or "Graphics" mode of your favorite games, though.

Inputs
Xbox Series X|S Compatibility
Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)
Yes
4k @ 120Hz
No
1440p @ 120Hz
No
1080p @ 120Hz
No
HDR
Yes
VRR
Yes

Like with the PS5, this TV is limited to a 60Hz refresh rate from the Xbox Series S|X. With the Xbox, it also supports Dolby Vision gaming, but only if you disable the variable refresh rate feature entirely.

Inputs
Inputs Specifications
HDR10
Yes
HDR10+
Yes
Dolby Vision
Yes
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)
ATSC Tuner
1.0
USB 3.0
No
Variable Analog Audio Out Yes
Wi-Fi Support Yes (2.4 GHz, 5 GHz)

Unlike the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED, this TV supports both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision.

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 (adapter required, not incl.)
Tuner (Cable/Ant) 1
Ethernet 1
DisplayPort 0
IR In 0
Inputs
Audio Passthrough
ARC/eARC Port
eARC
eARC: Dolby Atmos Over Dolby Digital Plus
Yes
eARC: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
Yes
eARC: LPCM 7.1 Over Dolby MAT
Yes
eARC: Dolby TrueHD 7.1
Yes
eARC: DTS:X Over DTS-HD MA
No
eARC: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
No
eARC: LPCM Channels (Bitstream)
2.1
ARC: Dolby Digital 5.1
Yes
ARC: DTS 5.1
No
Optical: Dolby Digital 5.1
Yes
Optical: DTS 5.1
No

The TCL 5 Series supports eARC, allowing you to pass high-quality uncompressed audio to a compatible receiver. It supports most common audio formats, but not DTS:X, which is a bit disappointing as many UHD Blu-ray discs use DTS:X for the main audio track.

Sound Quality
6.0
Sound Quality
Frequency Response
Low-Frequency Extension
134.54 Hz
Std. Dev. @ 70
5.00 dB
Std. Dev. @ 80
4.81 dB
Std. Dev. @ Max
5.23 dB
Max
88.2 dB SPL
Dynamic Range Compression
3.67 dB

Despite having a dedicated speaker below the bottom bezel, the frequency response is mediocre. It gets fairly loud and has a somewhat well-balanced sound profile, but it doesn't produce much bass, if any at all.

6.1
Sound Quality
Distortion
Weighted THD @ 80
0.062
Weighted THD @ Max
0.282
IMD @ 80
14.89%
IMD @ Max
50.79%

The distortion performance is mediocre. There's distortion even when listening at a moderate level, and it gets much worse at the max volume.

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

The TCL 5 Series is part of TCL's new Google TVs, which has a fairly user-friendly interface, and menu navigation is great. Google TVs are advertised to support the new Basic Mode, which strips the TV of all its smart features, so you can focus on just using the inputs and antenna.

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

As with other Google TVs, there are ads and suggested content on the home page, 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 wide selection of apps available to download.

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

The included remote is simple and has a few shortcut buttons to popular streaming services. The circular pad functions as the navigation buttons. There's a built-in mic that you can ask to change inputs, open apps, and search for content, but you can't ask it to change settings like the backlight. There's also a mic in the TV itself, which you can use with the Google Assistant feature; the TV has to be on for it to work.

Smart Features
TV Controls

The power button is on the back of the TV on the right, and you can change inputs with it too. There's a switch next to it to disable the built-in mic.

Smart Features
In The Box

  • Remote (with 2x AAA batteries)
  • Power cable
  • Manual

Smart Features
Misc
Power Consumption 73 W
Power Consumption (Max) 242 W
Firmware V8-R51MT05-LF1V173.020128