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Reviewed on May 03, 2018 , Ian Cumming, Eric Bousquet, Mehdi Azzabi

TCL S Series 1080p 2017 S305
TV REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

Test Benches: test

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2015
  • 0.9: Winter 2014
  • 0.8: Winter 2013
6.2
Mixed Usage
What it is General purpose. The TV will be used for a variety of content and usages. Movies at night, TV shows during the day, video games from time to time, etc.
Score components:
Value for price beaten by
What it is: Product with the best value in this price range
Other best choice in a cheaper price range
Other best choice in a pricier price range
Automatically updated every hour based on the scores and prices of all other products we've tested.
: none
5.8
Movies
What it is Movies in the dark. The TV will be used for watching movies in a controlled environment, directly in front, in a home theater way. Mostly only high quality content, like Blu-rays, UHD Blu-rays, streaming and a little bit of HDR.
Score components:
6.9
TV Shows
What it is TV Shows in a bright living room. The TV will be used in to watch TV shows, in a bright room during the day, from multiple viewing positions at different angles. The content watched has an average quality: cable, streaming, SD channels, etc.
Score components:
7.0
Sports
What it is Sports in a living room. The TV will be used to watch sports during the day, like football or hockey. Usually watched with a group, so from multiple viewing position.
7.0
Video Games
What it is Video games. The TV will be used to play video games, directly in front, in a controlled light environment. Usually fast games, like online FPS, where motion blur and input lag is important.
4.6
HDR Movies
What it is HDR Movies and TV shows. The TV will be used to watch 4k UHD HDR content, with a wide color gamut and a high peak brightness. Either via UHD Blu-rays or HDR streaming.
Score components:
4.1
HDR Gaming
What it is HDR Gaming. The TV will be used to play HDR video games using consoles that support it or on current generation gaming PCs. Xbox One S, PS4 Pro, GTX 10 series and AMD RX series graphics cards.
6.6
PC Monitor
What it is PC Monitor. The TV will be used as a PC monitor, from 2-3 feet away, either for productivity purposes or gaming. Sharp text is important, as well as a high resolution.
Score components:
Type : LED
Sub-Type
What it is: Type of display technology used by the TV.
When it matters: Different technologies have different performance and are suited to different uses
Good value: IPS maintains good color accuracy at an angle, but has a poor contrast ratio from in front. VA has great picture quality in front, but loses saturation at an angle. OLED maintains good color accuracy at an angle without any of the other issues seen with IPS and VA, as they keep good brightness and contrast at an angle.
:
VA
Resolution : 1080p (except 28", 32")

The TCL S305 1080p Roku TV is a passable budget LED TV. It has decent picture quality, and it sports some of the best smart features available. Unfortunately, it cannot get very bright, and its handling of motion could be better. Note that the 28" and 32" models are 720. For the 4k model of TCL S Series, see our review here.

Test Results
Design 6.0
Picture Quality 6.4
Motion 6.4
Inputs 7.3
Sound Quality 5.7
Smart Features 7.3
Pros
  • Blacks are well reproduced
  • Excellent smart features
Cons
  • Cannot get bright
  • Picture quality deteriorates at an angle
  • Picture settings are very limited
Update 3/12/2018: Converted to Test Bench 1.2. Learn more about our versioned test bench system here.
Update 1/19/2018: There is a problem with how the Xbox One, Xbox One S and Xbox One X detect the audio passthrough capabilities of TCL TVs; a workaround is detailed in the Additional Review Notes.
Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.

Check Price

6.0

Design

Score components: Subjectively assigned
TCL S305 Design Picture
Curved : No

The design of the S305 is very basic. From the front it looks similar to the TCL FS3750 of last year, but with slightly nicer looking feet. The plastic feet are almost as wide as the TV, so a fairly wide table is required. The borders have an average thickness and the TV will stick out from the wall a bit if mounted. 

Stand
TCL S305 Stand Picture

The stand is almost as wide as the TV and so requires a fairly large table. The plastic feet do look alright due to the silvered coloring.

Footprint of the 40" TV stand: 7.7" x 30.0"

Back
TCL S305 Back Picture
Wall Mount : VESA 100x100

The rear of the TV is quite basic, but the top half is metal which feels quite nice. The only inputs on the back of the TV are composite, so the remainder are fairly easy to access if positioned close to a wall.

Borders
TCL S305 Borders Picture
Borders : 0.71" (1.8 cm)

The borders of the TV have an average thickness, and don't really stand out at all. There is some gap between the edge of the bezel and the LCD panel.

Thickness
TCL S305 Thickness Picture
Max Thickness : 2.95" (7.5 cm)

The TV is a bit thicker than most, as the bottom of the TV has a slight lip. It will stick out from a wall a bit if mounted.

Temperature
TCL S305 Temperature picture
Maximum Temperature
What it is: The peak temperature found on the TV.
When it matters: If the TV is placed in an enclosed space.
Good value: <35°C
Noticeable difference: 5°C
:
99 °F (37 °C)
Average Temperature
What it is: The average temperature measured on the TV.
When it matters: If the TV is placed in an enclosed space.
Good value: <35°C
Noticeable difference: 5°C
:
93 °F (34 °C)

The S305 is a fairly cool TV, due to its low peak brightness. The heat is pretty uniform across the screen, and none of the edges get more than warm to the touch.

6.0 Build Quality
TCL S305 Build quality picture

The build quality of the S305 is okay. It's certainly not going to fall apart with normal usage but all of the parts feel plasticy and cheap.

6.4

Picture Quality

The TCL S305 TV has a decent picture quality. The native contrast and black uniformity are great and should provide a passable movie experience, especially when set in a dark room. When set in a bright room though, the picture quality won't be as good since the peak brightness is not that high. As a result, the TV won't be able to overtake the glare from a bright light of a sunny window, unfortunately. The viewing angle and gray uniformity are below average and wouldn't make this TV the best option to watch a sporting event with a large group of people since when sitting off center, the picture quality will be diminished. 

8.2 Contrast
What it is: Brightness difference between white and black. This is the main component of picture quality.
When it matters: Always, but especially when watching dark scenes.
Score components:
TCL S305 Checkerboard Picture
Native Contrast
What it is: Ratio of the white brightness divided by the blacks measured on our checkerboard test pattern with a white target of 100 cd/m².
When it matters: Dark scenes in a dark room.
Good value: > 3,000
Noticeable difference: 500
:
3519 : 1
Contrast with local dimming
What it is: Ratio of the white brightness divided by the blacks measured on our checkerboard test pattern with local dimming turned on (maximum) with a white target of 100 cd/m².
When it matters: Dark scenes in a dark room.
Good value: > 3,000
Noticeable difference: 500
:
N/A

The S305 has a very good contrast ratio. At around 3500:1, this makes for a good TV when set in a dark room since blacks look deep and dark scene look good with a lot of details.

0 Local Dimming
What it is: The lights behind the LCD layer adapt to the picture displayed, improving the contrast ratio.
When it matters: Dark scenes viewed in a dark room.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Local Dimming
What it is: Whether it has a feature that controls the LEDs behind the LCD layer, to match the picture and darkens the dark portion of it.
When it matters: On LED TVs only. Dark scenes viewed in a dark room.
:
No
Backlight
What it is: Configuration of the lights of the backlight.
When it matters: Effectiveness of the local dimming.
Good value: Full-array/direct lighting is better for local dimming. As for the uniformity of the screen, it depends on the implementation. Some edge-lit TVs have more uniform blacks than some full-array TVs.
:
Direct

The TCL S305 does not have a local dimming feature. The video is for reference only.

5.4 SDR Peak Brightness
What it is: How bright the screen can get. Measured with local dimming and with SDR content.
When it matters: Bright living rooms; bright objects; SDR content.
SDR Real Scene Peak Brightness
What it is: The maximum luminosity the TV can obtain while playing a movie or while watching a TV show. Our Real Scene was selected to represent a more regular movie condition. All measurements are made with the TV set to be as bright as possible, but with a 6500k white. Measured with local dimming on, max backlight and with an SDR signal. Scene: here.
When it matters: When watching movies and TV shows in SDR.
Good value: > 300 cd/m²
Noticeable difference: 30 cd/m²
:
158 cd/m²
SDR Peak 2% Window
What it is: The maximum luminosity, even if only maintained for a short time, of a white square covering 2% of the screen, with the TV set to be as bright as possible. Measured with local dimming and over SDR signal.
When it matters: Bright highlights, present on screen for a short time
Good value: > 300 cd/m²
Noticeable difference: 30 cd/m²
:
173 cd/m²
SDR Peak 10% Window
What it is: The maximum luminosity, even if only maintained for a short time, of a white square covering 10% of the screen, with the TV set to be as bright as possible. Measured with local dimming and over SDR signal.
When it matters: Bright objects, present on screen for a short time
Good value: > 300 cd/m²
Noticeable difference: 30 cd/m²
:
181 cd/m²
SDR Peak 25% Window
What it is: The maximum luminosity, even if only maintained for a short time, of a white square covering 25% of the screen, with the TV set to be as bright as possible. Measured with local dimming and over SDR signal.
When it matters: When watching in a bright room.
Good value: > 300 cd/m²
Noticeable difference: 30 cd/m²
:
182 cd/m²
SDR Peak 50% Window
What it is: The maximum luminosity, even if only maintained for a short time, of a white square covering 50% of the screen, with the TV set to be as bright as possible. Measured with local dimming and over SDR signal.
When it matters: When watching in a bright room.
Good value: > 300 cd/m²
Noticeable difference: 30 cd/m²
:
182 cd/m²
SDR Peak 100% Window
What it is: The maximum luminosity, even if only maintained for a short time, of a white square covering 100% of the screen, with the TV set to be as bright as possible. Measured with local dimming and over SDR signal.
When it matters: When watching in a bright room.
Good value: > 300 cd/m²
Noticeable difference: 30 cd/m²
:
182 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 2% Window
What it is: The lowest maximum luminosity (usually after it has stabilized) of a white square covering 2% of the screen, with the TV set to be as bright as possible. Measured with local dimming and over SDR signal.
When it matters: Bright highlights, persistent during a scene.
Good value: > 300 cd/m²
Noticeable difference: 30 cd/m²
:
171 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 10% Window
What it is: The lowest maximum luminosity (usually after it has stabilized) of a white square covering 10% of the screen, with the TV set to be as bright as possible. Measured with local dimming and over SDR signal.
When it matters: Bright objects, persistent during a scene.
Good value: > 300 cd/m²
Noticeable difference: 30 cd/m²
:
181 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 25% Window
What it is: The lowest maximum luminosity (usually after it has stabilized) of a white square covering 25% of the screen, with the TV set to be as bright as possible. Measured with local dimming and over SDR signal.
When it matters: When watching in a bright room.
Good value: > 300 cd/m²
Noticeable difference: 30 cd/m²
:
181 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 50% Window
What it is: The lowest maximum luminosity (usually after it has stabilized) of a white square covering 50% of the screen, with the TV set to be as bright as possible. Measured with local dimming and over SDR signal.
When it matters: When watching in a bright room.
Good value: > 300 cd/m²
Noticeable difference: 30 cd/m²
:
181 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 100% Window
What it is: The lowest maximum luminosity (usually after it has stabilized) of a white square covering 100% of the screen, with the TV set to be as bright as possible. Measured with local dimming and over SDR signal.
When it matters: When watching in a bright room.
Good value: > 300 cd/m²
Noticeable difference: 30 cd/m²
:
181 cd/m²
SDR ABL
What it is: The coefficient of variation of the SDR sustained brightness, after linearizing for noticeable differences in luminosity
When it matters: Content with large bright areas, such as for PC or video game use, and sports such as hockey
Good value: <0.07
Noticeable difference: 0.01
:
0.004

Sub-par peak brightness. The TV never gets brighter than 182 cd/m², which makes it fairly dim when viewed in a bright room, and still not very bright when viewed in a dark room. The peak brightness does not change depending on the content shown, as all the tests show roughly the same brightness (the real scene brightness is measured at the edge of the TV, which is not as bright as the middle).

A plot of peak brightness over time is shown here.

0 HDR Peak Brightness
What it is: How bright the screen can get. Measured with local dimming and over HDR signal (if supported).
When it matters: Bright living rooms; bright objects; HDR content.
HDR Real Scene Peak Brightness
What it is: The maximum luminosity the TV can obtain while playing a movie or while watching a TV show. This scene was selected to represent a more realistic movie condition. All measurement are made with the TV set to be as bright as possible, but with a 6500k white. Measured with local dimming, max backlight and over HDR signal. Scene: here.
When it matters: When watching movies or watching TV show in HDR.
Good value: > 550 cd/m²
Noticeable difference: 80 cd/m²
:
N/A
HDR Peak 2% Window
What it is: The maximum luminosity, even if only maintained for a short time, of a white square covering 2% of the screen, with the TV set to be as bright as possible. Measured with local dimming and over HDR signal (if supported).
When it matters: Bright highlights, present on screen for a short time; especially for HDR content.
Good value: > 550 cd/m²
Noticeable difference: 80 cd/m²
:
N/A
HDR Peak 10% Window
What it is: The maximum luminosity, even if only maintained for a short time, of a white square covering 10% of the screen, with the TV set to be as bright as possible. Measured with local dimming and over HDR signal (if supported).
When it matters: Bright objects, present on screen for a short time; especially for HDR content.
Good value: > 550 cd/m²
Noticeable difference: 80 cd/m²
:
N/A
HDR Peak 25% Window
What it is: The maximum luminosity, even if only maintained for a short time, of a white square covering 25% of the screen, with the TV set to be as bright as possible. Measured with local dimming and over HDR signal (if supported).
When it matters: Bright rooms; bright objects in HDR video.
Good value: > 550 cd/m²
Noticeable difference: 80 cd/m²
:
N/A
HDR Peak 50% Window
What it is: The maximum luminosity, even if only maintained for a short time, of a white square covering 50% of the screen, with the TV set to be as bright as possible. Measured with local dimming and over HDR signal (if supported).
When it matters: Bright rooms.
Good value: > 550 cd/m²
Noticeable difference: 80 cd/m²
:
N/A
HDR Peak 100% Window
What it is: The maximum luminosity, even if only maintained for a short time, of a white square covering 100% of the screen, with the TV set to be as bright as possible. Measured with local dimming and over HDR signal (if supported).
When it matters: Bright rooms.
Good value: > 550 cd/m²
Noticeable difference: 80 cd/m²
:
N/A
HDR Sustained 2% Window
What it is: The lowest maximum luminosity (usually after it has stabilized) of a white square covering 2% of the screen, with the TV set to be as bright as possible. Measured with local dimming and over HDR signal (if supported).
When it matters: Bright highlights, persistent throughout a scene; especially for HDR content.
Good value: > 550 cd/m²
Noticeable difference: 80 cd/m²
:
N/A
HDR Sustained 10% Window
What it is: The lowest maximum luminosity (usually after it has stabilized) of a white square covering 10% of the screen, with the TV set to be as bright as possible. Measured with local dimming and over HDR signal (if supported).
When it matters: Bright objects, persistent throughout a scene; especially for HDR content.
Good value: > 550 cd/m²
Noticeable difference: 80 cd/m²
:
N/A
HDR Sustained 25% Window
What it is: The lowest maximum luminosity (usually after it has stabilized) of a white square covering 25% of the screen, with the TV set to be as bright as possible. Measured with local dimming and over HDR signal (if supported).
When it matters: Bright rooms; bright objects in HDR video.
Good value: > 550 cd/m²
Noticeable difference: 80 cd/m²
:
N/A
HDR Sustained 50% Window
What it is: The lowest maximum luminosity (usually after it has stabilized) of a white square covering 50% of the screen, with the TV set to be as bright as possible. Measured with local dimming and over HDR signal (if supported).
When it matters: Bright rooms.
Good value: > 550 cd/m²
Noticeable difference: 80 cd/m²
:
N/A
HDR Sustained 100% Window
What it is: The lowest maximum luminosity (usually after it has stabilized) of a white square covering 100% of the screen, with the TV set to be as bright as possible. Measured with local dimming and over HDR signal (if supported).
When it matters: Bright rooms.
Good value: > 550 cd/m²
Noticeable difference: 80 cd/m²
:
N/A
HDR ABL
What it is: The coefficient of variation of the HDR sustained brightness, after linearizing for noticeable differences in luminosity
When it matters: HDR content with large bright areas, such as HDR gaming
Good value: <0.07
Noticeable difference: 0.01
:
N/A

HDR is not supported.

7.1 Gray Uniformity
What it is: Evenness of colors onscreen (not just gray).
When it matters: Solid colors. Sports, panning shots.
Score components:
TCL S305 50% Uniformity Picture
50% Std. Dev.
What it is: Average squared difference of pixels when displaying a mid 50% gray.
When it matters: Solid colors. Sports, panning shots.
Good value: < 2.5%
Noticeable difference: 1%
:
4.287 %
50% DSE
What it is: High-frequency variance of uniformity. Dark spots on the screen.
When it matters: Solid colors. Sports, panning shots.
Good value: < 0.165%
Noticeable difference: 0.025%
:
0.186 %
TCL S305 5% Uniformity Picture
5% Std. Dev.
What it is: Average squared difference of pixels when displaying a mid 5% gray.
When it matters: Dark scenes.
Good value: < 1.15%
Noticeable difference: 1%
:
1.263 %
5% DSE
What it is: High-frequency variance of uniformity. Dark spots on the screen.
When it matters: Dark scenes.
Good value: < 0.116%
:
0.104 %

The gray uniformity of the TCL S305 could be better. Looking at the 50% gray test picture, it is really easy to see that the 4 corners are darker than the center. There is also a dark arc going from the top corner to the bottom one and this from each side. The center of the screen is a bit brighter than the rest of the screen, but at least it is fairly homogeneous and the dirty screen effect is not be too bad since it is most noticeable at the center.

As for the 5% gray uniformity, beside the edges of the screen being a bit brighter, nothing really stands out.

6.2 Viewing Angle
What it is: Color accuracy when viewed from the side.
When it matters: Large living rooms with multiple viewing positions.
Score components:
TCL S305 Color Shift Picture
Color Shift
What it is: Angle where the colors noticeable shift compared to when viewed from directly in front of the TV. 0 ° means directly facing the TV. Measurements are up to a maximum of 75 °.
When it matters: Large living rooms with multiple viewing positions.
Good value: > 50°
Noticeable difference: 10°
:
46 °
TCL S305 Brightness Picture
Brightness
What it is: Angle where the brightness drops to 50% of the brightness directly in front of the TV. 0 ° means directly facing the TV. Measurements are up to a maximum of 75 °.
When it matters: Large living rooms with multiple viewing positions.
Good value: > 50°
Noticeable difference: 10°
:
59 °
TCL S305 Black Level Picture
Black Level
What it is: Angle where the black level drops to 50% of the black level directly in front of the TV. 0 ° means directly facing the TV. Measurements are up to a maximum of 75 °.
When it matters: Large living rooms with multiple viewing positions.
Good value: > 50°
Noticeable difference: 10°
:
28 °

Sub-par viewing angle. People sitting to the side of the TV will not have as good picture quality as people viewing from in front. Blacks start to look grey when the TV is viewed from a small angle, and at a larger angle colors degrade and brightness decreases.

7.0 Black Uniformity
What it is: Evenness of blacks.
When it matters: Dark scenes viewed in a dark room.
Score components:
TCL S305 Native Black Uniformity Picture
Native Std. Dev.
What it is: Average of the squared difference of the blacks.
When it matters: Dark scenes viewed in a dark room.
Good value: < 1%
Noticeable difference: 1%, but keep in mind that it varies a lot by unit, even of the same model; yours likely will not end up exactly like ours.
:
1.304 %
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
What it is: Average of the squared difference of the blacks with Local Dimming enabled
When it matters: Dark scenes viewed in a dark room.
Good value: < 1%
Noticeable difference: 1%, but keep in mind that it varies a lot by unit, even of the same model; yours likely will not end up exactly like ours.
:
N/A

The black uniformity of the S305 is average. Overall the screen is pretty even with only the right side being a bit darker, but with a standard deviation of 1.304% it is still within our good value range, which is under 2%.

7.9 Reflections
What it is: How much light is reflected by the TV.
When it matters: Bright rooms.
Score components:
TCL S305 Reflections Picture TCL S305 Average Room Off Picture TCL S305 Bright Room Off Picture
Screen Finish
What it is: Type of coating on the screen.
When it matters: Bright objects in the direct reflection path (for example, opposite the TV).
Good value: Glossy is good for ambient light, but not for direct reflections.
:
Semi-gloss
Total Reflections
What it is: The amount of light which is reflected off the screen, in all directions.
When it matters: When watching TV in a bright room, with lamps, windows or walls which reflect directly off the screen.
Good value: 4.5 %
Noticeable difference: 0.5 %
:
5.2 %
Indirect Reflections
What it is: The amount of light reflected off the screen, ignoring direct (mirror-like) reflections
When it matters: Watching TV in a bright room, without sunlight or lamps directed at the TV
Good value: 1.0 %
Noticeable difference: 0.5 %
:
0.5 %

The TV has a semi-gloss finish which diffuses reflections across the screen. This works to reduce the intensity of direct reflections. This should be ok for most rooms, but may present issues in bright rooms.

8.0 Pre Calibration
What it is: TV's color accuracy before a full calibration. Only the picture mode, color temperature, and backlight level were changed.
When it matters: All video on an uncalibrated TV. This represents most people's use cases.
Score components:
TCL S305 Pre Calibration Picture TCL S305 Pre Gamma Curve Picture TCL S305 Pre Color Picture
Picture Mode
What it is: The picture mode used to do the 'Pre Calibration' measurements.
:
Movie
White Balance dE
What it is: Average inaccuracy of shades of gray.
When it matters: Overall color temperature of all video.
Good value: < 3
Noticeable difference: 1
:
3.36
Color dE
What it is: Average inaccuracy of colors.
When it matters: All colors.
Good value: < 3
Noticeable difference: 1
:
2.04
Gamma
What it is: Brightness of shades of gray.
When it matters: Shadows.
Good value: Between 2.1 and 2.3 (our target is 2.2)
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
2.15
Color Temperature
What it is: The color temperature is a measure of the color of light. A colder color temperature (7000K) will look bluer and a warmer color temperature (4000K) will look yellower/redder. 6500K is the standard color temperature use in the TV and film industry as program, film, and photography directors usually work on monitors calibrated on the 6500k color temperature and do their color correction base on what they see on those monitors.
When it matters: To get the most accurate picture when watching TV shows, movies or video games. This is particularly for skin tones.
Good value: 6500K
Noticeable difference: 400K
:
6435 K

Out of the box, the TCL S305 has a great accuracy. Overall the screen is a bit warmer than what we aim for and the white balance dE is a bit high, but both the Color dE and the gamma are well under what an enthusiast would notice. So for a normal home use, This TV could be used 'as is' without any problems.

8.0 Post Calibration
What it is: TV's color accuracy after a full calibration with a spectrophotometer.
When it matters: All video on a TV that has been professionally calibrated. This isn't that useful, because most TVs can achieve a pretty good calibration if you spend enough time on them.
Score components:
TCL S305 Post Calibration Picture TCL S305 Post Gamma Curve Picture TCL S305 Post Color Picture
Picture Mode
What it is: The picture mode used to do the calibration. We usually go for the picture mode that gives us the more control over all the picture quality setting.
:
Movie
White Balance dE
What it is: Average inaccuracy of shades of gray.
When it matters: Overall color temperature of all videos.
Good value: < 3
Noticeable difference: 1
:
3.36
Color dE
What it is: Average inaccuracy of colors.
When it matters: All colors.
Good value: < 3
Noticeable difference: 1
:
2.04
Gamma
What it is: Brightness of shades of gray.
When it matters: Shadows.
Good value: Between 2.1 and 2.3 (our target is 2.2)
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
2.15
Color Temperature
What it is: The color temperature is a measure of the color of light. A colder color temperature (7000K) will look bluer and a warmer color temperature (4000K) will look yellower/redder. 6500K is the standard color temperature use in the TV and film industry as program, film, and photography directors usually work on monitors calibrated on the 6500k color temperature and do their color correction base on what they see on those monitors.
When it matters: To get the most accurate picture when watching TV shows, movies or video games. This is particularly for skin tones.
Good value: 6500K
Noticeable difference: 400K
:
6448 K

There is no calibration menu on the TCL S305 so it is not possible to make the S305 a bit more accurate, but luckily this TV is good enough out of the box for most people.

Our settings for calibration can be found here.

8.0 480p Input
What it is: Quality of a 480p input.
When it matters: Standard definition TV, DVDs.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
TCL S305 480p Picture

Upscaling of low quality content is good. Jagged edges are smoothed well, without losing too much detail.

8.0 720p Input
What it is: Quality of a 720p input.
When it matters: HD channels, some streaming videos.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
TCL S305 720p Picture

720p content such as cable looks good. The image isn't too soft and details are preserved.

10 1080p Input
What it is: Quality of a 1080p input.
When it matters: Blu-rays, streaming video, video files, video games.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
TCL S305 1080p Picture

No issues can be seen with 1080p content such as Blu-rays.

0 4k Input
What it is: Quality of a 4k UHD input.
When it matters: Streaming video, UHD Blu-rays, some PCs.
Score components: Subjectively assigned

The S305 is a 1080p TV with no support for 4k.

6.6 Color Gamut
What it is: How many colors the TV can display.
When it matters: HDR content. Includes some streaming videos and UHD Blu-rays.
Score components:
Wide Color Gamut
What it is: Whether the TV has an option to enable wide color gamuts.
When it matters: HDR content. Includes some streaming videos and UHD Blu-rays.
:
No
DCI P3 xy
What it is: Coverage of the DCI P3 colorspace on CIE 1931 xy.
When it matters: DCI P3 content. Includes HDR, UHD Blu-rays.
Good value: > 90%
Noticeable difference: 5%
:
72.92 %
DCI P3 uv
What it is: Coverage of the DCI P3 colorspace on CIE 1976 u' v'.
When it matters: DCI P3 content. Includes HDR, UHD Blu-rays.
Good value: > 90%
Noticeable difference: 5%
:
80.39 %
Rec 2020 xy
What it is: Coverage of the Rec.2020 colorspace on CIE 1931 xy.
When it matters: Rec.2020 content. Includes HDR, UHD Blu-rays.
Good value: > 90%
Noticeable difference: 5%
:
52.36 %
Rec 2020 uv
What it is: Coverage of the Rec.2020 colorspace on CIE 1976 u' v'.
When it matters: Rec.2020 content. Includes HDR, UHD Blu-rays.
Good value: > 90%
Noticeable difference: 5%
:
58.79 %

Standard color gamut, only good enough for non HDR content using the Rec 709 color space.

4.9 Color Volume
What it is: How many colors a TV can display at different luminosity levels.
When it matters: HDR content. Includes some streaming videos, UHD Blu-rays and HDR games.
TCL S305 P3 Color Volume ITP Picture
Normalized DCI P3 Coverage ITP
What it is: How much of the DCI-P3 colorspace a TV can display at different luminosity levels
When it matters: HDR content. Includes some streaming videos, UHD Blu-rays and HDR games.
Good value: 80%
Noticeable difference: 5%
:
50.4 %
10,000 cd/m² DCI P3 Coverage ITP
What it is: How much of the DCI-P3 colorspace a TV can display at different luminosity levels when compared to an ideal 10,000 nit TV
When it matters: HDR content. Includes some streaming videos, UHD Blu-rays and HDR games.
:
16.7 %
TCL S305 2020 Color Volume ITP Picture
Normalized Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
What it is: How much of the Rec. 2020 colorspace a TV can display at different luminosity levels
When it matters: HDR content. Includes some streaming videos, UHD Blu-rays and HDR games.
Good value: 80 %
Noticeable difference: 5 %
:
47.9 %
10,000 cd/m² Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
What it is: How much of the Rec 2020 colorspace a TV can display at different luminosity levels when compared to an ideal 10,000 nit TV
When it matters: HDR content. Includes some streaming videos, UHD Blu-rays and HDR games.
:
15.9 %

Poor color volume. The TV has only a standard color gamut, and is unable to make dark colors dark enough because it lacks local dimming.

6.4 Gradient
What it is: How finely levels of color can be displayed.
When it matters: Details in shadows, sky and skin tones. Matters more for HDR content.
TCL S305 Gradient Picture
Color Depth
What it is: Number of bits per pixel to represent a specific color. Note: we consider 8-bit with dithering to be equivalent to 10-bit, as long as the 10-bit gradient looks smooth.
When it matters: HDR content like UHD Blu-ray players. Won't matter for cable TV, regular Blu-ray movies, video game consoles or content displayed from a Windows PC. Those are limited to 8-bit color.
Good value: 10-bit.
Noticeable difference: 1 bit.
:
8 Bit
Red (Std. Dev.)
What it is: The standard deviation of the color differences (dE) between subsequent 10 bit red shades.
When it matters: Details in skin tones, sunsets, and other reddish objects. Matters more for HDR content.
Good value: < 0.12 dE
Noticeable difference: 0.01 dE
:
0.124 dE
Green (Std. Dev.)
What it is: The standard deviation of the color differences (dE) between subsequent 10 bit green shades.
When it matters: Details in ocean shades and other greenish objects. Matters more for HDR content.
Good value: < 0.12 dE
Noticeable difference: 0.01 dE
:
0.175 dE
Blue (Std. Dev.)
What it is: The standard deviation of the color differences (dE) between subsequent 10 bit blue shades.
When it matters: Details in skies, water and other blueish objects. Matters more for HDR content.
Good value: < 0.12 dE
Noticeable difference: 0.01 dE
:
0.120 dE
Gray (Std. Dev.)
What it is: The standard deviation of the color differences (dE) between subsequent 10 bit gray shades.
When it matters: Details in dull colors, such as shadows, glow and urban scenes. Matters more for HDR content.
Good value: < 0.12 dE
Noticeable difference: 0.01 dE
:
0.347 dE

The TCL S305 does show 8-bit gradation when displaying our gradient test image. Even though it is 8 bit, the gradient is fairly smooth and there is not too much tint problem in all 3 color shade.

10 Temporary Image Retention
What it is: How much a static image is retained on a TV screen after a certain amount of time.
When it matters: When watching TV show, playing video games or when using your TV as a PC monitor.
TCL S305 Image Retention Picture
IR after 0 min recovery
What it is: Image retention measured right after the static image exposure, without recovery time.
When it matters: When changing channels while watching TV, right after changing the type of content (i.e. stopping playing video game to watch a movie) or changing input.
Good value: 0 is perfect.
Noticeable difference: 0.015%
:
0.00 %
IR after 2 min recovery
What it is: Image retention measured after a recovery time of 2 minutes.
When it matters: When changing channels while watching TV, right after changing the type of content (i.e. stopping playing video game to watch a movie) or changing input.
Good value: 0 is perfect
Noticeable difference: 0.015%
:
0.00 %
IR after 4 min recovery
What it is: Image retention measured after a recovery time of 4 minutes.
When it matters: When changing channels while watching TV, right after changing the type of content (i.e. stopping playing video game to watch a movie) or changing input.
Good value: 0 is perfect.
Noticeable difference: 0.015%
:
0.00 %
IR after 6 min recovery
What it is: Image retention measured after a recovery time of 6 minutes.
When it matters: When changing channels while watching TV, right after changing the type of content (i.e. stopping playing video game to watch a movie) or changing input.
Good value: 0 is perfect.
Noticeable difference: 0.015%
:
0.00 %
IR after 8 min recovery
What it is: Image retention measured after a recovery time of 8 minutes.
When it matters: When changing channels while watching TV, right after changing the type of content (i.e. stopping playing video game to watch a movie) or changing input.
Good value: 0 is perfect.
Noticeable difference: 0.015%
:
0.00 %
IR after 10 min recovery
What it is: Image retention measured after a recovery time of 10 minutes.
When it matters: When changing channels while watching TV, right after changing the type of content (i.e. stopping playing video game to watch a movie) or changing input.
Good value: 0 is perfect.
Noticeable difference: 0.015%
:
0.00 %

After running our image retention test on this TCL TV, we did not notice any image retention. This is in line with most VA TV we have tested before.

10 Permanent Burn-In Risk
What it is: The risk of developing a persistent image retention, also known as burn-in, after being exposed to a static image for a prolonged time
When it matters: When watching TV shows, playing video games or when using your TV as a PC monitor where static content is present
Score components:
Permanent Burn-In Risk
What it is: If the TV faces a risk of developing permanent burn-in after being expose, for a long period of time, to static images.
When it matters: When watching TV shows with static logos or banners (news or sports channels), when playing video games with a HUD (head up display), and when using a TV as a PC monitors.
:
No

We don't expect VA panels to experience permanent image retention, as the VA panel in our long-term test appears immune.

Pixels
TCL S305 Pixels Picture

The horizontal VA pixel structure looks very similar to the Sony W650D we tested in 2016.

6.4

Motion

The motion handling of the S305 is below average. Some motion blur is present when displaying fast paced content, and unfortunately the TV lacks a flicker feature to reduce visible blur. Movies played from a Blu-ray player are smooth, but some minor judder is present when watching movies via cable or a HTPC. This minor judder isn't noticeable to most people. The TV has a 60Hz panel which doesn't have options to interpolate lower frame rate content.

7.3 Response Time
What it is: Amount of blur in fast motion.
When it matters: Sports, video games.
Score components:
TCL S305 Motion Blur Picture TCL S305 Response Time Chart
80% Response Time
What it is: How quickly pixels can reach 80% of a full transition from one color to another.
When it matters: Fast movement.
Good value: < 8 ms
Noticeable difference: 4 ms
:
5.3 ms
100% Response Time
What it is: How quickly pixels can fully transition from one color to another.
When it matters: Fast movement.
Good value: < 20 ms
Noticeable difference: 10 ms
:
30.1 ms

The response time of the S305 is average. Some overshoot is visible in the brighter trail following the logo, and a faint trail of blur extends outside the crop.

4.0 Flicker-Free
What it is: How noticeable flicker is on the screen, when all optional flicker has been disabled.
When it matters: All usages, but particularly when viewing fast motion (such as in sports and video games) or when using the TV as a PC monitor.
Score components:
TCL S305 Backlight chart
Flicker-Free
What it is: Whether the screen will be perceived as having no flicker during normal viewing conditions.
When it matters: When flicker is especially bothersome, such as when using the TV as a PC monitor.
Good value: Yes
:
No
PWM Dimming Frequency
What it is: The flicker frequency of the screen, when all optional flicker has been disabled.
When it matters: All usages, but particularly when viewing fast motion (such as in sports and video games) or when using the TV as a PC monitor.
Good value: 0 Hz or very high frequencies (> 300 Hz). Frequencies that are multiples of 60Hz are better.
:
120 Hz

The TV uses PWM to dim the backlight, starting at 100/100 backlight setting. Lowering the setting shortens the duty cycle, while amplitude remains constant. Backlight PWM results in a 120Hz flicker, but it isn't noticeable to most people.

5.4 Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
What it is: How effective the TV's flickering capabilities are in making motion look clearer, when flicker is desired.
When it matters: When flicker is desired by the user. Flicker is especially useful to make motion look clearer when viewing 60 fps content (sports, video games) and when using motion interpolation.
Optional BFI
What it is: Option to turn the screen black between frames.
When it matters: When flicker is desired by the user. Flicker is especially useful to make motion look clearer when viewing 60 fps content (sports, video games) and when using motion interpolation.
Good value: Yes
:
No
Min Flicker for 60 fps
What it is: Lowest possible frequency of flickering pattern when playing 60 fps content.
When it matters: When viewing fast motion such as sports and video games.
Good value: 60 Hz
Noticeable difference: 20 Hz
:
120 Hz
60 Hz for 60 fps
What it is: Whether the screen can flicker at 60 Hz when playing 60 fps content.
When it matters: When playing 60 fps content, such as sports and video games.
Good value: Yes
:
No
120 Hz for 120 fps
What it is: Whether the screen can flicker at 120 Hz when playing 120 fps content.
When it matters: When playing 120 fps content, such as when using motion interpolation on a 120 Hz TV.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
Min Flicker for 60 fps in Game Mode
What it is: Lowest possible frequency of flickering pattern when playing 60 fps content in Game Mode.
When it matters: When playing video games with fast motion.
Good value: 60 Hz
Noticeable difference: 20 Hz
:
120 Hz

The S305 has no option to reduce its flicker frequency to 60 Hz, although its 120 Hz backlight does help somewhat to make motion look clearer.

0 Motion Interpolation
What it is: Also known as 'Soap Opera Effect'. It is an optional feature that increases the frame rate of the video, smoothing movement.
When it matters: If you like the look of smoothed video. Not everyone does.
Motion Interpolation (30 fps)
What it is: Whether the TV can take a 30 fps input and heighten the frame rate to at least 60 fps.
When it matters: 30 fps or lower videos. Includes movies, TV shows, some video games.
:
No
Motion Interpolation (60 fps)
What it is: Whether the TV can take a 60 fps input and heighten the frame rate to at least 100 fps.
When it matters: 60 fps videos. Includes some video games, some sports channels.
:
No

The S305 has a 60Hz panel and doesn't provide any options to interpolate frames on lower refresh rate content.

9.3 Stutter
What it is: Jarring effect caused by static frame time during motion sequences
When it matters: When watching content with long panning shots and other smooth movement
Frame Hold Time @ 24 fps
What it is: Time that frame is static during 24Hz videos such as movies
When it matters: When watching movies and other low frame rate content which contain panning shots
Good value: < 24 ms
Noticeable difference: 5 ms
:
11.6 ms
Frame Hold Time @ 60 fps
What it is: Time that frame is static during 60 fps content such as TV shows
When it matters: When watching 60 fps content containing slow panning shots (such as field sports)
Good value: < 24 ms
Noticeable difference: 5 ms
:
0.0 ms

This TV is excellent at displaying content without stutter, even for very low frame rate content such as 24 fps movies. The response time of the TV helps to blur the transition between frames, which produces a smoother image.

7.8 24p Judder
What it is: Whether 24p content can play without any judder.
When it matters: Only 24p content (mostly just movies).
Judder-Free 24p
What it is: Judder-free movies over 24p signal.
When it matters: Blu-ray and DVD movies; 24 hz PC signal.
:
Yes
Judder-Free 24p via 60p
What it is: Judder-free movies over 60p signal.
When it matters: Movies from streaming devices (Apple TV, Fire TV, etc.); 60 hz PC signal.
:
No
Judder-Free 24p via 60i
What it is: Judder-free movies over 60i signal.
When it matters: Movies from cable/satellite boxes.
:
No
Judder-Free 24p via Native Apps
What it is: Judder-free movies when playing from native apps.
When it matters: Movies from streaming native apps (Netflix, Amazon TV, etc.).
:
Yes

The S305, like all the other TCL TVs we have reviewed so far, can only play movies without judder from 24p sources. This means movies playing over cable or satellite boxes will have a small judder. Note that few people notice judder, so this is not be a deal breaker for most people.

0 Variable Refresh Rate
What it is: How frequently the TV can refresh and show new frames, and whether it can vary its refresh rate in real time using technologies like HDMI Forum's Variable Refresh Rate.
When it matters: Mostly for gaming, but does provide a little better motion during normal usage.
Native Refresh Rate
What it is: The out-of-the-box maximum refresh rate; how frequently the TV can refresh and show new frames.
When it matters: When playing content with a frame rate that matches the TV's refresh rate (ex. 60 fps on a 60 Hz TV, 120 fps on a 120 Hz TV), or when using the TV's motion interpolation feature (soap opera effect).
Good value: 60 Hz
:
60 Hz
Variable Refresh Rate
What it is: Feature that allows the TV to synchronize its refresh rate with the input device's output and reduces stuttering and screen tearing.
When it matters: Almost every usage, but is most noticeable when gaming where constant fluctuation in framerate cause distracting artifacts.
:
No
4k VRR Maximum
What it is: The maximum frequency covered by the Variable Refresh Rate feature of the TV when the input signal is 4k.
When it matters: Any time the VRR feature is enabled and 4k is sent.
Good value: Matches maximum refresh rate at 4k.
Noticeable difference: 10 Hz
:
N/A
4k VRR Minimum
What it is: The lowest frequency covered by the TV's Variable Refresh Rate feature when the input signal is 4k.
When it matters: When using the VRR feature of the TV at lower frame rates when sending a 4k signal.
Good value: 30 Hz
:
N/A
1080p VRR Maximum
What it is: The maximum frequency covered by the Variable Refresh Rate feature of the TV when the input signal is 1080p.
When it matters: Any time the VRR feature is enabled and 1080p is sent.
Good value: Matches maximum refresh rate at 1080p.
Noticeable difference: 10 Hz
:
N/A
1080p VRR Minimum
What it is: The lowest frequency covered by the TV's Variable Refresh Rate feature when the input signal is 1080p.
When it matters: When using the VRR feature of the TV at lower frame rates when sending a 1080p signal.
Good value: 30 Hz
:
N/A
VRR Supported Connectors
What it is: The inputs which support a variable refresh rate (eg. HDMI, DisplayPort)
When it matters: When gaming with different consoles or graphics cards.
:
N/A

The S305 has a 60Hz panel but doesn't support a variable refresh rate, which is typical of most TVs.

7.3

Inputs

Score components:

The S305 can only properly display simple input resolutions such as 1080p @ 60 Hz @ 4:2:2. This lack of chroma subsampling support is only really noticeable for PC use and not an issue for watching movies. On the bright side the TV has fairly low input lag in all picture modes, low enough to please most gamers.

8.5 Input Lag
What it is: Delay between input and onscreen reaction.
When it matters: Video games; when TV is used as PC monitor.
1080p @ 60Hz
What it is: Lowest input lag possible on TV with a 1080p @ 60Hz @ 4:2:2 input.
When it matters: Video games and also when TV is used as PC monitor.
Good value: < 40 ms
Noticeable difference: 15 ms
:
28.7 ms
1080p @ 60Hz + HDR
What it is: Lowest input lag possible on the TV when displaying 1080p @ 60Hz @ 4:2:2 @ 10 bit with HDR.
When it matters: HDR video games from a console outputting a 1080p signal.
Good value: < 40 ms
Noticeable difference: 15 ms
:
N/A
1080p @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode
What it is: Lowest input lag possible on the TV when displaying 1080p @ 60Hz @ 4:2:2 in a fully featured picture mode.
When it matters: For playing video games while retaining access to all features of the TV.
Good value: < 40 ms
Noticeable difference: 15 ms
:
28.7 ms
1080p @ 120Hz
What it is: Lowest input lag possible on TV with a 1080p @ 120Hz input.
When it matters: When the TV is used as PC monitor.
Good value: < 40 ms
Noticeable difference: 15 ms
:
N/A
4k @ 60Hz
What it is: Lowest input lag possible on TV when displaying 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:2:0.
When it matters: Video games and also when TV is used as PC monitor.
Good value: < 40 ms
Noticeable difference: 15 ms
:
N/A
4k @ 60Hz + HDR
What it is: Lowest input lag possible when displaying 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:2:0 @ 10 bit signal with HDR.
When it matters: HDR Video games.
Good value: < 40 ms
Noticeable difference: 15 ms
:
N/A
4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4
What it is: Lowest input lag possible on the TV when displaying 4k @ 60Hz with proper 4:4:4 chroma subsampling. The test is usually conducted with a 4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 signal, but a 4k @ 60 Hz @ Full RGB signal may be used if it's required for the TV to show proper 4:4:4 chroma subsampling.
When it matters: PC Monitor
Good value: < 40 ms
Noticeable difference: 15 ms
:
N/A
4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4 + 8 bit HDR
What it is: Lowest input lag possible on the TV when displaying 4k @ 60Hz @ 8 bit + HDR with proper 4:4:4 chroma subsampling. The test is usually conducted with a 4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 @ 8 bit signal, but a 4k @ 60 Hz @ Full RGB @ 8 bit signal may be used if it's required for the TV to show proper 4:4:4 chroma subsampling.
When it matters: PC Monitor with an HDR capable graphic card
Good value: < 40 ms
Noticeable difference: 15 ms
:
N/A
4k @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode
What it is: Lowest input lag possible on the TV when displaying 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:2:0 in a fully featured picture mode.
When it matters: For playing video games while retaining access to all features of the TV.
Good value: < 40 ms
Noticeable difference: 15 ms
:
N/A
4k With Interpolation
What it is: Lowest input lag for 4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:2:0 content when the motion interpolation feature is turned on.
When it matters: When you want to play video games with the Soap Opera Effect enabled.
Good value: < 40 ms
Noticeable difference: 15 ms
:
N/A
4k @ 120 Hz
What it is: Lowest input lag possible on TV with a 4k @ 120Hz input.
When it matters: When the TV is used as PC monitor.
Good value: < 40 ms
Noticeable difference: 15 ms
:
N/A
4k with Variable Refresh Rate
What it is: Lowest input lag possible on the TV when its Variable Refresh Rate feature is enabled and it is sent a 4k signal.
When it matters: When gaming with a device which supports variable refresh rates, such as the Xbox One X or a PC.
:
N/A
1080p with Variable Refresh Rate
What it is: Lowest input lag possible on the TV when its Variable Refresh Rate feature is enabled and it is sent a 1080p signal.
When it matters: When gaming with a device which supports variable refresh rates, such as the Xbox One X or a PC.
:
N/A

This TV has the same low input lag in all picture modes. Surprisingly the 'Game mode' setting does not change the input lag.

0 Supported Resolutions
What it is: Different resolutions supported by TV.
When it matters: PC monitor usage.
Score components:
  • 17% 1080p @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4
  • 17% 1080p @ 120Hz
  • 17% 1440p @ 60Hz
  • 17% 4k @ 30Hz @ 4:4:4
  • 16% 4k @ 60Hz
  • 16% 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4
1080p @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4
What it is: Crisp text on 1080p @ 60 hz signal.
When it matters: PC productivity and 60 fps gaming.
:
No
1080p @ 120Hz
What it is: 120 fps 1080p signal supported.
When it matters: PC gaming.
:
No
1440p @ 60Hz
What it is: 60 fps 1440p signal supported.
When it matters: PC productivity and gaming.
:
No
4k @ 30Hz @ 4:4:4
What it is: Crisp text on 4k @ 30 hz signal.
When it matters: PC productivity and gaming.
:
No
4k @ 60Hz
What it is: 60 fps 4k signal supported.
When it matters: PC productivity and gaming.
:
No
4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4
What it is: Crisp text on 4k @ 60 hz signal.
When it matters: Productivity and 60 fps gaming in 4k.
:
No
4k @ 120Hz
What it is: 4k 120Hz signal supported
When it matters: PC gaming
:
No

Only basic resolutions are supported, such as 1080p @ 60 Hz @ 4:2:2. While the TV can accept a chroma 4:4:4 input it is unable to show chroma 4:4:4 properly; however this is only an issue when using the TV as a PC monitor (text may have colored artifacts around the letters).

Side Inputs
Rear 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
Tuner (Cable/Ant) : 1
Ethernet : 0
DisplayPort : 0
IR In : 0
SD/SDHC : 0
Inputs Specifications
HDR10
What it is: Standard HDR format.
When it matters: Most common format. All UHD Blu-ray discs are required to have it.
:
No
Dolby Vision
What it is: Better format, due to its dynamic nature.
When it matters: Dolby Vision mastered content. Current available from streaming services (Netflix, Amazon Video), some Blu-Ray players, the Apple TV 4k and ChromeCast Ultra.
:
No
HLG
What it is: HLG or Hybrid Log Gamma is a broadcast HDR format.
When it matters: HLG capable sources such as Youtube or OTA broadcasts in specific regions. Backwards compatible with SDR TVs.
:
No
3D
What it is: Optional 3D video capability on TV.
When it matters: 3D movies & videos.
:
No
5.1 Passthrough ARC Dolby Digital
What it is: TV can receive and pass Dolby Digital 5.1 signal to receiver via HDMI ARC.
When it matters: 5.1 audio on DVDs and Blu-rays.
:
Yes
5.1 Passthrough ARC DTS
What it is: TV can receive and pass DTS 5.1 signal to receiver via HDMI ARC.
When it matters: 5.1 audio on DVDs and Blu-rays.
:
No
5.1 Passthrough Optical Dolby Digital
What it is: TV can receive and pass Dolby Digital signal to receiver via digital optical.
When it matters: 5.1 audio on DVDs and Blu-rays.
:
Yes
5.1 Passthrough Optical DTS
What it is: TV can receive and pass DTS signal to receiver via digital optical.
When it matters: 5.1 audio on DVDs and Blu-rays.
:
No
HDMI 2.0 Full Bandwith
What it is: HDMI 2.0 is the main used HDMI standard and supports a range of video resolutions and refresh rates up to 4k@60Hz, with a total maximum bandwidth up to 18Gbps.
:
No
HDMI 2.1 Full Bandwidth
What it is: HDMI 2.1 is the latest update to the HDMI standard and supports a range of higher video resolutions and refresh rates including 8K60 and 4K120, and resolutions up to 10K. Dynamic HDR formats are also supported, and bandwidth capability is increased up to 48Gbps.
:
No
ARC
What it is: Audio Return Channel (ARC) enables a TV to transmit, via an HDMI cable, audio data to an A/V receiver, without the need for any extra audio cables.
When it matters: When connecting your audio/video receiver directly to your TV via an HDMI cable.
:
Yes (HDMI 1)
USB 3.0
What it is: USB 3.0 is the latest USB standard which can transfer data up to 5 Gbit/s, and is easily recognizable due to its blue color-coding of the connector.
:
No
HDCP 2.2 : No
CEC : Yes
MHL : No
Variable Analog Audio Out : Yes
Wi-Fi Support : Yes (2.4 GHz, 5 GHz)

To enable 5.1 passthrough, the 'S/PDIF and ARC' audio option must be changed from 'Auto Detect' to 'Dolby D+, DTS' or one of the other Dolby Digital options. DTS passthrough does not work, even though the TV lists DTS support. This may be fixed in a future software update.

Update 01/19/2018: There is a problem with how the Xbox One, Xbox One S and Xbox One X detect the audio passthrough capabilities of TCL TVs; a workaround is detailed in the Additional Review Notes.

5.7

Sound Quality

What it is: How well and accurately the audio is reproduced.
When it matters: When a good and accurate sound reproduction is needed.
Score components:

The sound produced by the TCL S305 isn't good. It's comparable to competing TVs, but that isn't saying much. Most sound bars will probably be a nice upgrade over the internal speakers.

5.6 Frequency Response
What it is: How accurately the sound level of each frequency is being produced.
When it matters: For a balanced and neutral sound.
TCL S305 Frequency Response
Low-Frequency Extension
What it is: The lowest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response.
When it matters: Movies, Gaming. Shows how extended the bass is.
Good value: < 60Hz
Noticeable difference: 10Hz
:
134.54 Hz
Std. Dev. @ 70
What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard deviation) in frequency response measured at 70dB SPL, as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: Shows the TV's frequency response at quiet listening levels
Good value: < 4 dB
Noticeable difference: 0.5 dB
:
6.02 dB
Std. Dev. @ 80
What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard deviation) in frequency response measured at 80dB SPL, as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: Shows the TV's frequency response at moderate listening levels
Good value: < 4 dB
Noticeable difference: 0.5 dB
:
5.95 dB
Std. Dev. @ Max
What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard deviation) in frequency response measured with the TV at maximum volume, as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: Shows the TV's frequency response at under maximum load
Good value: < 4 dB
Noticeable difference: 2 dB
:
6.90 dB
Max
What it is: Maximum volume reached by the TV at their optimum viewing distance (size dependent)
When it matters: For listening to loud audio.
Good value: > 88 dB
Noticeable difference: 2 dB
:
91.1 dB SPL
Dynamic Range Compression
What it is: The amount of difference between the TVs frequency response performance at 70dB SPL and Max dB SPL. Too much compression will result in pumping in the sound.
When it matters: When an accurate and free-of-pumping performance is required at higher volumes
Good value: < 3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.5
:
4.15 dB

Subpar frequency response. Higher frequencies are very poorly represented, and some compression artifacts are noticeable at higher volumes. It does get pretty loud though.

6.3 Distortion
What it is: Deformation of an output signal compared to its input, usually clipping, harmonic distortion, or inter-modulation distortion caused by non-linear behavior of the sound system.
When it matters: When a clean, pure and transparent reproduction is desired.
Score components:
TCL S305 Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 80
What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 80dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at moderate listening levels.
Good value: < 0.100
Noticeable difference: 0.100
:
0.162
Weighted THD @ Max
What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at the TV's maximum SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at moderate listening levels.
Good value: < 0.100
Noticeable difference: 0.100
:
15.154
IMD @ 80
What it is: The average amount of inter-modulation distortion produced by the TV under maximum load. The percentage shown here is the average result of 3 separate test signals/standards: SMPTE, DIN, & CCIF
When it matters: When a clean and free of aliasing reproduction is desired
Good value: < 5%
Noticeable difference: 2
:
1.22 %
IMD @ Max
What it is: The average amount of inter-modulation distortion produced by the TV under maximum load. The percentage shown here is the average result of 3 separate test signals/standards: SMPTE, DIN, & CCIF
When it matters: When a clean and free of aliasing reproduction is desired
Good value: < 5%
Noticeable difference: 2
:
14.87 %

The S305's speakers produce more distortion than average. It is relatively contained at lower volumes but quickly rises up past 80 dB.

7.3

Smart Features

Score components:
  • 42% Interface
  • 2% Ad-Free
  • 37% Apps and Features
  • 16% Remote
  • 3% Remote App
TCL S305 Smart TV Picture
Smart OS : Roku TV
Version : 7.6

The TCL S305 runs Roku TV, which is simpler and easier to navigate than some other smart OS's but still has all the features users expect in a smart TV. It has access to all the popular apps via the Roku 'Streaming Channels' store. Content can be cast to the TV from a smartphone or tablet, or played from a USB drive plugged into the TV's USB port. The included remote is fairly basic, but the Roku smartphone and tablet app has a lot of useful features for controlling the TV, and can even play the TV's audio through the phone or tablet.

7.0 Interface
What it is: The usability, features and performance of the main interface of the TV, not including the interfaces of the apps themselves.
When it matters: Anytime when using the TV, but especially when changing settings and using apps.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Ease of Use
What it is: How easy the interface is to navigate, affected by the organization of its layout, placing frequently accessed elements in areas that are faster to access, etc.
When it matters: When using the smart features.
:
Easy
Smoothness
What it is: How smooth the interface is to navigate, affected by lag and frame drops.
When it matters: When using the smart features.
:
Not Smooth
Time Taken to Select YouTube
What it is: How long it takes to select YouTube for launch, starting from HDMI 1 input, when YouTube is placed first on the list of apps or added as a shortcut. This does not include app launch time, and does not use a fixed YouTube button on a remote. This serves as an indication of the time needed to select any app.
When it matters: When launching any app.
:
3 s
Time Taken to Change Backlight
What it is: The time it takes to navigate to the 'Backlight' setting ('Brightness' on Sony TVs). This serves as an indication of how long it takes to navigate to basic TV settings.
When it matters: When changing TV settings.
:
3 s
Advanced Options
What it is: Whether advanced options and settings are available, such as color calibration.
When it matters: When customizing the TV and using the smart features.
:
Some
10 Ad-Free
What it is: Whether or not ads can be found on the TV's smart platform.
When it matters: When using the smart features.
Score components:
Ads
What it is: Whether the TV's main interface has ads. This does take into account ads in third-party apps.
When it matters: When using the smart features.
:
No
Opt-out
What it is: Whether you can opt out of the ad services or not. A TV only passes this test if it allows you to remove them completely, not only disable the personalized advertising.
When it matters: When using the smart features.
:
N/A
Suggested Content in Home
What it is: Whether suggested content appears in the TV's home menu or main menu. Suggested content can include recommended movies, TV shows, YouTube videos etc.
:
Yes
Opt-out of Suggested Content
What it is: Whether the suggested content feed in the home menu can be removed or hidden
:
No

This TV has no ads in its main interface, but third party apps may have ads. You can opt out of personalized advertising for these ads by enabling the 'Limit Ad Tracking' option. The home screen has a large section for showing suggested content, which is a little annoying and cannot be disabled.

8.0 Apps and Features
What it is: The usability, features and performance of apps and other smart features.
When it matters: Only when using smart features such as apps, casting and USB playback.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
TCL S305 Apps Picture
App Selection
What it is: The number and variety of apps available to download for the smart platform.
When it matters: When downloading new apps.
:
Many
App Smoothness
What it is: How smooth it feels to navigate the interfaces of apps, affected by lag and frame drops.
When it matters: When using apps.
:
Not Smooth
Cast Capable
What it is: Whether apps on a phone or tablet can cast content to the TV.
:
Yes
USB Drive Playback
What it is: Whether the TV can play content from a drive connected to one of the TV's USB ports.
:
Yes
USB Drive HDR Playback
What it is: Whether HDR files played from a USB drive can be displayed properly.
:
N/A
HDR in Netflix
What it is: Whether HDR content on Netflix can be played back in HDR using the native Netflix app.
:
N/A
HDR in Amazon Video
What it is: Whether HDR content on Amazon Video can be played in HDR using the native Amazon Video app.
:
N/A
HDR in YouTube
What it is: Whether HDR content on YouTube can be played in HDR using the native YouTube app.
:
N/A

Roku TV calls its apps 'Streaming Channels', but they work like normal apps. Most of the popular apps are available, such as Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Video.

6.0 Remote
What it is: The usability and features of the TV's physical remote.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
TCL S305 Remote Picture
Size
What it is: How big the remote is
:
Small
Voice Control
What it is: The capabilities of the TV's voice control feature
:
No
CEC Menu Control
What it is: Whether the remote can act as a universal remote for HDMI CEC enabled devices. This was tested on our Samsung UBD-K8500 4K Blu-ray player, and may not be valid for other CEC devices as implementations vary by manufacturer.
:
No
Other Smart Features
What it is: Whether the remote has any other smart features, such as a pointer, universal remote support for non HDMI CEC devices, etc.
:
No

The S305's remote is fairly basic, only providing basic buttons such as volume control, navigation and opening a few apps. However there is also a Roku app for smartphones and tablets that can act as the TV's remote, change between its apps and inputs, and can even play the TV's sound through the phone or tablet.

8.0 Remote App
What it is: The features of the official phone and tablet app for the TV.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
TCL S305 Remote App Picture
Acts as the Remote
What it is: Whether the remote app can emulate all the buttons of the physical remote.
:
Yes
Directly Launches Apps and Inputs
What it is: Whether the remote app can directly launch the TV's apps and change between its inputs, without requiring any interaction with menus on the TV.
:
Both
Inputs Text in YouTube
What it is: Whether the remote app can enter text for YouTube searches.
:
No
Inputs Text in Netflix
What it is: Whether the remote app can enter text for Netflix searches.
:
Yes
Streams Device Files
What it is: Whether the remote app can stream files from the phone or tablet to the TV, files such as pictures, music and video.
:
Yes
Controls TV Settings
What it is: Whether the app can change all or some of the settings on the TV, such as the backlight.
:
Some
Voice Control
What it is: Whether the remote can send voice commands to the TV.
:
No
TV Controls
TCL S305 Controls Picture

There are three physical buttons on the TV that can change the volume, inputs and can power the TV on and off.

In The Box
TCL S305 In The Box Picture

  • Manual
  • Batteries
  • Remote

Misc
Power Consumption : 38 W
Power Consumption (Max) : 61 W
Firmware : 7.5.2 build 4063-08

Differences between Sizes and Variants

We tested the 40" (40S305). For the most part, we expect our review to be valid for the 43" (43S305) and 49" (49S305) versions. The 32 inch (32S305) and 28 inch (28S305) versions have a 720p resolution.

Our review should also apply to the 43S305 found at Costco and other retailers, with only a few cosmetic differences.

If someone comes across a different type of panel or if their TCL S305 doesn't correspond to our review, let us know and we will update the review.

Size Model Resolution
28" 28S305 720p
32" 32S305 720p
40" 40S305 1080p
43" 43S305 1080p
49" 49S305 1080p

Compared to other TVs

TCL S305 Group Shot Picture
Top left: TCL FS3750 (48FS3750). Bottom left: Samsung MU6300 (UN55MU6300). Middle: TCL S305 (40S305). Top right: LG UH6100 (43UH6100). Bottom right: Hisense H8C (50H8C).  Unlike our other photographs, this picture wasn't taken under a controlled environment, so do not draw conclusions from it.

The S305 is a decent budget TV. It's so cheap that most of its competition is usually quite bad, and you rarely find TVs equipped with good smart features at this price.

TCL S405
43" 49" 55" 65"

The TCL S405 is significantly better than the TCL S305. The TCL S405 has better HDR performance due to the better HDR peak brightness and better color volume. It can also deliver better blacks due to the better native contrast ratio and better black uniformity, and this is great if you watch movies in a dark room. The S405 is also better for gaming as it has lower input lag which makes it very responsive. Finally, it has significantly better inputs for use as a PC monitor. 

Vizio D Series 1080p 2017
24" 32" 39" 40" 43" 48" 50" 55"

The Vizio D Series 1080p 2017 has an IPS panel that makes it more suitable for wide viewing arrangements, whereas the TCL S305 has a VA panel and is more suitable for darker environments. The TCL S305 has significantly better contrast ratio and better black uniformity so blacks are deep and uniform. This is great if you watch HDR movies. On the other hand, the Vizio D Series 1080p 2017 has slightly better viewing angles which can be good if you use it as a PC monitor and slightly better input lag for those who play video games.

TCL D100
32" 40" 49"

The TCL S305 is marginally better than the TCL D100.  The TCL S305 runs the Roku TV smart platform whereas the TCL D100 does not have a smart feature platform. If you wish to use it as a smart TV, you need to use an external box or dongle. The TCL S305 can remove 24p judder from movies whereas the TCL D100 can display crisp text when used as a monitor.

Samsung M4500
24" 28" 32"

The TCL S305 is much better than the Samsung M4500. The S305 has a higher resolution 1080p display and has lower input lag for gaming. The 305  is able to remove judder from most sources. The Samsung M4500 is a bit brighter than the TCL S305, and has an optional motion interpolation feature that can help motion appear smoother.

LG LJ5500
43" 49" 55"

If you have a bright room with wide seating arrangement, then the LG LJ5500 is a better choice due to its wide viewing angles and better brightness. If, however, you will be sitting right in front and enjoy watching movies in a dark room, then the TCL S305 is a better choice as it has better blacks due to the higher native contrast ratio and better black uniformity.

TCL FS3750
40" 48" 55"

The TCL FS3750 is a slight step up in TCL's line of TVs. It's still 1080p, but it offers better motion and can be found in larger sizes. It's a better choice for gaming, and it does get a bit brighter as well.

Vizio E Series 1080p 2016
32" 40" 43" 48" 55"

The E Series 1080p 2016 is one of Vizio's entry-level TVs from 2016. Overall, it's a worse TV than the TCL. It doesn't really have any advantage over the S305. It's biggest shortcoming is its smart platform, which is a lot worse than the Roku TV features.

LG LH5700
43" 49"

The LG LH5700 IPS TV is one of their budget level TVs from 2016. Compared to the S305, it has much better handling of motion and retains its picture quality better at an angle. Picture quality from the front is worse though, and uniformity issues cause football fields and other sports too look dirty. Most people will be better suited with the  TCL.

LG LH5000
43"

The LH5000 is one of the cheapest TVs LG makes and is in general pretty bad. Unlike the S305, it doesn't have any smart features. Its picture quality is poor, especially in a dark room. Most people will be much better off with the S305.

+ Show more

Conclusion
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

6.2Mixed Usage
What it is General purpose. The TV will be used for a variety of content and usages. Movies at night, TV shows during the day, video games from time to time, etc.
Score components:
Passable TV for mixed usage. The S305 is a fairly basic TV overall, but its picture quality isn't bad. 1080p resolution is a downside, especially if the TV is going to be watched up close.
5.8Movies
What it is Movies in the dark. The TV will be used for watching movies in a controlled environment, directly in front, in a home theater way. Mostly only high quality content, like Blu-rays, UHD Blu-rays, streaming and a little bit of HDR.
Score components:
Unremarkable Movies performance. Black levels are good, but the TV doesn't support local dimming and has some uniformity issues. It also only has a 1080p resolution.
6.9TV Shows
What it is TV Shows in a bright living room. The TV will be used in to watch TV shows, in a bright room during the day, from multiple viewing positions at different angles. The content watched has an average quality: cable, streaming, SD channels, etc.
Score components:
Decent TV for watching TV shows. Upscaling of lower resolution content is good, and the Roku platform provides all that is needed for online content. The S305 can be a bit dim though.
7.0Sports
What it is Sports in a living room. The TV will be used to watch sports during the day, like football or hockey. Usually watched with a group, so from multiple viewing position.
Average TV for sports watching. The S305 has decent motion performance and viewing angles. Unfortunately though, it cannot get very bright, which is an issue for weekend games in a well-lit room.
7.0Video Games
What it is Video games. The TV will be used to play video games, directly in front, in a controlled light environment. Usually fast games, like online FPS, where motion blur and input lag is important.
The S305 makes for a decent gaming TV. Input lag is good, and motion performance is better than average.
4.6HDR Movies
What it is HDR Movies and TV shows. The TV will be used to watch 4k UHD HDR content, with a wide color gamut and a high peak brightness. Either via UHD Blu-rays or HDR streaming.
Score components:
Poor choice for HDR. The TV does not get bright enough, and it isn't supported.
4.1HDR Gaming
What it is HDR Gaming. The TV will be used to play HDR video games using consoles that support it or on current generation gaming PCs. Xbox One S, PS4 Pro, GTX 10 series and AMD RX series graphics cards.
Since HDR is not supported, the S305 is not a good TV for newer systems such as the PS4 pro.
6.6PC Monitor
What it is PC Monitor. The TV will be used as a PC monitor, from 2-3 feet away, either for productivity purposes or gaming. Sharp text is important, as well as a high resolution.
Score components:
Inadequate PC monitor. Motion blur is a bit higher than preferred and essential resolutions are not supported, causing text to look fuzzy and hard to read.

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