TCL S405 LED TV Calibration Settings
These are the settings we used to calibrate the 43" TCL S405 (43S405), and we expect them to be also good for the 49" version (49S405), the 55" version (55S405 and the 65" version (65S405) of the S Series. These settings are good for most content, from TV shows to movies and gaming. For gaming, some changes are needed to have the best input lag, and they are listed below.
We used the 'Movie' picture mode to get as close as possible to our calibration goal. The 'TV brightness' was set to 'Normal' for our totally dark room, but you can set it to a brighter setting if you have a room with more light. The 'Picture Size' was left to 'Auto' since under this setting, the TV will adjust the picture size to match the screen size by itself.
In the 'Advanced picture settings', the 'Backlight' was set to 59 for our completely dark room, but you should set it to match your room lighting. Note that here the 'backlight' works in combination with the 'TV brightness' option from the previous menu, giving you a more precise control of the TV luminance. 'Brightness' was left to 50 and the 'Contrast' to 100. The 'Sharpness' was set to 0 so that no oversharpness is added to the original content. 'Color' was left to 45 and 'Tint' to 0, their default values. The 'Color temperature was set to 'Warm' since it is the color temperature the closest to our calibration goal, but you can set it to a colder temperature if you find the screen to be too yellow or red.
If you want to watch HDR content via an HDR UHD Blu-ray player or via an HDR video game console connected via HDMI, you will have to set the 'HDMI mode' to 'HDMI 2.0' for the HDMI port in use or some players may not play in HDR. This option is situated in the 'TV inputs' menu. You should also set the 'Gamma' setting found in the Roku app to '2.0' for a dark room or '1.8' or less for a bright room, otherwise the picture will look too dim (see the Expert Picture Settings section below).
Update 01/26/2018: There is a bug with the 'Color' slider in HDR: sometimes when the slider is increased then decreased immediately, or vice versa, the TV freezes, crashes and reboots. This shouldn't be a problem for normal usage though.
For playing video games in SDR or HDR, via video game console or PC, simply turn on 'Game mode' from the 'Advanced picture settings' menu to have the best input lag possible.
Expert Picture Settings
There are some settings that are only available via the mobile Roku apps. The Roku app is compatible with iOS and Android devices and can be downloaded via either the Apple App Store or via Google Play store. For more info on the Roku app itself, you can access this page. To access these settings, you need to go to the 'Setting' tab, and then go to 'Expert Picture Settings'.
In the 'Expert Picture Settings' menu, you can set the 'Picture mode', 'Gamma', 'Noise Reduction', 'Color temperature', the '11 points White balance' calibration and the 'Color Space' calibration. Some settings like the picture mode and color temperature are redundant and don't need to be changed again if already set from the TV settings. For our SDR calibration and to get the best picture quality, set the 'Gamma' to 2.2. If you are watching SDR or HDR content and you find that you are losing too much detail in the dark area of the screen (black crush) or the white (clipping) you can adjust the 'Gamma' value. We also set the 'Noise Reduction to 'Off'. This can be turned on if you are watching some older low-resolution video since it can help to reduce compression artifacts often present in older content. If you intend to do a calibration, then you will need to change the value in the '11 Pt WB' (the white balance control) and change the 'Color Space' setting to 'Custom', adjusting the value for each color. Note that each color temperature has separate calibration data, so if you calibrate on the 'Warm' color temperature, your correction won't be applied if you change the color temperature to another one.
The following are the results of the white balance and colorspace calibration on our unit. They are provided for reference, and should not be copied as the calibration values vary per individual unit even for the same model and same size as the TV we reviewed due to manufacturing tolerances. If you want to try them you will need to enter all values shown, as all of them are active at the same time. If you end up with worse picture quality, simply reset them to the default values.
Questions & Answers
It is normal for some games to look darker with HDR On, depending on how they were intended to look in HDR. Since this TV is not very bright, the effect is even more apparent. Setting the TV Brightness to 'Brighter', Dynamic contrast to 'Off' and Picture mode to 'Bright HDR' will also help increase the brightness of HDR content, at the cost of some contrast and color accuracy. You can also use the Roku mobile app to set the Gamma to 2.0 or 1.8 instead of 2.2, which will also brighten the picture, but blacks will appear gray at lower gamma settings.
To maintain color accuracy while still being able to retain visibility in darker in-game areas, your best bet would be to play HDR games in the darkest room possible.