TCL S Series/S405 4k 2018 TV Review

Tested using Methodology v1.5
Reviewed Jul 10, 2017 at 08:58 am
TCL S Series/S405 4k 2018 Picture
6.8
Mixed Usage
Value for price beaten by
: Not at the latest test bench
6.7
Movies
Value for price beaten by
: Not at the latest test bench
6.8
TV Shows
Value for price beaten by
: Not at the latest test bench
6.7
Sports
Value for price beaten by
: Not at the latest test bench
7.4
Video Games
Value for price beaten by
: Not at the latest test bench
6.2
HDR Movies
Value for price beaten by
: Not at the latest test bench
6.9
HDR Gaming
Value for price beaten by
: Not at the latest test bench
7.2
PC Monitor
Value for price beaten by
: Not at the latest test bench
This TV was replaced by the TCL 4 Series 2019
Type LED
Sub-Type
VA
Resolution 4k

The TCL S405 is a good entry-level 4k Roku TV with decent picture quality and motion. It has low input lag and little motion blur, making it a great pick for video games. Unfortunately, though, its viewing angle is quite narrow, and it doesn't get very bright, making it less suitable for well-lit environments. Overall, it is better than other budget TVs like the Toshiba Fire TV.

The S405 is being gradually replaced by the S425/423/421. Other than minor cosmetic differences, we don't expect there to be any difference between them. The model available may vary depending on your specific region and retailer.

Our Verdict

6.8 Mixed Usage

The TCL S425 / S405 is a good TV for a mixed usage. Its picture quality when viewed directly in front is pretty good, and it handles fast motion well. Its low brightness and deterioration of picture quality at an angle makes it a little less versatile though.

Pros
  • Very low input lag
  • Great contrast, blacks are deep
  • Low motion blur keeps fast content clear
Cons
  • Doesn't get very bright
  • Picture quality deteriorates at an angle
6.7 Movies

Decent TV for watching movies in a dark room. Can display dark scenes well with a high native contrast ratio, but lacks a local dimming feature to improve picture quality further. Movies from a Blu-ray player or DVD player are smooth.

6.8 TV Shows

Below average for watching TV in a bright room. The Roku smart platform works well for casual viewing, but the TV can't get very bright to fight glare and isn't the best at handling reflections. When viewed at an angle, the image accuracy degrades.

6.7 Sports

Decent TV for sports. Motion handling is good so very little blur is present but TV can't get bright to fight glare. Decent picture quality from directly in front, but this degrades when viewed at an angle.

7.4 Video Games

Great choice for gamers. Picture quality is decent, but has good motion handling and feels very responsive with low input lag.

6.2 HDR Movies

Supports HDR10 and has decent picture quality, but unfortunately can't produce a wide range of colors or get very bright. Lacks a local dimming feature to improve the dark scene performance.

6.9 HDR Gaming

Good TV for HDR gaming. Decent picture quality, but has great low input lag and can display fast-moving content with very little blur.

7.2 PC Monitor

Decent PC monitor. Supports chroma subsampling for clear text across a range of resolutions, but when viewed from up close the edges of the TV lose accuracy.

  • 6.8 Mixed Usage
  • 6.7 Movies
  • 6.8 TV Shows
  • 6.7 Sports
  • 7.4 Video Games
  • 6.2 HDR Movies
  • 6.9 HDR Gaming
  • 7.2 PC Monitor
  1. Updated May 21, 2020: Converted to Test Bench 1.5.
  2. Updated Feb 21, 2020: Converted to Test Bench 1.4.
  3. Updated Mar 15, 2019: A 75" model has been released
  4. Updated Feb 28, 2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.
  5. Updated Oct 24, 2018: The S405/403/401 are gradually being replaced by the S425/423/421. There are only cosmetic differences between the old and new models.
  6. Updated Mar 12, 2018: Converted to Test Bench 1.2.
  7. Updated Jan 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.
  8. Updated Aug 10, 2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1.
  9. Updated Jul 18, 2017: It was discovered that 4:4:4 color is only properly displayed in PC mode. The TV forces PC mode when it detects a PC input. The review has been updated.

Test Results

Design
6.5
Design
Style
Curved No

The design of the TCL S405 is quite basic and in line with other TCL TVs such as the US5800 from 2016. It has a wide stand which requires quite a large table but supports the TV well.

Update 3-19-2019: The design of the S425/423/421 models might have some cosmetic differences but we have not reviewed them yet to provide you with more detail.

Design
Stand

The stand does a good job of holding the TV steady but is made of plastic. It feels quite cheap but does support the TV well.

Footprint of the 43" TV stand: 7.8" x 30.2"

Design
Back
Wall Mount VESA 100x100

The rear of the TV is simple, with a metallic top half and plastic body.

Update 11/20/2017: Note that the different sizes of the TV have different VESA mounts. The 49" (49S405) and 55" (55S405) have a 200x200 VESA mount, and the 65" (65S405) has a 300x300 VESA mount.

Design
Borders
Borders 0.39" (1.0 cm)

The borders have an average thickness but look fine. There is a bit of a gap before the beginning of the picture.

Design
Thickness
Max Thickness 2.91" (7.4 cm)

The TV has an average thickness when viewed from the side. It will stick out a bit if wall mounted.

6.5
Design
Build Quality

The build quality of the S405 is decent. The top half of the back is metal, but the bulk of the TV is plastic (including the borders). This won't present problems during use but doesn't feel as premium as other high end TVs, or even the LeEco Super4.

Picture Quality
8.4
Picture Quality
Contrast
Native Contrast
4,171 : 1
Contrast with local dimming
N/A

The TCL S425 / S405 has a very good native contrast ratio for a LED TV. With over a 4000:1, the S405 contrast ratio is over what we consider to be a good value for a TV and will procure deep enough blacks to make dark scene pleasant to watch, especially when the TV is set in a bright room. In comparison, this is a small improvement over the 2016 TCL US5800.

0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming
Local Dimming
No
Backlight
Direct

The TCL S405 / S425 does not have a local dimming feature. The video is for reference only.

4.7
Picture Quality
SDR Peak Brightness
SDR Real Scene Peak Brightness
180 cd/m²
SDR Peak 2% Window
186 cd/m²
SDR Peak 10% Window
191 cd/m²
SDR Peak 25% Window
191 cd/m²
SDR Peak 50% Window
191 cd/m²
SDR Peak 100% Window
192 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 2% Window
186 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 10% Window
191 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 25% Window
191 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 50% Window
191 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 100% Window
191 cd/m²
SDR ABL
0.001

Plot over time

Disappointing SDR peak brightness, good enough for a moderately lit room but not bright enough for a well lit room. The brightness does remain unchanged no matter the scene shown, which is good. The edges of the screen are slightly dimmer than the center, as seen by the lower real scene brightness. This brightness is very similar to the lower tier TCL S305, but a lot less than the next tier P607.

4.2
Picture Quality
HDR Peak Brightness
HDR Real Scene Peak Brightness
178 cd/m²
HDR Peak 2% Window
176 cd/m²
HDR Peak 10% Window
182 cd/m²
HDR Peak 25% Window
182 cd/m²
HDR Peak 50% Window
182 cd/m²
HDR Peak 100% Window
182 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 2% Window
176 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 10% Window
182 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 25% Window
182 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 50% Window
182 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 100% Window
182 cd/m²
HDR ABL
0.001

Plot over time

Bad HDR peak brightness, highlights in HDR will not be shown much brighter than the rest of the scene. The brightness does remain consistent no matter the scene due to the TV's lack of CE dimming, which is good. This brightness is a lot lower than the more expensive TCL P607.

7.1
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
3.112%
50% DSE
0.195%
5% Std. Dev.
1.872%
5% DSE
0.115%

The TCL 4 Series / S Series gray uniformity could be better and a lot of the uniformity problems come from the edge of the screen being a bit darker than the center, especially the corners. There is also a large darker band on the top of the screen with some smaller vertical one that is a bit warmer/dirtier than the rest of the screen. Dirty screen effect is visible when watching some specific content like hockey of football, where there are large panning shots over a uniform surface. For normal content like movies or TV show, dirty screen effect is less of a problem though.

Looking at our 5% test picture, we can see that both sides are a bit brighter than the center, but this is not really a uniformity problem, but more a visual effect due to the narrow viewing angle.

4.7
Picture Quality
Viewing Angle
Color Washout
26°
Color Shift
14°
Brightness Loss
34°
Black Level Raise
12°
Gamma Shift

Bad viewing angle, but fairly typical for a TV with a VA panel. Blacks become gray and colors shift when the TV is viewed from even a small angle, while brightness decreases more gradually at an angle. This TV is not well suited for a room where people will be often viewing the TV from the side.

7.7
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
0.960%
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
N/A

The native black uniformity of the TCL S405 is very good. Looking at the black uniformity test picture, we can see some clouding near the top and bottom edge but luckily, this is really faint and does not really affect our test result and also it did not show up in dark scene while looking at regular video content. Note that here, the black level of the test picture doesn't look that deep, but here the test is evaluating the uniformity of the screen and not the black level.

7.4
Picture Quality
Reflections
Screen Finish
Semi-gloss
Total Reflections
5.2%
Indirect Reflections
0.4%
Calculated Direct Reflections
4.8%

The reflection handling of the TCL S Series is okay. It has a semi-gloss finish which causes reflections to appear larger, diffused across the screen. This does help to reduce their intensity slightly though. For an average room it's ok, but in a bright room, the reflections are distracting.

7.5
Picture Quality
Pre Calibration
White Balance dE
3.97
Color dE
2.22
Gamma
2.24
Color Temperature
6,367 K
Picture Mode
Movie
Color Temp Setting
Warm
Gamma Setting
2.2

Out of the box, the TCL S405 / S425 accuracy is impressive and for most people, even enthusiasts, it would be very hard to notice the little inaccuracies. Overall, the colors are tracking their target pretty well and the white balance and gamma too, which is pretty good. At this level of accuracy, a calibration would not be needed and could be used as is in most case.

9.7
Picture Quality
Post Calibration
White Balance dE
0.29
Color dE
0.48
Gamma
2.20
Color Temperature
6,531 K
White Balance Calibration
11 point
Color Calibration
Yes
Auto-Calibration Function
No

After calibration, the TCL S405 is one of the most accurate TV we ever reviewed. At this level of accuracy, most imperfections are not even noticeable. Since the TV was already very accurate out of the box, the calibration was done in a breeze and no real issues came up during the process.

Like other TCL TVs, the calibration is only possible via the mobile apps and is one of the easiest methods available from all the major brand of TV we have worked with. The 11 points white balance control and the color space control are fairly responsive and procure a very easy way to do the calibration.

You can see our recommended settings here.

8.0
Picture Quality
480p Input

Upscaling of low-quality content such as DVDs is good. As with other TCL TVs, the image isn't too soft and details are preserved.

8.0
Picture Quality
720p Input

720p sources such as cable are upscaled well. Details remain clear.

9.0
Picture Quality
1080p Input

1080p content such as Blu-rays look sharp and detailed.

10
Picture Quality
4k Input

No issues can be seen with native 4k content.

Update 02/26/2018: We have received reports that the 49" model of the S405 (49S405) has a different panel, which displays a crosshatching like effect which is visible from up-close (see here). This appears to be similar to the P607 (visible in the pixels photo here)

0
Picture Quality
8k Input
Picture Quality
Pixels
7.3
Picture Quality
Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
No
DCI P3 xy
81.68%
DCI P3 uv
87.84%
Rec 2020 xy
58.84%
Rec 2020 uv
64.94%

Narrow color gamut, only good enough for SDR content. The true color gamut is shown by the maximum red, green and blue in the Rec 2020 gamut picture. All other colors in the Rec 2020 picture, and all the P3 colors are shown horribly undersaturated, likely because the TV is prioritizing brightness over color accuracy because the TV is so dim. These tests were done at 75% brightness stimulus; shown here and here are tests done at a dimmer 50% stimulus that have much better accuracy. Most colors in HDR content will be at a dim stimulus and have decent accuracy, but very bright colors will have poor accuracy.

The TV's EOTF follows the HDR PQ curve fairly closely until 50% stimulus grey, where it rolls off very early to ease the transition to the TV's low peak brightness. This test was done with the 'Gamma' set to '2.0' in the TV's advanced picture settings in the Roku app; at the default 'Gamma' of '2.2' the EOTF was dimmer than the PQ curve, shown here, and shown here with 'Game Mode' enabled. Users can change this 'Gamma' setting to suit the brightness of their room.

6.1
Picture Quality
Color Volume
Normalized DCI P3 Coverage ITP
67.7%
10,000 cd/m² DCI P3 Coverage ITP
21.8%
Normalized Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
55.1%
10,000 cd/m² Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
17.7%

Disappointing color volume. The TV's color gamut narrows significantly when showing very dark saturated colors, which is visible in both color volumes. The color gamut remains full for bright saturated Rec 2020 colors, but the gamut narrows significantly when showing bright P3 colors, likely due to the TV's tone mapping prioritizing brightness over color accuracy because the TV is so dim.

8.7
Picture Quality
Gradient
Color Depth
10 Bit
Red (Std. Dev.)
0.079
Green (Std. Dev.)
0.097
Blue (Std. Dev.)
0.085
Gray (Std. Dev.)
0.093

The TCL S425 / S405 can display our test gradient very smoothly and without any banding normally seen on 8-bit panels. Some little imperfection can be seen on the dark green and toward the end of the dark grayscale, but this is very minimal. Banding in HDR movies was not a problem and the performance is very good overall.

10
Picture Quality
Temporary Image Retention
IR after 0 min recovery
0.00%
IR after 2 min recovery
0.00%
IR after 4 min recovery
0.00%
IR after 6 min recovery
0.00%
IR after 8 min recovery
0.00%
IR after 10 min recovery
0.00%

No image retention could be detected on the TCL S405 and this is in line with other TVs that use VA panels.

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

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

Motion
7.3
Motion
Response Time
80% Response Time
6.3 ms
100% Response Time
14.4 ms

The response time is great, resulting in only a short trail following fast-moving objects. This is a noticeable improvement over TCL 4K TVs from 2016, the US5800 and UP130, and is better than the S305 from 2017.

4.0
Motion
Flicker-Free
Flicker-Free
No
PWM Dimming Frequency
120 Hz

The TV uses PWM at 120Hz 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 duplications following fast-moving objects, visible in the motion blur box.

5.4
Motion
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
Optional BFI
No
Min Flicker for 60 fps
120 Hz
60 Hz for 60 fps
No
120 Hz for 120 fps
N/A
Min Flicker for 60 fps in Game Mode
120 Hz

Unfortunately the S405 has no option to reduce its flicker frequency to 60 Hz, although its 120 Hz PWM backlight does help somewhat to make motion look clearer.

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

The S405 is unable to produce motion interpolation, so fans of the soap opera effect could be disappointed.

7.6
Motion
Stutter
Frame Hold Time @ 24 fps
27.3 ms
Frame Hold Time @ 60 fps
2.3 ms

The TCL S405 / S425 is good at displaying content smoothly, without stutter. After each transition completes with 24p content, the frame remains static for only ~27ms. This produces a smoother image as the response time helps to blur the transition between frames.

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

Like the 2017 TCL P607 and 2016 TCL US5800, the S405 can only display without judder 24p movies when they are played from 24 sources like DVDs or Blu-rays. 24p Movies playing from 60p/60i sources like cable or satellite boxes will have some judder.

There is not specific feature or option needed to be turn on to remove judder from 24p movies on 24p sources, as the TV detect and display them correctly.

0
Motion
Variable Refresh Rate
Native Refresh Rate
60 Hz
Variable Refresh Rate
No
HDMI Forum VRR
No
FreeSync
No
G-SYNC Compatible
No
4k VRR Maximum
N/A
4k VRR Minimum
No VRR support
1080p VRR Maximum
N/A
1080p VRR Minimum
No VRR support
1440p VRR Maximum
N/A
1440p VRR Minimum
No VRR support
VRR Supported Connectors
No VRR support

The S405 has a 60Hz panel without support for more advanced features such as FreeSync.

Inputs
8.7
Inputs
Input Lag
1080p @ 60 Hz
14.6 ms
1080p @ 60 Hz Outside Game Mode
48.3 ms
1440p @ 60 Hz
12.9 ms
4k @ 60 Hz
14.9 ms
4k @ 60 Hz + 10 bit HDR
14.9 ms
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4
15.1 ms
4k @ 60 Hz Outside Game Mode
32.5 ms
4k @ 60 Hz With Interpolation
N/A
8k @ 60 Hz
N/A
1080p @ 120 Hz
N/A
1440p @ 120 Hz
N/A
4k @ 120 Hz
N/A
1080p with Variable Refresh Rate
N/A
1440p with VRR
N/A
4k with VRR
N/A
8k with VRR
N/A
Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)
Yes

Update 05/06/2019: The S405 now supports Auto Low Latency Mode, and will automatically enable 'Game Mode' when you start playing a game on a supported device. We tested it with an Xbox One S.

Update 07/18/2017: The TV only shows 4:4:4 color properly when in 'PC mode'. For most sources this is accomplished by changing the input's icon to 'Computer'. For a PC, if the TV detects a PC as its source it forces PC mode, and this cannot be avoided except by intercepting the AVI infoframes sent from the PC. The 4:4:4 input lag measurements were in error, but all input lag measurements have now been updated (essentially unchanged).

Excellent low input lag, good enough for even competitive gamers. All picture modes have the same low input lag when the 'Game Mode' setting is on, and 4:4:4 color is displayed properly in all modes. This input lag is very similar to the higher tier TCL P607.

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

Most resolutions are supported. 4k @ 60 Hz is only supported when the HDMI input used is set to HDMI 2.0 in the TV's settings. 4:4:4 color is displayed properly in all picture modes.

The TV's 4:2:0 color support is inconsistent. 4:2:0 isn't displayed properly from some sources, such as a PC (whites turn pink, scanlines), while our HDR Blu-ray player had no such issue. This inconsistency could be a problem for 4k @ 60 Hz sources that only support HDMI 1.4, as 4:2:0 is needed for these sources to remain within the bandwidth cap of HDMI 1.4.

Update 07/18/2017: The TV only shows 4:4:4 color properly when in 'PC mode'. Sharpness also has no effect in PC mode, even though the slider can still be changed. For most sources PC mode is activated by changing the input's icon to 'Computer'. For a PC, if the TV detects a PC as its source it forces PC mode, and this cannot be avoided except by intercepting the AVI infoframes sent from the PC. Changing the input's icon does not avoid this forced PC mode. This behavior was not known during initial testing, leading to the incorrect assumption that 4:4:4 color is displayed properly in all modes.

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
Tuner (Cable/Ant) 1
Ethernet 1
DisplayPort 0
IR In 0
SD/SDHC 0
Inputs
Inputs Specifications
HDR10
Yes
HDR10+
No
Dolby Vision
No
HLG
No
3D
No
HDMI 2.0 Full Bandwidth
Yes (HDMI 1,2,3)
HDMI 2.1
No
CEC Yes
HDCP 2.2 Yes (HDMI 1,2,3)
USB 3.0
No
Variable Analog Audio Out Yes
Wi-Fi Support Yes (2.4 GHz, 5 GHz)

Not all features of CEC are supported with all devices. When the TV is powered off CEC capable devices are also powered off, but the TV's remote couldn't be used to navigate the menu of our PlayStation 3 or any other device tested.

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.

Inputs
Audio Passthrough
ARC
Yes (HDMI 1)
eARC support
No
Dolby Atmos via TrueHD via eARC
No
DTS:X via DTS-HD MA via eARC
No
5.1 Dolby Digital via ARC
Yes
5.1 DTS via ARC
Yes
5.1 Dolby Digital via Optical
Yes
5.1 DTS via Optical
Yes
Sound Quality
5.9
Sound Quality
Frequency Response
Low-Frequency Extension
119.87 Hz
Std. Dev. @ 70
6.87 dB
Std. Dev. @ 80
6.82 dB
Std. Dev. @ Max
5.75 dB
Max
91.5 dB SPL
Dynamic Range Compression
2.68 dB

Very poor frequency response. The S405 has an incredible overemphasis on lower frequencies causing it to sound quite boomy and imbalanced.

6.4
Sound Quality
Distortion
Weighted THD @ 80
0.146
Weighted THD @ Max
4.885
IMD @ 80
4.43%
IMD @ Max
17.03%

The S405 has high amounts of THD. It is about average at lower volumes, but it skyrockets when the level is set higher. Unfortunately, the S405 also utilizes a lot of aliasing, making higher volumes better left unused.

Smart Features
8.0
Smart Features
Interface
Smart OS Roku TV
Version 7.6
Ease of Use
Easy
Smoothness
Very Smooth
Time Taken to Select YouTube
4 s
Time Taken to Change Backlight
4 s
Advanced Options
Many

The Roku interface responds lightning fast, with smooth animations and almost no lag. The column based layout is easy to use, and all lists loop to the bottom when pressing 'up' on the first item, making navigation faster. Unfortunately almost all navigation must pass through the home menu, which adds extra steps to many interactions.

Update 01/24/2018: 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.

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

The main interface has no ads, though third party apps can have ads. You can opt out of personalized advertising for these ads in apps using the TV's 'Limit Ad Tracking' option. The home menu has a large box for suggested content, which can be annoying.

Update 02/04/2019: The S405 is now showing ads on the home screen.

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

Roku calls its apps 'Streaming Channels', but they work like normal apps. There aren't as many apps for Roku as for some other smart platforms, but most of the popular ones are available such as Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Video. Apps run smoothly with little lag or frame drops, like the rest of the interface.

6.0
Smart Features
Remote
Size
Small
Voice Control
No
CEC Menu Control
No
Other Smart Features
No
Remote App Roku

The remote is very basic, with only Roku navigation and app buttons, playback control and volume control on the side. It lacks the features found on the higher tier TCL remotes such as a headphone jack and speaker for playing the TV's audio, and the 'Find Remote' feature where the remote makes noise so it can be found. This basic remote is nearly identical to that of the TCL S305 and last year's US5800.

Smart Features
TV Controls

The TV has three buttons on the bottom, which can power on and off the TV, change inputs and change the volume.

Smart Features
In The Box

  • Manual
  • Batteries
  • Remote

Smart Features
Misc
Power Consumption 45 W
Power Consumption (Max) 70 W
Firmware 7.6.2 • build 4144-30

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

We tested the 43" (43S405). For the most part, we expect our review to be valid for the 49" (49S405), 55" (55S405) and 65" (65S405) versions. 

If someone comes across a different type of panel or if their TCL S405 (S-Series) doesn't correspond to our review, let us know and we will update the review. The TCL S305 is essentially the same TV, but it features a 1080p or 720p resolution and can be found in smaller sizes.

Update 02/26/2018: We have received reports that the 49" model of the S405 (49S405) has a different panel, which displays a crosshatching like effect which is visible from up-close (see here). This appears to be similar to the P607 (visible in the pixels photo here)

Size Model Variant - S403 Variant - S401
43" 43S405 43S403  
49" 49S405 49S403  
55" 55S405 55S403 55S401
65" 65S405 65S403 65S401

Update 10/24/2018: The S405/403/401 are gradually being replaced by the S425/423/421. Internally, they are the exact same TV. The only changes are cosmetic. This is a gradual roll-out, so some areas may still sell the S405.

Update 02/19/2019: TCL has released a 50" version of the S425. We don't know if there are any differences.

Update 03/15/2019: TCL has also released a 75" version of the S425/423/421.

Compared To Other TVs

Comparison picture

Top left: Vizio E Series 2017 (E65-E1). Bottom left: LG UJ6300 (43UJ6300). Middle: TCL S405 (43S405). Top right: Samsung MU6300 (UN55MU6300). Bottom right: TCL P607 (55P607).  Unlike our other photographs, this picture wasn't taken under a controlled environment, so do not draw conclusions from it.

The TCL S405 offers great value for money, since it delivers picture quality and a feature set uncommon for its budget price range. See our recommendations for the best budget TVs and the best smart TVs.

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

The TCL S Series S405 4k and the TCL 4 Series S425 have very similar performance. The TCL S425 has marginally higher contrast ratio, which is great for watching movies in a dark room, and a slightly lower input lag, which is good for playing video games. The S405, on the other hand, can remove 24p judder from the native apps.

Insignia Fire TV Edition 4k
43" 50" 55"

The TCL S405 is much better than the Insignia Fire TV. The TCL has better reflection handling, so it's more suitable for a room with many light sources. Also, the TCL has lower input lag and is more responsive to your actions which is great if you use the TV for gaming or a PC monitor. The Insignia Fire TV, on the other hand, has a motion interpolation feature that will please soap opera effect fans.

TCL 6 Series 2018
55" 65" 75"

The TCL R617 is significantly better than the TCL S405. The TCL R617 can deliver deeper blacks thanks to the higher native contrast ratio, and has a local dimming feature to further enhance dark room performance. The R617 can remove 24p judder from older movies and can get much brighter. The R617 has a wide color gamut and can display more vivid colors. The TCL S405, on the other hand, has marginally lower input lag for video games.

LG UJ6300
43" 49" 55" 65"

The TCL S Series/S405 4k 2018 is better than the LG UJ6300. The TCL S405 has a VA panel with a higher contrast ratio and better black uniformity, which make it a better choice if you watch movies in a dark room while seating directly in front. However, for a large room with a wide seating arrangement, the LG UJ6300 is a better choice, as it has better viewing angles due to its IPS panel. It can also handle reflections slightly better. The LG UJ6300 has a lower input lag which is important if you play games or use the TV as a PC monitor, whereas the TCL S405 has a faster response time that leaves a smaller blur trail when you watch fast-action sports.

TCL S Series/S305 2018
28" 32" 40" 43" 49"

The TCL 4 Series (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 higher 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.

TCL P Series/P607 2017
55"

The TCL P607 is better than the TCL S405. The TCL P607 has better contrast and supports local dimming so it can display deep blacks. The TCL P607 also has better HDR performance, better color volume and higher levels of brightness. Also, the TCL P607 has a faster response time which is great for fast content. On the other hand, the TCL S405 has slightly better reflection handling which can be good if you watch TV shows in a room with many light sources.

Element Amazon Fire TV
43" 50" 55" 65"

The TCL S405 is better than the Element Fire TV. The S405 supports HDR, while the Fire TV does not. The TCL is more consistent in its ability to remove judder from 24p sources. The S405 also has much lower input for gaming or use as a PC monitor. The Element Fire TV is a lot brighter and has an optional motion interpolation feature.

LG LJ5500
43" 49" 55"

The TCL S Series/S405 4k 2018 is a much better TV than the LG LJ5500. The TCL has 4K resolution, better contrast, and better black uniformity, which is great if you watch movies in a dark room. The TCL also has better input lag and a faster response time that make it a better choice if you play games. On the other hand, the LG LJ5500 has an IPS panel and thus has better viewing angles.

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

The two TVs are quite different. The Vizio D Series 1080p 2017 is a 1080p basic TV, that due to its IPS panel, has better viewing angles than the TCL S405. On the other hand, the TCL S405 has a significantly better 4k resolution, can handle HDR input signal, and is capable of showing basic HDR content. Also, the TCL S405 has a much better contrast ratio and can display deep blacks, which is great when watching movies in a dark room. Finally, the TCL S405 has significantly better inputs for use as a PC monitor and a bit better input lag to please those who play video games.

Samsung M4500
24" 28" 32"

The TCL S405 is much better than the Samsung M4500. The S405 has a native 4k screen and can take advantage of the latest technologies. The S405 has much lower input lag and faster response time, great for fast action movies or gaming. The TCL has better black uniformity. The Samsung M4500 is a bit brighter and has an optional motion interpolation feature which can smooth out motion on lower frame rate content.

Samsung MU6290
40" 43" 49" 55" 65" 75"

The TCL S405 and Samsung MU6290 deliver very similar performance overall. The TCL S405 has a better response time and can remove judder from most 24p sources. The Samsung MU6290 is much brighter and has more options for smoothing out motion, including optional motion interpolation and a better black frame insertion feature, but can't remove judder from 24p sources.

Samsung NU7100
40" 43" 50" 55" 58" 65" 75"

The Samsung NU7100 is a bit better than the TCL S405. The Samsung NU7100 has a motion interpolation feature that will please the soap opera effect fans. The NU7100 also has a slightly high native contrast ratio that is great for movies and can get a little brighter. The TCL S405 can remove 24p judder has a marginally faster response time that leaves a smaller blur trail in fast-moving content, like sports.

TCL 5 Series 2018
43" 49" 55" 65"

The TCL 5 Series (S517) is slightly better than the TCL 4 Series (S405). The TCL S517 has deeper blacks due to the better contrast, and this is great if you watch movies in a dark room. Also, the TCL S517 can get brighter, and its image will look better in a bright room, and it incorporates motion interpolation for the fans of the soap opera effect. On the other hand, the TCL S405 has a lower input lag which is great if you play video games, and better reflection handling if your room has many small light sources.

Toshiba Amazon Fire TV 2018
43" 50" 55"

The TCL S405 is better than the Toshiba Fire TV 2018. The TCL S405 has better reflection handling if you wish to place the TV in a room with many light sources, and also has better out of the box color accuracy. The TCL S405 has lower input lag and is very responsive for gaming or when used as a PC monitor. On the other hand, the Toshiba Fire TV 2018 can get much brighter and can fight glare in a bright room. Finally, the Toshiba Fire TV 2018 has a motion interpolation feature for those who like the soap opera effect.

Vizio E Series 2017
43" 50" 55" 60" 65" 70" 75" 80"

The TCL S405 4k TV is slightly better than the Vizio E Series 2017. The S405 has much better low input lag, making it a better choice for gamers. The TCL S405 doesn't have a local dimming feature but the local dimming on the Vizio E Series isn't very effective. The Vizio E Series 2017 has a much better black frame insertion feature than the TCL S405, so motion will look a little more fluid but it sacrifices some brightness.

Samsung NU6900
43" 50" 55" 65" 75"

The Samsung NU6900 is marginally better than the TCL S Series S405. The Samsung NU6900 has slightly better dark room performance thanks to the higher contrast ratio and better black uniformity. The Samsung NU6900 has a motion interpolation feature to improve motion. The TCL S405 has a lower input lag, which is great for playing video games. The TCL can display judder-free movies from many sources and has slightly crisper motion thanks to the faster response time.

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