The TCL S4/S450G is an entry-level 4k TV released in 2023. It's part of the TCL S4 series of budget TVs, which includes the TCL S4/S470G and offer a limited selection of extra features but are available in a wide variety of sizes. Unlike previous years, TCL is offering the S4 series with two different choices of smart interface; the "G" series of TVs, like this one, run the Google TV smart interface. The "R" models run the Roku smart interface instead.
The TCL S450G is an alright TV for mixed usage. It's best suited for watching shows or playing games in a moderately-lit room. Despite its good reflection handling, it can't overcome glare in a bright room. It's okay for watching movies or gaming in a dark room, thanks to its high native contrast ratio, but it lacks a local dimming feature to improve contrast. It supports HDR, but this adds almost nothing, as it can't display a wide color gamut, and it's not bright enough to bring out bright specular highlights.
The TCL S450G is mediocre for watching shows in a bright room. It has poor peak brightness but good reflection handling, so it can handle some glare in a moderately lit room, but it can't get bright enough to overcome bright reflections. The built-in Google TV smart interface has a great selection of streaming apps to quickly find your favorite shows. Unfortunately, the image fades rapidly at an angle, so it's not a good choice for a wide seating arrangement. It also has limited picture processing capabilities, so it can't do much to clean up low-quality or low-resolution content.
The TCL S450G delivers a mediocre experience when watching sports in a bright room. It has good reflection handling, so it can handle some glare in a moderately lit room, but it can't get bright enough to overcome bright reflections. The response time is okay, but fast action in games looks blurry, and the TV has a narrow viewing angle, meaning the image fades and looks washed out at an angle.
The TCL S450G is okay for gaming. It has superb low input lag, ensuring a responsive gaming experience with minimal delay between your actions and what you see on the screen. There's also very little difference in picture quality when switching to 'Game' mode. On the other hand, it has a fairly slow response time, so you'll see more blur around fast-moving objects. It's limited to a 60Hz refresh rate and doesn't support any advanced gaming features like VRR.
The TCL S450G is okay for watching movies in a dark room. It has a high native contrast ratio and decent black uniformity, so you don't have to worry about distracting IPS glow or blooming around bright highlights. It can't get very bright in HDR, though, and it lacks a local dimming feature, so bright specular highlights don't stand out. Finally, it can't display a wide color gamut, so most HDR content looks dull and muted.
The TCL S450G is just okay for gaming in HDR. It has low input lag and good picture quality in the 'Game' Picture Mode. It also has a high native contrast ratio, which is essential for a good HDR experience. It lacks a local dimming feature, though, and it can't get very bright in HDR, so specular highlights in HDR don't stand out at all. It also can't display a wide color gamut, and HDR adds very little overall.
The TCL S450G is just okay for use as a PC monitor. It has low input lag, ensuring a responsive desktop experience, but the response time is a bit sluggish, resulting in more noticeable blur around fast-moving objects like a cursor. It has just okay gray uniformity, and there's noticeable dirty screen effect near the center, so it doesn't look good when browsing the web. It also has a bad viewing angle, so the sides of the screen lose uniformity when sitting too close to the screen.
We bought and tested the 50-inch TCL S450G which is part of the TCL S4 lineup, and these results are also valid for the 43-, 55-, 65-, 75, and 85-inch sizes. There are a few different models in TCL's S4 series, which share a similar design but slightly different features and picture quality. The TCL S470G is very similar to this one, but has a different panel with a wider color gamut and a wide viewing angle, but much worse contrast. The TCL S450R is a Roku variant of this TV with a slightly different feature set, but similar picture quality. All sizes perform the same, but the 75-inch and 85-inch models have a slightly different stand and an additional USB port.
Our unit was manufactured in April 2023; you can see the label here.
The TCL S450G is a very basic entry-level TV with okay picture quality and very few additional features. It's cheap, and it performs as expected for a cheap TV. You can get a much better TV by spending just a bit more, but if you don't care about gaming features or picture processing then it's an okay option.
The TCL Q6/Q650G QLED significantly improves over the lower-end TCL S4/S450G. The Q6 delivers much better picture quality overall and looks better in bright rooms thanks to its higher peak brightness. HDR also looks better on the Q6 thanks to its higher peak brightness and wide color gamut. Finally, the Q6 is better for gaming thanks to the addition of VRR support, ensuring a nearly tear-free gaming experience.
The Hisense A65K is much better than the TCL S4/S450G. The Hisense delivers better overall picture quality thanks to its higher peak brightness, better accuracy before calibration, and much wider color gamut. The Hisense gets significantly brighter, so it can handle more glare in a bright room, and this model has better picture processing, which is great if you watch a lot of low-quality or low-resolution content.
The TCL 4 Series/S455 2022 is slightly better than the TCL S4/S450G. The S455 has better black uniformity and higher contrast, so it looks a bit better in a dark room. The S455 also gets slightly brighter, so it's slightly better in a bright room. On the other hand, the newer S450G has better picture processing, so it's a better choice if you mainly watch low-quality or low-resolution content, like old TV shows.
The TCL S4/S450G is a bit better than the Toshiba C350 Series 2023, although the Toshiba is the brighter TV of the two, making it better overall as a bright room TV. The Toshiba also has a much wider viewing angle, making it a better choice for a wide seating arrangement. However, the TCL has vastly better contrast and black uniformity, so it looks significantly better in a dark room or even in a moderately lit room with its good reflection handling.
In an odd twist, the lower-end TCL S4/S450G is better than the higher-end TCL S4/S470G. The S450G delivers much better picture quality, with a much higher contrast ratio, resulting in better dark room performance. The S470G has a wider color gamut, so HDR content looks a bit better, and it has a wide viewing angle, which is great if you have a wide seating arrangement. Despite these improvements, the overall picture quality and viewing experience on the S450G is better.
The design is basic and doesn't look very premium. The bezels are thin and not distracting, but the rest of the TV looks a bit cheap.
The V-shaped feet are very basic. They're set near the ends of the TV, so you'll need a large cabinet for the larger sizes if you're not planning on wall-mounting the TV. Sadly, the feet have no alternative position to accommodate a smaller table. The feet don't lift the TV very high, so most soundbars won't fit in front of it without blocking a portion of the screen.
Footprint of the 50" stand: 37.6" x 10" x 2.4"
The back of the TV is very plain and looks cheap. The inputs are housed in a larger section of the back, near the center of the TV, so they're difficult to access if the TV is wall-mounted. There's no cable management.
The TCL S4/S450G has mediocre build quality. It's mostly made of cheap plastic, and there's some flex in the plastic panels around the inputs. There are some obvious quality control issues, though, as there are some specs on our panel that you can see in the gray uniformity slide.
The TCL S450G has an excellent native contrast ratio, so blacks are deep in relatively easy, dim scenes. Since it lacks a local dimming feature, blacks appear gray and washed out when very bright highlights are on the screen.
This TV doesn't have a local dimming feature, so there's no blooming around bright objects or subtitles in dark scenes.
This TV doesn't have a local dimming feature, so it can't adjust the backlight of individual zones to brighten up highlights without impacting the rest of the image. But this means that there's no distracting flicker or brightness changes as bright highlights move between zones.
Switching to Game Mode makes no noticeable difference in dark scene performance.
Unfortunately, the peak brightness in HDR is poor. HDR content is dull and lifeless, and specular highlights don't stand out.
These measurements are after calibrating the HDR white point with the following settings:
The brightness in the 'Game' Picture Mode is nearly identical to the brightness in 'Movie'.
These measurements are after calibrating the HDR white point with the following settings:
The PQ EOTF tracking on this TV is surprisingly great. Most HDR content is displayed close to the brightness level intended by the content creator. Near-blacks are raised, so some shadow details appear washed out, mainly due to the lack of a local dimming feature. It's also severely limited by the TV's low peak brightness, so bright scenes are too dim. The EOTF tracking is consistent with content mastered at various brightness levels, but content mastered at 4,000 nits starts to tone map a bit earlier than content mastered at a lower level.
The peak brightness of this TV in SDR is poor. It can't handle glare, so it's best suited for a moderately-lit room with no open windows or bright lights.
These measurements are after calibration with the following settings:
The TCL S450G has an okay color gamut, but it can't display the wide range of colors that HDR is intended for. The tone mapping is surprisingly good, so fine details are preserved in saturated colors. Saturated greens and blues are a bit off. The next model up in TCL's lineup, the TCL S4/S470G offers a much wider color gamut thanks to the inclusion of a PFS Phosphor coating.
This TV's color volume is poor. It's limited by its low peak brightness and narrow color gamut, so bright colors don't stand out.
Unfortunately, the overall accuracy of this TV in SDR before calibration is mediocre. The white balance is noticeably off, especially in brighter shades of gray, and most saturated colors are noticeably off as well. The color temperature is very cool, giving everything a bluish tint. Just about the only good thing is the gamma, which tracks close to the 2.2 target for a moderately-lit room.
This TV looks much better after calibration, and it's surprisingly easy to calibrate for a budget model. Bright shades of gray are still a bit off but not noticeably so, and reds are slightly inaccurate. The color temperature is much closer to the target, though, and gamma remains excellent.
You can see the full settings used for our calibration here.
The gray uniformity of this TV is just okay. There are dark patches across the entire screen, and there are five dark spots near the middle that appear to be a quality control issue with our specific panel. The corners are also darker than the center. These results don't bode well for sports fans, as the center of the screen looks dirty and it's distracting.
This TV's black uniformity is decent. There are a few bright patches across the screen, and blacks are raised and look blue in near-black scenes due to the lack of a local dimming feature.
Unfortunately, the TCL S450G has a bad viewing angle. The image degrades rapidly as you move off-center, so it's a bad choice for a wide seating arrangement.
The reflection handling is good overall. The semi-gloss coating helps reduce the intensity of direct reflections, but they're still distracting. Since this TV can't get very bright, it's not recommended for a bright room.
In HDR, gradients aren't displayed well on this TV. There's noticeable banding in almost all colors, and it's especially noticeable in darker shades.
The low-quality content smoothing is mediocre. It can't completely remove macro-blocking and pixelization in dark scenes, and the smoothing algorithms cause a loss of some fine details in all content.
The sharpness processing on this TV is mediocre. Text and fine details aren't upscaled well and look soft. Some fine details are lost, and upscaled text is hard to read.
Sharpness processing was calibrated for low-resolution or low-bitrate content, with no over-sharpening, with the following setting:
The TV uses a BGR (Blue-Green-Red) subpixel layout instead of the traditional RGB layout. It doesn't cause any issues for video content, but if you plan to use this TV as a PC monitor, non-RGB subpixel layouts impact text clarity, and text looks slightly blurry. You can read about it here. Unfortunately, there's noticeable sub-pixel dithering, as every other blue subpixel is dimmer than the rest. This causes some noticeable issues with certain content, especially shadows in games.
The TCL S450G has an alright response time. There's noticeable motion blur, which is good for watching movies but not for gaming or watching sports. Dark transitions are especially slow, resulting in noticeable black smearing in shadow details.
The TV's backlight uses pulse width modulation (PWM) to dim the backlight at low brightness levels. This causes noticeable flicker, and since it flickers at an unusual frequency, it's very distracting and causes motion issues. It's flicker-free with a backlight setting above '31' in most modes. The 'Low Power' mode is flicker-free above '40', and it's always flicker-free in the 'Smart HDR' mode. Since this TV can't get very bright, almost everyone will always use this TV above those brightness settings, so you'll never notice this issue.
There's no optional backlight strobing feature on this TV.
This TV has an optional motion interpolation feature, but it's ineffective. In most scenes, it doesn't appear to be doing much at all, but there are still some noticeable motion artifacts. In busy scenes, however, it stops interpolating entirely.
Thanks to its relatively slow response time, there's very little stutter.
The TCL S450G can remove judder from 24p sources like a Blu-ray player and from the native apps. It can't remove judder from 60Hz sources like most cable TV boxes or older streaming sticks that lack a "Match Frame Rate" feature.
All sizes of the TCL S450G are limited to a 60Hz refresh rate and don't support VRR.
The input lag on this TV is incredibly low. There's no noticeable delay between your inputs and the action on the screen, which is great for gaming or use as a PC monitor.
Since this TV is limited to a 60Hz refresh rate, it can't take full advantage of the PS5.
Since this TV is limited to a 60Hz refresh rate, it can't take full advantage of the Xbox Series S|X. It's good for more visually intense games that are locked at a low framerate, though, like Starfield.
This TV is limited to HDMI 2.0 bandwidth on all three HDMI ports.
The TCL S450G supports eARC, allowing you to pass high-quality, uncompressed audio to a compatible receiver. While the TV can pass DTS 5.1 through ARC and Optical connections, it can't pass the full 7.1 DTS:X or DTS-HD formats through eARC, which is disappointing as many UHD Blu-ray discs use these as their main audio track. If you have a 7.1 channel or higher speaker setup, connect your player to your receiver for the best audio quality.
The TCL S450G has a sub-par frequency response. It gets loud but severely lacks bass and can't reproduce sounds in the high treble range well. Most dialogue is clear and easy to understand, and there's little compression at max volume.
There's some noticeable distortion on this TV, even at moderate volume levels. It's significantly worse at max volume.
The TV uses version 11 of Google's popular Google TV OS. It's relatively easy to use and runs well, with a large selection of apps.
Like most TVs on the market, this TV has ads throughout the interface, and you can't disable them.
The TV has a great selection of streaming apps, with every popular streaming app being present. The interface is very smooth and pleasant to use.
The TV's remote is medium-sized and has a simple layout. It has a series of dedicated buttons for the most popular streaming apps. The remote has an integrated microphone for voice commands, and these work pretty well. It only supports simple queries, like launching an app or searching for content.