TCL 55S405 Review – The Best TV Under $500
It’s time for My TCL 55S405 Review, because it’s one of the best TVs I ever tried, money/value speaking.
The reason? It has pretty impressive qualities for just $400:
Really good picture quality, great motion blur control and one of the easiest smart systems I’ve seen. Moreover, it has a very low input lag, which means that gaming on it is one of the best experiences.
So Let’s Get To The Review
Cheapest place to buy: Amazon
My rating: 9.70/10
Things I Liked
- Impressive picture quality for the price: contrast and black levels have very good rates
- Reflection filter works good enough in a normally illuminated room
- Perfect motion blur control, judder is absent in any content
- Fast response rate
- Really easy smart platform, suitable for any inexperienced user
- Great gaming performance, with one of the lowest input lags on the market
- Very cheap price
- Best overall value for a budget TV
Things I Didn’t Like
- Bad viewing angles
- No motion interpolation feature, so no image smoothing is possible
1. Appearance & Design
As you could expect from a $400 TV, the S405 doesn’t really shine, aesthetically speaking.
The TV comes in with a rather minimalist design. The screen is perfectly flat, without any curves or impressive borders. In other words, the pieces look quite basic and average.
When it comes to the stand, TCL chose to go for a double piece in the S405. Although this strategy turned out to be great in other TVs, here it doesn’t look too amazing.
My explanation for this is probably the plastic fabric of the stands, considering that most companies choose iron (or something even better). However, we’re talking about a $400 TV, so you can’t ask for gold at this price.
Things aren’t the best regarding thickness either. The S405 measures around 3″ width without the stand. And even though that doesn’t sound like way too much, it is a bit more than average. So if possible, keep this TV on a table instead of mounting it on the wall. It would look much better in this position.
2. Picture Quality
This TV offers impressive quality in images, at least for a TV from this budget range. I personally didn’t expect to find such high contrast rates and deep black levels, so I was pleasantly surprised.
However, of course not everything is great. As it’s a typical LED, the S405 has the common problem of this TVs – bad viewing angles. Besides, it doesn’t manage to reach the high brightness levels of its category, so it won’t offer the best picture in a very bright room. But let’s take each separately.
Contrast & Black Levels
With a ratio of 4170:1, this TV has an impressive contrast power for its level. As contrast is the basic parameter for a good image, the S405 has the potential to create a very clear final picture. And it does not disappoint at this chapter.
When it comes to black levels, things remain good. Even without a local dimming feature, the TV manages to create great levels of black even in a very dark room. That’s another consequence of the great contrast rate, but this matters less.
So from this point of view, things are better than expected for the S405.
Despite being a LED TV, that literally shine when it comes to brightness, the S405 cannot reach such high rates at this chapter.
Despite these low rates, the TV will provide a good picture in a dark or normal room. However, things change in an illuminated room, where the image quality will be visibly decreased. And if you think it couldn’t get any worse than this, well…it can.
HDR content looks even worse in a very bright room, because the HDR peak brightness of this TV has lower rates than SDR one. As you can’t really fix this problem, the best thing you can do is to protect your room from too much sunlight.
The S405 is far from offering the quality of OLED TVs’ colors, but it does its best for this price.
The TV doesn’t come with a large color gamut, so its pictures aren’t extremely accurate from this point of view. The green does look green and you can tell the red is red, but if you compare the pictures with a more sophisticated TV, there will be a big difference. I did that for you below.
However, the biggest problem will be in HDR shows, as SDR content looks more than decent on this TV.
For a $400 TV, the S405 filters the reflecting light very well. For a regular TV, I would say it does it quite decently.
However, the brightness problem does affect the light filter, so in a very bright room things won’t go that well. In fact, it may be quite frustrating, especially if your TV is placed face to face with the window.
So there isn’t much to do in this case, except choosing a darker spot for this TV. Despite this brightness problems that it has, its overall picture is too good for this price to let it go.
3. Viewing Angles
Just like any VA-based LED TV, the S405 also suffers from picture deterioration when viewed from the side.
Fortunately, the brightness doesn’t get any worse before 40° from the center. Unfortunately, black levels deteriorate very fast – whenever you go beyond 10° black starts to become grey. Things aren’t any better when it comes to color saturation. This slowly degrades after 18°, meaning that the picture will deeply suffer if you won’t stay close to the center.
However, there isn’t much you can do. If this TV had better viewing angles, the picture quality would be severely diminished even from the center. So it’s all about the smallest problem.
4. Up-scaling System
The S405 manages to convert any kind of content decently. It’s not worth talking about native 4K or 1080p shows, as it’s quite obvious that both of them would look good.
When it comes to 720p sources, like cable television, this TV does its job. It converts the content correctly, keeping all details and creating a visibly clearer image. It’s not the best 720p conversion I’ve seen in my life, but it is good enough for a 4K TV.
480p content looks decently, mostly thanks to the automatic noise reduction of the up-scaling engine. The image is visibly not that clear, but it keeps the essential details and the good colors.
So overall, the S405’s up-scaling engine performs quite good for the money. And though it’s not among the best ones, the fact that it converts even 480p good enough talks for itself.
5. Motion Blur
For the money it costs, the S405 manages to control motion blur quite well. Judder is absent in regular content, but it can appear in cable based content. However, it should normally not be a problem in daily life.
A great thing about this TV is that it comes with a very low response time, less than 15 ms. This means that fast content like sports or action movies won’t face any minimal judder, at any time. Compared to most TVs, the S405’s response time stands out among the smallest, surprisingly.
However, there are also bad points. And probably the biggest of them is the lack of motion interpolation, that is present in 95% of the 4K TVs on the market.
What exactly means this? Well, once this feature is missing, the TV isn’t able to smooth the image. In other words, you can’t get that famous soap-opera effect. It’s true that too much smoothing can make the image unrealistic, but this effect can be really useful in some scenes. Or if you’re a fan of it. 😉
6. Audio System
As you might have expected, the S405 doesn’t really shine at this chapter. In fact, it produces quite a low-quality sound, compared to its competitors.
Unfortunately, the audio system doesn’t have either power or quality. The frequency response is lower than average and the 8W speakers are far from producing powerful sound. If a sound bar could be a solution for the last thing, it’s impossible to change the frequency response.
Therefore, don’t count too much on this TV for a home theatre system. Unless you get a sound bar, of course. Overall, I can’t praise its sound too much. But the only possible comfort is that in reality it doesn’t sound as bad as tests say. In fact, it sounds decent for a regular person’s hearing.
7. Smart System
Roku TV, the S405’s smart engine, is way easier to use than any other existing platform, that’s how it seems to me. However, it’s far from being my favorite.
The platform itself is too simple for my taste, with very little pre-installed apps, compared to its contenders. Its design is also very basic, too simple to look good, in my opinion. However, for a new 4K user it’s probably the best thing to begin with, as you can get used to this smart system so easily.
Another thing I don’t like is the remote, and that’s for the very same reason. It looks extremely cheap, I would rather say that most non-4K TV have a better-looking remote than this one. But it might be just my opinion, as the remote has just the main buttons. That can also be a plus for non-experienced users.
So all in all, I’m not a fan of Roku TV, you can see this. 😉 But it has the advantage of being really simple and perfect for someone who wants to get used to a 4K TV’s system. Oh, and it also comes free of ads, that’s worth mentioning.
There must be something about TCL TVs, as most of them come with a very low input lag. And that’s also the case of the S405.
The TV has incredible numbers at this chapter – between 14.5 and 15 ms, depending on the format. 4K and 1080p games are on the lower side, while HDR content is around 15 ms.
However, considering that a good input lag is under 40 ms, the values of the S405 are indeed unbelievable. Especially when you think it’s just a $400 piece. There is a very small difference between SDR and HDR content, even though many expensive TVs can’t deal with HDR games. So this thing is a performance itself.
Therefore, when it comes to gaming, the TCL is surely the very best option on the market. It has incredibly low input lag and it costs so little, so it’s hard to find a better value for a gaming TV.
So Is It The Best Budget TV On The Market?
Considering the qualities of this TV and the price it comes with, I honestly believe it is. In fact, I would say it’s the TV with the best value from its price range.
No other TV under $500 delivers so many over-average features. Not even the KU6300, which is a great TV itself.
So if you’re looking for a budget TV, the S405 should be your #1 choice. That especially if you’re interested in gaming and fast content, as it can’t be beaten by absolutely anyone here. Picture quality is also the best from this budget range, so if you’re a movie addict, this TV is also my recommendation.
It’s hard to image that this TV could disappoint anyone, as long as they know what they’re looking. But in my opinion, the TCl S405 is the best TV under $500 you can ever buy.