Our TCL 43 Inch S425 4K HDR Roku TV review. TCL sets itself apart by producing television sets that are more affordable than competing models with the same features. They produce four tiers of televisions: The entry-level 3-Series, the mid-range 4-series the higher-end 5-series and the 6-series, which is at the top of the TCL line. TCL’s strategy of having the best prices for every model in every tier is paying off. They continue to gain market share as they sell television sets hand over fist.
A short while ago, TCL released the mid-range TCL 43 Inch 4K smart TV. Like all TCL smart TV sets, the 43S425 comes with Roku T. So you know that its interface is packed with fun, useful features. Which brings us to the matter of picture quality. Does the TCL 43S425 deliver sharp, realistic and detailed picture?
Let us find out.
TCL 43 Inch S425 4K HDR Roku TV review part 1: Unboxing
Along with the TV, you should find a remote, some batteries, the TV stands and some user manuals. The remote is very simple, with the basic playback and navigation controls. It also has dedicated Netflix, Hulu, and HBO NOW buttons.
You will find a dongle that converts old-school audiovisual input into video output. The dongle plugs into the 3.5mm composite video jack.
TCL went for a sleek but simple look when they made the 43S425. They housed the TV in a plastic chassis. The screen of the 43S425 is framed with fairly slim, black bezels on the top and sides.
The bottom bezel has textured grey trim along its lengths and this adds some color to the TV. It is on this bezel that you will find the TCL and Roku logos. You will also find the control buttons on the center of bottom bezel, right under the TCL logo.
The top part of the TV is slim at only 2 inches thick. The bottom half of the TV is an inch thicker because of the panel with hardware, built-in speakers and the inputs. Our TCL 43 Inch S425 4K HDR Roku TV review is just getting started.
Inputs and connectivity
The TCL 43S425 has a left-facing input panel on the left side of the TV. The inputs are arranged from top to bottom in the following order: One USB port, an Ethernet port, three HDMI ports, an antenna connector, a composite AV adapter, a 3.5mm audio port and an optical audio input.
The power port is on the right side of the TV.
As for connectivity, the 43S425 has a wireless adapter that works on both 2.4 GHz and 5GHz frequencies.
Smart TV features: Setup and home screen
The partnership between TCL and Roku means that all TCL smart televisions run on Roku TV. When you buy the TCL 43S425, you get to enjoy all the perks that come with the Roku system. In fact, you will start enjoying the smart TV features of the TCL 43S425 immediately you power it.
Setup is a simple process that is made simpler by a menu-based guide that takes you through each step of said process. At the end of the setup, you will arrive at the home screen, which is uncluttered and easy to figure out. The menu items at the very top of the screen will be the inputs and the devices that are connected to them.
You will also see streaming apps like Netflix, YouTube, HBO NOW and Hulu. The side menu categorizes your preferred content by type. The last item on this menu will be ‘settings’, which you will need to use at some point.
Roku TV: Content
With Roku, you will have all the content and functions you could ever want. This is thanks to the preinstalled streaming apps and everything else that is available on the app store. Roku TV takes it a step further and aggregates content from your favorite inputs and apps. The result is a feed that curates your content and saves you the trouble of navigating from cable to external storage to streaming app.
Roku TV: Alexa and Google assistant functionality
Roku provides regular updates for its interface, so you will notice new features from time to time. As examples, recent additions to Roku TV allow you to use Alexa and Google Assistant.
You will need to install the Google and Alexa skills onto the Roku system. You will also need devices that have Alexa (like an Echo smart speaker) or Google Assistant (like an Android smartphone). If these smart devices are connected to the same network as the TV, you can use them to give voice commands to the 43S425.
The Roku app
Give the Roku app a try by installing it on your smartphone. For starters, the app will allow you to stream from your phone to the TV screen. The app also turns your phone into a voice-enabled remote.
Picture quality: Color
The colors rendered by the TCL 43S425 are accurate representations of the source material. Meaning that you will be able to enjoy good, fairly vivid color as you watch a nature show.
Right out of the box, you will notice that the greens tend towards yellow and that the whites have a tinge of blue in them. But you can always adjust the color settings to warm. After you adjust the settings you will notice some improvement.
The black levels are a bit high (more than when 0.010 nits) when dynamic contrast is turned off. So these will not be the deepest blacks you will ever see on a TV. This affects how well the TCL 43S425 handles contrast and detail.
Picture quality: Contrast and sharpness
With dynamic contrast ratio turned on, you will enjoy an impressive contrast ratio of around 6000:1, which sets this TV apart from its competition. However, the 43S425 does not come with local dimming. This limits how well this screen can deliver contrast and detail when the picture is dark.
As a result, you will notice that parts of a picture that are shadowed lack sharpness and detail.
Picture quality: Brightness
The 43S425 may be ahead of the pack when it comes to contrast ratio, but not when it comes to brightness. It has a peak brightness of approximately 250 nits. Which means that when you watch the TV in a really bright room, you will notice the picture dim and lose detail and sharpness.
Input response time
In gaming mode, the 43S425 reacts to input in as little as 16 milliseconds. A gamer will tell you that this response time is far better than the 20-millisecond benchmark that avid gamers need.
Even as you use the TV to watch an action flick, you will still enjoy a minimal input lag of around 32 seconds. This means no blurring or ghosting as you watch a car chase in a movie.
- It is a 4K TV that renders high-resolution images. It also upscales lower resolution content
- Roku TV allows for Alexa or Google Assistant functionality
- The Roku app improves your overall user experience
- Roku TV has the content you could think of
- An interface that is super easy to use
- The remote has no microphone and only works when there is a line of sight to the TV
- The viewing angle is narrow
- The display is dim enough that you will notice when you watch TV in a brightly lit room
TCL 43 Inch S425 4K HDR Roku TV review verdict: Should you buy it?
Compared to other TV brands with the same features, the TCL 43S425 is incredibly well priced. You will love the intuitive interface and amazing features that come with Roku TV. Not to mention a whole world of content available to you thanks to its wide variety of streaming apps.
That said, you will have to make a tradeoff between pricing and features on one hand, and great picture quality on the other. Like other models in the 4-Series, the 43S425 is not the brightest screen you will ever come across. That combined with its not-too-deep black levels means lower levels or sharpness, contrast and detail.
This drawback becomes very noticeable with very dark video and images. But with average pictures, the quality is pretty good. Also, gaming on this TV is great, thanks to the fast response time of the TCL 43S425. Click here to learn more about this TV or to purchase one.