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This TCL 65S41 review doubles as a quick guide to finding an excellent widescreen TV for a steal. Dive in and get insights into the performance of one of the market’s most affordable 4K televisions.
TCL 65S41 review: Market segment
The TCL S41 series is Walmart’s exclusive product line for shoppers who want a 4K Roku TV for an unbelievably low price.
Think of the S41 series as the budget edition of the main TCL 4-series product line. The spinoff S41 series has the same smart features, 4K resolution, and basic gaming features as the main TCL S455 models. Differences between the two variations come down to the finer details of picture quality. This is a worthwhile tradeoff, given that both the 55S41 and 65S41 are currently available for under $400.
Design and build
A cabinet of solid, charcoal-black plastic forms the exterior of the 65-inch TCL S41 Roku TV. The basic design of the chassis has minimal flair, except for ultra-thin bezels that create the illusion of a frameless screen.
You’ll need a large piece of furniture if you want to put the TCL 65S41 on an entertainment stand. Find a surface that can accommodate TV feet with a 60″ x12″ footprint. You could also mount the TV with a bracket that matches the 200×200 VESA pattern at the back of the TV.
The back panel is bare except for an extension that houses a set of side-facing input ports. This extension sits at the center of the TV, which is inconvenient. Putting the ports smack in the middle of the back panel makes them all but inaccessible if you mount the TV. Get one of the mounts that allow you to pull the TV outward to prevent this issue. You’d still have trouble reaching the ports from the front or side, even if the TV sits on an entertainment stand.
TCL 65S41 review: Ports and connectivity
Four HDMI 2.0 ports allow you to connect all kinds of devices to the TCL S41. The fourth HDMI port has an audio return channel that supports uncompressed audio formats like Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital. Unfortunately, the TCL 4-series lacks support for DTS audio formats, which takes away from the sound quality of Blu-ray content. You’d be better off connecting your Blu-ray player directly to your sound equipment.
In addition to the HDMI ports, the TCL 65S41 also comes with:
- A digital optical output
- One composite AV port
- A 3.5mm audio jack
- One USB port
- RF connector for antenna, cable, and satellite inputs
- An Ethernet port
A wireless adapter takes care of connections to the home WiFi network and Bluetooth-capable devices. Wireless connectivity allows for screen sharing via Apple Airplay and the Roku companion app.
TCL S41 Smart TV platform: Roku TV
The Roku interface has a simple, clutter-free layout that is easy to navigate. Like most smart TV platforms, Roku pushes its fair share of ads. However, Roku allows you to opt-out of personalized ads and content suggestions.
Low input lag makes for smooth scrolling, responsive animation, and quick loading of menu items. Clicking the YouTube icon brings up your personalized home page in less than four seconds. Some streaming apps load even faster, meaning you can launch an episode of your favorite show instantly.
Roku comes with all the bells and whistles that transform your TV into a smart home hub. You have your choice of voice Assistant, plus plenty of tools that make your life a little easier. The Roku companion app that turns your phone or tablet into a powerful remote is just as important.
TCL 65S41 review: Hardware
The TCL 65S41 Roku TV is a 60Hz VA panel with 4K resolution and direct backlighting. Despite the direct backlight, the TCL S41 series lacks local dimming, which limits what the panel can do in terms of vivid detail in dark images.
A peak brightness level of just under 300 nits means that the TCL S41 can hold its own in a dark room. The TV will deliver solid performance on movie night; for SDR and HDR content alike. It’s worth noting that 300cd/m2 limits the ability of the TCL 65S41 to fight serious glare or deliver stark HDR highlights. On the flip side, the TV gets dark enough to deliver smooth, velvety blacks and an impressive contrast ratio.
Being a VA panel, the 65-inch TCL S41 has a narrow viewing angle and low input lag. The panel also has a native color palette that is narrower than we’d like. These are some of the tradeoffs that come with budget displays, yet the TCL 4-series manages to shrug off its limitations. Here’s how:
1. Color accuracy
A narrow color gamut doesn’t stop the TCL S41 from rendering accurate color. All it takes is a few adjustments to the picture settings, and you get colors that match your source material well. The relative dimness of the 4-series limits the color volume of the TCL 65S41. This means that HDR highlights lack the vibrant brilliance that shines through with higher-end TCL models.
2. Contrast and detail
Deep, uniform blacks enhance the native contrast of the 2022 TCL 4-series Roku TV. The TCL S41 panel does an excellent job executing texture and fine detail. A lack of local dimming limits what the TV can do regarding shadow contouring, but the panel still delivers in dark scenes.
3. Screen uniformity
The 65-inch TCL S41 Roku TV has excellent black uniformity and decent gray uniformity. An even black screen means zero clouding and light bleedthrough with dark content. Gray uniformity is decent, but you may notice a degree of dirty screen effect with sports and content that displays large areas of uniform color.
4. Viewing angles
Narrow viewing angles require you to craft clever seating arrangements on game and movie nights. Try putting extra distance between the audience and the display to widen the viewing angle of the TCL 65S41.
Displays with narrow viewing angles make for middling PC monitors, and TCL S41 TV sets are no exception.
5. Motion handling
Low input lag makes the TCL S41 a good companion for gaming hobbyists. The panel will keep up with an onslaught of user commands and fast-action content without breaking a sweat.
Even better, the pixels of the TCL S41 are quick to change color, thanks to a 17ms response time. This means minimal motion blur, even with fast-moving objects flying across the screen.
- A good selection of ports
- Excellent contrast
- Low input lag
- Compatible with Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant
- A simple user interface that is fun to navigate
- You can opt-out of personalized ads and suggested content
- Poor reflection handling
- The TCL S41 series lacks local dimming, which limits what the TV can do in terms of precision detail
- Narrow viewing angles
- Ads take up space on the Roku home page
TCL 65S41 review verdict: A good deal on every count
The TCL S41 Roku TV offers good performance at a pocket-friendly price. For a small sum, you get a feature-rich smart TV with solid picture quality. Click here to learn more about this television.
This TCL 65S41 review finds an affordable Roku TV that offers value for money.