Today we’re taking a look at the TCL 5 Series 2020 and seeing how it stacks up to the 5 Series and the 6 Series from 2019. Hey, my name’s Shaq and I’m a tester here at RTINGS.com where WE HELP PEOPLE FIND THE BEST PRODUCTS FOR THEIR NEEDS.
Make sure you subscribe to our channel for the latest videos and check out our website for the full review! The new TCL 5 series is a very good TV overall, and it’s a nice improvement over its predecessor.
In this video, we’re gonna be looking at its strong points and its weak points. First, we’ll start by looking at the design of the TV and its inputs. Then we’ll look at the different aspects of picture quality.
After that, we’ll look at the motion handling, input lag, and sound. To finish off the video we’ll by comparing it to other competing models on the market. If you’d like to skip straight to our test results, you can use the YouTube chapters.
We bought the 55-inch TCL 5 Series to test, but it is also available in 50,65 and 75 inches. We expect the other sizes to have very similar picture quality. For an more detailed comparison with other models, see the review page on our website which is linked below Let’s start off with the design of the TCL S535.
It has a pretty nice design that’s going to look good in most living rooms. The back of the screen is made with metal but has a little bit of flex and the area where all the inputs and VESA mounting is located is made with a cheap feeling plastic.
The stand is basically as wide as the They since they sit at the edges of the screen. They feel a little flimsy, but they’ll do a decent job holding the tv and wont wobble too much. The controls of this tv are on the bottom right of the backside of the tv.
It’s only one button that’ll be able to control the power and inputs on the TV and that’s all. The bezels are pretty thin and look good and the TV is a little thick on the bottom portion of the screen so it’ll stick out a while mounted on the wall.
In terms of inputs, you’ll see on the side of the TV that there’s 4 HDMI 2.0 ports, a USB port, 1 digital audio out, analog audio out, a composite in which requires an adapter that isn’t included, a TV tuner and an ethernet port.
In terms of the cable management on this tv you’re going to have a track to route cables through each foot on both sides of the tv which is pretty useful. Now we’ll move on to the picture quality. We’ll start with the contrast ratio, which is usually considered to be one of the most important specs to look for when shopping for a tv.
The contrast ratio is the ratio between the darkest black and the brightest white that a TV can display. A high contrast ratio will show deep blacks that can make darker scenes appear to have more details.
We measured that the TCL S535 to have an exceptional contrast ratio of 7200:1 that’ll give you deep and inky blacks and spoiler alert, there’s also a local dimming feature this year that’s going to improve the contrast ratio but it’s only by a little bit.
The native contrast on the S535 is actually better than the R625 but unfortunately when local dimming is enabled the R625 still has a better contrast ratio. Now on to Local Dimming, basically it’s a feature that turns off individual backlights in the TV to improve contrast and give you deeper blacks.
This is a new feature for the TCL 5 series since it wasn’t on the 2019 version. In terms of how this TV handles local dimming, it’s going to raise the black levels which makes the blacks look greyer but doing this helps keep the blacks looking uniform across the screen so that there aren’t any super distracting splotchy areas as the different zones light up.
The TV will still dim the zones that are not in use but they won’t be perfectly black like you would see on an OLED TV. It also doesn’t seem to be crushing any of the small light sources, so they still pop in dark scenes.
Now let’s look at viewing angles, which is how accurate the image remains when viewed off-center. This is something that’s important if you have a wide seating arrangement. This tv has poor viewing angles which is to be expected from a TV with a VA panel.
So if you have an open room that you want to put this in, it might not be the best option. But this is something that you may or may not notice too much. If you’re planning on using this tv in a bright room, it’s really important to have good reflection handling and the reflection handling on the TCL S535 is decent.
It’ll be able to handle a moderately lit room but if you have a window placed opposite to the tv, it might be a little difficult to make out what’s happening on screen with the reflections. Another factor to look at when trying beat reflection and glare is having a tv that gets really bright.
The SDR peak brightness on this TV comes in at around 242 nits in a real scene which is pretty low. As for our test pattern it seemed that the brightness wasn’t too consistent and fluctuated between 180 nits up to around 380 nits, this could be due to the local dimming featyure on the tv as it’s also something that happened with the R625.
HDR peak brightness had a similar behavior with our test pattern fluctuating and the real scene was only 247 nits which is really disappointing. Now onto color gamut, which is the range of a colors a TV can display.
The color gamut on this TV is really good, as it is a QLED TV it displays a wide colour gamut for HDR content which is definitely an improvement from last year. Comparing it to the R625 from 2019, you’ll see that it doesn’t quite match up as it performs slightly worse than it but better than the S525.
Color volume is also good on this tv, it’ll be able to display nice and deep saturated colors thanks to its excellent contrast ratio, but it’ll fall short in bright blues like other LCD TVs. Now let’s take a look at gray uniformity, which is how even and uniform colors appear throughout the display.
Screen uniformity issues can result in some areas of the display appearing darker or brighter than other portions of the tv, which is commonly known as the dirty screen effect. This could be distracting while watching sports or when watching something with a long panning shot.
The gray uniformity on the S535 in only okay, there’s some dirty screen effect in the center of the screen and the edges of the screen are definitely darker than the rest of the screen which will cause a vignette.
TCL is known for having quite a bit of panel variance so our results may vary from the product that you receive. Black uniformity looks at how even a full black screen would be and checks to see if there’s any kind of clouding or backlight bleed.
For the S535 the black uniformity is pretty good overall. There’s a little bit of clouding and bleed but when you turn on local dimming, you’ll be able to reduce the bleed, but you will get a little bit of blooming around those light sources in dark scenes.
Now let’s talk about motion handling, starting with the response time. So, the response time is the time it takes for a display to change from one color, to the next. And a Slow response time could end up leaving a blurry trail behind fast moving objects, and this is known as ghosting.
The S535 has a very good response time that is a little slow in darker transitions so you might see some motion blur but there isn’t any overshoot. For the most part fast moving content is gonna look pretty smooth on this tv.
If you want to improve the appearance of motion even more, you can enable Black Frame Insertion. The way BFI works is by turning off the display between frames, to reduce the persistence blur of modern displays.
When you activate BFI on the S535, it flickers at 60hz and does a good job at reducing motion blur without dimming the tv as much as some other models. You might see some duplication when activating this setting and for some people BFI is a little too distracting.
Having low input lag is an extremely important feature for anyone that likes to game, it allows for the commands you make to feel much more responsive and smoother when gaming. To keep it simple, input lag is basically just how long it takes the tv to process and display an image that’s coming from the source.
The S535 has incredible input lag. When in game mode it’ll be around 11ms and when game mode is disabled, the input lag will spike up to around 110ms which is pretty high, but it’s common tvs to have a higher input lag outside of game mode.
Moving on to smart features. The TCL S535 runs on Roku TV which is a pretty user friendly operating system and it runs very smoothly. It’ll have a great selection of apps but unfortunately there are large ads on the home screen that cannot be disabled.
The remote is also small and pretty basic but it’ll be enough to navigate the menus. And finally sound. The sound on this tv is pretty average like many other TVs. The frequency response is okay and doesn’t produce much bass and the distortion performance is pretty mediocre.
If sound is something that is important to you, take a look at the description where you’ll be able to browse the soundbars we’ve tested. (card) So overall, the TCL 5 Series R535 is a pretty good tv and offers pretty good value for it’s price.
It has a great contrast ratio, input lag and response time but its peak brightness in both SDR and HDR is quite disappointing. While it’s an upgrade over the S525 from 2019, it falls a little short when compared to the R625 from 2019 when looking at the both HDR and SDR peak brightness and Black uniformity.
But it will beat the R625 out with a better response time and contrast ratio. So that’s it! What do you think of the TCL 5 Series S535 2020? Have you bought it? Let us know what you’d like to see covered in a video next! You can check out all the measurements on our website.
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