TCL 55S555 Review (5-Series, S555)
The TCL 55S555 (5-Series, S555) offers solid picture quality at a very nice price, offering extras for gamers including VRR and full HDMI 2.1 support.
- Solid HDR performance for the price
- Good out-of-box color
- Low input lag
- High value
- Mediocre off-angle viewing
- Some light bloom
The TCL 55S555 (5-Series) is part of TCL’s new line of Roku-powered TVs, which gives users an alternative to the popular Android TV and Google Tv platforms. Even with multiple TCL models making it to our best TV lists, the latest Roku TV seems like a major upgrade to an already good line of smart TVs. Simply said, you’re getting a great TV that easily competes with some premium TVs around on smart features, as well as performance and build quality but at a fraction of the price.
Just like last year, the sweet spot on the new TCL 5-Series (2022) is the price (under $500) – not too expensive to be prohibitive for most, but delivers incredible performance and TCL continues its reign of budget TV dominance into 2023. The 55S555 is brighter than its predecessor, has great color and grayscale performance right out of the box, and comes with Roku, our favorite streaming platform, built in. If you’ve always wanted a serious 4K TV for a bargain, this might well be the best out there.
About TCL 5-Series (S555)
The TCL 5-Series arrives in four different sizes. In this review, we have the 55-inch model. The model sizes are as follows:
- 50-inch (TCL 50S555)
- 55-inch (TCL 55S555)
- 65-inch (TCL 65S555)
- 75-inch (TCL 75S555)
We hope performance across sizes to be similar, especially color and grayscale accuracy, viewing angle, and gaming performance. However, expect a few variations in contrast due to the difference in the number of dimming zones at different TV sizes – the bigger the TV, the more dimming zones it has.
According to TCL, the 5-Series has up to 80 contrast control zones, so we can assume that number applies to the largest, 75-inch model. Our 55-inch review model has fewer dimming zones.
Below are the key specs of the TCL 5-Series S555:
- Resolution: 4K (3,840 x 2,160)
- Display type: LED with local dimming and quantum dots
- HDR support: Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HDR10, HLG
- Dolby Atmos: Yes (native decoding)
- eARC support: Yes (HDMI 4)
- Native refresh rate: 60Hz
- Smart platform: Roku
- Color: DCI-P3 color space/10-bit chroma resolution
- Variable Refresh Rate (VRR): Yes
- Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM): Yes
- Processor: AiPQ
- Other features: AMD FreeSync, Apple AirPlay 2, Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant
On all models but the 50-inch model, there are wide and narrow positions for the S555’s feet to fit smaller-width tables or stands. But if you’ll be using a soundbar, the feet need to be set in a wide position to accommodate it, unless it’s the ultra-compact type like the Sonos Ray. Measuring a little over 22 inches, the TV’s feet in a narrow setting aren’t wide enough to accommodate the fairly big Bose Smart Soundbar 600 that requires a larger space.
TCL includes a Roku remote with 5-Series and it works fine with the built-in Roku OS. It’s a pretty basic wand without the microphone, dedicated buttons, or headphone jack that comes in our favorite streaming device, the Roku Ultra. Nonetheless, it fits well into the hand and gets the job done well.
Design and Features
TCL’s mid-range TVs aren’t trying to compete with LG’s C2 OLED on design, and we just appreciate the basic black plastic construction used here. It still makes for sturdy housing for the 4K smart TV, despite not being flashy or the slimmest piece of equipment in the TV category. The chassis includes holes for a 200mm by 300 mm VESA bracket, meaning you can easily hang it on the wall using an of the best TV mounts available out there.
The 55-inch model we’re reviewing measures 3 x 48.3 x 27.7 inches, and weighs 33.3 pounds. That’s light enough that you can set up without an extra hand, but being a 55-inch, we still recommend a second pair of hands, especially when working with a wall mount.
As mentioned, the TV features a two-position stand, which lets you adjust the included feet, choosing between 22.7 and 42.3 inches apart. The basic boomerang-shaped feet are made of sturdy plastic and don’t include any extras, like built-in cable routing.
The most noticeable visual upgrade over last year’s TCL 5-Series Roku TV (S535) is a small, fabric-covered sound bar under the bottom bezel, located at the center, just below the TCL logo. This small gray bar houses the TV’s far-field microphones, which pick up the TV’s hands-free voice controls through Google Assistant. It also has an indicator light that turns on to let you know that voice input has been triggered.
For connectivity, the TCL 55S555 offers all the basic connections you’d need, including gamer-friendly HDMI 2.1 (at 60Hz). Here are all the connections found in the cutout on the back of the display:
- 4x HDMI 2.1 (60Hz, 1x HDMI eARC/ARC)
- USB 2.0
- RF connection (cable/antenna)
- Digital audio output (optical)
- Composite video + L/R audio in (mini-3.5mm connector)
- 3.5mm audio jack
The TCL 5-Series (2022) comes with 802.11ac Wi-Fi, for wireless network connectivity, but it’s curiously missing Bluetooth.
The performance improvements we’ve seen on LED TVs over the past few years have been nothing less of spectacular and that couldn’t be clearer than with the TCL 5-Series. Out of the before, without any adjustment, the TCL 55S555 delivers great color accuracy with deep blacks, especially with SDR content. Except for some slightly oversaturated reds and magentas, the Movie picture mode looks impressive.
The image quality is dependent on the low black levels that are around 0.1 nits and below, depending on the overall backlight setting and much light is on the screen.HDR is strong too. With 698 nits of brightness, that marks an increase of more than 235 nits over the two previous 5-series models – the TCL 55S535 (Roku TV) and TCL 55S546 (Google TV).
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The extra brightness culminates in an image that pops even in well-lit rooms. The color accuracy doesn’t match that of SDR, but HDR images still look vibrant and immersive. The TV does a good job of displaying reds and blues in Spider-Man, and while the colors look a little oversaturated, the TV’s local dimming boosts the shadows around the characters. It’s also among the few midrange TVs in the market to support both Dolby Vision, Atmos, and HDR10 Plus as well as Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) for gamers.
Having said that, it should be noted that if you need more light output in SDR and choose to increase the backlight setting from the default of 40, the color temperature gets slightly cooler the brighter it gets, and that adds a slight blue tint. It’s not a drastic difference, but it’s still visible with ambient light, though, I’d argue that the tradeoff is worth it to keep an image that is both bright and engaging.
For gamers, the TCL 55S555 offers a bunch of features for solid gaming performance, especially at its price. We’re talking of Auto Low Latency mode that switches into the best settings when it senses a gaming console, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) – which includes support for the Xbox or a PC – and four HDMI 2.1 ports.
The panel has a refresh rate of 60Hz, but we’d have wished for at least 4K/120Hz gaming on the latest 5-Series, which is available on the Sony X90K and LG C2 OLED – both top-tier models; it’s also available on the Hisense U8H at a much fair price. Beyond that, you’re getting smooth and responsive game control with a dedicated Game Mode within the menu as opposed to its picture mode.
On the other hand, the TCL 5-series gets some limited dimming zones that result in blooming. The more dimming zones available on a TV, the better it is at defining the space between dark and bright scenes. However, with a limited number of zones, as is the case with the 5-Series, the light for bright elements can bleed into the darkness creating a light bloom.
This is especially visible with completely white images on a black background, such as movie credits, where the black around the lettering has a dark gray glow as opposed to a deep black. The effect can also be experienced in shadows next to bright elements in the content. Well, TCL has managed to achieve so much despite the low number of dimming zones, but the bloom leaves a lot to be desired.
Should you buy the TCL 55S555?
Yes, the TCL 55S555 is the best budget 4K TV so far. No matter how you look at it, the 5-Series offers shoppers a real upgrade from the already fantastic TCL 5-Series Roku TV (S535). The result is a TV with better overall performance, the support for HDR and audio formats is expanded, and Roku TV offers an impressive smart TV experience.
All in all, we can’t deny that the best smart TV experience for a TV under $1,000 rests with the TCL 5-Series. Even with competition from TCL’s own 6-Series Roku TV (R635), the 55S555 rocks a much lower price, and the improvements that come with Roku’s revamped TV platform outshine the modest performance improvements you might find elsewhere.
That makes the 2022 TCL 55S555 (5-Series) by far the best value for anyone looking for impressive performance on an affordable 4K TV.
Last update on 2023-03-20 at 09:11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API