The new 55-inch Roku Smart TV from TCL has just been put at the top of my Christmas list. It’s got everything I want and almost nothing I don’t want. In short, as far as smart televisions go, it’s almost perfect. As with any product, it does have its drawbacks, but the “plus” column is quite a bit longer than the “minus” column. Also, those minuses are very important. Is the new TCL smart TV the one you’ve been waiting for too? Let’s take a look at it and find out.
Technical Items About the Roku Smart TV
TCL calls the Roku Smart TV the TCL55FS4610R. You get a 55 inch television that is capable of full HD at 1080p (1920X1080 resolution). You also get a plethora of inputs: three HDMI (High Definition (Multi)Media Interface) ports, a USB input, RF (Cable) input, and a CVBS (the yellow RCA plug) input for video with left and right audio inputs, but strangely enough, no VGA input. It’s a smart TV, so it also has an 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi adapter as well. The screen refreshes at 120 HZ, so you have no ghosting/artifacting in your picture, no “acid trails” when people and objects move around onscreen.
The Remote is Minimalist Awesome
Remember when the remote for your TV had a maximum of ten buttons? Remember how easy it was to learn how to use it? The remote for TCL’s new Roku Smart TV only has 20 buttons to worry about. You want to see what’s on Netflix? Push the Netflix button.
Amazon Prime also has its own button. Because it was built specially to integrate well with Roku, it also comes with a Roku remote to access and control your Roku viewing. For those of you that don’t want to use either of these remotes, there are also iOS and Android apps that turn your mobile device into a remote control also. If you lose the Roku remote, there’s even a little joystick on the back panel you can use to navigate the Roku menus.
More About the Roku Remote
You can hand your three-year-old the Roku remote and be completely confident that they will have no problem figuring it out, it’s that easy. A big red power button sits at the top. Home and back buttons are labeled so there’s no reading involved. It’s got basic VCR/DVD controls as well (Play, FF, Rew, etc.).
There’s also an asterisk (*) button that gives you context-sensitive menus that allow you to adjust audio or image settings for the chosen input. Being small, there is no number pad so you’ll still need your Cable/Satellite remote to change channels or your mobile device. Another cool thing us that the volume controls are on the right side (looking at it) of the remote instead of the top. This makes adjusting volume in the dark much easier.
Roku Search Makes Finding that Movie Easy
Have you ever really wanted to watch a movie but could only remember the name of one or two of the stars? Sure, you could head over to the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) and waste your time searching and searching. Better yet, bring up the Roku Search feature and type in the name of the actor(s) and Roku will find movies with that actor (those actors) in it. Maybe you remember the title, but don’t remember what platform currently has it available. Same thing. Enter the title and hit “Search” and Roku will search the top streaming networks for it.
Customize Your Home Screen to Suit You
Most of the smart TVs that I’ve seen don’t give you much customizability of the home screen. Sure, you might be able to add one or two Cable networks or streaming networks to it, but you’re pretty much stuck with what the manufacturer hardcoded as a home screen. Not the TCL Roku Smart TV. While the TV does ship with a standardized preset home screen, you can completely redo it to your liking. Stick the networks you want on it and get rid of the ones you don’t. Get this: You can even put your gaming console on the home screen. When you select the console, the TV automatically switches to that input. No more wading through the list of inputs to go from Cable to Satellite to Blu-Ray to Xbox.
What Are the Experts Saying About It?
The “experts” are by and large impressed with this TV. Unlike some other smart TVs out there, the menus on this one are intuitive and easy to learn and navigate. The idea of not having to wade through an input menu to switch input is quite impressive.
There are some negatives, though. The colors are too exaggerated, although you can adjust that. It’s also got a pretty mediocre audio subsystem, so you’re really going to want to connect the optical audio output to your home theater audio system. One thing I noticed too is that even though it does full 1080p HD, the picture quality isn’t the best I’ve seen.
I also like that it has a tempered glass pedestal base instead of the cheap-o plastic ones everything else I’ve seen has. The extra weight of the glass base adds some stability to the TV. One thing that amazes me is that even though it’s an LED TV, it has a 178 degree viewing angle.
Image Adjustment Presets
It’s also got a set of image presets that allow you to adjust for problems with the image from the source. However, most of the presets make the colors too loud. I would recommend sticking with “Movie” as it seems to me the best overall color usage.
What do you think? Would you pay anywhere from $500 to around $650 for it? Let me know in the comments below and let me know why or why not.