TCL has been offering a wide range of TVs at extremely low prices in an effort to attract customers over the last few years. TCL was not the first to offer affordable 4K TVs, but they have been growing in this space alongside other competitive brands such as Reconnect, Vu, Xiaomi, and others. We had the opportunity to test out their TCL 55-inch R500 4K Smart TV. This HDR-ready Smart 4K TV costs Rs. 46,990*. The majority of TVs with this type of hardware can cost twice as much. In this review, we look at what makes the TCL R500 so appealing.
Design and Build Quality
The TV’s design is nothing out of the ordinary. The TCL R500 4K Smart TV has a large 55-inch screen surrounded by a glossy plastic bezel. With its simple-to-assemble TV stand, the TV can be wall-mounted or kept on a flat surface. The top half of the television is thinner than the bottom half. Without the stand, the TV weighs 11.9 kg. The back has a matte plastic finish. All of the connectivity ports are located on the right side of the TV and are easily accessible, even if the TV is wall mounted.
The TCL R500 has two down-firing speakers that are protected by a plastic grill. The TV includes a standard remote with buttons. The remote is comfortable to hold but not particularly small. It’s like holding a 30cm ruler in your hand. We were pleased to see a dedicated Netflix button on the remote, but there is no YouTube button.
The TCL R500 55-inch Smart TV is similar to most other 4K Smart TVs. It features a 55-inch 4K screen with a resolution of 3840 x 2160. It runs T-launcher, a TCL interface that is both visually and functionally simple. The TCL R500, like any other modern 4K TV, comes with Netflix 4.3 pre-installed. In addition to Netflix, you can explore more content of your choice on YouTube. There is a TV+ app store in which you can download a variety of apps.
The TCL R500’s speakers are rated at 10W each, which should be sufficient. The TV’s wired connectivity is quite simple. There are two USB 2.0 ports for connecting external USB devices, as well as three HDMI ports, one of which is HDMI ARC compatible. With the help of HDMI ARC, you can connect the TV to audio devices such as a receiver, soundbar, and so on. The HDMI cable transmits audio and video signals from the TV to audio devices and vice versa. When it comes to wireless connectivity, Bluetooth is used to connect smartphones, speakers, and headphones. In addition, for easy internet connectivity and local media streaming, the slightly older WiFi standard, 802.11n, is present.
The TCL R500 boots up quickly. When we turned on the TV, we were greeted by the T-launcher interface. It is simple to grasp and apply. It is similar to the flow seen on most smart TVs. We did notice, however, that navigating through the interface is not very smooth. The home screen includes a search box, the Netflix app, and a few videos. Below the content are four options: Home, Videos, TV, and Apps. The Video tab contains a separate collection of movie, sports, music, popular, education, news, and gaming videos. Under this tab, we discovered some random YouTube video listings. The television menu is divided into two sections. On the left are currently playing contents, while on the right are highlighted connectivity ports.
The TV settings menu is properly organised but not neatly categorised. It takes some getting used to. The app collection is impressive. The majority of the apps are novel. YouTube and Netflix will be the most helpful.
We saw several high-quality 4K photos and videos to evaluate the TV’s picture quality. We connected a pen drive containing all of the sample content. Colours appeared bright and saturated with the default picture settings, but details were lacking. There were few picture settings available when playing content from the USB drive. When we changed the connection to HDMI, we gained access to finer picture settings like saturation, colours, sharpness, RGB, and so on. We were able to improve the image’s appearance by lowering the brightness, contrast, and default sharpness, but the result was not spectacular.
The panel does not display detail well. The colour accuracy is poor. It’s better than most budget TVs, but the panel quality is noticeably lower. Picture settings can be adjusted per input, which is convenient. According to TCL, the R500 supports HDR. We put it through its paces by playing a few HDR sample clips, one of which was from Life of Pi. The TV recognises HDR content. With the default settings, the screen illuminates more brightly. When we looked at the picture settings, we noticed that the contrast, sharpness, and brightness levels were all at their highest.
Connecting the TV to the internet was simple, but switching between content and apps takes time. We also used the free T-Cast app from the Google Play Store to connect an Android phone to the TV. It was simple to stream content from a mobile device. The app’s home screen initially prompts for a TV connection, making it very simple. Other options include Stream, Remote, Applications, and Treasure Chest. “Now” and “Likes” are two sub-sections of the Home section. Similarly, the Stream section provides access to content from the Entertainment, Music, Science and Technology, and other categories.
For the price, the 55-inch TCL R500 is a good Smart 4K TV. If you’re looking for a large screen but low-cost 4K TV, the TCL R500 should be on your short list. You can watch Netflix and YouTube on the TV, and you can do a lot more, like screen mirroring and gaming. If you are extremely picky about colour quality and sound, the R500 may not be up to par, but it is still a good panel.