The Streaming Alternative! Part Deux Roku TV 43″ 4K

Hey guys…. Time for a little more Tech Talk w/TK!!!

So, in my last post, I noted that TV manufacturers didn’t prioritize the “smart” part of their TV designs.  For the most part that is true, but there is an exception, TCL Roku TVs.  TCL & Roku partnered together to create a product I really like.  TCL & Roku flipped the script and included the best of the Roku streaming devices and platform into a TV format.  That means, like Roku’s streaming devices, the TCL Roku TVs focus on bringing together streaming services and internet connectivity as a priority.    Sure, the TVs also pack all the same features a standard TV does, allowing them to be used with cable boxes and other sources, but I believe the TVs were meant to be a streaming first device. 

Why do I think that?  Well, let’s start at the beginning, with the setup process.  Like every other Roku device, when you initially configure a TCL Roku TV, you are prompted to connect to the internet and activate the device on your Roku account, just like any other streaming device.  You then perform a quick system update and walk through the app/channel selection process to ensure the appropriate apps/channels are loaded to your TV.  Once this is all done, then the device walks you through what you have connected to the TV.  In my mind, this is showing a priority to streaming services vs connected peripherals.  Next, let’s talk interface.  Unlike other TV brands, when you initially start a TCL Roku TV, by default, you are brought to the standard Roku platform home screen, just like on their streaming devices.  Sure, if you have a cable or satellite box connected, you can set the source to launch at startup.  But again, defaulting to a standard home screen with all of your apps certainly seems to encourage the use of streaming services.

Overall, I like the TCL Roku TVs.  They allow you a lot of flexibility and are very affordable.  I have tried their 32″ (720P & 1080P) and 43″ (4K) versions, and the picture quality is very good!  They have allowed me to put TVs where I want them, without needing a cable or HDMI connection, even outside :-)! Overall, TCL’s goal seems to be to optimize the streaming experience in a solid display.

Having tried the Series-4 43″ 4K version for over a year, here is a quick summary of my findings. 

The Good:

  • Very affordable.  Unlike other options out there, the TCL Roku TVs are very affordable.  At ~$260 for a 43″ 4K option, you really can’t go wrong.  After trying 3 versions over 3 years, all are still working and performing fine.  Well, all but one 32″ version my son hit with a club in the screen.  But I didn’t scream too bad, as it was only $150 to replace.
  • Quick setup. Plug the device in, follow the onscreen & online prompts and you’re good to go.  If you have multiple devices, Roku even remembers your favorite apps/channels to help streamline the install process
  • Good picture quality.  With 4K resolution, 120hz effective refresh rate, 4K upscaling, and HDR support, you get a very good picture in a streamlined package
  • Quick start-up time.  Unlike other secondary streaming devices I have tested, the TCL Roku TVs boot up and connect very quickly.  I would almost say no lag, especially when you enable the quick start setting.  See for yourself in the included boot-up video below.
  • Strong Wi-Fi card.  Unlike other TV manufacturers, TCL seems to focus on the strength of its Wi-Fi card.  The connection strength, stability, and monitoring are very similar to what you can expect from any other streaming device.  This helps to ensure optimal video quality when streaming.
  • Voice control.  Using an optional Bluetooth remote, your phone, Amazon Alexa, or Google Assistant devices, you can search shows, launch apps or control the device itself.
  • Ease of installation.  With a basic lightweight design, the TV easily mounts on a wall with a stationary French cleat mount.  It allows me to quickly grab it off my office wall and bring it outside for some fun.
  • Bluetooth connectivity. With an optional Bluetooth remote and speakers available from Roku, you can control your device without having to point right at it.  This is good, as the included IR remote can be finicky.
  • Simple remote design.  With 12 buttons and a D-pad on the front, and 3 volume controls on the side, the simplicity of the remote is great.  Something most people quickly get the hang of.
  • Wireless display compatible.  With a built-in screen mirroring option, the Series 4 43” 4K TV makes a solid secondary wireless display.  It connects via wifi and allows me to view training videos and other content from my Surface Pro 7 on the larger display.  A pretty cool addition to my home office setup.
  • Compatible w/Xfinity.  For those of you looking to reduce the cost of your boxes or maybe take your TV outside for fun, the Roku platform is great.  It supports the Xfinity X1 Stream Beta app that allows you to browse your Xfinity content without needing a cable box or coaxial connection.  Just plug in the TV and go.  I will admit, the interface was a bit too clunky for my taste though.  More computer-like than TV.  Also, you’ll need to be on your home network to get full access.

The Not So Good:

  • Include IR remote is very finicky.  While they provide a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi app control option, the included IR-only remote does not perform well.  You need to be pointing it right at the IR receiver under the TCL logo to make sure it works.  I wish the Bluetooth remote with voice control was included by default.  That said, given the price point, I understand why it isn’t.
  • Remote controls TV and TCL Roku accessories only.  While the remote will control the TV and supported TCL Roku Speakers, it does not support other external sources.  As I use these as secondary TVs for the most part (in my office, kid’s room & outside), the included speakers are fine.  That said, if this is going to be a primary TV for you, connected to soundbars or Blu-Ray players, you will need to consider a universal remote solution, like one from Logitech.
  • Not the slimmest design out there.  As you will see from the included pics, while LED displays are very light and easy to move & mount, they are not the slimmest.  Overall they aren’t that bad but don’t expect a super slim design

Want to see some pics of the TV?  Check out the slideshow below:

Interested in checking it out for yourself? Included below are a couple of quick links.

Published by Trevor Kassner

Marketing technologist with a love of all things tech. Early adopter & family man looking to share his thoughts.

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