This TCL Roku telly shows the rest how to do budget TVs
OPINION: Let me make one thing clear from the outset – no TV is perfect. My interpretation of a five-star review is not that it’s perfect in every way but that it’s as good as you can get for the price and performance. It can still be flawed but not to the detriment of the overall performance or value.
This leads me to spin a few hundred words about the TCL 55RC630K Roku TV. It’s a 55-inch TV for about £400, and like most cheaper TVs, when it comes to HDR it doesn’t boast the most vibrant performance expensive sets do. The introduction of HDR to TVs has split the market in terms of ‘can do’ and can’t quite do HDR’ but that’s a thought for another op-ed.
The HDR performance of this TCL Roku is compromised; but the same could be said about all budget TVs. It does boast HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, so it can at least adapt its picture quality to improve contrast and colours, and supporting both is rare for most TVs let alone one as cheap as this.
But for the price, and that’s what is key here, it’s a pretty good HDR performance. If you’re spending money at this end of the market, you’re not necessarily looking for fireworks, simply a competent picture performance and the TCL Roku ticks that box.
The Roku TV interface is terrific. I’ve always liked how simple it is to use, avoiding the complexity of others. Roku supports pretty much all the apps you’ll ever likely need (and then some) and the features it supports better most of its budget rivals, from access to voice assistants (if that’s your bag), to AirPlay 2 connectivity, tracking your favourite content, and free programming.
It’s all bundled in an easy-to-use and accessible interface that’s responsive unlike some sluggish efforts, in particular from Samsung’s TVs. Another box ticked.
If you’re a casual gamer it’s a decent TV with its quick input lag but if you want high-end gaming specs, then no budget TV really offers that. I’ve tested TVs with high input lag that makes them unsuitable for anything that requires fast responses. The 11.5ms input lag here offers plenty of responsiveness to racing and sports games. Tick, tick, tick.
TVs in general often struggle with sound – despite how good LG’s OLEDs are, the built-in audio systems tend to sound reserved in a way that makes me pine for the E-series OLEDs to make a comeback. Nevertheless, the TCL Roku’s sound system is punchy, big, and detailed with some decent dynamism. A soundbar will obviously better it but there’s no rush to add one. That sound you heard? That’s another box ticked.
The TCL Roku has its limitations but its strengths outweigh its weaknesses. I’ve often felt that other cheaper TVs decided on doing a few things well or courting a certain audience, but overall, the sum of their parts is less than the whole.
What’s great about the TCL 55RC630K, and Roku TVs in general, is that the target market is a broad church. It is happy to accommodate a range of features, which widens the appeal.
The TCL 55RC30K isn’t perfect but it ticks the boxes for a budget TV. I think it’s the benchmark at this price, and hopefully it’ll lead others into stepping up their game. Cheap often means nasty, but the TCL Roku shows that doesn’t have to be true.