TCL’s Roku TVs have finally arrived in the UK and the TCL 55RP620K is at the tip of the AV spear. It’s a 4K HDR TV that sits firmly in the affordable category of TVs, but don’t be fooled into expecting something that’s feature-light. This is a Roku TV and they’re nothing if not smart.
Until now, the only Roku TVs available in the UK have been from Hisense, and they’ve certainly been good, with two five-star reviews on the bounce. The 55-inch TCL 55RP620K offers something one step closer to mid-range, though, with a greater bit-depth in terms of colour processing and Dolby Vision support too.
For those after an app-happy and exceedingly user-friendly experience, and a good panel size without having to spend too much, this TV from TCL and Roku looks a winning combination.
This TCL Roku TV is a Currys exclusive and for the UK only. The price of the 55-inch TCL 55RP620K is £449 at the time of writing. While this TV is also available in 43-inch, 50-inch and 65-inch sizes, do bear in mind that the drop down to the 40-inch and 32-inch sizes means losing some specs, including the 4K resolution.
There are no prizes for design here but there’s little to bear issue with either. The frame around the edge of the TCL 55RP620K screen is easy enough on the eye at just over 1cm on three sides and 2cm at the bottom. It’s not exactly thin in profile, at over 8cm, and there are some lumpy sections on the rear but, again, all par for the course at this price.
Around the back is a healthy choice of four HDMI 2.0 ports and a single USB 2.0. There’s also a headphones socket and an optical-out, as well as ARC support from one of the HDMIs.
Perhaps our only slight concern is with the feet. They are quite wide-set for a 55-inch TV at 106cm. That gap isn’t enormous but it’s worth measuring up to check that the TV will comfortably fit on your TV unit.
As for the remote control, it’s a standard issue Roku remote, just like the one that comes with the Hisense A7200G Roku TV.
The features of the TCL 55RP620K are largely set by the Roku system and that’s no bad thing, as Roku is an excellent platform.
More Apple than Android, Roku is customisable in appearance but part of its success is that it’s the same experience no matter your device. It has a clean UI that’s very straightforward to use. It rarely takes more than one guess to find the menu or setting you’re after but neither does it feel oversimplified.
The Home page is a tile-based experienced with a grid of your favourite streaming services (‘channels’ as Roku calls them) and all your hard-wired video inputs too. You can rename those inputs to match the appropriate device (‘Blu-ray player’ instead of just ‘HDMI 1’, for example) and then head to the Roku Channel Store either on your TV, computer or mobile device to add new streaming and game options.
There’s not much you won’t find. There are no app gaps from any of the top tier services, with Dolby Vision and 4K support on Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video and Apple TV. Better still, you’ll even get to use the pay-as-you-go Sky Store – not an app you’ll find on many smart TVs or media streamers – which plays host to a number of exclusive HBO shows as well as Sky’s own programming.
It may not have HDMI 2.1 inputs for all the latest gaming standards but the Auto Game Mode claims a 15ms lag time. If you take your gaming habit more seriously, then you might want to spend a bit more on a serious gaming TV.
HDR support Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG
Freeview Play yes
Apple AirPlay 2 yes
Inputs 4 x HDMI 2.0 (inc. ARC), 1 x USB
Audio out headphones, optical
Sound system 2 x 8W
Dimensions (hwd) 78 x 123 x 27cm (with stand)
OS Roku TV
If you don’t have a tonne of streaming service subscriptions, and an accompanying bank account littered with direct debits, then fear not. The Roku Channel is here to bring you a taste of premium content for free. It’s a – yes, we’re going to say it – smorgasbord of films and TV shows as well as over 30 Roku Originals too, many of which are well worth your time.
There’s no Britbox, BT TV (there is BT Sport), Twitch, VLC, Apple Music or Amazon Music but otherwise it’s fully stacked with everything you could need, along with a whole load you likely will not. Got an interest in ice hockey, kung-fu films or speed-runs of retro games? There’s a good chance you’ll find a streaming channel dedicated to it.
Of course, this all makes for quite the wealth of content. Thankfully Roku’s Search section is brilliant. Type in anything related to TV and film – actors, directors, the name of a film, TV show or streaming service – and the search will return a list of appropriate results where you can open up the relevant third party service to buy, rent or start streaming whatever you like. Live TV is taken care of by a Freeview tuner with a full plate of Freeview Play catch-up services on board.
Roku doesn’t begin and end with your TV, though. The mobile app is something of an essential. You can use it as a very decent soft remote control which also includes the use of TV voice commands. You can search for content and streaming channels, mirror photos and videos, and opt for some quiet viewing by plugging your headphones into your mobile and setting your TV sound to output on your handset instead of the big screen.
The TCL 55RP620K occupies quite a happy spot for price between two excellent budget TVs, certainly at the time of writing. The 55-inch Samsung UE55TU8000 – one of Samsung’s best non-QLEDs from 2020 and a five-star winner with the What Hi-Fi? team – is about £100 more expensive. Then below the TCL, by £150, is the 55-inch version of the UK’s only other Roku TV for 2021, the Hisense R55A7200GTUK. While we haven’t tested that particular variant, the 50-inch model is another What Hi-Fi? five-star recommendation.
There’s certainly a big enough performance gap for another TV to sit between the Hisense and the Samsung, and we’re pleased to report that the TCL 55RP620K fills it perfectly.
Watching Blade Runner 2049 on 4K Blu-ray, it’s obvious that this TCL Roku TV has a way with colours that’s beyond that of the cheaper Hisense. The clothes of the call girls in the market scene are more vibrant, richer and truer. The TCL also has a slightly better way with contrast too. With a marginally finer control of panel lighting, it’s able to shade and sharpen to create better textures in Mariette’s Mohair jacket and a shine to her lip gloss that the Hisense can’t quite recreate. The fact that the TCL can get that little bit blacker certainly helps here too.
With The Rover on HD Blu-ray, we get a very different kind of post-apocalyptic vision. It’s a paler and more coarse palette for this TV to get its teeth into. Even without the HDR to help out, it still does an excellent job. The thin cloud in the bright outback sky is rendered in a fairly similar array of whites as the Hisense but there’s more definition and dynamism to the finer details such as the gravel road and the parched plant life.
In some respects, the TCL even rivals the more expensive Samsung TU8000 with this level of source material. While the Samsung offers more vibrancy, the TCL’s more natural approach should be applauded. It captures skin and the desert scrub with realistic tones that are hard to match at anywhere near this budget. Similarly, it’s streets ahead of the Hisense for colour complexity at HD, with so much more nuance to the browns of the camouflage fatigues of the dying soldier at the beginning of chapter 3. The cheaper set can only paint these scenes with a much broader brush.
We’d advise using the Bright setting across all content types, with the Dynamic Contrast processor switched off and Colour Temperature set to Normal. Beyond that, just be wary of pushing either the Backlight or Contrast values too close to their maximums. Somewhere between 70 and 90 for both will have you in the right ballpark
As with the Hisense Roku TV, there’s no adjustable motion processing to speak of but fortunately the native look and feel to the on-screen movement is more than satisfactory. Like the cheaper TV, it flirts with a blur and a smear on occasion but never to a point that’s off-putting. Trading up to the Samsung would give a more controlled motion performance.
While we believe that the picture performance on this TCL is good, it’s important to bear in mind that this is still a budget TV and that comes with limitations. It can’t match the Samsung for outright back depth and it’s quick to grow pale when you move to off-axis viewing angles. It’s also missing a level of dark detail, even compared to the cheaper Hisense, but we don’t expect TVs to have it all at this price.
Switching to Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on 4K Blu-ray for a less minimal soundscape, it’s clear from the get-go that there’s not much on offer at the bottom end on this TCL TV. Neither the Marvel fanfare nor the opening two tracks of the film really offer much weight at all and that automatically removes some of the cinematic feel when watching more action-based content. Fortunately, what remains in both the treble and particularly the midrange is rather good.
The 2 x 8W sound system offers enough power to bring use to the vast proportion of the 0-100 volume scale on the TV and it takes until well up into the 80s before the audio becomes noticeably distorted. Leave the sound mode set to Normal – there are no DTS or Dolby Atmos modes to worry about – and you’ll find a performance that’s both consistent and clear.
The presentation is more organised than the bassier Hisense Roku TV. Listening to ELO’s Mr Blue Sky in the Guardians credit sequence, neither is blessed with expressive dynamics but, ultimately, what marks the TCL out as the better performer is its clarity. Voices are much less muffled and the greater precision helps to pick out sound effects a little better.
Naturally, there’s not much in the way of a broad soundstage. There’s very little movement of the audio as we watch the “massive space battle” at the beginning of chapter 3 but, again, it’s important to have realistic expectations at this budget. Save change for a cheap soundbar and you’ll have yourself an excellent budget home cinema combo.
We weren’t sure that TCL was going to be able to offer something so obviously worthwhile with its first Roku TV for the UK but it has absolutely nailed it. It might not be the AV equivalent of fine dining but it’s more sophisticated than the chips and gravy of Hisense’s even cheaper Roku TV – and just as tasty.
Roku makes another compelling case as the go-to TV platform for those on a tight budget. It’s now 3 for 3 for five-star reviews of UK Roku TVs. So long as there’s a gap in the market, this TV is evidence that Roku has the right partners in both TCL and Hisense to go and fill it.
- Features 5
- Picture 5
- Sound 3
Read our guide to the Best TVs under-£1000
Read our Samsung UE55TU8000 review
Read our Hisense Roku R50A7200GTUK review