TCL 50FS3800 50-Inch 1080p Roku Smart LED TV

We were a little apprehensive on this TCL TV because we were unfamiliar with the brand. Since we don’t subscribe to cable, we mostly watch local news and occasionally local sport. We also have Amazon Prime and watch the odd free movie or rent one to watch on my computer monitor.

  • TCL 50FS3800 50-Inch 1080p Roku Smart LED TV
So when it came time to purchase a new TV we approached it the same way we approached buying a house. We made a list of the features we wanted (a SmartTV with Wifi, streaming channels, Amazon Prime, at least 50” and affordable at around the $500 mark). After looking at our options in terms of price and convenience, we decided that it made the most sense to purchase it through Amazon Prime.

After much research, we decided that the TCL TV’s offered the best value, met our budget requirements, and our decision to purchase the TV through Amazon enabled us to purchase the TV with interest free financing over 6 months.

Appearance.

The TV came in a large box with the stand hardware: remote, power cable and batteries plus simple instructions that were in separate bags. You do not get a HDMI or any other cables. The TV has a simple non-fussy design with approximately half inch bezel all around. The stand that comes with it is simple and screws on with two screws at each side. The stand footprint requires about 8.5 inches of depth to stand on which was perfect for the 11 inch thick mantle over our fireplace. (NOTE: We don’t actually use the fireplace and heat could potentially damage the TV) I like that the stand is low profile raising the screen about 2” above the surface it is standing on. This leaves a small gap for low profile devices like our WD live media hub and remotes, while also hiding most of the cables and extension chord.

Setup

The old analog phono inputs are on the back and quite hard to reach once the TV is up on the mantle and they protrude straight out the back which would require more space between the wall and the TV if you use them. The power cable plugs into a recessed area low down on the left side and doesn’t interfere with the location of the tv. All the modern input and output sockets are behind the screen on the right side about 8 inches back. We don’t use any subscription TV service; just a double bowtie antenna mounted on one of the gutter pipes at the back of the house. The coaxial input for the antenna along with three HDMI ports, an optical input, 3.5mm jack and USB socket are all here. We use two of the HDMI sockets one for the 1TB Media hub and the other for our notebook.

Once everything is plugged in and turned on. The TV introduces you to the basic setup process. It takes less than five minutes to find your way around. The remote is minimalist with the most basic controls on the front (Volume Up/Down toggle and mute buttons on the side). It’s small, unfussy and easy to use. The UI for the TV is not flashy but functional and easy to navigate. Setting up WIFI, registering your TV and introducing you to streaming channels and how to add them to your desktop are covered quickly and then you are left to your own devices.

Since we are just using an antenna we were initially a little apprehensive. Wondering how well that would work, or even if the TV had a tuner since everyone seems to use dish or cable these days. It has a tuner that works flawlessly. We managed to pick up almost 3 dozen channels many of them HD. A quick look online showed us a map of where the broadcast towers are and helped us aim our antenna for best reception.

In use.

The TV has a really nice clean picture and since it is an LED TV where a grid array of LED’s light the screen uniformly rather than a couple of fluorescent lamps there is practically no limit to the viewing angle. The screen is not high gloss and prevents reflection and most glare from bright light sources. When turned on a non invasive 3” horizontal strip of illuminated plastic at the bottom shows you the TV is powered on. It flashes during startup and goes out when the screen is illuminated.

Image

Image quality is excellent BUT on initial setup it is on a bright echo setting. Which is very high contrast and overly saturated. I guess it is a power saving mode (claimed 16 watts) but it is a bit stark and overwhelming and shows some dithering on smooth color transitions as though it is running at a lower bitrate with fewer colors. When turned to theater mode the quality of the picture is MUCH better with very smooth transitions on subtle colour gradients.

Sound

Sound is similar. Like most LCD style TV’s this one comes with tiny speakers. Again the default sound setting seems to be very flat. Probably to conserve energy. There are about four presets and again we went with theater which gives the broadest range and warm midtones without overdoing the bass. It doesn’t sound too bad and is not thin and reedy like the default setting.

Smart TV functionality.

We originally wanted WIFI because as Amazon Prime members we get a lot of free on demand media. This is similar to Netflix where you can watch a huge catalog of TV and movies for free, buy or rent them for a small fee. The same goes with music. This worked perfectly.

What we weren’t expecting was the sheer volume of streaming media available for free via WIFI. There are hundreds of channels, many of them free to choose from, many mainstream ones that let you view their current episodes of popular shows on demand when you want to watch them. You can also sign up for pay for view services like HBO and showtime individually.

One nice thing is that the TV has a global search option. You can search for anything by title, director, actors name, character, keywords and the TV will find everything relating to your search and list what is available by channel. So you can easily pick out what you want to see.

Mobile devices and streaming from those devices

There are apps for Android and iOS as well as Windows. I was able to control the TV from all our devices. In many ways it is more responsive, especially if you need to type in text. If you have media on your PC there are Apps for the TV that will let you stream from your phone, notebook, desktop computer etc.

Streaming from those devices tends to work ok. I did find that the TV’s built-in media player was a little limited in supported data formats. Setting up our digital media hub with its own channel was very easy and luckily our Western Digital media hub has far more extensive support for many of the more exotic file formats like FLAC lossless digital audio. And other formats are more often limited to computers. The TV does support the more mainstream formats like mp3, mpg, jpg etc.

Conclusion

For us, this TV proved to be a very good and affordable purchase. Especially when you factor in the 6 months interest fee financing Amazon offers prime members. We did sign up for a free month of Netflix too. The remote has a dedicated Netflix and Amazon streaming button. But we were not that impressed with Netflix when our Amazon Prime membership offered all the same features and more thanks to the addition of Amazon Prime music.

When you combine all this TV’s features with our media hub and Amazon Prime we are a bit overwhelmed with the sheer amount of stuff out there to watch. Even if we had no antenna and just a WIFI internet connection. The vast number of free streaming HD channels is extensive making the need for TV subscription plans pretty much obsolete unless you have a very specific need.

We really like this TV and highly recommend it.

TCL 50FS3800 50-Inch 1080p Roku Smart LED TV
TCL 50FS3800 50-Inch 1080p Roku Smart LED TV

Product Name: TCL 50FS3800 50-Inch 1080p Roku Smart LED TV

Product Description: 50 Inch TV with Roku streaming built in and easy access to Amazon Prime video and Netflix on the remote.

Price: $375

  • Styling
  • Features
  • Sound Quality
  • Image Quality
  • Value

Summary

This TV proved to be a very good and affordable purchase.

When you combine all this TV’s features with our media hub and Amazon Prime we are a bit overwhelmed with the sheer amount of stuff out there to watch. Even if we had no antenna and just a WIFI internet connection. The vast number of free streaming HD channels is extensive making the need for TV subscription plans pretty much obsolete unless you have a very specific need.

We really like this TV and highly recommend it. Inna was a bit sad to give it a lower score because of the very average sound quality from the built in speakers. She loves the TV. Once she even posted that she liked it more than me on Facebook 😉

4.4

Leave a Reply