At our site, you’ll only find unbiased reviews. However, we do earn profit from our affiliate links.
If you’ve heard of the S325 series of Smart TVs by TCL then you probably know about their reputation as being the best budget Smart TVs on the market. For the price, these TVs are supposed to deliver the most bang for your buck out of all budget HD TVs. We decided to test the 49 inch version, the TCL 49S325 to see just how much it could deliver for such a small price.
Normally, when televisions sets are this inexpensive the most logical expectation to have about build quality is, well, not much. However, for the price range, the TCL 49S325 was actually not too bad.
Overall, the S325 seems to be built pretty solidly. It’s a little on the thick side but it’s not too bad. The stands are made out of plastic but they are thick and sturdy enough so that only very little wobbling occurs. We had no major issues with the TCL 49S325 when it came to propping it up on a table or wall mounting it. Overall, it actually has a pretty decent design and felt pretty sturdy for its low price.
Smart TV Functionality
TCL TVs have always used the Roku TV OS for its Smart TV applications. While it isn’t our favorite OS, some newer versions of it have been pretty impressive. However, the TCL 49S325 is using a slightly older version compared to other TCL TVs we’ve reviewed.
While the Roku OS interface is easy on the eyes and easy to navigate, it lacks a certain kind of smoothness found on more expensive TCL models. Luckily, Roku OS supports a pretty wide array of downloadable apps so anyone looking for a Smart TV that can really be pushed to the brim with popular applications will definitely be satisfied with the TCL 49S325.
Because the TCL 49S325 is a budget model it came as no surprise that it has a maximum 1080p resolution screen – no HDR and no 4K. We can’t and don’t hold that against it as there are many great reasons to own a 1080p set even in 2019, and many 1080p TVs still look very good.
The TCL 49S325 is definitely pretty good at some aspects of image quality. It has pretty good contrast which helps make blacks and darker colors pop up well in dark rooms. However, it isn’t too good at displaying brighter images regardless of whether you’re watching content in a lit room or a dark one.
The viewing angles are relatively subpar so the only way to get a decent looking image is to be sitting directly in front of the screen. The TCL 49S325’s image really degrades when viewed from the side, but it will look pretty decent as long as you watch from a straight angle.
While this TV performs pretty well in 480p or 720p, it actually looks very nice in 1080p. Despite issues with brightness, the pixel clarity and color accuracy is mostly quite good, and these are the areas where the TCL 49S325 really shines.
If you want to squeeze as much juice as you can out of this TV and get your money’s worth, our recommendation is to only use it as a 1080p screen. It doesn’t have the widest color spectrum but what it can handle looks pretty decent.
Final VerdictSo is the TCL 49S325 worth its asking price? Our answer is simply yes. This TV doesn’t do anything remotely remarkable whether it be its Smart TV functionality or the image quality, but since we’re taking its very low price into account, there is no denying that it does accomplish a fair deal. The quality may not be high but the value absolutely is, if you get what we’re saying.
If you are on the tightest of budgets and are not picky about having the widest color gamut or the highest pixel resolution then the TCL 49S325 is a no-brainer choice. This TV surely has earned its reputation as being by far one of the best budget HD TVs on the market today.