At a mere 28.8 x 17.1 x 3.0 inches, the TCL 32” Roku Smart LED TV (32S327-CA) fits and goes almost anywhere. It’s so slim and light (under 10 pounds) it can literally be carried under your arm or popped it into the trunk of your car.
The TCL 32” Roku Smart LED TV is build by China-based TCL, the world’s third largest TV manufacturer, and is new this year to the Canadian TV scene.
It’s a low-cost, full high-definition (FHD) TV equipped with many of the features typically found in larger higher-priced models.Within the unpretentious black housing is a crisp 32-inch FHD (1080p) LED widescreen display, great for watching movies and playing games. It’s equipped with dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, perfect for feeding our insatiable hunger for Netflix and YouTube.
Externally, it has one USB port, which you can also use with a USB stick to add Pause Live TV functionality (although two should be standard to reduce the need to unplug and plug other devices), three HDMI ports to connect external devices and coax cable connector. The headphone jack allows for quiet listening or can be used to hook up an external speaker and a digital audio output. A composite video jack with cable completes the row to connect any older analogue devices.
It is also the perfect solution for cord cutters. You can plug in a digital HD antenna to capture free over-the-air TV channels but, as the name implies, a Roku streamer is built right in, so you don’t need to connect one externally. Roku offers access to literally thousands of streaming channels that feature 500,000+ movies, TV shows, live sports, music and more. Some are free; others require paid subscriptions.
The beauty of this TV is its simplicity. It starts with an easy step-by-step on-screen set-up. Gone are any complicated menus. Both the TV’s functionality and Roku’s streaming services are integrated into a single intuitive interface, making it easy to navigate with one simple remote with one touch access to services like Netflix and Google Play. You can also use the Roku app for smartphone or tablet as a remote for voice or keyboard search.
Other features include mirroring, which allows you to watch media from your smartphone, tablet or PC on your TV. Guest mode is perfect if you run an AirBnB; it allows you to restrict access while guests can sign on using their own accounts.
Adjusting your TV’s picture no longer requires fussing with various controls. Simply access the picture settings menu and select from: Dark, Darker, Normal, Bright and Brighter. And as long as you have an Internet connection, the Software Auto Update feature checks for updates every 24 to 36 hours to ensure your system is always up-to-date.
But while this model has many great features, tradeoffs are inevitable (especially for those who like all the bells and whistles) considering the model’s simplicity, size and cost.
- The TCL uses the basic Roku remote, which has no numeric keypad for direct access to a channel nor a voice search button found on the top-line Roku players.
- There’s also no Ethernet port for a hardwired Internet
- You can’t fine-tune the picture and colour, as on other TVs.
- There’s no support for HDR (High-Dynamic Range) or 4K resolutions.
- For smoother blur free images and a better gaming experience, the stated screen refresh rate of 120Hz CMI (Clear Motion Index) is simulated using advanced techniques but not true 120Hz.
- And while not a deal-breaker, that second USB port should be standard.
- Although the TCL 32” truly shines (pardon the pun) in a dimly-lit room, the viewing experience in a brightly lit or exremely dark room was average, obviously due to the lack of any automatic ambient light sensors.
- Text from show descriptions can also seem small if the TV is placed far away, but this is likely true of most models of that size.
Overall, however, especially for its size and price, I was fairly impressed after test-“viewing” this TV for a few weeks.
The built-in Roku is and added bonus, making this model ideal for anyone looking for a user and budget-friendly solution for a small space.
(Note: The TCL 32S327 should not be confused with other 32-inch 3-series models. Some are older and albeit lower cost, but also lower resolution (not full HD), lower refresh rate and not necessarily the most current Wi-Fi standard. )
Troy Media columnist Greg Gazin, also known as the Gadget Guy and Gadget Greg, is a syndicated veteran tech columnist, communication, leadership and technology speaker, facilitator, blogger, podcaster and author. Reach him @gadgetgreg or at GadgetGuy.ca.