Tech Review: TCL Roku 28” Smart TV 28S305

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Setup was easy. Simply unpack, attach the two feet using the four screws (provided), insert two AAA batteries (also provided) into the remote, plug in the power cord, and connect the set to your Wi-Fi network. The TV, unlike inexpensive standalone Roku units like the Express, can connect to both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless networks.

The compact TCL remote features four dedicated Roku buttons for Netflix, Sling, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video, a volume button on the side, and it does not have a numeric keyboard but who enters channel numbers these days anyway.

While the onscreen menu is highly customizable, even the wallpaper is changeable, the dedicated remote buttons are not so. Two – Sling and Hulu – of the four on my remote are essentially useless in my case. I found I would hit the side-mounted volume control buttons when merely gripping the remote to turn it off or navigate and others testing the unit had a similar experience.

Through the built-in Roku functionality, many options are available, including NetFlix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, HBO Now, Showtime, NBC News, NBC, the Tagesschau, PBS, Sky News, France 24, and Deutsche Welle or DW. The list is extensive (there are thousands of apps) and also includes Comedy Central, Google Play Movies, Vudu, Disney, PBS Kids, among dozens of others.

Setting up channels was a one-time affair, typically involving being sent to a web site to enter a code, and was simple and straightforward. In general, the set did what it was supposed to do and did it quite well, although occasionally we all noticed we would select CNN and it would start to open and then the set would return to the main menu.

We tried the television in multiple venues including a conference room, kitchen, and bedroom and one staffer plans to add it to the vintage Airstream trailer he is restoring.

Lacking an aerial, we didn’t try over-the-air broadcasts but we suspect those using it for that purpose will be satisfied.

Finally, picture quality was judged very good with deep black levels, good brightness, good contrast, and accurate color.

BOTTOM LINE

With its relatively petit size, a superb picture, and a low price tag, the TCL Roku Smart TV 28S305 is an excellent choice if you are looking for a smaller device. Add in the combination of an excellent user interface and ease of use with the exception of the remote’s volume control buttons, and it’s clear the competition pales by comparison.

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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