The S517 is essentially the only budget TV that delivers a good HDR experience. Its ability to reproduce deep blacks and bright highlights combined with its wide color gamut and full Dolby Vision and HDR10 support makes it a good pick for the money.
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Pro A well-rounded option
The TCL S517 is a decent option for pretty much everything, be it gaming, movies, sports, or HDR content. It has noteworthy picture quality, good all-around responsiveness, decent smart features, nice motion handling, and, most importantly, a great price.
Pro Functional mobile app
The mobile remote app for both iOS or Android can fully and comfortably substitute the real remote – launch apps, input text in apps, control most TV settings, etc.
Also, colors can easily be adjusted close to perfection thanks to the app’s calibration menu.
Pro Great smart features
The S517 comes with the Roku TV smart platform, which provides a comfortable interface and a big app selection.
The interface is quite basic and easy to overlook. It’s smooth and simple to swap to your favorite apps.
Roku TV offers a vast app store with all the most popular apps – Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant, HBO Go, Vudu and much more. Some apps are even absent from other TV manufacturers Smart TV platforms and unique to Roku.
Pro Suitable for gaming
The S517 is fit for all gamers because it offers a clear, lag-free experience. The TV is very responsive - it has struck a good balance between decent refresh rate, solid input lag, and good response time.
The TV is an ideal choice for console gaming in terms of its native refresh rate. It caps at 60Hz, which is perfect since most games won't benefit from anything higher than this.
The S517 is fast. An action shows on the screen in around 18 milliseconds, which can make the difference between managing to get a frag or waiting for a respawn. The time doesn't substantially increase when gaming in HDR or 4K either - it goes up to roughly 20.5 milliseconds. The only thing to remember is to keep "Game" mode enabled for the lowest possible input lag.
The TCL S517 also handles motion and fast-paced content quite well, it has a good response time. This makes sure you can keep up with fast-moving objects and a lot of action without it all appearing blurry. A full pixel color transition takes only 15.8 milliseconds.
Pro Well calibrated out-of-the-box
The picture quality when you first open the TV up is quite decent. The only settings that could potentially require tweaking are grey inaccuracy and color inaccuracy. Either way, these are things that most people won't even notice.
Pro Decent for use as a PC monitor
The S517 offers a pleasant PC monitor experience not only due to the good responsiveness but also because of the video signal's compression.
The TV won't make text appear blurry while connected to a PC because the signal has no compression and transports color data and luminance fully. This is also known as chroma 4:4:4, and the “Computer” and “Game” modes display it properly at 60Hz.
Pro Accessible inputs
All of the inputs are conveniently placed on the side of the S517, so you won't have to worry about leaving space between a wall and the TV.
Pro Optional video smoothing feature
The S517 offers the possibility to represent motion in videos smoother, also known as the "soap opera effect". This is done by making the TV take two frames and try to guess what would a frame in between of those look like, also known as motion interpolation. The frame rate can interpolate up to 60 frames per second.
Pro Handles 4K scaling well
The S517 does a reasonably good job with upscaling most content to 4K quality, be it 480p DVDs, HDTV or full HD Blu-rays.
Pro Good HDR playback
The S517 is a much better fit for HDR content and HDR gaming than its competitors due to the wide color gamut, decent color depth, and high contrast.
The TV can display a lot more colors than its similarly-priced counterparts. The coverage of the Digital Cinema P3 color space is very good - 90%.
The color depth is on par with competing options. The S517 has 10-bit color depth, which means that it can display approximately 1.07 billion colors in total. This is important for HDR content because HDR media takes advantage of 10-bit.
The S517 can display deep blacks in the HDR mode because of its high native contrast ratio of 6000:1, which is easily one of the best in the given price range.
The TV can also play all HDR content because it supports both standard formats of HDR - HDR10 and Dolby Vision. They enhance the viewing experience by editing the metadata, that is, the extra information that tells the TV how to display HDR. The formats differ in the way they deal with it, however - Dolby Vision edits the picture on a per scene basis, whereas HDR10 edits everything at the start of the video.
Pro Impressive picture quality
In terms of picture quality, the S517 is comparable to high-end TVs. It displays remarkably deep blacks due to its great contrast and reproduces details in color very well due to its good color gradient.
The 6000:1 native contrast ratio allows the TV to reproduce dark scenes particularly well. It is easily one of the best in this price range – it’s often compared to high-end counterparts.
The S517 has superb black uniformity and contrast that create pleasant, deep blacks. They are much better than those of the similarly-priced competitors. The maximum deviation sits at around 1.02% .
The TV is good at capturing small differences in color such as skin tones, green colors in nature, details in shadows, etc. This is because of the color gradient, which is on par with other options of the same price. There is almost no banding and the standard deviation of color doesn't go past 0,11%.
Con Runs ads
The main interface page contains big advertisements that can’t be disabled.
There’s also a “Featured” tab that promotes all kinds of apps and channels.
Con Some dirty screen effect is present
This might cause some discomfort to sports fans because the playing surface might look darker at points. The S517's gray uniformity is decent at best, which, unfortunately, is often the case for lower-end TVs. The image is a little darker around the edges and the middle of the TV. The standard deviation of sits at around 3.1%.
Con Inconvenient calibration access
The only way to access the calibration menu is via the mobile app. This might be uncomfortable for people without smartphones or for people who prefer all control on the real remote.
Con HDR content lacks brightness
Small bright details in dark scenes won’t stand out. Unfortunately, this is usually the case with TVs in this price range. The TV's brightness for HDR media peaks at only 273 nits. Moreover, the TV doesn't support local dimming, which is also a big drawback for HDR content.
Con Struggles with reflections
While the S517 is okay for dimmer environments, the weakness shows in bright rooms and especially rooms with the light source facing the TV. The reflection handling of the TV is a bit worse than that of its competitors. It reflects approximately 6% of light off the screen.
Con Bad viewing angle
The S517 is a bad choice for a wide room because colors and blacks shift when viewed even slightly off center.
Leaning sideward just a little bit will drastically alter what you see. Colors shift at 18 degrees, brightness shifts at 28 degrees, but the blacks shift at the incredibly tiny angle of 9 degrees.
Con Can't overcome glare
The S517 is a better fit for dim environments or dark room viewing since the brightness can’t peak very high, only at 277 nits. This is common for TVs in this price range.