Tested by experts
televisions

TCL 50FS5600 LED TV Review

Avoid this television at all costs, even very low costs.

$599.99 50 in.
4.0 score Tested by Experts
  • The TCL 50FS5600 is better than 9% of the televisions we tested.
  • It is better than 18% of the televisions we have tested under $600.
  • It is better than 8% of the LED televisions we have tested.
  • This graph shows the TCL 50FS5600's score compared to other televisions we tested. Learn more.
# of televisions Product Score This graph shows the TCL 50FS5600’s score compared to other televisions we tested.
Advertisement

If a 50-inch, full-HD TV for a hair under $600 seems like a good deal, it's only because there might not be a worse 50-inch full-HD TV on the market today than the TCL 50FS5600 (MSRP $599.99). With no smart platform to speak of and a variety of technical woes, the FS5600 isn't recommendable.

There's almost nothing positive to say about this TV. Based on the panel's size and price, it's clearly aimed at budget shoppers in need of big TVs—but the performance I found doesn't even satisfy entry-level standards. There's no justifiable reason to recommend this TV to anyone, regardless of what their criteria might be. Simply put, there are much better options on the market.

Looks & Experience

Design features that range from "elegant" to "boring"

The FS5600's 50-inch panel rests on a smooth, hexagonal glass stand. This is a nice choice compared to the ubiquitous black-plastic stands that dominate the rest of the market.

The rest of the TV is disappointingly milquetoast; charcoal-on-black plastic and a run-of-the-mill remote control. On the back of the television is an L-shaped indent for various connections. There are three HDMI inputs, composite and component inputs, an SPDIF audio output, a VGI port, a headphone jack, a coaxial connector, and a USB port.

Other than the stand, the rest of the TV is disappointingly milquetoast.

Without smart features or extensive customization options, the menu software is sparse. This is probably for the best, though, because navigating the menu is an exercise in trial-and-error.

Advertisement

The Picture

From bad to worse

Watching a movie on the FS5600 is not a pleasant experience. The first thing you'll notice is just how poorly its color production is. Skin tones, foliage, and clouds appear sickeningly blue (find out why on the Science page). Nature documentaries in particular (or anything portraying a reality as we see it) will undoubtedly look "off." It's not unusual for lower-end TVs to struggle with blue-, green-, or red-shifted color palettes, but the FS5600 is particularly bad in this regard. In fact, there's no doubt in my mind that even the most casual viewers will notice something is amiss with this TV's color.

Even the most casual viewers will notice something is amiss with the FS5600's color.

Despite the FS5600's respectable black level, shadows still appear flat and nondescript. The glossed-over details are a result of the TV's luminance handling, which turns darker regions of a picture (the wrinkles in clothing, for example) into swaths of muddied, homogenous goop; instead of conveying a convincing, deep-looking scene, this panel's images appear flat and unrealistic.

It would appear as though this TV does not have a native 120Hz refresh rate.

Even more off-putting is the FS5600's inability to display smooth, fluid motion. Again–it's not unheard of for TVs to struggle with motion, but the FS5600 is downright nightmarish in this regard. I winced my way through an action sequence in The Hobbit with bleary-eyed, slack-jawed wonder: How does a television proclaiming a 120Hz refresh rate look this bad? Well, we used our signal generator to send an 120Hz signal to the FS5600, and lo and behold, it didn't receive it. It would appear as though this TV does not have a native 120Hz refresh rate. The motion is strobe-like; the flailing arms in a sword fight resemble those in a flip book. It was enough to give me a pressure headache.

Comparable Products

Before you buy the TCL 50FS5600, take a look at these other televisions.

The Verdict

Move along, nothing to see here.

This TV has no smart features, shoddy motion, and very skewed color. I cannot stress enough how much of a chore it is to watch content on the FS5600, and if your television isn't fun to watch, what's the point? The flaws are deep enough to miff even the most casual viewer, and no bargain price is worth that.

Should you happen to be in the market for a TV of this size, there are much more palatable options. Vizio's 48-inch E480i-B2, for example, comes in at $10 less than the FS5600, and it actually manages to produce a brilliant, accurate picture.

News and Features

Vizio p hero

Where to Find 4K Video for Your 4K TV

You can find plenty of 4K content if you know where to look.

Sony 2015 hero

Sony Unveils Full 2015 TV Lineup With Android TV

Sony has unveiled its full 2015 lineup of 4K and HD televisions.

Vizio reference announcement hero

Vizio Finally Sheds Light on Its UHD Reference TVs

Vizio's long-awaited Reference Series is finally here, delivering HDR.

Vizio m series hero

Vizio's New M-Series Upgrades to UHD Resolution

Vizio's M-series lineup now offers Ultra High Definition resolution.

Hbo feature hero 2

How to Watch Game of Thrones Online

Catching up on HBO's hits is easier than you might think.

Samsung tv hero 3

Samsung Expands 2015 Lineup of 4K UHD TVs

Samsung completes its lineup of SUHD and UHD TVs for 2015.

Samsung wam speakers fi design wood

Samsung Springs into Omnidirectional Audio

Samsung's new audio options include a speaker and soundbars.

Gigantic horzbanner griffin 01

A New Era for Gamers: Motiga Talks Gigantic and Windows 10

Meet a small video game developer with big, big plans.

Skreens tv hero

This Clever Box Crams Five Screens Into One TV

Now you have an excuse to buy that 80-inch flatscreen.

You may also like…

TCL 32S3600 LED TV Review

A destroyer of cinematic worlds

Tcl 32s3600 hero