Home & Office
Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.


How I optimized the cheapest 98-inch TV right now to look and sound amazing

A bit of fine-tuning made the monster TCL S55 TV that replaced my 65-inch LG a life-changing entertainment set.
Written by Max Buondonno, Contributing Writer
TCL 98-inch S55 series TV next to 65-inch LG
Max Buondonno/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • TCL's 98-inch Class S5 Series TV is the most accessible option for its size, and it's currently on sale for $500 off.
  • Watching movies and TV shows on such a big display is as close to a theatre-like experience as one can get at home.
  • Setting up the TV can be a struggle, especially if you don't have a big enough console or wall space.

TCL makes some impressive TVs using advanced display technologies, specifications, and optimizations for the best picture quality possible. Yet sometimes, they put all that to the side and say to themselves, "Hey, let's just make a really big TV for the sake of making a really big TV." And that's what this 98-inch set is all about.

Also: Your Roku TV will be unusable if you don't agree to the company's new terms

This TV, a member of TCL's lower-end S5 series, is currently on sale for $500 off its normal price of $2,999, bringing the cost down to $2,499. TCL was kind enough to let me know about this deal in an email a few weeks ago, and I was wildly intrigued, to say the least. "A 98-inch TV for less than $2,500?" I thought to myself. That seemed impossible.

Over the past three weeks, I've been living with the 98-inch TCL S5 Series, and here's how the experience has been.

View at Best Buy

Setting up a 98-inch TV

The biggest challenge this TV poses is fitting it in your home. This thing is gigantic; it's 85.7 inches wide, 49.1 inches tall, and the feet are 68.5 inches apart. If you have a wall big enough to mount it on, then you're all set. But if you don't, you might be scrambling to find an entertainment center big enough to accommodate this behemoth.

TCL 98-inch S55 series TV on home screen
Max Buondonno/ZDNET

The latter was me, by the way -- I was the one scrambling. I had my brothers help me unbox the TV (which felt impossible since our drop ceilings stopped us from lifting the lid straight up in the air), and after we ripped through all the styrofoam and plastic wrap, we needed to figure out a place to set it up in our relatively small living room. My first thought was to leave it on the ground, but who wants to look down to watch TV? Then we considered ditching our current entertainment center and moving our 65-inch LG TV somewhere else to caddy corner it (again, on the ground), but that meant we'd have to dismember our entire living room.

Also: LG releases prices, availability for 2024 TVs - and one model costs as much as a small car

So, we came up with a compromise: we set up two folding catering tables, pushed our couch and loveseat against the wall, and plopped the 98-inch mammoth right in front of our fireplace. Is it perfect? Not really, but it works for the sake of this review.

The most immersive experience available (unless you find one bigger)

None of us were quite prepared for just how big this TV is. Sure, I could get a sense of how big it was before we plugged it in, but once that 98-inch screen lit up, we were all taken aback. Many people dream of having a movie theater in their home to enjoy their favorite cinema flicks, TV shows, and games, and buying a TV like TCL's 98S550G will get you as close to that reality as possible.

Maybe it's because we're sitting so close to it, maybe it's the switch from watching on a 65-inch TV for so long, but whatever the reason, the feeling of immersion you get from watching this 98-inch TV never seems to fade away. Everything you tune into will feel more lifelike than you can imagine -- that goes for movies like Oppenheimer and Spider-Man: No Way Home to cable TV like Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. My only wish is that I had gotten to see Super Bowl LVIII on it. That being said, I can already tell this TV will be the perfect fit for anyone who uses multiview through NFL Sunday Ticket.

Also: TCL's 115-inch QM8 TV looks absolutely massive in person

I mean it when I say that your jaw can drop at any moment when watching this TV. If you have a favorite movie or TV show, it simply makes it better since it's just so big. It's easy to see no matter where you are in the room, and it ensures there isn't a bad seat in the house.

Ordinary specs, but solid picture quality nonetheless

TCL 98-inch S55 series TV on home screen at angle
Max Buondonno/ZDNET

Beyond its magnificent 98-inch size, the rest of the 98S550G is pretty basic, at least when it comes to high-end TVs. It uses a QLED panel which helps deliver brighter colors and better contrast, and I can confidently say it's one of the best LED TVs I've ever seen. However, you won't get the same luxuries as something like an OLED or Mini LED TV with local dimming, richer contrast, and increased brightness. On the bright side, you won't get any light haloing around your content since it uses one huge backlight.

The TV has a 4K resolution and supports refresh rates up to 120Hz, which is a nice touch for any gamers who want to enjoy silky-smooth gameplay on the panel. I will say though, 4K on a 98-inch panel doesn't feel the same as it does on a 65-inch panel; pixel density isn't nearly as high since they're scattered across a much larger canvas, and if you get close to the TV, you can definitely see individual pixels. It's not an issue by any means, but I found it interesting nonetheless.

Also: I tested the 'Free TV' that got the internet buzzing and it was far better than expected

The picture quality is decent overall. Oppenheimer looked great playing off the 4K HDR DVD I purchased, while 1080p upscaled cable shows weren't too shabby, either. You have plenty of options to control how everything looks in the settings menu, and once you set it up, I'd highly advise turning off motion smoothing. On 98 inches of television, the added frames does not do most content justice.

TCL 98-inch S55 series TV settings page
Max Buondonno/ZDNET

With the 98-inch S5, TCL made sure to include a lot of specs and features customers might be interested in, including HDR Ultra (consisting of Dolby Vision IQ, Open HDR, HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG), a dedicated Game Accelerator 240 for 240 VRR support, Dolby Atmos, AirPlay, Chromecast, voice assistant integration, and even dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi. There are four HDMI ports to take advantage of, along with optical audio and Ethernet ports. 

Also: The best TVs to buy in 2024

Sound quality has also been solid. At higher volumes, mids and highs can start to screech, but the built-in subwoofer helps anchor everything with a surprising amount of bass, something that can be tuned in the settings if you want more or less boom during your movies. I'd still opt for a dedicated sound system if you want a true movie theater setup, but my family and I were happy with what the TV kicked out.

ZDNET's buying advice

At $2,499, it's hard to ignore TCL's 98-inch Class S5 Series TV for very long. If you have a spot in your home where you can fit a TV of this size and magnitude -- and you don't mind dropping $2,500 -- I can see this TV making a lot of sense for an immersive entertainment setup. Granted, you won't get the best picture quality out there, but it's important to remember that anything better than what TCL gives you will run you at least $5,000 to $10,000.

In the end, I had a lot of fun reviewing this huge 98-inch TV, but I'm ready to send it back. For our home, it's a bit too intrusive and gets in the way more often than not. (Let's remember that it's blocking my entire fireplace.) But if you have the space for it, part of me wants to tell you to rush out and grab one while the deal's happening. I think you'll dig it, and your entire household will be addicted to looking at it. And at the end of the day, isn't that what we're all after when buying a new TV?

Editorial standards