Hisense got what it wanted. Its TVs now sit on store shelves beside models from some of the oldest, most established and revered brands in the TV game. And after it sponsored the 2018 World Cup, it’s close to being a household name.
It’s the fifth most popular TV brand in the UK and it’s time it started acting like it. TVs that cost less than the popular competition will only get you so far and it’s got Hisense a seat at the table. But it’s not a comfy seat that matches the others: it’s like the folding one you drag out of the spare room when you have guests. For Hisense to bump Panasonic or Sony out of the top four, its TVs need to be Best Buy quality and Hisense hasn’t managed it in previous years.
We’ve tested 12 TVs from the oh-so-affordable 5000 and 6000 Series and compared them with similar TVs from the big brands to see if 2018 is the year they can match or even beat them.
The best TVs of 2018 – with more than 150 TVs reviewed in this guide, we know which ones are worth buying
Hisense vs everyone else
We’ve looked at the price and technology in Hisense TVs and some of its arch-rivals to see if there’s a clear difference.
We used the launch prices for the TVs to get an average.
The Hisense H43A6250UK or the Samsung UE43NU7120?
Both these TVs sit close to the bottom of their respective brands’ 2018 line-ups, but one costs £120 more than the other.
The A6250 will set you back £329, while the NU7120 costs £459. They are the same size (43 inches), their screens are the same resolution, and you can get streaming and catch-up apps on both of them – so why does the Samsung cost more? Is Hisense taking a bigger hit on its TVs or is it cutting corners that Samsung doesn’t?
There are some differences. The Hisense TV has a single-tuner PVR, so you can record one show at a time on to a USB hard drive. Unusually for a 4K TV, the Samsung 7120 doesn’t have one. But you do get one of the most advanced HDR formats around. HDR10+ was developed by Samsung to improve on the current industry standard, HDR10. It can adjust contrast on a scene-by-scene basis, which should fix the problem of HDR10 making scenes look too dark because it’s not reacting to the brightness of each scene.
Both TVs support HDR10 and HLG, but HDR10+ could give Samsung the edge when it comes to displaying 4K HDR content.
If our years of testing has taught us anything, it’s that price is not necessarily an indicator of quality and that goes both ways. We’ve found bargain TVs with implausibly good picture quality, making us wonder why some are so expensive, but the opposite can also be true.
Is the pricier Samsung better than the cheaper Hisense in this case, or is it 1-0 to China’s biggest TV brand? Read our reviews of the Hisense H43A6250UK and Samsung UE43NU7120 to find out. We’ve also reviewed the slightly smaller 40-inch UE40NU7120.
The Hisense H50A6500UK or the LG 50UK6950PLB?
Hisense’s line-up of TVs is smaller than its rivals, while LG has one of the biggest. The 50-inch 6950 sits at the top of its more basic UHD (ultra-high definition) TVs, which means it gets some of the benefits of the Super UHD TVs above it. The 6500 TVs sit roughly in the middle of Hisense’s range.
Onto price then: the 6500 will set you back £500, while the LG 6950 costs a bit more at £570. As with the Hisense Samsung face-off, there’s very little separating these two TVs on paper.
Both support the same HDR formats, HLG and HDR10, and have access to smart apps and single-tuner PVRs. And they both look good, too. Most media units work better with TVs that have a central stand compared with those with two feet, but there’s no denying that both TVs are attractive.
There’s not much to pick between these two TVs, so should you go with the cheaper Hisense? LG’s TV comes with an excellent remote, with an on-screen pointer for easing typing and menu navigation, but is it worth an extra £70?
We conduct hundreds of tests on every TV, so you don’t have to play eeny, meeny, miny, moe to make your choice.
The Hisense H55U7AUK or the LG 55SK8100PLA?
The U7A TVs are an odd bunch. They are some of Hisense’s most high-end sets, but the 55-inch model is currently available for just £600. In fairness, this could be temporary; we’ve seen it for as much as £800 and it may return to that price in the coming weeks. When Hisense TVs become more high-end, it’s as if they lose track of their rivals in terms of technology.
HDR has given us an easy way to measure whether a TV is top-tier or more basic. More expensive sets tend to have compatibility with one of the newer formats, such as Dolby Vision and HDR10+, which can change the contrast to match the scene rather than it being fixed, as is the case with HDR10. The LG 55SK8100PLA works with four formats: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision and Technicolor. The U7A only works with two: HDR10 and HLG. You can learn more about how all the formats differ in our guide to HDR.
‘HDR has given us an easy way to measure whether a TV is top-tier or more basic.’
You have to pay extra for the LG TV, of course. It costs a third more than the U7A at £899, which still isn’t particularly expensive when you consider that similar sized OLED and QLED TVs go for £2,000 or more. HDR may be clearest indicator of a TV’s standing in a manufacturer’s range, but is it an indicator of quality? Outside of 4K Blu-rays and decent libraries of ultra-high definition content on Netflix and Amazon Video, there isn’t really much HDR content to watch. Our testing pays just as much attention to HD and SD picture quality as it does 4K, so all the HDR bells and whistles don’t come close to guaranteeing a good score.
The Hisense H32A5600UK or the Panasonic TX-32FS503B?
Like the runt of the litter, 32-inch TVs are almost always overshadowed by their larger siblings. Big sets have better tech, higher resolution displays and sharper designs, but despite the focus on TVs sized 50 inches and up, there’s still demand for 32-inch models, which is why a handful hit the store shelves every year.
Both these TVs have HD Ready screens, which means you aren’t getting the full resolution when watching HD programming, but the small displays usually make the difference less noticeable. Despite not having a 4K display, the Panasonic still supports HDR. It’s rare to see these two technologies without each other and we were skeptical as to whether HDR would make any real difference at lower resolutions.
As ever, Hisense has undercut the competition. Its 32-incher is just £199, while Panasonic’s costs almost double at £350.
Does the addition of HDR make the Panasonic your best best in a largely vacant marketplace or does the Hisense have the edge when it comes to small screens? Head to our Hisense H32A5600UK review and Panasonic TX-32FS503B review to find out.