How to buy the best TV
How to buy the best Hisense TV
By Martin Pratt
Article 6 of 7
Hisense is the number one TV brand in China ahead of LG and Samsung and it's making a splash here, too, with attractive, affordable TVs that don't look out of place next to stunners from Sony and Panasonic. Here we look at its 2018 range, so you can learn more about this newer brand
Hisense's UK range is smaller than most, but there's still plenty of choice, from the super-cheap 4K A6250UK range all the way to the more expensive (but still cheaper than rival sets) U7A TVs.
It's price that really helps Hisense TVs stand out. Its cheapest 4K TV, the H43A6250UK, is currently available for just £329, while the cheapest 4K set from Samsung, the UE43NU7020, will cost you almost £100 more.
Unlike LG, Sony and Panasonic, Hisense doesn't make OLED TVs. It instead classifies its TVs as ULED. Where OLED is a specific type of display, ULED is actually a number of different technologies designed to improve picture quality.
Below we cover exactly what technology you'll see in Hisense TVs and how they differ from more established brands. We'll also explain the differences between the different ranges in Hisense's line-up.
Hisense TV technology explained
They don't have as much flashy tech as an LG or Samsung TV, which is one way Hisense may keep costs down, but Hisense sets still have some interesting features.
You'll have a hard time finding a TV that you can't connect to the internet in 2018 and Hisense TVs are all smart in this manner. Each manufacturer has its own interface for downloading apps and accessing smart features. Hisense's is called VIDAA U.
Hisense has designed it to be as easy to use as possible and its website claims that any content you want to find should never be more than three clicks away. It displays apps and menus in a horizontal, scrollable list and you can edit the order of the apps so that the ones you use most appear first.
The two TV display types are LCD, which is where a backlight hits liquid crystals to create the picture, and OLEDs where every bulb is individually controlled. Every other type of display, such as QLEDs from Samsung, are a variation on the two. Hisense's top-end TVs are essentially LCD sets, but it calls them ULEDs or Ultra LED (it should really stand for Umbrella LED).
ULED isn't a new type of display, but it's more than just a marketing gimmick to help its TVs stand out. It's an umbrella term for 20 different technologies that fall into four categories: Ultra Wide Colour Gamut, Ultra Local Dimming, Ultra 4K Resolution and Ultra Smooth Motion Rate.
- Ultra Wide Colour Gamut: This refers to how many colours a TV can display. The wider the gamut, the more accurate the colours should look because the TV can draw from a wider range of tones and hues.
- Ultra Local Dimming: Hisense TVs use a backlight. One of the problems that comes from having several bulbs illuminating the screen is that light can bleed from bright areas into dark ones. The more dimming zones a TV has, the less likely this is to happen and the greater contrast control a TV will have. Imagine having one big bulb dimming and brightening the screen; it would be very difficult to control the contrast on different parts of the display. Now think of 100 bulbs, each controlled individually, doing the same job. There would be 100 dimming zones rather than one. While dimming isn't necessarily tied to the number of bulbs in the backlight, it's an easy way to think of it.
- Ultra 4K Resolution: All ULED TVs are 4K, but ULED doesn't seem to have any other bearing on resolution. 4K is dictated by a specific number of pixels creating a 3,840 x 2,160 resolution. All TVs need to be able to display content at this resolution to be deemed 4K, so it doesn't appear that Hisense is doing anything different to its rivals in this area.
- Ultra Smooth Motion Rate: Motion control can make or break a TV. It could display the crispest image since TVs began, but if blur and judder creep in when the image starts moving, that sharpness counts for nothing. According to Hisense, ULED TVs insert extra frames into moving footage to make them look as smooth as possible.
The high-end U9A range is only available in 65 and 75 inches and both are uncharacteristically pricey for a Hisense TV. The 75-inch model costs £3,500 and the 65-inch one is £2,000. They're still cheaper than top-end TVs from LG and Samsung, but it's a big leap when you consider that the 65-inch U7A TV is £1,000.
You can see in the table above that the U9A shares many of the features of all Hisense's 4K range, but it does differ in a few areas. Hisense still classifies it as a ULED TV, but it uses some QLED technology, too. It's not clear whether it's working the same way as Samsung TVs where the backlight illuminates quantum dots rather than the liquid crystals you'll find in LCD TVs, but it should improve colour accuracy.
It also has a Prime Array Backlight, which is capable of emitting incredible brightness levels.
The U7A TVs are available in more living-room-friendly sizes than the U9A, but they miss out on the Prime Array Backlight and the quantum dot colour technology. They're still classified as ULED, though, and come equipped with all the technology that sits under that umbrella term.
Hisense tweaks the technology from range to range, so the U7A should have the broadest colour range, smoothest motion and accurate contrast outside of the range-topping U9A TVs.
As with all the 4K Hisense TVs, it supports HDR10, the current industry standard, and HLG, which was made in part by the BBC to make it easier to broadcast HDR content. Most high-end TVs from rival brands support one or more of the newer formats, such as Dolby Vision and HDR10+. Both can adjust contrast on a scene-by-scene basis, which helps to alleviate the issue of images looking too dark or bright. The fact that Hisense TVs don't support one of these formats is one of the main ways they differ from rival TVs.
The following prices are correct as of November 2018. The 65-inch U7A costs around £999, the 55-inch around £649 and the 50-inch model is around £529. To see how they fared in our tests, head to the Hisense H65U7AUK, H55U7AUK and H50U7AUK reviews.
Unlike the U9A and U7A, the A6500 isn't classified as a ULED set. The TVs in this range still support the same HDR formats as the pricier siblings, but the backlight isn't as advanced and there aren't as many colours to choose from when rendering an image.
The audio processing is the same. The speakers are almost certainly different in these cheaper TVs, but they use dbx-tv tuning technology to create what Hisense calls 'soundbar quality audio'.
The prices fluctuate, but as of November 2018 the 65-inch A6500 costs £849, the 55-inch model is around £599, the 50-inch version is £499 and 43-inch model is £399. Read our review of the Hisense H55A6500UK, H50A6500UK and H43A6500UK to see how they got on in our tests.
The cheapest two ranges in Hisense's line-up are the A6250 and A6200. Other than their design (the A6250 is dark grey and the A6200 is black), the TVs are identical.
There's not much to pick between these and the A6500s either. All support the same HDR formats and use the VIDAA U operating system. The differences are likely to be how the picture and sound are tuned. More time may have been spent on the A6500s to give them a slight edge in quality and justify the higher price.
The A6250 range is exclusive to Argos, while the A6200s are more widely available, so prices may fluctuate despite both ranges being technically the same.
A 65-inch model costs around £699, the 55-inch one is £479, the 50-inch version is £399 and the 43-inch set is just £329. Prices are correct as of November 2018.
As with the other leading manufacturers, Hisense still releases a handful of HD TVs every year. It had three in 2018: the two Full HD A5600s and a smaller 32-inch model, which is HD Ready.
The features are pared back. There's no HDR, which isn't uncommon for HD TVs, and they don't use the VIDAA U operating system. But they're still smart, so you can download streaming apps, such as Netflix and Amazon Video. The more basic smart system doesn't allow for any sort of customisation of your app library, however.
As of November 2018, the 43-inch A5600 costs around £329, the 39-inch model is £249 and the 32-inch HD Ready set is £199. You can see how the latter scored in our Hisense H32A5600UK review.