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 what's new from Hisense in 2020.
Hisense's UK range is smaller than most, but there's still plenty of choice, from the super-cheap 4K LCD ranges all the way to the more expensive (but still cheaper than rival sets) OLEDs and quantum dot TVs.
It's price that really helps Hisense TVs stand out. Its 4K TVs are often several hundred pounds cheaper than their rivals.
It now makes OLED and quantum dot sets, but some of its TVs are classified as ULED. Rather than being 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 also detail everything we know about its 2020 ranges.
In this guide:
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 2020 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.
Hisense's two TV display types are LCD, which is where a backlight hits liquid crystals to create the picture; this is the most common and affordable type of display. The second is OLED, found in most high-end TVs, where every bulb is individually controlled. Every other type of display, such as QLED 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.
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.
Hisense Laser TVs aren't really TVs at all, they have far more in common with projectors. They still have screens, usually huge ones, but the majority of the technology is found in the box pointing up at it.
It's a short throw projector though and sits very close to the screen, unlike the ones you'd find in the cinema. The new models for 2020 are 4K and will have speakers in the screen for the first time.
More short throw projector than TV, Hisense's 75 and 100-inch Laser TVs take up a lot of space on your wall, but since all the components in charge of making the picture are inside the projector unit, the screen itself is thin.
It might be a bit thicker in 2020 though, since the speakers will now be built into it in a honeycomb structure, which makes audio more clear and accurate according to Hisense.
The newer models will also be more colourful. Hisense claims they can display 98% of the colours that the human eye can see.
Other than them effectively being projectors, the Laser TVs function the same way as a traditional set. They still use remotes and have the VIDAA U operating system. Since they don't need a huge sheet of glass though, wall mounting a Laser TV is often simpler and they can be cheaper than similar sized high-end traditional TVs from other brands.
The Hisense XD9G is something entirely new. It’s an LCD TV, which is far from new, but it layers two liquid crystal (LC in LCD) modules on top of each other, for what Hisense describes as OLED-rivalling black levels.
More exciting than that is the price. Hisense says its dual-cell TVs will be cheaper than comparable OLED displays. With some OLEDs launching at close to £1,500, this would mean these presumably high-end sets would be cheap indeed.
There’s more to a TV than black levels though; we’re interested to see whether having an extra layer of liquid crystals does anything to boost colour and peak brightness. It could mean the dual-cell TVs are expensive to run, too.
2019 saw the release of Hisense's first OLED and 2020 will see it release its maiden quantum dot TV. They function like LCD models, but the backlight illuminates quantum dots rather than liquid crystals. These miniscule dots are said to produce more vibrant colours. Samsung is best known for its QLED range of quantum dot TVs.
One area where quantum dot TVs struggle against OLED ones is contrast, which is why Hisense has upped the number of dimming zones on its quantum dot sets. This means the screen will have more control over what parts are lit to boost contrast.
Samsung's QLED range has never really had a direct competitor (not from as established a brand as Hisense anyway), so it will be interesting to see how much cheaper these sets are and if they can match Samsung's sets for quality.
This range functions much like the one above, so it uses quantum dots to create the picture rather than liquid crystals, which you'd find in LCD sets. The benefit is increased colour vibrancy, although not all quantum dot TVs beat LCD models in this area.
The H8G has fewer dimming zones and a lower peak brightness than the H9G, but otherwise appears to be similar.
Hisense's 2019 range wasn't as broad as LG's or Samsung's, but it still included OLED and LCD models at all sizes and prices.
Price is the key thing with Hisense. Its TVs tend to be cheaper than its more established rivals and that even extends to its OLED, a premium type of display that almost always commands a high price.
Hisense O8BUK OLED
The 55-inch H55O8BUK is packed with Hisense's advanced picture and sound technology, but still manages to undercut rival OLEDs by a few hundred pounds.
OLEDs are synonymous with quality, but with Hisense's quest for the cheapest set may lead to cut corners. We have tested OLEDs in the past that didn't live up to our Best Buy expectations, but is the O8BUK one of them? Find out in our Hisense H55O8BUK review.
Hisense U7BUK range
Hisense tweaks the technology from range to range, so the U7B should have the broadest colour range, smoothest motion and accurate contrast outside of the range-topping U8B TVs and the OLED.
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. It can adjust contrast on a scene-by-scene basis, which helps to alleviate the issue of images looking too dark or bright.
Though priced like an entry-level set, The B7500UK series of TVs are technically mid-range. It means you still get access to Dolby Vision HDR, the advanced format that can adjust contrast to suit each scene.
There's no microphone in the remote, but if you have an Amazon Echo at home you can control some aspects of the TV. We've found this feature to be a bit hit and miss, and certainly not as useful as dedicated voice control, but its inclusion isn't necessarily to the TV's detriment.
Hisense rarely cuts corners in terms of features, it's often quality where things fall flat. Is that true of the B7500UK range?