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You see, Hisense is not often on the list when it comes to the best of the best TVs or ones that are high-end. Instead, the company competes with the likes of TCL and Vizio for the mid-range crown. Naturally, it's always interesting to see where these companies put their resources with their TVs, where they cut costs, and where they take risks.
After testing the latest U8H model for a few weeks, it's safe to say that Hisense is bringing high-quality imagery straight into your living room at the expense of a design and software experience that isn't made for everyone.
For starters, the Hisense TV offers an infinity design -- the bezels are as thin as on most modern TVs -- to bring a more expansive viewing experience to the room. Once I set up the 54-pound TV, which is lighter than other models I've tested, the nearly bezel-less design jumped out to me instantly.
While the physical setup took moments, the software process took significantly longer due to the various logins and preference settings needed to optimize the Hisense TV experience. Once that seemingly endless stream ended, though, I was able to enjoy the TV for what it was made for: entertainment.
Google's Interface: A muddled performance
Hisense's TV comes with Google's main hub interface that offers a bundle of various streaming options on the home screen, including promoted shows, films, and all my favorite apps like Netflix, YouTube, and Prime Video. After I'd watched some shows and films across various platforms, the home hub pulled my shows from the apps and thoughtfully displayed them on the home page for future viewing.
However, not all of my shows were displayed, and it took me a few viewings to understand why. The interface confused my home's Netflix profiles, so instead of displaying all the shows that my household was watching across different profiles, the U8H TV opted simply not to display them. It's a minor annoyance in the grand scheme of a smart TV, but one nonetheless. Below my "Continue watching" section were several ads, too, which I found disruptive at best.
One feature I'd grown to love on Samsung TV models that the Hisense lacked was Ambient Mode, a screensaver that can be displayed automatically when the device is left idle or be manually set. While other TV models offer the dedicated screen option with just a few clicks, the Hisense U8H opted to only offer my beloved Ambient Mode when I paused my shows for a certain amount of time. For me as someone who enjoys leaving a screensaver on as a mood enhancer, this manual absence felt like a tragedy.
My current obsession, even after one month, is still House of the Dragon, and my first experience with this TV was that (spoiler-free) season finale. For those who love seeing detailed, giant dragons down to the individual scales on a screen, this TV is for you. Not only could I see every character and creature in full detail, but I could see every weathered scar on Vhagar's gargantuan body thanks in part to the excellent color reproduction via the Mini LED paneling and Quantum Dot technology.
The same went for more intricate detailing, such as Rhaenyra's gown or the fiery Westeros table map. (Clearly, I'm a big fan.) I attribute this beautiful imagery to the addition of the 336 local dimming zones and Dolby Vision HDR that's integrated into the TV.
Outside of Martin's fantasy universe, I cross-tested the TV with softer, less CGI-filled films, including the latest iteration of Persuasion. During some drone shots at Lyme, the detailing felt so intricate and immersive that I felt like I hovered over the cliffside views of Anne Elliot's walking party in person. It's clear to me that image quality is a strong suit of Hisense's latest-generation TVs.
At this point, you may be wondering why I didn't give this TV a 9/10 at least. The problem that I have with the Hisense is that if you have a large living space or use your TV for a wide viewing area, the angles on this model just won't cut it. The TV features are great and detailed, and the imagery gets plenty bright when facing it directly on. However, as I moved off to the side of the TV, the picture slowly but surely distorted. It's not too noticeable, especially if you looked at the TV in person before reading this review, but it's enough that I personally wouldn't enjoy watching my movies unless I sat slap dab in the center of it.
And, let's not forget about the audio quality. Typically, I watch my shows with my small but mighty Samsung soundbar atop my equally small TV stand. Based on the audio I heard from the Hisense TV, however, I could have easily gotten away with nixing my soundbar. For those who want higher quality audio with a more balanced range of trebles, basses, and mids, or for those who use their TV for Spotify listening sessions, I'd still recommend investing in a dedicated soundbar. For more casual use cases, the optional accessory is by no means necessary for your entertainment.
As far as gaming goes, I tested the Hisense TV with some Horizon Forbidden West and was just as enamored with the visuals. This model in particular features FreeSync Premium Pro and a 120Hz refresh rate that minimizes frame tearing and lag. I didn't experience any ghosting either, a welcome sight when I was surveying the Mount Zion-inspired views of The Daunt. With its Dolby Vision Gaming, Aloy's adventures were prominently displayed with vivid hues that were not too saturated or overblown.
Priced to compete
The most enticing factor for me with the U8H is that for how incredible the picture quality is, the price is much cheaper than 4K TVs with similar technologies, including those of LG, Samsung, and Sony. I'll be blunt -- I'm cheap, and if I can find a great deal on a product, I'll 99% of the time take the offer.
My frugality, coupled with my strong desire for high-quality imagery, makes this $1,400 model a no-brainer in my living room. And while that's the retail price of the Hisense TV, this model is often discounted for as low as $900. Compared with the $2,300 that my other Samsung 65-inch QN90B Neo QLED TV retails for, the Hisense brings much better value.
Hisense's 65-inch U8H 4K TV comes with enough perks to make the quirks worth contending with. If you're living in a smaller apartment space or have a direct line of view to the display, it's a great option that can save you thousands of dollars, especially if you're weighing more expensive options.
Those who prefer a mid-range TV with a great picture and/or would like to stay in Google's smart home ecosystem should consider the U8H line. It's also great for gamers who want a beautiful, lag-free, and tear-free experience. If you prefer a TV that has a wider viewing angle and, frankly, comes with greater after-market support, I'd recommend looking at the alternatives below.
Alternatives to consider
I get that everyone's viewing space and preferences are different, and this LED model may not 100% be what you're looking for. Here are some great alternatives that are worthy of your consideration.
The Samsung model features Ultra Viewing Angle and an Adaptive Picture feature that offers specialized Optimized and EyeComfort modes for a better TV-watching experience. Its QLED technology also brings bright, beautiful colors to the screen for great viewing. You can read my in-depth review here.
OLED TVs are perfect for darkened spaces or for watching movies, and this LG model uses 8 million self-lit pixels to enhance colors and pictures. It also uses built-in Nvidia G-SYNC, FreeSync Premium, and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) software for enhanced console gaming.
If you're looking for a TV that will last you for years down the road, the 65-inch QN800B TV by Samsung features future-proof tech like 8K video upscaling. It comes with a specialized Object Tracking Sound for an adaptive audio experience, Dolby Atmos, and more. Read the review here.