Will 2016 be the breakthrough year for Hisense?
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It’s been an eventful year for Hisense, with their XT910 flagship Ultra HD 4K TV making waves amongst enthusiasts and the brand gaining real consumer recognition in the UK.For the last few years the Chinese manufacturer has had an increasingly bigger stand at CES that befits the third largest panel manufacturer in the world. At CES 2016 Hisense had their new range of TVs on show and once again there was an impressive level of technology on display.Pride of place goes to their new flagship ULED model the 65” H10 which uses an Ultra HD 4K curved screen with an Ultra Black full array backlight with Ultra Smart Peaking. It supports High Dynamic Range (HDR) and includes a UHD upscaler, Ultra Smooth Motion, 4K at 120Hz and 3D; whilst the use of UltraPure Colour (quantum dot) technology delivers a wider colour gamut that Hisense claim is 85% of BT2020. The H10 has a built-in soundbar, built-in apps, built-in dual-band WiFi (802.11ac), an app store, a web browser and a separate box for the connections. The H10 uses a slimmer design and is also at a much slighter angle on its stand, which would mean that Hisense are listening to feedback.
- 4K UHD (Ultra HD)
- Smart TV
- Content Streaming
- High Dynamic Range (HDR)
- Dolby Vision (HDR)
The H10 might also support Dolby Vision when it is actually launched, although that has yet to be confirmed. However that's an impressive set of specifications and if Hisense can just address the gamma and colour accuracy issues we found on last year's TVs, then the H10 could be a real contender. There was a comparison between a Hisense ULED TV and an OLED on the stand itself, that did tend to emphasise some of the weaknesses we identified in our reviews. Despite the OLED not being especially well set up, it still appeared superior to the Hisense in terms of colour accuracy and black levels, whilst some of the images produced by the Hisense appeared blown-out, suggesting that there are still issues with the gamma curve.Although the H10 comes in a 65-inch screen size, if you want really big screen sizes then the the 78” XT920 might be the ticket, with all the features associated with Hisense’s ULED technology and a matching soundbar and subwoofer - giving you a sound that's as big as the screen. The XT920 supports HDR and a wider colour space, along with a UHD upscaler, Ultra Smooth Motion, 4K at 120Hz and 3D. You also get built-in apps, built-in dual-band WiFi (802.11ac), an app store and a web browser. The images produced by the big 78-inch screen looked very good, with Ultra HD content taking full advantage of the larger screen size.
Hisense were also showing their H9 ULED TV, which comes in a curved 55-inch screen size, has an attractive new design and an upright stand. It's pleasing to see that Hisense are supporting HDR across their entire range this year, from the H10 down to the H7. In the case of the H9 it not only has HDR support but also comes with Ultra Smart Peaking, Ultra Black full array backlighting and Dynamic Gamma. The H9 series includes Ultra Smooth Motion, UHD Upscaling, and dbx-tv sound; as well as 2x2 dual-band WiFi (802.11ac), built-in apps, an app store, web browser and 4K media player.Other new models on the Hisense stand included their flat H8 with 50- and 55-inch screen sizes that use an Ultra Slim design which includes edge lighting and a redesigned stand that is upright rather than tilted. It also has HDR, multi-zone local dimming, Ultra Smooth Motion, UHD Upscaling, and dbx-tv sound. In addition you get 2x2 dual-band WiFi (802.11ac), built-in apps, an app store, web browser and 4K media player. Finally they had their smart H7 range on show in both flat and curved screens with sizes of 43-, 50-, 55- and 65-inches. It includes HDR, Ultra Smooth Motion, UHD Upscaling, and dbx-tv sound; along with 2x2 dual-band WiFi (802.11ac), built-in apps, an app store, web browser and 4K media player. As impressive as Hisense's higher-end models are, it's lower down the range where you get a serious combination of value and performance. Some of the issues we had with the flagship XT910 last year can be mitigated by the kind of prices that the lower tier models were available for in stores.Hisense had their Laser Cast on show, which is a short throw laser projector that uses an included high gain screen to produce a 100 inch image. To compliment these big screen images it comes with a complete sound system, including a soundbar, surrounds and a subwoofer. To protect the curious eyes of pets and toddlers it also includes a safety feature and if anything tries to look into the laser beam it is immediately dimmed. Hisense also had a 65-inch 8K TV on show, which wasn’t just a technical statement of their capabilities but also as a genuine product; although you have to wonder just how much difference 8K will make on a 65-inch screen. The demo material certainly looked good but it was limited to static images, showing how difficult it is to deliver any kind of proper 8K material at the moment. However Hisense actually intends to release the 8K TV in UK in June and may also release the LaserCast as well.
The models on show at CES were all aimed at the US market and Hisense have yet to decide which models will be released in the UK. We also don’t know the exact model numbers or any pricing yet. However Hisense did say that they will be launching their new range in the UK between April and July of this year. In addition the UK models will support BBC iPlayer, along with 4K and HDR content from Netflix, Amazon Instant and YouTube. So we can expect the company to be making an even bigger impact in 2016.
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