Can Hisense put the Ultra in LED first time out?
What is the 65XT910?The 65XT910 is the first Hisense flagship Ultra HD 4K TV to be released in the UK and it utilises a 65-inch curved screen with a direct LED backlight and 240 local dimming zones. The XT910 is future-proofed and not only uses a UHD panel but also supports active shutter 3D, 10-bit video, a wider colour space and possibly high dynamic range (HDR). There are HDMI 2.0 inputs with support for HDCP 2.2, along with a Smart TV platform that includes the main video streaming services. As you would expect from a flagship TV it also comes with two remotes, a pair of active shutter 3D glasses and a complete set of calibration controls. That's an impressive set of specifications for a TV that, at the time of writing (December 2015) can be picked up for £1,999. In fact when the XT910 was first announced it created a great deal of interest, with enthusiasts wondering if Hisense might offer a viable alternative to the more established brands with their very first flagship TV. That's a lot to expect from a new entrant into the UK TV market, so let's see if Hisense can meet the lofty expectations of enthusiasts with the 65XT910.
DesignIn terms of design, the 65XT910 bears more than a passing resemblance to Samsung's flagship JS9500. That's certainly not a criticism, the JS9500 is one of the best TVs of the year and costs £1,500 more than the Hisense. So we get a similar curved screen with a 1cm wide black bezel and a silver trim around the outer edge. The XT910 is minimalist in its appearance but we like it and the silver stand that runs along the bottom of the panel is also rather attractive but obviously can't be swivelled. However we aren't as enamoured with the angle that the panel sits at when using the stand and rear supports. Positioning the screen at an incline isn't new, Sony did it with their Monolith design a few years ago and Panasonic currently do it on some of their line-up but we've never been convinced of any benefits, unless your TV is very low down and you sit quite high up.
What would seem more sensible would be for Hisense to make the rear supports adjustable, then owners could customise the incline to suit their actual viewing conditions. Of course you could just put something under the rear supports to reduce the incline but that's not a very elegant solution. Alternatively you can wall mount the 65XT910 and it includes standard 400x400 VESA mounts for that purpose. When you remove the stand there are covers for the spaces where it fits, making wall mounting very tidy. The XT910 is 6cm deep at the top and 7cm deep at the bottom to allow for the direct LED backlight, speakers and electronics. There is 8cm of clearance beneath the screen when attached to the stand, so bear that in mind if you plan on using a soundbar. Overall the build quality is very good considering the price point and the TV measures 1446 x 877 x 288mm (WxHxD) and weighs in at 32kg.
Connections & ControlAll of the connections are at the rear and employ a combination of sideways and rearwards facing inputs. The sideways facing inputs are 22cm from the edge and consist of two HDMI 1.4 inputs (one of which supports MHL and one of which supports ARC), three USB ports (two 2.0 and one 3.0), an aerial socket, a satellite connector and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The rearwards facing inputs consist of two HDMI 2.0 inputs with support for HDCP 2.2 (which we checked using our Murideo Fresco Six-G test generator), a SCART connector, an Ethernet port, composite and component video inputs, analogue audio inputs and an optical digital connector.
The 65XT910 comes with two remote controls, a full version for setup and a stripped-down version for more regular use. The main remote control is made of black plastic and is well designed and comfortable to hold. All the buttons you need are present and are sensibly labelled and well laid out, making them easy to access. The other remote control is made of white plastic and is smaller but still has all the main buttons that you need for day-to-day control of your TV. It also fits comfortably in your hand, is well laid out and easy to use. So ultimately which remote you prefer is a matter of personal taste.
The XT910 has a nice design and decent build quality but we're unconvinced by the angled stand.
Features & SpecsWhen the 65XT910 was first announced, there were two things that caught people's attention - the price and specifications. The fact that you could pick up a 65-inch Ultra HD 4K TV for less than £2,000 was amazing in itself but when you looked at the features and specifications the price seemed all the more remarkable. First of all it utilises a 65-inch Ultra HD 4K curved screen with a native resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. The XT910 uses a direct LED backlight and a local dimming system with 240 independent zones; which Hisense believe can deliver both a superior black level and an improved contrast performance. The 65XT910 is supposed to support High Dynamic Range, more specifically the open-source HDR 10 version, after a future firmware update.
The XT910 also incorporates Quantum Dot technology that uses nanocrystals to emit a wider colour space and it also includes a backlight scanning technique that Hisense use in their latest ULED TVs to filter 12 sections of the LED backlight in order to reduce motion blur on moving objects. Hisense actually quote a response time of 6ms and a 1000Hz refresh rate in the specifications for the 65XT910. The TV includes quad-core processing and can upscale lower resolution content to match the native 4K panel. There’s also HEVC and VP9 decoding built-in, along with support for active shutter 3D and the sound is delivered via stereo speakers with 2 x 15W of amplification and there’s also Dolby decoding onboard.
The 65XT910 comes with a pair of active shutter 3D glasses included and these look remarkably similar to the design that Samsung use. They also use the same Bluetooth standard because our Samsung glasses could be paired to work with the XT910. The glasses themselves are light and comfortable to wear but the lenses could be bigger so that they fit over prescription glasses. However the Hisense version does go one better than Samsung by allowing you to actually fold the arms in. Naturally the 65XT910 includes Freeview HD, along with the ability to connect a hard disc drive, enabling you to use the TV as a PVR and time shift programming. In terms of its internet platform, the XT910 has built-in WiFi and includes a web browser and app support.
Crucially there is BBC iPlayer, YouTube 4K and Netflix 4K, with Amazon Instant 4K to be added soon. The 65XT910 also includes a full media player built-in and in terms of video file support the XT910 pretty much covers them all with AVI, WMV, ASF, MP4, MKV, PS, TS, RM, OGG, FLV, VOB, OGM, FLV, MPG and MPEG. In terms of audio file support it’s equally as comprehensive with FLAC, MP2, MP3, OGG, WAV and WMA, whilst for photos there’s support for JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF, WEBP (3D), MPO (3D), JPS (3D) and PNS (3D). Finally the 65XT910 also includes both a 2- and a 10-point white balance control, as well as a colour management system (CMS) with hue, saturation and brightness controls for the primary and secondary colours.
Picture Settings Out-of-the-BoxThe 65XT910 has a number of different picture modes and, after testing all of them, we found that the most accurate out-of-the-box was the Theatre mode. In fact this was the only mode that measured even close to the industry standard of Rec.709, with all the others using the native colour gamut, but you'll still need to bring the Colour control down a bit. We selected the Warm Colour Temperature setting which measured reasonably accurately as the graph below shows. There was a slight excess of red in the greyscale but overall the errors were below the visible threshold of three. When we chose the Warm setting in the other modes there was an excess of blue, which was surprising but gives you an idea of how much blue was in the Cool setting.
Whichever mode we selected the gamma curve proved problematic and required careful setting of the Contrast control. There is no separate gamma control and if the Contrast was set too high then whites were clipped and details in the bright parts of the image were lost. However if it was too low you crushed the blacks instead, so it was a definite balancing act and the best result we could get was a curve that measured at around 2.4 with a peak up to 2.8 at 10IRE . Although it still had some slight crushing just above black, we didn't lose the details in whites so it proved a suitable compromise. The XT910 is very bright, so having brought the Contrast down we then set the Backlight control to suit our viewing environment.
Hisense 65XT910 Picture Settings Video
Picture Settings CalibratedInitially things were looking good as far as calibrating the 65XT910 was concerned, the 2- and 10-point White Balance controls allowed us to dial in the greyscale very accurately although we couldn't do much about the gamma. The colour gamut was also better after using the CMS to tune in the over-saturation, although it needs to be done delicately or the lower saturation points become very undersaturated. However, as has been reported by owners of the XT910, the Theatre mode introduces artefacts - particularly noise and banding - that isn't present in any of the other modes.
Quite why this should be is a mystery but there appears to be additional processing in the Theatre mode that exaggerates any limitations in the source material, although even with a pristine Blu-ray the effect could still be seen. So where does that leave us? Well as we describe in the settings video above, the best solution is probably to use the Natural picture mode as an alternative. As already mentioned you'll need to move the Contrast and Colour controls down and then take out the slight excess of blue in the greyscale. However due to the sheer size of the native colour gamut used in the Natural picture mode, there will still be an over-saturated image. Whilst this won't necessarily bother the majority of viewers, enthusiasts do expect colour accuracy, especially from a flagship TV.
It's a shame that the Theatre picture mode introduces artefacts because as the saturation sweep above shows, you could get a fairly decent colour performance in that mode. The graph on the left shows the native colour gamut measured against the DCI colour space and shows exactly why colours appeared over-saturated when compared to the Rec.709 industry standard. However from the perspective of future standards, the fact that the XT910 can deliver 92% of DCI is good news, allowing the TV to take advantage of the wider colour spaces expected to be used with proposed Ultra HD 4K standards.
Picture quality is good with great blacks and image detail but the gamma and colour accuracy need work.
Picture QualityAside from the over-saturated colours and lack of a separate gamma control, the 65XT910 proved impressive in other areas, especially when it came to black levels and contrast ratios. The TV takes full advantage of its VA panel, direct backlight, inherent brightness and local dimming to deliver some genuinely impressive contrast ratios. The native black level measured at 0.001cd/m2, which means that despite the local dimming being off some form of global dimming was still being applied. When the local dimming was turned on the measurement dropped to 0.000cd/m2 and thanks to the 240 independent zones the performance was excellent in this area, with deep blacks and the minimum of haloing. There was a bit of crush just above black due to the gamma curve but overall this was an impressive performance from the Hisense.
The X910 is bright as well, hitting 700cd/m2 on a window and 520cd/m2 on a full raster; so it will definitely be able to handle HDR without any issues. The result was a picture that had a fantastic dynamic range, with deep blacks and punchy highlights. The direct LED backlight also meant that the screen uniformity was good and our sample was free of any clouding or bright corners and edges. It also managed to avoid the problem of the LEDs themselves being visible behind the panel, which manifests as vertical bands on camera pans across uniform patches of colour such as football pitches. This issue even affected the Samsung JS9500, so we can only assume that the slightly deeper chassis on the 65XT910 has helped in this area. However it wasn't all good news, the screen was marred by a green tinge along the top and right hand edge; which was especially visible on a white background.
The screen was largely free of any annoying reflections, although due to the incline of the stand we were getting a reflection from an overhead light that wouldn't normally be an issue. However the XT910 was capable of delivering images with plenty of punch regardless of the ambient light conditions and the excellent local dimming meant it could perform well in a darkened room which is often the achilles heel of an LCD TV. The viewing angles were what you'd expect for a VA panel, so to get the best performance you need to be within a 45 degree angle from the centre. The specific nature of the viewing angles also makes the incline on the stand even more puzzling and we again found ourselves questioning the Hisense engineer's logic.
The video processing was generally very good, aside from the artefacts being introduced by the Theatre mode, and the 65XT910 upscaled lower resolution content to match its 4K panel with real effectiveness. However the motion handling was poor, even for an LCD and the frame interpolation feature wasn't able to fully reproduce motion resolution. This isn't a feature that we would use with movies but it can be useful for fast-paced sports broadcasts for example; so it's an area that Hisense need to work on. Although we should point out that there was none of the stuttering with 50Hz content that we saw when reviewing the 55K321, which is good news.
As a result of all these factors, the XT910 could deliver some very watchable images although at the same time its limitations in terms of colour accuracy, gamma and motion handling were evident. When it came to watching actual 4K content the 65XT910 took full advantage of the added resolution, although some of our test material certainly appeared more over-saturated than we're used to seeing it. However in general, Full HD broadcasts and Blu-rays looked extremely watchable and, with some careful setup, a good source like Jurassic World could look quite impressive. We suspect that most people wouldn't be aware of over-saturated colours or issues with gamma, whilst motion handling can very much depend on the individual. However enthusiasts expect a certain level of accuracy, which is why their opinions matter, so Hisense still needs to improve in the areas we've mentioned. Having said that, the XT910 is a very good first effort from Hisense and shows genuine potential.
Finally the 3D performance was very good and the panel's inherent brightness came into play here, allowing the XT910 to deliver images that had real impact and depth. The colours were still rather over-saturated and the glasses themselves could have been bit bigger but the Hisense handled our 3D test scenes very well. The negative parallax of the tree spores in Avatar looked great and even our 'Marvin the Martian' test in Gravity looked good, although there was a bit of crosstalk. The only area where the 65XT910 had a slight issue was in the definition of some of the backgrounds but overall it was a good 3D performance for those that still enjoy the delights of the third dimension.
Sound QualityThe 65XT910 delivered a surprisingly good audio performance, no doubt thanks to the larger screen which affords greater stereo separation and the deeper chassis, which allows for larger speakers to be included. Of course, aside from the Sony X93/4, no TV can hope to compete with a decent soundbar in terms of audio performance but as on-board sound for a TV goes, the XT910 sounded good. Importantly dialogue was always clear and centred on the screen, with documentaries, TV programmes and the news sounding clear and precise. The stereo separation meant that music sounded quite good as well, and the front soundstage was open and room-filling. When it came to watching films the larger front soundstage helped deliver the effects, whilst the size of the panel helped give them some low-end impact. The built-in amplification can go quite loud, so the TV will have no problems filling an average living room and, thanks to the larger speakers, they don't distort even as you bring up the volume. We listened to music streamed from our home network and the XT910 delivered a solid performance, even if a TV's built-in speakers wouldn't normally be our first choice.
Hisense 65XT910 Video Review
Input Lag & Energy ConsumptionWe tested the 65XT910 in the Theatre picture mode first and that delivered an input lag of 65ms, even with all the processing turned off. However switching to the Game mode brought that down to a more playable 48ms and whilst that might be slightly high for dedicated gamers, it's fine for most people. Overall the gaming performance was good and if we had been testing the XT910 last year a measurement of 48ms would have been excellent. This year though we've seen measurements below 30ms, which gives Hisense an idea of what they should be aiming for in terms of input lag.
The energy consumption was excellent and considering the XT910 uses a 65-inch panel and a direct LED backlight, Hisense are to be congratulated. In our tests using a 50% window we measured 95W in the out-of-the-box setting, 64W in our calibrated mode and 132W in the 3D mode. That's impressive for a TV this big and you certainly needn't worry about the electricity bills, even if you watch a lot of TV.
The sound quality was very good but the input lag might be a little high for some gamers.
How future-proof is this TV?
4K Ultra HD Resolution HDR Support Colour Space (percentage of DCI - 100% best) 92% 10-bit Panel HDMI 2.0a Inputs HDCP 2.2 Support HEVC Decoding 4K Streaming Services Smart TV Platform Picture Accuracy Out-of-the-Box (score out of 10) 7 What do these mean?
- Excellent native blacks
- Impressive dynamic range
- Decent future-proofing
- Nice screen uniformity
- Good sound quality
- Solid build quality
- Fantastic price
- Colours over-saturated
- Gamma control lacking
- Theatre mode introduces artefacts
- Motion handling could be better
Hisense 65XT910 Ultra HD 4K LED TV Review
Should I buy one?
The Hisense 65XT910 Ultra HD 4K LED TV is a great first effort and whilst it falls down in a few areas it also shows real promise in others. The design and build quality are as good as anything you'll see from the more established brands and whilst the incline of the panel when stand mounted seems unnecessary, you always have the option to wall mount. The 65-inch panel is curved and whilst that might currently be fashionable, it would be good to give consumers the choice of a flat version as well. The menu system is simple and effective, whilst the smart platform is responsive and includes all the major video streaming services. The two provided remote controls work well, although the included active shutter 3D glasses could do with being slightly larger. The sound quality is impressive and the energy consumption is surprisingly low for a TV of this size. The input lag is reasonably low and fine for most people but there is room for improvement.
The XT910 includes a decent amount of future-proofing and aside from the native 4K resolution, there's a 10-bit panel and HDR support to be added later. It has HDMI 2.0 inputs with HDCP 2.2 and hopefully these can be upgraded to HDMI 2.0a to allow for HDR metadata. The native colour gamut is 92% of DCI and there is HEVC and VP9 decoding to support 4K streaming from Netflix, Amazon Instant and Youtube. In terms of the picture quality it's a mixed bag with some aspects performing superbly and others needing improvement. If there's one area where the 65XT910 excels its in terms of dynamic range. The TV takes full advantage of the VA panel, direct LED backlight, local dimming and inherent brightness to deliver an excellent contrast performance. The blacks are as good as any we've seen on an LCD TV, with the combination of deep blacks and bright images resulting in an impressive dynamic range that bodes well for the future.
The screen uniformity was also very good and the XT910 managed to avoid clouding and bright edges or corners as well as the banding that sometimes affects TVs that use direct LED backlights. There was however a green tinge to the very top of the screen and the far right hand side that was visible on white screens. This discolouration was evident on our sample but quite what was causing it remained a mystery. The video processing was generally good, especially in terms of upscaling. However the motion handling could have been better and the Theatre picture mode unfortunately added unwanted artefacts. The gamma was problematic and the situation wasn't helped by the lack of a separate control. However the main issue was over-saturated colours, especially in the Natural picture mode which we used as an alternative to the Theatre mode. Whilst it's important that the native gamut is as wide as possible, Hisense also need to ensure that the TV can still hit the current industry standards.
In conclusion, although the Hisense 65XT910 isn't quite the home run that some enthusiasts were hoping for, it's still a great first effort and shows real potential for the future. If Hisense can address the issues we raised in this review with their next generation, then they could become a serious player in the UK enthusiast market.
What are my alternatives?
If we had been reviewing the 65XT910 earlier in the year, there wouldn't have been a TV that could have got close to the Hisense in terms of value for money, However at this late stage many of the flagship models released back in the spring and summer are now being heavily discounted. That means that for just a few hundred more there are some serious alternatives to the XT910. The most obvious example is probably the Panasonic TX-65CX802B which can now be picked up for as little as £2,199. The 65XT910 actually has the edge in terms of local dimming and the CX802 only uses an 8-bit panel compared to the 10-bit panel used by Hisense. However the out-of-the-box accuracy of the Panasonic in terms of greyscale, gamma and gamut is superior, making it a real alternative. The other option in terms of price is the LG 65UF950 which can also be picked up for £2,199. It can't compete with the Hisense in terms of black levels, screen uniformity, local dimming or future-proofing but again it offers a more colour accurate image. Which TV is the better choice will undoubtedly come down to budget and priorities but the fact that the 65XT910 is competing so effectively with these more established manufacturers shows just how serious Hisense are about promoting themselves as a premium brand.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level8
2D Picture Quality7
3D Picture Quality8
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box7
Picture Quality Calibrated7
Ease Of Use8
Value for Money8
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