Hisense H55N6800 4K LED TV Review
A solid TV and a great choice for gamers
What is the Hisense 55N6800?The Hisense H55N6800 is a mid-range Ultra HD TV that, on paper at least, is identical to the H65N6800 that we reviewed recently. However we know from experience that there can be differences in performance between screen sizes, even when dealing with versions of the same model. The N6800 range offers screen sizes of 50-, 55-, 65- and 75-inches and not only uses a 4K panel but also supports High Dynamic Range (HDR) and includes a Smart TV platform with Freeview Play. The 55N6800 retails for a very reasonable £699 as at the time of writing (September 2017), which is a competitive price for a 55-inch Ultra HD TV with HDR support. We were impressed by the improvements that Hisense had made to the H65N6800, which showed a positive approach to critical feedback from us. We're hoping to see a similar performance from the H55N6800, so let's get testing and find out if the smaller screen size is just as good.
DesignThe H55N6800 uses a simple but attractive design that is composed largely of metal and has quite a solid construction. The panel is 10mm deep at the top and widens out to 60mm at the bottom, where all the electronics, connections and speakers are housed. There's a 10mm wide chamfered bezel with a brushed gun metal finish around the top and sides of the screen, which widens out to 15mm at the bottom. The TV measures 1382 x 713 x 60mm (WxHxD) without the stand and 1382 x 763 x 229mm (WxHxD) with it and weighs in at a solid 19.6kgThe Hisense sits on a pair of matching metallic feet that are attached at either end of the panel, which means you'll need a surface that is at least 1020mm wide and 229mm deep on which to position the TV. As a result it can't be swivelled and there is 70mm of clearance under the screen if you're thinking of using it with a soundbar. Alternatively you can wall mount the 55N6800 using a 200 x 200 VESA wall bracket. The rear of the panel is composed of hardened black plastic and the connections are on the bottom left hand side as you face the screen.
The 55N6800 boasts a largely metal construction with a decent fit and finish
Connections & ControlThere N6800 uses a combination of rearwards and sideways facing connections, with those at the side measuring 230mm from the edge, so you shouldn't be able to see any cables from the front. The rearwards facing connections are comprised of two HDMI 1.4 inputs (4K/30p and HDCP 2.2), a composite video input, a component video input, a stereo analogue input, an optical digital output and a LAN port, although there is also built-in WiFi. The sideways facing connections are composed of two HDMI 2.0 inputs (4K/60p, HDR and HDCP 2.2), one of which supports ARC (Audio Return Channel) and one of which supports MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link). There are also three USB ports (two 2.0 and one 3.0), Freeview HD and satellite tuners, a headphone jack and a CI (Common Interface) slot.There is a basic joystick for simple setup and control of the N6800 down in the rear bottom left hand corner as you face the screen but the main method of control is the included remote. This newly designed controller has an attractive chrome metal trim and it feels well-made and nicely balanced in your hand. It's large enough to make the buttons easy to read but also fits comfortably in your palm, with the keys all within reach of your thumb. The controls are sensibly laid out with the navigation buttons in the centre, the numbers, volume and channel buttons above and the coloured keys and media player buttons below. There is a home key for accessing the VIDAA Smart TV system but there are also direct access buttons for Netflix, YouTube and Wuaki TV.
There's a well-designed remote and a good set of inputs – although only two are HDMI 2.0
Features & SpecsThe H55N6800 uses a 55-inch Ultra HD 4K VA LCD panel with 8-bit + dither bit depth, so it isn't a full 10-bit panel but it can accept a 10-bit signal. There is 4K upscaling for lower resolution sources and support for High Dynamic Range, specifically HDR10 with Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) to be added via a firmware update in the fourth quarter. The TV uses edge LED backlighting and includes a local dimming system and motion enhancement features. As we explained in the connections section there are two HDMI 2.0 inputs and the Hisense can decode both the HEVC and VP9 codecs. The N6800 also includes dvx-tv's Total Technology audio enhancements like Total Sonics, Total Volume and Total Surround.
The 55N6800 boasts Hisense's new VIDAA Smart TV which is reasonably responsive in operation thanks to quad core processing. Although it is fairly basic, the platform is intuitive to use and easy to navigate. When you press the Home button on the remote, you are presented with a series of options in a row in the centre of the screen. The options are Notifications, Apps, Inputs, Media, Settings and Edit. There are hundreds of apps and in terms of video streaming services you get Netflix, Amazon and YouTube (all 4K HDR), as well as Wuaki TV, BBC iPlayer, Deezer and Plex. The Hisense is also PVR ready and includes Freeview Play and Anyview Stream for easy access to content such as photos, music and videos on your home network.
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The VIDAA Smart TV system is easy to navigate and includes the main video streaming services
Hisense H55N6800 Recommended TV Settings
Picture Settings – Out-of-the-BoxThe 55N6800 includes Hisense's new menu system which adds Cinema Day and Cinema Night picture modes, allowing you to create day and night settings for Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) content. There are also HDR Day and HDR Night picture modes – the latter is more accurate but the former boosts the overall brightness for those watching HDR content in a brightly lit room. There's also now a Gamma Adjust control, allowing you to select BT.1886, 2.0, 2.2 or 2.4 gamma settings. We used the Cinema Night picture mode for our testing because it was the most accurate choice out-of-the-box, offering settings that best approximated the industry standards (D65, Rec. 709) and turning the majority of the processing off. Although you will need to set the Backlight, Contrast and Brightness controls to suit your particular viewing environment.
All our measurements were taken with a Klein K-10A colour meter, a Murideo Fresco Six-G pattern generator and CalMAN Ultimate calibration software. For more information on how to correctly set up your Hisense TV, you can watch the settings video above or take a look at our PicturePerfect Guide.
Unlike the H65N6800 that we reviewed earlier in the year, the H55N6800 wasn't as accurate out of the box, with minor errors in the greyscale. There was an excess of both red and green and a deficit of blue, particularly in the brighter part of the scale, that gave whites a slight yellow tinge. Although we wouldn't normally recommend using the default Standard setting, in this case it might be worth considering because there is more blue in the Standard setting greyscale and the human eye will favour a blue tinge compared to a slight yellow one. Although if you do try the Standard mode, make sure you turn off all the picture processing or you'll end up with an image that looks rather artificial. We selected the 2.4 gamma setting in the menus but the N6800 actually measured around 2.3, with a dip to 2.2 at 10IRE.The colour performance was being skewed slightly by the errors in the greyscale and the white point, along with the primary and secondary colours, were all being moved towards yellow. In addition the reds were a bit over-saturated and, thanks to the greyscale, also being pulled towards yellow which resulted in a slightly orange appearance. However, although not shown on the graph above, the 55N6800 delivered very accurate luminance measurements which is actually more important because our eyes are most sensitive to errors in the luminance of a colour.
Picture Settings – CalibratedAlthough it's unlikely that an owner of the H55N6800 would get their new TV professionally calibrated, simply because of the price, we are obviously in a position to calibrate the review sample, which we did using the 2- and 10-point white balance controls and the colour management system.
We were able to easily bring down red and green using the 2-point white balance control, which immediately gave us a more accurate set of greyscale measurements. We then fine tuned the performance using the 10-point and the result was a very accurate greyscale with errors all below one and a gamma curve that was still tracking around 2.3.Once we had calibrated the greyscale, the white point fell into place and the overall colour accuracy was much improved. We were then able to tweak the red, green, cyan and yellow measurements using the colour management system and the result was a very accurate colour gamut. There was still some slight over-saturation at 100% but all the other saturation points were tracking very accurately and the results were excellent.
The out-of-the-box performance could have been better but this TV was very accurate after calibration
Picture Settings – High Dynamic RangeAlthough the H55N6800 supports High Dynamic Range (HDR) it is fairly limited in terms of both peak brightness and colour gamut but there are now HDR Day and HDR Night settings and there's also an HDR Game setting. In addition, although the HDR measurements could have been better, we did find that the actual performance with real world HDR content was better than the graphs would suggest.We mentioned in our review of the H65N6800 that we were pleased to see a surprising level of honesty when it came to the claimed peak brightness and so it was for the 55-inch version. Hisense list the peak brightness at 450nits in their specs and we actually got 466nits out of our review sample, although in the most accurate mode it measured 427nits using a 10% window. The 55N6800 was also able to deliver 425nits on a 50% window and 422nits on a 100% window. In terms of the greyscale it definitely could have been better, especially where the EOTF rolls off the PQ target curve at 60 and 70IRE, although the EOTF itself did track the PQ quite closely until it began to roll off. Overall this is a fairly standard performance for an HDR TV that has a limited peak brightness.
Hisense's honesty in terms of their specifications also applied to the Rec. 2020 coverage, which they claimed was 67% and in testing that's exactly where it measured. This is less than we have seen when measuring OLED TV or LCD TVs that use quantum dot but it was actually slightly larger than the H65N6800. However, as with the SDR measurements, the larger screen was more accurate in terms of its tracking against the Rec. 2020 saturation point targets.
The H55N6800 covered 87% of DCI-P3 using xy coordinates and 94% using uv coordinates. The graph above shows DCI-P3 within Rec. 2020 and once again the 55N6800 was less accurate than the 65-inch version when it came to tracking the DCI-P3 saturation points in HDR.
We measured the Perceptual Colour Volume, which uses the PQ EOTF out to 10,000nits and the Rec. 2020 colour gamut represented using the ICtCp colour graph which takes into account human visual perception. This measurement uses 393 data points and delivers a number expressed in Millions of Distinguishable Colours (MDC). Here the 55N6800 delivered an MDC number of 259 which, whilst slightly higher than the H65N6800, still reflects the TV's lower peak brightness and slightly smaller colour gamut.
The HDR performance with actual content was better than the measurements suggested
Black Levels and Contrast RatiosThe H55N6800 uses a VA panel and thus delivered a native black level of 0.023nits, which is good for an LCD TV. The panel could also easily hit our standard dynamic range target of 120nits, which resulted in an on/off contrast ratio of 5217:1, whilst the ANSI contrast ratio was a very reasonable 4038:1. Once again Hisense were commendably honest in their specifications, with a claimed contrast ratio of 4000:1 which matches our measurements almost precisely. The shadow detail was also quite good, although this isn't an area where LCD panels are strong and there could be a slight loss of detail in more challenging material.
Backlight Uniformity and Viewing AnglesBacklight uniformity is always something of a lottery when it comes to edge-lit LED LCD TVs and so it proved with the H55N6800 which wasn't quite as good as the 65-inch version we reviewed. There was a small amount of clouding that was noticeable when looking at very dark scenes at night but wasn't visible when watching content during the day. However this clouding was more apparent when watching HDR content, especially on darker material when watching at night. Using a 100% white pattern the screen was free of DSE (dirty screen effect) but the edges appeared slightly darker, which is strange when you consider that's where the LEDs are situated.
The panel didn't suffer from noticeable banding, however the backlight on the right third of the screen didn't quite match the other two thirds, which could be seen on content with a uniform background like football, especially when viewing at an angle. Speaking of viewing angles, since the 55N6800 uses a VA panel it shouldn't come as a surprise to discover that they are fairly limited. This is the normal trade-off for the superior black level performance of a VA panel but, as a result, if you sat more than 30 degrees off centre you would start to see a drop off in the contrast performance and any limitations in the backlight uniformity or backlight performance became more apparent.
Local DimmingAlthough the H55N6800 technically includes local dimming, we found it to be largely useless in operation. For a start, engaging the local dimming only moved the black level measurement to 0.019nits from a native measurement of 0.023nits, so it hardly seems worthwhile. Not only did the local dimming not make much difference but it was fairly obvious in operation, raising or lowering the brightness from one scene to the next. Thankfully the native black levels are good enough that local dimming is less important but we know, from reviewing other Hisense TVs, that the manufacturer is capable of delivering a more effective local dimming system than this, so there's room for improvement.
Motion HandlingThe motion handling on the H55N6800 was fairly standard for an LCD TV delivering around 300 lines of motion resolution in our benchmark test. If you engage the frame interpolation feature this will improve, although much like the local dimming the motion processing wasn't that good, only increasing the resolution to about 600, whilst film content will immediately start to look more like video. How we perceive motion varies from person to person but we wouldn't recommend using the frame interpolation for film-based content, however feel free to experiment with it when watching sports content. You have the choice of Clear, Standard and Smooth, although there didn't appear to be any obvious difference between the three. However if you watch a lot of football you might find the Custom setting useful, which will allow you to set the Judder and Blur Reduction controls to suit your personal tastes.
Standrad Dynamic Range (SDR)The H55N6800 delivered a solid performance and despite the errors in the greyscale and colour gamut, they weren't generally evident with normal viewing content. Depending which picture mode you choose, the whites could have either a slight yellow or blue tinge to them and the reds did appear a bit orange, which correlates with the feedback we have received from some owners. As we've already mentioned the local dimming is best avoided, as is the ultra smooth motion feature – at least when it comes to films – but the deinterlacing and upscaling of standard definition content was very good and looked nice on the 55-inch screen, whilst high definition content looked excellent, with the N6800 making full use of the 4K panel's extra resolution.
Despite our concerns in the testing section, with actual content the greyscale and colour gamut generally looked good and when combined with the decent video processing and native black levels, the results could be quite impressive, especially when using a high quality source like the Blu-ray of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The motion handling was generally good and the backlight uniformity wasn't an issue when sat central to the screen and watching in a room with some ambient light. However, as mentioned earlier in the review, the limitations in the backlight became more apparent in the dark or once you start to move off axis by more than 30 degrees. As always with an LCD TV the addition of some bias lighting in your room can work wonders, especially when watching at night.
High Dynamic Range (HDR)Despite some less than impressive measurements in testing, the H55N6800 actually performed better than we expected with actual HDR content. The TV was capable of delivering a very watchable HDR experience and a reference disc like Planet Earth II looked impressive, despite the lower peak brightness. Although there were issues with the DCI-P3 colour tracking in our tests, with actual content the colours appeared realistically saturated and natural. The ability of the LCD panel to deliver a brighter overall image with a 100% test pattern also meant that the HDR images never appeared dull, even during the day, but it also meant the peak highlights were less apparent. That's because the 55N6800 could only deliver an accurate peak brightness of 427nits, which meant it was unable to produce the same impact as a model that could reach 1,000nits.
However, on a positive note this did mean that the Hisense was less likely to suffer the excessive clouding or bright edges that is often seen on edge-lit HDR TVs with a higher peak luminance. That's not to say that you didn't see some, especially at night, but it was less pronounced. The 55N6800 tracked the PQ EOTF fairly closely in the HDR Night mode and, as a result, the tone mapping handled the 'arriving in Neverland' scene in Pan quite well. The HDR Day mode boosted the overall brightness but did so at the expense of the peak highlights, which were clipped. Ultimately the H55N6800 was capable of delivering an HDR experience that was genuinely pleasing, with the wider colour gamut and peak highlights of a film like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 really shining through. Despite not having a proper 10-bit panel, we didn't have any issues with banding and the 55N6800 does offer those on a limited budget the chance to enjoy HDR.
The picture quality was generally very good, especially when you consider the price of this TV
Hisense H55N6800 Video Review
Sound QualityThe audio performance of the H55N6800 was fairly good and the wider bottom meant that Hisense could also build in some fairly decent speakers. As a result the N6800 produced a solid mid-range and well defined higher-end. The 55N6800 has 20W of built-in amplification, meaning it can go quite loud although it's best not to push it because at higher volumes it will begin to sound a little harsh and brittle. The bass was understandably muted but the Hisense managed to deliver an open front soundstage with clear dialogue and nicely rendered music and effects. The N6800 will never compete with a good soundbar or two-channel solution but it's perfectly adequate for watching TV. As mentioned in the features and specs section, the N6800 includes dvx-tv's Total Technology audio enhancements like Total Sonics for clarity and dynamic bass boost, Total Volume for consistent, level volume and Total Surround for a wider sound field. However, in general, we preferred not to use these features, opting for the Music sound mode instead.
The low input lag in both SDR and HDR makes the 55N6800 a great TV for gamers
Input Lag & Energy UsageWe measured the input lag on the H55N6800 using our Leo Bodnar tester and were surprised to find that Hisense were rather selling themselves short in terms of the input lag. They claim an input lag of <50ms, which is true in most of the picture modes and we measured the Cinema Night mode at 46ms. However in the Game mode the 55N6800 produced a very impressive input lag of just 29ms and it also delivered the same lag when using the Game mode with an HDR signal. That makes the N6800 a great choice for gamers, so regardless of whether you game in SDR or HDR this TV won't slow you down and the only limiting factor will be your own reactions.
In terms of the 55N6800’s energy consumption it proved to be comparable to similar LED LCD TVs that we have reviewed recently and using a full window 50% white pattern we measured the Standard picture mode at 109W and our calibrated Cinema Night mode at 73W, whilst the HDR Night mode naturally used more energy with a measurement of 146W.
How future-proof is this TV?
4K Ultra HD Resolution HDR Support Colour Space (percentage of Rec.2020 - 100% best) 67% 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?
- Decent black levels and contrast ratios
- Excellent accuracy after calibration
- Good video processing
- Low input lag for gaming
- Plenty of features
- Solid build quality
- Competitive price
- Local dimming ineffective
- Only two HDMI 2.0 inputs
- HDR brightness limited
- Minor clouding on backlight
- Narrow optimal viewing angle
Hisense H55N6800 4K LED TV ReviewThe Hisense H55N6800 is a solid TV, literally, it's nicely designed and particularly well made, with a decent fit and finish. There's a good set of connections, although only two of the HDMI inputs can accept 4K/60p HDR content, and the remote is well made and effective. Hisense's new VIDAA Smart TV platform is simple but responsive and intuitive to use, providing access to all the main video streaming and TV catch-up services, as well as Freeview Play. The input lag is excellent at just 29ms, whilst the sound quality is surprisingly good for a modern TV. The motion handling was reasonable for an LCD TV and the video processing was actually rather good, so the 55N6800 was certainly capable of delivering a decent picture whether you were watching standard or high definition content.
The out of the box performance could have been better but the 55N6800 still delivered a very watchable image, especially when you consider the price. The image accuracy was even better after calibration, resulting in a genuinely impressive picture. There was a bit of clouding in the backlight but edge-lit TVs are always something of a lottery and the viewing angles of the VA panel are limited. Still that's the price you pay for good black levels and it's just as well the blacks are good because the local dimming needs work. The HDR performance was surprisingly effective, despite the limited peak brightness, and would provide those on a budget a chance to experience the benefits of HDR for themselves. Ultimately the Hisense H55N6800 offers a decent overall performance and great value for money making it worthy of recommendation.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level8
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box8
Picture Quality Calibrated9
Ease Of Use9
Value for Money9
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