Hisense U7B (H55U7BUK) 4K TV Review

Lowest cost Dolby Vision?

by Phil Hinton
SRP: £599.00

What is the Hisense U7B?

The Hisense U7B is the latest edge-lit 2019 LCD TV from the Chinese manufacturer that is available in 50-, 55-, and 65-inch screen sizes. Hisense brands these LED LCD TVs as ULED and they feature a 4K 60Hz VA panel with edge lighting and local dimming along with support for Dolby Vision, HLG and HDR10 high dynamic range formats and claimed Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) coverage. With a price of £599 at the time of our review of the 55-inch U7B, it is the cheapest LCD TV with Dolby Vision on board, which should assist this budget LCD to display content within the capabilities of the TV.

The Hisense U7B is also equipped with the new VIDAA U3 Smart TV system powered by a quad-core processor and offering video-on-demand applications with Freeview Play for TV viewing and catch-up services. You also get Prime Video, Netflix and YouTube with 4K and HDR content, including Dolby Vision, on tap, and Hisense claims the app you want is never more than three clicks away.

Hisense U7B Video Review


For the full in-depth review with additional measurement results, comparisons and more, watch our video review:


Design, Connections and Control

The U7B offers a high level of build quality at the price point using a unibody chassis with a silver finish to the bezel and stand. Design is a personal preference and the silver finish is certainly unusual when sat beside other contemporary TVs. The near bezel-less design is impressive with a thin panel thanks to the edge lighting. The silver bezel is 1mm thick on three edges and this widens to 10mm at the bottom with a central Hisense logo.

The design of the stand is familiar with a curved bar to the front which attaches to a chunky centre mass that connects to the bottom centre of the panel and the arrangement is nice and solid. The stand doesn’t swivel but there is a removable plastic cover to the rear for cable management, but this will only work for two normal sized HDMI cables.
The connections are positioned to the right of the rear panel looking from behind and the majority are sideways facing with a few rearwards.

The sideways facing connections include terrestrial and satellite antenna to the top followed by three HDMI slots, digital audio out and two USB 2.0 ports. Rearwards, we have HDMI 4 and an Ethernet port along with RCA audio-in and composite video RCA. All four HDMI slots accept 4K 60p video signals with HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG compatibility and ARC on HDMI 1.

The U7B is supplied with two remote controls. One is a normal full-sized affair, with a slightly thinner version featuring a more compressed key layout. Both remotes are well made and fit easily in the hand with a logical layout. There are also direct access keys on both for Rakuten, Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube and Freeview Play. Both remotes are well built and suit the price point and design of the TV.
Build quality is excellent for the price point

Features

The Hisense U7B features Dolby Vision dynamic metadata HDR and is the first TV to do so at this price point and market level. This is important as Dolby Vision really does come into its own with TVs like the U7B which have a restricted peak brightness performance. Using dynamic metadata, Dolby Vision can fit more information within the HDR images that matches the capabilities of the TV. Think about it like two litres of milk that needs to be put into a 1-litre container. It’s all about trying to fit as much in as possible without throwing away too much. With static metadata HDR10, it is usually specular highlight detail that is clipped or thrown away. Dolby Vision tries to retain as much of that detail as it possibly can, given the TVs limitations.

The U7B also features Dolby Atmos audio but doesn’t have any additional height or rear channel speakers available. It doesn’t even have a soundbar attached, but it is capable of decoding the format and playing it back through the built-in speakers or via an outboard system.

Smart TV and OS is provided by the VIDAA U 3.0 system that is developed in-house by Hisense. It also has Freeview Play built-in to the system so you have access to all the terrestrial catch-up services along with UKTV Play. Hisense claims that the new system is 50% faster than the previous version and any app is only three clicks away. We get 4K HDR content via the Prime Video, YouTube and Netflix video-on-demand services. The new double launcher bar also works really well.

The menu system has also had an update this year with a nice fluid feel to access menu items and controls. The picture menus are comprehensive and offer almost every parameter you would want to adjust, as well as fully featured calibration controls that promise to help with fine-tuning of the image quality.

Measurements

As we always do within our reviews, we measured the out of the box picture presets to find those that get as close as possible to the industry standards. The idea of this is that a TV must get close to these standards in at least one of its picture modes so end users can see content as it was mastered and intended to be seen. Calibration is a goal for some users, but for the majority, this is not an option, so actually knowing how accurate the out of the box presets are is very important in any honest TV review. In respect to this budget Hisense TV, it is unlikely that anyone buying such a TV would pay for a professional calibration, so making sure there is at least one preset that reaches or gets as close as possible to the industry standards is very important.

We see absolutely no point in assessing and reviewing TVs in only the perfectly calibrated picture modes as this doesn’t reflect what the vast majority of buyers will experience with the TV. Calibration and measurement are important for the overall assessment of the TV, but we don’t only focus on the calibrated performance here at AVForums. So just how close do the picture presets get to the standards out of the box?

The two most accurate picture modes on the U7B are Cinema Day and Cinema Night. We used Cinema Night with gamma set to 2.4 and colour temperature Warm.

Looking at the greyscale first, we can see a slight lack of red energy and with blue hovering around 2% low and green around 4% high. Gamma is tracking 2.4 with a steady brightening on the track, dropping to around 2.2 at 90% stimulus, but it is also a little high (dark) at 10% stimulus and this is seen in content as black crush. DeltaE errors are between 3 and 4 so the blue error is seen within some content on-screen.

Moving to the Rec.709 colour gamut for HD material and we can see that the U7B does an excellent job of covering the colour space and doing so with really quite accurate precision within a saturation tracking chart. There are very few errors, with most at the 100% mark and, as such, DeltaE errors are all under the visible threshold of three. This means that no errors seen within the graph are visible when viewing content on the TV.

The results are really very good for an out of the box preset on a budget LCD TV and should be representative of the type of results to expect from the U7B.

There are calibration controls on the U7B but, like last year, we found them to be coarse with their adjustments and in most cases, like the gamma editor and especially the 20-point greyscale controls, they didn’t work at all. So, we did our best to try and improve the image quality with the 2-point and with some minor use of the CMS.

Looking at the greyscale (top left) first we found that making inputs and adjustments within the 2-point controls moved in large amounts which made trying to get a nice looking graph impossible, but we did get DeltaE errors a good distance under the visible threshold to make them unseen by the eye. Gamma tracking was also improved over the out of the box results with a more accurate track towards 2.4 but it still has an overly dark 10% which will mask shadow detail in content on-screen.

By correcting the white point, we saw the colour saturation points (top right) fall back to where they should be within the Rec.709 gamut from 75% stimulus and below. We didn’t need to make any major adjustments within the CMS system to correct these points. DeltaE errors were under 1 which also makes any errors unseen to the eye. So, despite having calibration controls that don’t work at all, we were able to get very good calibration results with the Hisense U7B although we doubt anyone buying this TV will pay for a professional calibration, so it is the out of the box results that matter here.
It is probably best to start the HDR section with the fact that the U7B is not really an HDR TV that will be able to produce incredibly bright specular highlights like far more expensive LCD TVs. We used the most accurate HDR Night mode with HDR10 content with an accurate D65 white point and measured 245 nits on the industry-standard 10% window (it actually measured the same on all window sizes).

Looking at the PQ EOTF tracking (top left) and we can see that the U7B maintains a correct EOTF track up until around 120 nits and then rolls off on the brighter area of the image and clips white details. It produces the same tone map results with 1000, 4000 and 10,000 nit static metadata. This means that within the majority of an HDR image detail is preserved and image quality is reasonable, but any objects that are supposed to be bright highlights are clipped so there is no detail within them and they are only as bright as the TV can manage to produce, in this case, 245 nits. This means the dynamic range of the U7B is hampered as such.
When it comes to Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) coverage (above) the U7B provides a very good result when it comes to saturation tracking with almost all the 75% and under points falling where they should be. The gamut is restricted and not capable of covering 100% of DCI-P3, but in the more important image brightness levels of 75% and below, it should be accurate enough to give a very good HDR WCG performance with actual viewing content.

We measured BT2020 coverage at 64% XY and 68% UV and P3 coverage at 89% XY and 94% UV. The contrast ratio of the U7B was measured at 6278:1 with local dimming on low.

Hisense U7B Picture Performance


The Hisense U7B is an edge-lit LCD TV with a VA panel and local dimming. As such, there are a few issues that impact on the performance of the TV that we should cover first.

Panel uniformity is average with dark corners to the top and brighter areas to the bottom corners. We also noticed in fade-to-black or very dark scenes that this sample had a brighter right-hand side of the screen compared to the left, this was especially noticeable when using the menu in a dark room. There is DSE (Dirty Screen Effect) that is noticeable on large areas of the same colour or when watching sports like football on a green pitch and again it is more apparent when viewing in a dark room. Viewing angles are also very poor with contrast and colours shifting from around 20 degrees and more off-axis. It is also possible to see the local dimming working between dark and light scenes with obvious fade in and out effects between cuts. We also noticed black crush present in most content with lower-level shadow detail missing. Most of these issues were seen when watching in a dimly lit room.

When watching in a normal well-lit living room and when viewed from directly in front of the TV, things do improve for the U7B. Panel uniformity issues are harder to see without going looking for them, but DSE is still present in wide shots of football and other sports, especially with a moving camera pan. Black levels are good and black crush is less obvious in the shadows. Most of the issues we did find with the Hisense U7B are inherent technical limitations of LED LCD technology and in line with other TVs in this price range.

Image accuracy in the Cinema Day mode is very good indeed with SDR images exhibiting extremely good skin tones and natural colours. Upscaling of HD content to the 4K native resolution of the panel is also very good with no signs of obvious artefacts, but we did see some ringing on straight edges within some material. SD upscaling is less impressive, but then again the source material from SD broadcast is less than ideal to start with and the Hisense can’t work miracles. HD 1080i broadcast is excellent however, with good line definition and excellent colour reproduction to Rec.709. Motion is also very good with the Ultra Smooth Motion turned off. 24fps material is displayed correctly with no induced telecine judder visible. 50Hz TV broadcast is also displayed correctly with only the occasional stutter seen with some content with fast edits. Otherwise, it is a good performance motion wise and, of course, if you so desired you can also engage the Ultra Smooth Motion system to introduce video smoothing and soap opera effect. There is a custom setting with adjustments for judder and blur, but we still found interpolation present even in the lowest settings, so it wouldn’t suit purists. With sports and other video content, it may be worth experimenting to find your preference.

Watching some streaming HD along with Blu-ray discs also highlights excellent scaling performance with good motion. Images have a good amount of black detail although crush is present at just above black, and colour reproduction is good with lifelike skin tones and good colour brightness. Images are sharp and detailed without an overly processed look.

HDR images can be a challenge for screens at this price level and performance and the Hisense is no exception here. There is a lack of dynamic range so highlights are clipped of any detail and are also pegged back with the low peak brightness of 245 nits. However, detail and colour accuracy are good with excellent, clean looking images from 4K disc. With a lack of overall peak brightness, you have to accept that the Hisense will not be competing with far more expensive models, but at the market position and against a screen like the Panasonic GX800, the U7B turns in a very good performance which is just piped by the better colour and just above black of the GX800.

With Dolby Vision content, we get a very good HDR performance that, while still restricted by the capabilities of the U7B, does show more detail in the brighter reaches of the image, which gives it a more consistent look. Blacks are also solid but again shadow detail is missing at the lowest point due to crushing, however, the colour accuracy and skin tones look very good indeed. While HDR10 and Dolby Vision content is pegged back by the absolute performance capabilities of a 245 nit peak brightness, the image offered is still very good considering the price point and competition.

Overall, the Hisense does move things on image-wise from last year’s U7A model with better HDR10 tone mapping, better colour accuracy and the Dolby Vision dynamic metadata system. It’s just a shame the U7B doesn’t follow the Panasonic GX800 and offer both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ dynamic methods.
Dolby Vision certainly works hard to provide the best HDR possible on the U7B

Verdict

8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

The Good

  • Dolby Vision
  • Good SDR image quality out of the box
  • Very good calibrated performance
  • Very good build quality
  • Decent smart TV system and OS
  • Value for money

The Bad

  • Black crush
  • Restricted viewing angles
  • Panel uniformity and DSE
  • Some menu options don't work - 20-point and gamma editor
  • HDR10 performance restricted by panel capabilities

Hisense U7B (H55U7BUK) 4K TV Review

It is important that we handle expectation levels with TVs at this level of the market. There is no way they can reach the peak brightness figures of the far more expensive LCD and OLED TVs out there. HDR is a challenge even for those more expensive TVs and even more so at this price point where peak brightness limitations come into play. But it should be here that formats like Dolby Vision are capable of getting the best out of TVs like the U7B. Plus, we also have to accept that consumers of these TVs will not be paying hundreds of pounds extra for professional calibration, so the out of the box performance has to try and be accurate in at least one picture preset mode.

So, given the must-haves and accepting that with edge-lit VA LCD we also have technical constraints with viewing angles, contrast and panel uniformity, does buying a TV like the U7B make sense?

If you can accept the compromises you have to make with LCD TVs at this level of the market, remembering there is no such thing as the perfect TV, the Hisense does score well in a number of areas. First of all, it is one of the best-built TVs at the price point with a solid unibody design and it also has four HDMI inputs that accept full 4K signals and Dolby Vision HDR. Picture wise, the out of the box results are reasonable and accurate, accepting that there will be panel variance at this level of the market, which means most users selecting the Cinema Night mode with colour temperature warm will be viewing content in the most accurate picture settings. Motion and upscaling are also strong for a TV at this price point with no major issues to report.

HDR performance is a game of two halves on the Hisense U7B. Static metadata HDR10 content has to be tone mapped in a manner that clips all highlight detail given the lack of dynamic range available from the 245 nit peak brightness, but colours are accurate and well saturated with decent looking skin tones and blacks. Dolby Vision content is a little better when it comes to the highlights, with slightly more detail retained within whites and strong bright sections, while shadows and black remain strong. With both flavours of HDR - just above black shadow details are crushed slightly.

Overall, at the price point there is not much else on the market that can compete with the Hisense U7B, and if you can accept the compromises of an edge-lit LCD TV and the level of HDR performance you get at this price point, then the U7B is a strong TV that could easily handle the day to day workhorse tasks of a normal living room.

Scores

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

.
.
.
7

Screen Uniformity

.
.
.
7

Colour Accuracy

.
.
8

Greyscale Accuracy

.
.
8

Video Processing

.
.
8

Picture Quality

.
.
8

SDR Picture Quality

.
.
8

HDR Picture Quality

.
.
.
7

Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box

.
.
.
7

Picture Quality Calibrated

.
.
8

Sound Quality

.
.
.
7

Smart Features

.
.
.
7

Build Quality

.
.
8

Ease Of Use

.
9

Value for Money

.
9

Verdict

.
.
8
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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