Hisense 65H9G 4K Quantum Dot TV Is A Brilliant Value
When we first saw the Hisense 65H9G 4K Ultra HD quantum dot full-array LED LCD TV at CES 2020 last January we were impressed enough with both its hinted at value price and premium-level performance to give it one of HD Guru’s Best of Show Awards.
After having had some time to test and experience the set in real world conditions, our initial assessment was fully affirmed. In fact, at the time of posting, the Hisense 65H9G was listed at a downright bargain retail price of $1,099.95 (note that this appears to be a temporarily high price for the model and will likely come down over the course of the holidays) for a 65-inch 4K/High Dynamic Range (HDR) premium television, equipped with 4K Ultra HD 120Hz LCD panel, quantum dot color enhancement film, and full-array LED back lighting with local dimming. An LED zone count on our test model impressively showed nearly 200 LED local dimming zones for the 65-inch version.
As this review first appears, just prior to the 2020 Black Friday period, the company also has available a 55-inch model at a $699.99 retail, and we expect picture performance from the 55-inch to be similar to what we found in the 65-inch model.
At these prices, the Hisense 65H9G will be going up against TCL’s popular 2020 6 Series with a new full-array miniLED backlight system and quantum dot enhanced wide color support. We hope to have more to report on that series shortly.
Playing high dynamic range (HDR) content, the picture from the 65H9G is beautifully bright, delivers inky black and well defined fine shadow detail. It presents rich well saturated and accurate colors covering better than 94% of the UHDA-P3 wide color gamut, as measured in Portrait Display’s Calman HDR calibration software.
Included in the asking price is support for the HDR10 and premium Dolby Vision HDR.
Where the set suffers some is in wide viewing angle coverage, causing contrast and color richness to wash out slightly viewing from a few feet off axis to the left or right of center screen. This is due to the use of a VA LCD panel and is a common limitation with the technology, but it does afford a better overall picture viewed straight on than some IPS LCD panel-based models designed to reduce the off-axis viewing issue.
Smooth Motion and Uniformity
The LCD panel Hisense used in our test sample offered 10-bit color performance to minimize banding pretty effectively and featured a 120Hz native refresh rate for above average smooth motion performance, even when all of the motion compensation circuitry is turned off, as movie content producers prefer. However, with this shutdown completely, judder was quite noticeable in some scenes with camera pans. We found it necessary to dial this back a bit for content using a lot of such shooting techniques.
Panel uniformity in our test model was pretty clean in both a full-screen gray test pattern and an all black test pattern. We didn’t observe any distracting visible smudging coming through in pans from real-world content.
For testing, we calibrated the 65H9G running Portrait Display’s latest version of Calman calibration software, a Spectracal C6-HDR colorimeter and a Murideo Six-G test pattern generator. The television does not support Calman’s series-specific Autocal workflow so we performed the adjustments manually for both SDR (BT.709) and HDR (using the Calman HDR10 calibration and evaluation workflows).
White balance and color management adjustments required a little more work to tune in than we are accustomed to with premium level televisions that typically employ support for Autocal. We also found that out of the box, the set benefited significantly from a calibration for our usual dim/moderately lit test room conditions, as is usually the case. Keep in mind adjustments for ambient room conditions will differ between all rooms and television models, so we do not include our specific picture settings. In general, we recommend Theater Night picture mode to cover the best general conditions without a professional calibration.
In SDR, the television’s out-of-box settings were relatively accurate in a moderately well-lit room when the set’s picture mode was dialed into Theater Night mode. We set the color temperature to “low”, gamma to 2.2, and color space set to Auto. We calibrated the set with a 2-point grayscale workflow and adjusted the color management settings slightly to suit ambient light levels in the specific viewing environment.
When fed an HDR signal, the set automatically dialed in the HDR Theater picture mode, which is the most accurate setting we tested for this material and required little adjustment after a prior calibration was made for SDR/BT.709.
High Dynamic Range
Peak brightness for 4K HDR10 content measured at a very bright 1,492 nits (1,000 nits is the minimum for Ultra HD Alliance Premium level qualification) inside a 10% white window pattern (in “HDR Theater picture” mode), and at the other end of the contrast range, the television did decent nice job of minimizing blooming around white objects on top of dark black backgrounds, but we did detect some milky clouding patterns around the moving starfield patters from the Spears & Munsil 4K Ultra HD Test Disc.
Additionally, the television didn’t quite display quite as many stars in the dark space static starfield sequence at the opening of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc version of The Martian.
For HDR peak brightness with a D65 white point, the H9G delivered 1492 nits measuring a 10% window and 713.24 nits of brightness measuring a full 100% white screen pattern. Overall, we found the set presented excellent bright specular highlights with rich bright color details in HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR content.
Specular highlights are bright without clipping nuanced color shading or image details inside peak points. This is what we expect from a solid-performing premium 4K television typically costing hundreds more. Viewers who watch in either dark or well-lit ambient room lighting will find little to complain about here.
Similarly, black level performance for the Hisense 65H9G registered a nice low reading of 0.013 nits (0.05 nits is the threshold for UHDA Premium level qualification.
If you just want to see what this TV can do while soaking in some lush 4K wildlife imagery, try watching the “Majestic Winter Wildlife in 4K” video from YouTube on this set. The clarity of detail and richness of the colors against the sunlit snow covered landscape is spellbinding in its realism.
On lesser-performing televisions, we’ve witnessed these same scenes with clipped details in hoof and paw tracks on the snow-covered ground backed by dark shadowed areas of the image. It’s a good look at what HDR is all about.
One of the real strengths of the Hisense 65H9G is how well it handles colors. When the set’s color temperature is in the “low” position, the set is closest to 6500 degrees Kelvin (natural sunlight). The look out of the box is pushed somewhat to the red or yellow spectrum, but this can be dialed back some with a 2- or 20-point white balance calibration, both of which are supported by the television’s advanced setting menu. Hisense also offers full color management system.
In either SDR or HDR, the 65H9G covered the respective BT.709 and UHDA-P3 color gamut spaces well. In HDR, the set presented better than 94% coverage, surpassing the UHDA’s threshold of 90% required to be considered a “premium UHDTV”.
In real world viewing, standard dynamic range (SDR) (BT.709 color space) images were bright and colorful. Live NFL football games were bright and rich in color depth. We put on the smooth motion processing to reduce blurring of fast moving objects, and found the results to be quite good. Unfortunately, there is no automatic sensor to switch these settings on and off for live video and film-based movies, respectively.
On Board Sound
The television’s on-board sound incorporates Dolby Atmos decoding, to help widen the sound stage from the small, thin 10-watt internal speakers. But you won’t get any overhead sound effects for which the Atmos system is best known. The overall sound delivery is pretty good as on-board TV speaker audio goes. Dialog is clear, and well-defined even against loud background effects. But for music and certain soundtracks the overall tone is still somewhat boxy and thin compared to a more powerful soundbar with a subwoofer or almost any multi-channel home theater speaker setup.
Our test sample included built-in far-field microphones for hands free Google Assistant voice control without the need of a separate speaker, although we found setup and functionality of the voice functionality somewhat clunky and unintuitive to setup and use. The far-field mics are positioned just below the Hisense badge on the center of the bottom bezel along with a microphone on/off switch for privacy seekers.
The system also supports Works with Alexa enabling voice control via an Alexa smart speaker or similar Alexa voice input device.
Hisense equips the series with the Android TV smart TV platform, running version 9 Pie of the software at the time of testing. The platform offers a nice selection of the most popular streaming channels and helps viewers find something to watch by posting on the home page specific programs it recommends from the viewer’s most-watched app channels. These are presented on consecutive rows of scrolling program thumbnails that are easy to highlight and select via the supplied remote.
Android TV also supports the Chromecast feature that lets users find apps on their mobile device and cast it to the Android TV for viewing on the big screen. This might be mostly redundant with the apps already installed on the TV but sometimes a non-support TV app will be accessible by the mobile device.
The Android TV v. 9 Pie OS offers a snappier response time and more customizable user interface than prior versions of the platform. However, in our tests, we were somewhat annoyed with the television’s need to reboot the Android TV app every time we turned the television on after several hours. The boot process isn’t crazy long, but it does take more than several seconds of watching silly graphical icons go through a setup dance while we wait to get to the content. We didn’t experience this as often with Hisense’s Roku TV series models.
Even with the picture turned off, the Hisense 65H9G has an impressive appearance. The screen measures just under 4 inches of panel depth at the thickest part, and the backing material is made of a dark gray rounded textured plastic.
Looking straight on, the screen is bordered by a pencil-thin bezel trim on three sides and marginally thicker chrome and gun metal chin piece that matches the unusual downward angled bow-tie stand. The side-facing edge of the border trim features a thin chrome accent sandwiched between sheets of gloss black plastic. The stand is a bow-tie look with two downward sloping triangular pieces that meet at the apexes directly under the center of the screen. This provide a solid base foundation for the set and prevents any panel wobble. Hisense adds a set of VESA mounting holes on the back panel to attach to most third party after market wall mounts.
The width of the unusual stand design is 13 inches from rear to front. This could present a challenge when placing a soundbar in front of the screen, as the stand will not allow placing the soundbar flush up against the screen. In addition, there are only 3.5 inches of clearance between the tabletop placement surface to the bottom edge of the screen, meaning some large soundbars could also block a small portion of the bottom of the picture.
The television’s remote control is not much to write home about. It is a more or less basic, standard 8-inch long multi-button hand unit with numerical keys at the top, just below the power and input controls. A four-direction arrow control with center-located activation button is placed square in the middle of the overall layout, and the rest of the control setting buttons are underneath, including at the very bottom, four fast-access app selectors for Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube and Google Play. There isn’t any button back lighting with the controller so finding the right one to push can be difficult in the dark. The remote is nicely balanced in one hand with buttons accessible to the thumb, with a little sliding up and down in the palm required. A mic pinhole for voice commands is positioned just above the directional arrow control for those who would rather speak their orders to the television.
The 65H9G has a good complement of connections including four HDMI 2.0b ports, one of which supports the standard Audio Return Channel (ARC) function but not the latest enhanced ARC (eARC) advancement. Also offered are two USB ports, a coax connection for cable or over-the-air antenna support, and a set of analog RCA inputs for legacy source devices with stereo audio and composite video jacks. A Toslink optical digital audio port is available along with a 3.5mm headphone jack. Internally, the set is outfitted to support for 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networks and Bluetooth, in addition to a tethered Ethernet connection for extra signal stability.
Three of the HDMI ports face out toward the left side of the screen along with the headphone jack, and a coaxial terminal. The power jack is positioned on the right side of the back panel.
The Hisense 65H9G has a low input lag, when set to Game Mode, of 14.9ms for 1080/60p and 15.1ms for 4K/60p signal input. That makes this a competitive tool for gaming. Unfortunately, this set is not equipped to support any of the new gaming features from the HDMI 2.1 specification, meaning no Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), no Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and no G-Sync or FreeSync support.
The Hisense 65-inch 4K/HDR Quantum Dot 65H9G holds its own along side the best 4K televisions we’ve tested so far this year, and at the current price it may be the best bargain of the year. It does have some niggling points including a slight degree of blooming in starfield patterns and some drop off in contrast and color when viewed off center axis, but this is still better than most LCD televisions in the market not costing hundreds of dollars more. Now the only challenge is getting a hold of one prior to the holidays. Happy hunting.
We therefore award the Hisense 65H9G 4K Ultra HD Full-Array LED LCD TV with quantum dot color enhancement 5 out of 5 hearts.
The Hisense 65H9G used for this review was a company loan.
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By Greg Tarr
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