Hisense Pushes Out ULED 4K TV Series Offering High Performance At A Value
Hisense is kicking off its 2019 4K “ULED” TV model year with stepped-up picture and sound performance in its H8F and H9F model series that are now or will soon be hitting store shelves at aggressively competitive prices.
The company is trying to expand awareness of its overall brand by pushing the better performing televisions in its product portfolio, which this year encompass models supporting its top “ULED” tier of performance feature packages. See our recent review of the 55-inch Hisense ULED 55H8F 4K Ultra HD LED LCD TV here.
In addition, the Chinese-based manufacturer flagged attention to its status as a display technology “innovator” by showcasing for select members of the press its forthcoming “ULED XD” 4K LED-LCD TV equipped with a 1080p black & white LCD panel cell bonded to a 4K full-color LED LCD cell and enhanced with quantum dot color enhancement film. This produces OLED-like (or even OLED-besting) gray scale and brightness performance at significantly lower prices.
The “ULED XD” 4K LED-LCD TVs won’t be ready for deliveries in the United States this year, but Hisense said it expects them to be here in early 2020. In the meantime, the company is putting some of the advanced picture processing to be used in those displays in its 2018 H8F and H9F 4K ULED models, which like the future ULED XD sets, both carry the latest Android TV smart TV platform.
Android TV is one of the top smart TV operating systems in the world primarily due to its large catalog of supported apps and streaming services, online games and voice-control interaction. In addition to the top streaming services, viewers can also stream content from their phones using Chromecast support bringing access to thousands of additional compatible apps.
The new Android TV OS also includes access to Google Assistant voice controlled search technology for program search/discovery, and to execute other other spoken commands of both the television and supported Google Assistant smart home devices. Via a push-to-talk mic button on the remote, viewers can get answers to questions about programs or films they watch, find weather updates or check calendars for a clear view of the day ahead.
Additionally, both the H8F and H9F televisions will download the Hisense skill for Amazon Echo devices to control other smart home products like light bulbs, door locks and the Hisense HiSmart Portable Air Conditioner that works with Alexa.
This year Hisense is incorporating processing chipsets it makes internally called “Hi-View” into its ULED TV models. With the Hi-View chipset, Hisense said its televisions automatically know when to make the colors more vivid or to adjust the balance of brightness and contrast for the best picture quality possible. Hisense uses various Hi-View chipset models to provide the right power and feature performance levels for the appropriate ULED model classes.
As previously reported, ULED is a sub-brand Hisense uses to denote televisions carrying a package of advance picture and sound performance features. This is different than other four-lettered nomikers other television manufacturers use to indicate a specific type of display technology or enhancement, like LG’s 4K OLED TVs or Samsung’s QLED quantum dot 4K LED LCD TVs.
As “ULED” televisions, the H8F and H9F series offer a range of performance criteria including: more brightness, higher contrast, smoother motion handling, wide color gamut greater than 90% of P3, and peak high dynamic range (HDR) brightness up to 700 nits for the H8F and higher for the H9F models. In the H8F series, peak brightness is technically too low to qualify for Ultra HD Alliance UHD Premium certification (e.g. 1000 nits peak brightness minimum), but the step-up H9F series models are expected to qualify.
The company is also expanding its U.S. retail distribution by selling its key model lines on some of the most active brick-and-mortar and e-commerce platforms, such as Best Buy, Best Buy.com and Amazon.
The H8F series stands as Hisense’s entry ULED television series, and, as mentioned, is based on the Android TV platform. A similarly featured R8F series coming later in the year will be based on the Roku TV platform.
Each of the H8F series models use full-array LED backlighting with local dimming offering more direct control over LEDs to generate better black levels. The number of LED local dimming zones varies by model screen size, and we expect the dimming performance will generally get better as the count goes higher. The 65-inch model has 60 zones, the 55-inch model has 56 zones and the 50-inch model has 32-zones.
The H8F models have native 60 Hz refresh rate LCD panels with MEMC and BFI smoother motion systems as well as support for HDR10 static HDR metadata and Dolby Vision dynamic HDR metadata platforms. They also surpass 90% of DCI-P3 wide color gamut.
Hisense said a third-party conducted consumer research study from Wakefield Research found U.S. consumers preferred the picture and performance of a Hisense H8F TV over models from competitors’ brands including Vizio and TCL.
Hisense reported the study indicated 83% of respondents credited Hisense H8F sets offering a high-quality viewing experience, compared to 57% who felt the same about Vizio and 47% who credited TCL. The study also found 77% credited the Hisense sets for high-quality audio, compared to 54% for Vizio and 49% for TCL.
The company said the study took data from 100 participants, who evaluated a Hisense H8F TV and rated the overarching picture quality, audio performance and general use experience against models from the TCL 5 Series and the Vizio M Series.
Prices of the H8F models are affordably positioned against competitive brands, with price points of $399.99 for the 50-inch (50H8F) model, $499.99 for the 55-inch (55H8F) model and $699.99 for the 65-inch (65H8F).
Models in the H9F ULED 4K Ultra HD LED LCD TV series will stand as the company’s “Premium ULED” 4K flat-panel TV line for the United States in 2019. Hisense said these sets will step up from the advanced feature set in the H8F and R8F model series by offering a native 120 Hz refresh rate panel and Quantum Dot color enhancement film to further expand the wide color gamut coverage (to 100% of DCI-P3) and color volume. The Hisense H9F models offer more direct-LED local dimming zones (100 zones for the 55-inch and 132 zones for the 65-inch model) and are said to produce HDR peak brightness up to 1,000 nits.
At the heart of the new H9F Premium ULED is the Hisense Hi-View DDS engine, controlling proprietary video processing algorithms for 4K Super Resolution images.
Additional features include: Motion Rate 480 image processing for additional motion smoothing beyond what the 120 Hz native panel will handle, and a wider viewing angle than the H8F, providing a rich colorful image from a greater number of seating positions around a room.
The Hisense H9F will be available in June at Best Buy and BestBuy.com, with the 55-inch model retailing for $699.99 and the 65-inch model debuting for $999.99.
By Greg Tarr
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