Review: Hisense 65H9F 4K TV Takes A Quantum Leap
Hisense recently launched its H9F 2019 premium 4K Ultra HD LED LCD TV series which ups the picture quality game with quantum dot color expanding technology.
The two-model series (so far) is the next step up from the H8F series in Hisense’s ULED Premium 4K lineup. The H9F benefits from several advancements over more middling LCD TVs, including the use of quantum dot color enhancement film, full-array local dimming and attractive, contemporary design styling. The series includes the 55- ($599.99 retail) and 65-inch ($899.99) screen sizes, both of which are smart TVs based on the Android TV operating system. This provides advanced intelligent interactivity with a legion of Android TV devices and access to a huge library of streaming apps.
The H9F lineup significantly steps-up the picture quality performance this year through the use of both full-array LED backlighting with more than 100 zones of local dimming and quantum dot color enhancement film comprised of millions of nano-particle sized dots of heavy metal compositions that radiate bright shades of red and green when excited by the blue LED backlight. This technology produces colors that get very bright, enhancing the color volume and increasing the number of visible shades on the screen from convention SDR displays.
Hisense’s implementation of this technology is quite impressive presenting a wide gamut of life-like colors covering almost 98% of the DCI-P3 color space recommedation for professional movie theaters.
At these prices, the line will go up against Samsung’s 2019 QLED 4K TV models in the Q70 and Q60 series, both of which also use quantum dot films, as well as better-performing TCL and Vizio quantum dot models. From what we’ve seen the Hisense 65H9F is a true contender against this competition and a recommended HD Guru buy.
The 65-inch model we reviewed has full-array LED backlighting covering approximately 132 local dimming zones that are evenly spaced across the LCD backplane. These zones of LED lights can be individually dimmed and brightened as required by the picture, even allowing a zone to be turned off completely to produce deep blacks.
This isn’t quite as effective as a self-emissive display, like a much pricier OLED TV, that allows turning off light at the pixel level for pure blacks, but it isn’t far off, and LED backlighting allows the panel to get quite bright (just shy of UHDA premimum-level 1,000 nits peak luminance by our measurements) to produce radiant specular highlights that add a 3D quality to the images.
The H9F isn’t perfect. There is some noticeable blooming of bright objects on dark backgrouds, but this is minimal compared to many other LCD televisions in this price class. Hisense also quite effectively controls so-called flashlighting, where bright elements of the picture bleed through into the bordering letter-box frame on wide-aspect ratio movies. The LCD television also can washout some color and contrast in very bright standard dynamic range (SDR) picture hot spots.
Being an LCD TV, the Hisense 65H9F suffers from a narrow viewing angle. Standing up and looking down on the screen washes out contrast and colors right away, as will moving to a viewing position to the left or right of dead center screen. The drop off is only a few degrees off center, which should be considered if the TV is to be placed in a large room where people will be watching from a wide radius around the screen.
4K Is AOK
As for 4K resolution and high-dynamic range (HDR), the Hisense H9F is a solid mid-range contender. The specular highlight elements in Dolby Vision and HDR10 content are quite bright and seemingly three dimensional at times.
Flesh tones in HDR facial closeups in the Ultra HD Blu-ray version of The Shape of Water were tack sharp and realistic on our calibrated sample set. This was only occasionally smeared with motion blurring in sudden head movements.
Specular highlights in HDR10 and Dolby Vision images get noticeably brighter then the surrounding background elements, making them seem to standout in the foreground. We measured HDR10 peak luminance of 956.1% in a 10% D65 white window pattern on a solid black background. This is just shy of the 1,000 nit peak luminance the Ultra HD Alliance uses as the threshold to Premium HDR performance. But to get that we had to put the picture mode in HDR Vivid mode, and turn local dimming to “high” (this boosts the backlight to full) and the contrast pinned at full.
When set to HDR Theater mode, which is the proper setting for D65 color temperature, we measured 488.3 nits in a 10% white window.
Moving to a 25% window pattern yielded 934.2 nits in HDR Vivid mode and 386.1 nits in HDR Theater. A 50% window pattern registered 514.1 nits in HDR Vivid mode and 386.1 nits in HDR Theater mode, and a 100% window pattern registered 290.3 nits in HDR Vivid and 284.7 nits in HDR Theater mode. Keep in mind, that HDR Vivid is basically a store mode and not what is recommended for home use in most scenarios. HDR Theater mode is therefore the most realistic setting and the brightness levels are significantly dimmer than they would be in HDR Movie mode on much more expensive Samsung 4K QLED LED LCD TVs, like the 65Q80R or 65Q90R models.
For black level the Hisense 65H9F measured 0.0906 nits using a solid black center target inside concentric rings of ever-brightening shades of gray. Measuring a solid black screen with 1% percent windows of 100% white in each corner to keep backlights turned on, we measure 0.0910 nits. This is just slightly above the 0.06 nit threshold specified by the UHDA from Premium level certification. (It’s possible that our SpectraCal C6-HDR colorimeter was measuring brighter than a light meter the UHDA might use). We would classify this as a Premium level HDR TV.
Even after calibration, the H9F had trouble matching up with the EOTF HDR gamma pattern, which could mean that some images were presented with greater brightness than the film makers originally intended. But to the average viewer, this is mostly indiscernible.
HDR colors were rich and bright in the UHD digital streaming version of “Can You Ever Forgive Me.” Bright specular highlights from room lights in various scenes gave 3D qualities to actors faces and eye highlights. Compression noise was handled well and didn’t present any obvious distractions.
Blooming and haloing was pretty well contained on the moving starfield patterns from the Spears & Munsil Hand Forged Video Ultra HD Blu-ray calibration disc, with room lights on. However, blooming artifacts were much more visible in a dark room on the dimmer patterns. The condition worsens significantly when viewed off axis. Still, this set handled the toture test (its really designed to show off self-emissive displays) well compared other LCD TVs and even to some other quantum dot televisions.
Being a quantum dot-enabled 4K LED-LCD TV the Hisense 65H9F excels in color performance. Out of the box we measured HDR10 with a 94.5% DCI-P3 color gamut coverage, which is more than the 90% P3 coverage required for a premium 4K Ultra HDTV by the UHDA. After HDR calibration we were able to boost that coverage to more than 97% of UHDA-P3.
Colors were similarly excellent in standard dynamic range (SDR) measuring for the BT.709 color space.
The Hisense 65H9F uses a 120 Hz native refresh rate panel, which generally does a good job on its own handling motion blur and judder. For those who need more, Hisense adds its own motion smoothing and processing, called Motion Rate 480, that has multiple settings for smooth motion resolution and judder reduction in pans. The set even includes a customization controls to dial in just the right amount of judder reduction and de-blurring. But be careful, most of these settings will dial up the dreaded soap opera effect that makes film-based content look overly sharp, like live video instead of warm film tones. We recommend turning the motion smoothing circuitry off for watching movies and film-based television programs. Motion Rate 480 can be used for sports and newscasts.
The Hisense 65H9F does a pretty good job keeping low-light and mosquito noise from becoming too distracting, but in certain content the sharpness of the display does tend show up noisy film grain in a more noticeable way than it would have appeared on a projection screen. One example of this is seen in the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc version of Oliver Stone’s The Doors (The Final Cut). We caught ourselves occasionally taking our eyes off the central actor in a scene to look at the moving stuff in the background. Film grain has its charms, but a little goes a long way on bright 4K LED LCD TV. Unfortunately, the noise reduction controls on the television didn’t do much to reduce the issue.
However, the television did a nice job minimizing low light noise in the night harbor scene at the start of the HD Blu-ray version of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. In fact, the H9F does an excellent job of upscaling lower resolution content, particularly 1080p Blu-ray material, which shows off rich colors with few noticeable upscaling artifacts like jaggies or diminshed clarity.
Uniformity and Screen Glare
The 65H9F had slightly noticeable dirty screen effect on a 100% gray screen. This was occasionally noticeable in pans across bright backgrounds in real world video sequences. Black uniformity was relatively consistent, thanks to the expanded local dimming zones. As mentioned, blooming and haloing was present but looked much better than typical edge lit panels or center-weighted direct lit LED panels. We didn’t observe any distracting flash lighting into letter boxed borders.
The Hisense 65H9F has a glossy screen surface which doesn’t do a lot to mitigate room reflections. In dark scenes, viewers will occasionally find their reflections looking back at them a scenes cut to black. This can be a distraction from time to time, but one that can be helped by keeping room lights low when watching video.
The Hisense 65H9F is a decent gaming display. In game mode it registered input lag of 18.7 ms in 1080/60p and 4K/30p. Combined with a native 120 Hz panel, game action is smooth and reasonably fast for competitive action.
The H9F series TVs have a nice collection of inputs to support most common source devices. These include: 4 HDMI 2.0a inputs with HDCP 2.2 copy protection, 2 USB ports, an optical digital audio output, Ethernet (LAN) port, coaxial antenna/cable input, a set of analog composite AV inputs and a headphone jack. Audio return channel (ARC) and CEC multi-component control are available on HDMI input No. 1. The H9F models do not support HDMI 2.1 extensions such as VRR, eARC or ALLM.
Hisense has offered several tiers of smart TVs determined by three different operating systems: Roku TVs with the built-in Roku OS, VIDAA, which is Hisense’s proprietary smart TV OS, and Android TV, which the company is now promoting as its premium smart TV platform in the United States.
The Android TV OS has been updated and improved for greater ease of use and compatibility with popular Android features like built-in Chromecast video sharing and Google Assistant AI voice control technology that users can access to perform basic television tasks like control the volume and search for favorite movies or programs. It will also let users control various Google-home-compatible smart home devices by spoken commands.
Further, users of Amazon Alexa smart speakers and similar Alexa AI products can setup the TV with an Alexa Skill to have the far-field-mic equipped Alexa device receive spoken commands to perform similar tasks to Google Assistant.
The platform also hosts a huge selection of popular streaming app partners including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Cracke, PlutoTV and YouTube, among many others. Cord cutters will find live streaming platforms including Sling TV and Hulu Live, as replacements for pricey cable or satellite TV subscriptions. The built-in Google Chromecast even allows sharing streaming apps and videos from a smart mobile device on the big screen.
Owners of Android phones and tablets can use the Google app to easily setup up the Hisense H9F TV to work with a home network and link with compatible wireless devices.
The Hisense 65H9F has an attractive and somewhat different looking design. The screen features a standard thin-bezel trim with a black inner frame bordered on the edges by chrome. The panel depth is almost OLED-like in thinness at the top of the screen, getting gradually thicker in the middle of the back panel on down, where most of the circuitry, ventilation and inputs are housed.
What makes the look different is a two-piece bow-tie-style stand comprised of two triangular metal pieces angled up toward the center base of the screen, where the apex of each triangle meets under the Hisense logo on the bezel chin. The each side of the “bow-tie” is curved downward to the tabletop surface. This is both more attractive and more sturdy than the typical feet used for the majority of budget-class televisions today. The 65-inch model measures 57.1 x 33 x 2.9 inches without stand and weighs 43.7 pounds.
Hisense equips the 65H9F with a serviceable on-board 2 main-channel, 15 watt speakers that present clear, clean dialog and better-than-average music and sound effects handling, but with a somewhat boxy, hollow depth of sound. It’s recommended that users consider getting a good quality soundbar or full home theater system to complete a truly immersive home viewing experience.
Hisense has made it clear that it doesn’t intend to remain relegated to a promotional class of 4K television sets, and this year it is finally bringing some of its higher-tech flat-panel products to U.S. retail shelves. In the 65H9F, Hisense has produced a television that presents premium-level color quality for a relative bargain at under $1,000, and we can’t wait to see what the company comes out with next.
We therefore award the Hisense 65H9F four out of five hearts.
The Hisense 65H9F used for this review was a company loan.
By Greg Tarr
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