Hisense grabbed attention at CES 2022 when it announced its U8H series, a 4K TV line that promised high performance at a budget price. The key feature responsible for the picture quality boost to be delivered by Hisense’s new sets was mini-LED backlighting, a tech found in the best 4K TVs, and one that’s known to deliver the high brightness levels required for high dynamic range (HDR) sources.
Not only does mini-LED tech allow TVs to display the full array of highlight detail in most images with HDR but, when combined with local dimming processing, it can also reproduce the deep shadows typically seen on the best OLED TVs. Add Quantum Dots, another feature found on the U8H series that delivers an enhanced range of colors compared to regular LCD-based models, and we’re looking at a powerful feature set for an affordable TV range.
And that's even before we get to the great next-gen gaming features, including 4K 120Hz support and VRR, which make it ideal if you own a PS5 or Xbox Series X. We may be looking at the one of the best 120Hz TVs on a budget.
Hisense sent me a 65-inch U8H for review, and after running an initial round of tests, it’s clear that this budget model does a few things just as well as pricier mini-LED-backlit TVs from companies like Samsung, LG, and Sony. I’ll hit those high points in a bit, but for now let’s take a look at the full suite of features to found on U8H series TVs:
- 55-, 65-, and 75-inch screen sizes
- 4K resolution with Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and HLG high dynamic range support
- HDMI 2.1 (2 inputs): 4K/120Hz / variable refresh rate (VRR) / auto low latency mode (ALLM)
- 120Hz refresh rate
- ATSC 3.0 tuner
- Google TV interface
- Filmmaker mode
- Remote with built-in Google Assistant
- Built-in subwoofer
- Multi-position metal stand (accommodates a soundbar)
Our full review of 65-inch U8H series 4K TV is forthcoming, so keep an eye out for it. In the meantime, here are three things we noted about Hisense’s new set that make it competitive with offerings from higher-priced brands.
1. High brightness and contrast ratio
Hisense’s specified peak brightness for the U8H series is 1,500 nits. That spec turned out to be somewhat conservative – in the HDR Theater picture mode we measured 1,775 nits (on a 10% white window pattern), which is close to the 2,000-plus nits peak light output that the best – and most expensive – mini-LED TVs are capable of hitting. The 65-inch U8H also managed an impressive 905 nits in Filmmaker mode, which is the preset providing the most accurate out-of-box picture settings.
The Hisense’s measured contrast was also excellent, with the set managing the “infinite” contrast ratio that other high-performance TVs are capable of. On mini-LED TVs like the U8H series models, this is done by shutting off the set’s backlight on a zone-by-zone basis to display the same full black level that OLED TVs achieve without any such “local dimming” processing.
2. Wide color gamut
While Hisense doesn’t list a specification for coverage of DCI-P3, the color gamut used for mastering movies for digital cinema and 4K Blu-ray disc, our measurements made using Portrait Displays’ Calman color calibration software revealed it to be an impressive 97%.
That result is close to the 99.5% coverage we measured on Sony’s A80K OLED model, and very much in line with what you can expect from the best-performing TVs, let alone a budget one like the U8H series. While I haven’t yet put Hisense’s TV through the ringer with my usual round of subjective viewing tests, I did note that the TV displayed rich colors on a few familiar clips, and that images also remained vibrant from off-center viewing positions.
3. Low input lag
The U8H series offers the key features gamers using next-gen PlayStation and Xbox consoles would look for in a TV: 120Hz native display, variable refresh rate (VRR), auto low latency mode (ALLM), and FreeSync support. The further good news for gamers here is that Hisense’s TV has low input lag when its Game mode is active. We measured 11.2ms, a result that lets it rank with the best 120Hz TVs for gaming.
According to Hisense, the U8H series’ HDMI 2.1 inputs "recognize gaming sequences to automatically adjust settings for smooth, uninterrupted play.” And while we didn’t get a chance to do any gaming with the set yet, it looks like its related features combined with impressive overall picture performance will make it a great option for gaming.
Hisense U8H series: budget mini-LED excellence?
Hisense made big promises for its U8H series, and from our initial testing of the 65-inch model, the company appears to have largely delivered.
Are there any performance issues that would give us pause? While the TV’s local dimming feature allows it to deliver deep blacks and detailed shadows, there was a degree of light “blooming” visible in high-contrast images when the Low Local Dimming setting in the Backlight menu was selected. We’ll be checking more into that, and reporting on it and other advanced performance features when our full Hisense U8H series TV review posts.
Get daily insight, inspiration and deals in your inbox
Get the hottest deals available in your inbox plus news, reviews, opinion, analysis and more from the TechRadar team.
Al Griffin has been writing about and reviewing A/V tech since the days LaserDiscs roamed the earth, and was previously the editor of Sound & Vision magazine.
When not reviewing the latest and greatest gear or watching movies at home, he can usually be found out and about on a bike.