Skip to main content

Hands on: Hisense R8F 4K Ultra HD Roku TV review

The Hisense R8F combines the company's ULED technology with the inimitable Roku TV platform

What is a hands on review?
(Image: © Hisense)

Early Verdict

Hisense adds its proprietary ULED technology to a Roku TV, offering boosted brightness, contrast, color and motion handling. The only downside is that the bass response isn't all that powerful, and might mean you need to invest in a soundbar.

For

  • Full-Array Backlighting
  • Built-in Dolby Atmos
  • Wide viewing angle

Against

  • Weak bass response
  • ULED is a confusing acronym

Hisense is a value brand that's stepping up in the world thanks to its proprietary ULED technology that boosts brightness, contrast, color and motion as it vies to compete toe-to-toe with other major manufacturers like Samsung, LG and Sony.

Hisense's latest creation, the R8F, is its best shot yet: It's a superior-sounding TV that comes with built-in Dolby Atmos, enhanced by Hisense's ULED technology and bolstered by Roku TV OS that doles out free content like candy. 

It's going to face some steep competition, especially from the TCL 6-Series QLED and Vizio M-Series Quantum that both inhabit the same price range, but from what we've seen so far Hisense has a fierce competitor on its hands.

Hisense R8F price and release date

The R8F Series comes in both 55” and 65” screen sizes at the impressive introductory MSRP pricing of $500 and $700, respectively, and should arrive mid-December.

Design

What is ULED?

(Image credit: Hisense)

It's a marketing term developed by Hisense to differentiate itself. According to the company it's their "proprietary PQ enhancing algorithms [that] boost color, contrast, brightness and enhance motion". But inside it's still just a regular LED-LCD screen.

There's a lot to like about the R8F's design - it has a bezel-less design and looks very much like an OLED set and uses full-array lighting instead of edge-lit. The latter is important for providing better color and contrast while the former gives it a look that's more upscale than its bargain basement price would suggest.  

Just as good, Hisense ingeniously has both narrow and wide footprint options which allow for a larger screen on a smaller piece of furniture. If you already have a 55-inch TV you might be able to place the R8F 65-inch TV on the same base without having to buy a new entertainment center. And don't worry, both options are approved by standard government specifications that protect children from having the TV tip over on them.

(Image credit: Hisense)

Performance

The R8F includes several premium features including Hisense’s previously mentioned proprietary ULED technology which improves the TV image in real-time giving you higher contrast, brighter pictures, better visual processing and smoother motion. 

Its Motion Rate 240 (basically motion interpolation on top of a 60Hz panel) adds smooth image processing while its Hi-View engine image processing automatically adjusts sound and picture settings based on the content you're watching, eliminating the need to tweak the settings every time you watch something different. 

It also has a wide color gamut allowing HDR contents to have brighter highlights, a deeper level of contrast and wider color range for more realistic images using HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision.  

According to Hisense, the full array backlighting has up to 55 local dimming zones in the 55-inch model (60 zones in the 65-inch screen) giving us deeper blacks with up to 700 nits of peak brightness and compares favorably to Vizio’s M-Series and the Samsung Q60 QLED.

Of course, audio performance isn't forgotten about - this is the first TV that has Dolby Atmos audio decoding built-in as opposed to just passing through its audio signal. The R8F comes with two 15W left and right speakers which were demonstrated to have room-filling audio with three-dimensional sound.  

Overall, we thought the sound was impressive but the bass was a bit lacking. If you're someone who needs a hearty explosion that you can feel, you'll probably want a good quality soundbar or speaker system to go with this TV.

Early verdict

Thanks to Hisense's ULED technology, the R8F produces deep blacks and a great image with a wider viewing angle, uncommon for an LCD display while the Dolby Atmos integration creates room-filling sound that really only falters around the low-end.

You can expect to see the Hisense R8F models - the 55-inch 55R8F ($500) and 65-inch 65R8F ($700) - to be available December 2019 on Walmart.com and Amazon, however Hisense told us that they will not be available at any brick and mortar stores until sometime in the first quarter of 2020.

We'll go more in-depth with them in our final review but, as of right now, we feel that the R8F could give some of its competitors like the lauded TCL 6-Series, Vizio M-Series Quantum and Samsung Q60 QLED a run for the money.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.