Jumping aboard the 4K and HDR bandwagon can be a costly investment for many, which is why the market is ripe for a good UHD set that offers impressive performance at an affordable price point (you can pick it up for around $1,400–$1,500 if you shop around).
Hisense’s new Series 7 Ultra HD TV range fits squarely in this category, offering vibrant, crystal clear high-dynamic-range (HDR) images without breaking the budget. We recently tested the 55-inch model — the 55M7000UWG.
Boasting Hisense’s own patented ULED technology (it’s kind of like regular LED, only with a ‘U’ in front of it), the set’s display reportedly enhances colour, contrast, resolution and motion by using an advanced combination of hardware and software. Sounds a lot like what the other manufacturers are doing, although whatever Hisense is up to here, it is at least mostly working.
Sporting a lovely brushed-metal finish with a small bezel and thin frame (1235 × 763 × 218 with stand, 1235 × 713 × 60 without), the 55M7000UWG immediately impresses from an aesthetic standpoint. In fact, we’d put it up there with any high-end 4K television on the market in the looks department.
Included in the box is a metal stand that slots into the TV and can be screwed in firmly. It’s got a chrome finish and is quite attractive, holding the television strongly without protruding too much. Though the stand’s feet aren’t separated all the way to the edges of the set, they’re fairly wide apart, so you’ll need a wide enough base to place it on if you aren’t planning on wall-mounting the unit.
Its remote also feels quite nice to use, with soft, responsive rubber buttons and a light build that manages to still feel sturdy. As with many smart TVs these days, the remote has dedicated Netflix and YouTube buttons, allowing users to jump straight into those apps with no fuss whatsoever.
Colour me impressed
While it doesn’t quite reach the UHD Alliance’s full ‘Ultra HD Premium’ spec — the 10-bit panel it uses isn’t quite bright enough; it’s 500 nits rather than the proscribed 1,000 — it still produces a pleasing picture on the whole.
Using an edge-lit backlighting system, it’s able to produce nearly 500 local dimming zones behind the screen, and in testing we found the 55M7000UWG was able to display both bright and dark areas quite well simultaneously.
While it’s not up to the OLED standard of contrast controlled at an individual pixel-level, you might find Hisense’s ULED tech producing brighter images than some of its far more expensive competitors.
Colour reproduction on the Hisense ULED 4K TV is fantastic, supporting HDR’s wider colour gamut to produce images of exceptional vividness. A few test runs of HDR content, including Mad Max: Fury Road on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and Marco Polo on Netflix, showed a high level of fine detail and naturalistic colour gradation. The fact that Hisense’s set can produce these kinds of visuals at this price point is impressive, though it’s not entirely without flaws.
Running off an Opera-based operating system, the 55M7000’s interface controls nicely and is completely functional, although it can be slightly sluggish at times. Access to the Opera app store provides a large number of places to get streaming content, including a number of catch-up services, though some notable apps (like ABC iview and Stan) are so far unavailable.
Instances of artifacting appeared during 4K streams of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny on Netflix, with blocks of pixels surrounding some characters during fast movement, particularly whenever the camera was panning. While Netflix’s compression could be to blame here, we haven’t noticed this while streaming the film on other 4K HDR TVs we’ve reviewed.
There were also some frustrating compatibility issues regarding the set’s HDR support for some devices. Though the 55M7000UWG worked fine when connected to Panasonic’s 4K Blu-ray player, we were completely unable to display HDR images from the Xbox One S. Hisense is aware of the problem, which apparently affects a number of devices, and has said it’s working on a software upgrade to eliminate the HDMI compatibility issue.
Speaking of HDMI, it also took us a while to get the Xbox One S running in 4K. Eventually we realised that only two of the TV’s four HDMI ports support HDCP version 2.2, which is required for 4K. A few angry minutes of cable and port switching later, and the console was finally displaying at 2160p.
When you consider its affordable price point, fetching design and impressive list of features, Hisense’s ULED 4K TV proves to be exceptional value for money. Being able to boast HDR and 4K while hovering at around $1,500 will make the set a very attractive option those jumping into the next generation of television.
A few niggling issues aside, Hisense’s 55M7000UWG is terrific value for money — though we’d still suggest checking the prices of competitor sets before you pull the trigger. If you can find a 4K Samsung or Sony 55-incher on sale, spending only a few hundred dollars more might net you a superior telly.