Light bloom during off-angle viewing
So-so smart platform
The U8G is an upgraded version of last year's Hisense H9G, a TV that featured a bright, colorful picture but none of the future-facing features that its rivals were offering. This year, the U8G comes with all of the hardware and software enhancements that eluded the H9G, including HDMI 2.1 and next-gen gaming specs like Variable Refresh Rate and Auto Low Latency Mode.
Now that the U8G can compete with TVs like the Samsung QN90A in the all-important features category, its performance has more room to shine–and wow, does it shine. The U8G is one of the brightest TVs we've ever tested, and its quantum dot-powered color rivals every Samsung QLED we've tested this year. It still has some pain points (including a so-so smart platform and a design that won't be everyone's cup of tea), but the Hisense U8G is a huge improvement over last year's H9G, and one of the best LED TVs we've seen this year.
About the Hisense U8G TV series
The Hisense U8G replaces last year’s Hisense H9G and is available in just two sizes: 55 inches and 65 inches. Our review unit is a 65-inch model and was received on loan.
Here’s how each size shakes out from a price standpoint:
- 55-inch (Hisense 55U8G), MSRP $949.99
- 65-inch (Hisense 65U8G), MSRP $1,299.99
Both versions of the Hisense U8G feature a full-array backlight with local dimming, but while the 65-inch version features 360 local dimming zones, the 55-inch version only features 132 zones. This difference in zone count might make for slightly different performance, as more zones are preferable when it comes to contrast control.
Here are specifications shared by both the 55- and 65-inch versions of the Hisense U8G:
- Resolution: 4K (3,840 x 2,160)
- Display type: Full-array LED with local dimming and quantum dots
- HDR support: Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+, HLG
- Dolby Atmos: Yes
- eARC support: Yes
- Native refresh rate: 120Hz
- Smart platform: Android TV
- Color: DCI-P3 color space/10-bit chroma resolution
- Variable Refresh Rate (VRR): Yes
- Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM): Yes
- Other features: Filmmaker Mode, IMAX Enhanced Mode, FreeSync, Google Chromecast, Google Assistant, Alexa, Apple AirPlay 2
Hisense’s new remote control is much smaller than it’s been in recent years—closer to the size and shape of Vizio’s remote control, should you happen to be familiar. It features a microphone for use with Google Assistant and six dedicated app buttons.
Before testing each TV, we make sure the panel is on and receiving a continuous signal for at least 24 hours, allowing the pixels plenty of time to warm up. Our 65-inch U8G received this standard warm-up time before any readings were taken.
For SDR tests, we used the Hisense U8G’s “Theater Day” picture mode, and for HDR tests, we used the TV’s “HDR Theater” picture mode. We’ve chosen these settings because of their accuracy, but results may vary depending on which picture mode is enabled. For example, you’re likely to experience a brighter picture on the TV’s “Vivid” picture mode, but this sacrifices color accuracy.
To get a sense for the TV’s average performance, we use a standard ANSI checkerboard pattern for most of our basic contrast tests. We also use white and black windows ranging from 2% to 90% to test how well the contrast holds up while displaying varying degrees of brightness.
Our peak brightness measurements are taken with sustained windows, so these figures represent the TV’s peak brightness over a sustained period of time. Specular highlights (like brief flashes of reflected light) might reach higher brightness levels, but not for a sustained period of time.
All of our tests are created with a QuantumData 780A signal generator and tabulated via Calman Ultimate. I'll expand on our test results throughout the review, but for now, here are some key takeaways:
• HDR contrast (brightness/black level): 838.5 nits/0.106 nits (ANSI checkerboard)
• SDR contrast (brightness/black level): 679.6 nits/0.088 nits (ANSI checkerboard)
• HDR peak brightness (sustained): 2,280 nits (40% white window)
• HDR color gamut coverage (DCI-P3/10-bit): 98%
• SDR color gamut coverage (Rec.709): 100%
These measurements were taken with the U8G’s Local Dimming setting set to “High” with all of the TV’s motion enhancements turned off. In addition, both the “Noise Reduction” and the “Digital Noise Reduction” settings were set to “Low,” and the U8G’s ambient light sensor was deactivated.
Compared to its predecessor, last year’s Hisesne H9G, the U8G is much better suited for gamers and hardcore A/V enthusiasts. Like most premium TVs in 2021, HDMI 2.1 is part of the package, though only two of the U8G’s ports are HDMI 2.1-certified.
Here’s what you’ll find in a cutout on the back of the U8G’s panel:
- 4x HDMI (1x eARC, 2x HDMI 2.1)
- 2x USB (1x USB 3.0)
- RF connection (cable/antenna)
- Ethernet (LAN) input
- Digital audio output (optical)
- Composite input
- 3.5mm audio output (headphone jack)
What we like
So bright that you might need a pair of shades
From its quantum dots to its full-array backlight, the Hisense U8G is built for brightness. Its power is apparent the moment the TV is turned on. Everything—and I mean everything—looks bright on this TV, from the TV's menus to HDR content. Even run-of-the-mill SDR content like cable TV and older Netflix programming is far brighter on the U8G than HDR content is on most entry-level HDR TVs; according to our test results, the U8G outputs 600 to 700 nits of brightness on average while receiving an SDR signal.
But the real fireworks begin when you drop in a 4K Blu-ray or stream something in HDR. The U8G serves up a picture worthy of the format. While measuring test patterns in HDR, we clocked the U8G between 800 and 1,500 nits of regular, sustained brightness. The brightest measurement we took in HDR was 2,280 nits, which rivals some of the brightest readings we took when testing Samsung’s Neo QLED flagship, the Q90A. One of the first things I watched on the U8G was an episode of Our Planet called “The High Seas,” which features several sequences of dolphins zipping their way through the ocean. As the dolphins crested above the waves, sunlight bounced off their dorsal fins in spectacular fashion. Indeed, specular highlights—reflections, flames, and speckles of light—are where the U8G really unloads.
Another reason HDR content looks particularly impressive on the U8G is due to its respectable black levels: 0.088 nits in SDR and 0.106 nits in HDR, on average. These figures are, of course, nowhere near the pitch-black perfection offered up by OLED TVs, but for an LED TV with this sort of hardware, it’s better than average. Plus, the U8G’s searing highlights go a long way in making the black levels look deeper.
In addition to being brighter than last year’s Hisense H9G, the U8G also offers slightly better color production, particularly when it comes to extra-wide, HDR color. According to our lab tests, the Hisense U8G covers an impressive 98% of the DCI-P3 color space and 100% of the Rec.709 gamut.
HDR color, unsurprisingly, is the U8G’s bread and butter. The tell-tale signs of quantum dots are all over this TV’s picture—in addition to its sheer brightness, reds and greens tend to pop in a way that’s almost impossible to recreate on traditional LCD/LED panels that don’t feature this impressive display tech.
To my eye, the U8G doesn’t quite outpace the color production of Samsung’s current top-shelf QLED, the QN90A, but it comes very close. While the U8G’s P3 color saturation (~98%) is a hair beyond what we measured on the Q90A (~97%), Samsung’s mini-LED backlight allows it to localize its brightness better, creating color gradations that tend to be smoother than the U8G’s. For most folks, however, the differences between these two TVs’ color will be subtle. Given the gulf between their respective price tags, the U8G’s color production is all the more impressive.
Future-facing features for gamers and cinephiles
One of the biggest marks against the 2020 Hisense H9G was a lack of features and enhancements that would keep it at the top of its game for years to come. Gaming-related features like Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) were nowhere to be found, and the H9G didn’t offer HDMI 2.1 ports. The H9G didn’t even have an HDMI port that supported eARC, so Dolby Atmos passthrough was out of the question.
This time around, all of those features I just listed are included in the U8G’s impressive spec sheet. Two of the TV’s four HDMI ports are HDMI 2.1-certified and support 4K content at 120fps. VRR and ALLM are represented here, and gamers will be happy to learn that the U8G even supports FreeSync.
And you don’t need to be playing a 4K game at 120fps to appreciate the U8G’s 120Hz panel. The U8G’s motion handling is, to my eye, a significant step up from what I saw last year on the H9G. I did notice some minor stuttering during vertical pans, but I was able to mitigate this by increasing the TV’s “Judder Reduction” slider to its lowest setting. There’s also a “Blur Reduction” slider and several motion smoothing presets, but anyone who’s particularly allergic to the soap opera effect should probably avoid the presets and stick to the TV’s custom motion sliders.
In addition to its Dolby Atmos support, the U8G supports Dolby Vision, an essential spec as streaming platforms embrace the Dolby Vision standard. And, if you’re keeping score at home, the inclusion of Dolby Vision is one feature the rival Samsung QN90A doesn’t offer.
What we don’t like
Aggressive brightness can cause some issues
The aforementioned episode of Our Planet, “The High Seas,” also shed some light on the U8G’s biggest weakness: light bloom. While watching a deep-sea submersible plunge the darkest depths of the ocean, I noticed halos of light around the perimeter of the ship. Now, some of this light is obviously reflections captured in the footage itself—the ocean is a murky place, after all. However, if you sit yourself at an off-angle, you can really get a sense of how much the U8G struggles to rein in its LEDs when bright elements sit alongside darkness.
While we can’t speak for the 55-inch U8G and its 132 LED zones, the 65-inch model’s array of 360 zones does a pretty good job limiting light pollution during darker scenes, all things considered. But if you happen to be sitting away from a head-on angle, you’re going to notice a significant amount of light bloom—there’s just no way around it. It’s especially troubling when there’s several smaller points of bright light in a dark space (e.g., a shot of space in a sci-fi flick). With so many smaller bits of brightness, the U8G can’t help but lift the black regions of the picture, too.
Android TV is rough around the edges
Like the Hisense smart TVs of recent years, the U8G comes with Android TV baked right into the TV’s software. Not much has changed since last year’s Android TV integration on the H9G, and I still find the platform to be tougher to navigate than some of its competitors.
The best thing I can say about Android TV is that it’s supremely flexible when it comes to app availability and overall customization. It’s certainly more freewheelin’ than the rigidity of, say, Vizio’s SmartCast, whose app selection is limited to whatever Vizio offers.
Casual users, however, are probably better off pairing the U8G with an external streaming device for most of their streaming sessions. A platform like Roku simply offers a better-organized, easier-to-navigate experience.
Unique design might not be for everyone
Like its predecessor, the Hisense U8G is a handsomely cut (albeit chunky) panel that rests atop an eye-catching, butterfly-shaped stand. For folks who embrace the unconventional, the U8G’s blend of posh and unique might be attractive. For folks who want to play it safe with some minimalism, the U8G’s design might be too off-beat.
The stand's design is a refreshing departure from the wide-set, boomerang-shaped feet that have risen in popularity over the last several years, and it’s certainly nice to see companies thinking outside the box when it comes to TV design. That said, the stand’s footprint is pretty big, so depending on your TV stand’s depth, it might crowd the surface.
Should you buy it?
Yes—the U8G rivals some of the best TVs we’ve seen this year and costs much less.
If a top-shelf, quantum dot-equipped LED TV is on your wishlist this year but the premium price tag of the Samsung QN90A leaves you with serious sticker shock, the Hisense U8G should be high on your list of potential suitors. On average, it gets as bright (and regularly brighter) than the QN90A, and although we prefer the QN90A’s superior color production, the U8G’s colors are almost as impressive. Right now, the 65-inch U8G is about half the cost of the 65-inch QN90A.
Granted, the U8G doesn’t offer nearly as many bells and whistles as the QN90A, and Samsung’s mini-LED tech is better equipped at controlling its panel’s contrast. But if you ask me, the difference in cost is not at all representative of the difference in performance. The U8G offers comparable picture quality and most of the same critical features—for far less money.
Simply put, the U8G is, pound for pound, the best TV Hisense has ever made. While the H9G offered glimpses of greatness, its confounding lack of features no doubt kept it off shopping lists. This year, you’d be remiss not to include the U8G in the conversation—particularly if you own (or plan on owning) a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. Hisense might not be a brand name that casual shoppers in the states are familiar with, but it's one of the biggest TV manufacturers in the world, and its TVs are getting better with each passing year.
The U8G is an exceptional (and surprisingly value-packed) TV that will make a great home theater centerpiece—especially if you’ve got a bright living room.
Meet the testers
Senior Staff Writer@Reviewed
Michael Desjardin graduated from Emerson College after having studied media production and screenwriting. He specializes in tech for Reviewed, but also loves film criticism, weird ambient music, cooking, and food in general.
Senior Manager of Lab Operations@Jonfromthelab1
Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Lab Manager at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it's likely that Jon oversees its testing. Since joining the Reviewed in 2012, Jon has helped launch the company's efforts in reviewing laptops, vacuums, and outdoor gear. He thinks he's a pretty big deal. In the pursuit of data, he's plunged his hands into freezing cold water, consented to be literally dragged through the mud, and watched paint dry. Jon demands you have a nice day.
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