Hisense U8G vs Samsung QN90A: Which should you buy?
Two of the best TVs of the year enter the ring. Only one leaves.
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If you’re willing to plunk down a pretty penny for a premium LED TV, there’s no time like the present. Across the industry, bright, colorful TVs are taking center stage, and while the price of near-perfect performance remains steep, there are plenty of options to choose from.
This year, the Hisense U8G and the Samsung QN90A are two such options. Both represent some of the best TV tech that each brand has to offer—premium experiences for folks shopping in a higher price bracket. Given Samsung's recent success at engineering premium flagship TVs, we weren't surprised that the QN90A is among the best LED TVs you can buy, but we were surprised with just how much the Hisense U8G gives the QN90A a run for its money. While both of these TVs boast stellar picture quality, posh design, and a laundry list of future-facing features, there are some subtle and not-so-subtle differences to know about before you invest in your next top-shelf TV.
Before we get into the details of picture quality and features, let’s take a look at the availability and pricing of each of these TVs.
The U8G is Hisense’s flagship TV for 2021. It’s available in just two sizes: 55 inches and 65 inches. While this simplifies shoppers’ decision making, folks who are in the market for a TV bigger than 65 inches will have to look elsewhere.
Here’s how the series shakes out from a price standpoint:
- 55-inch (Hisense 55U8G), MSRP $949.99
- 65-inch (Hisense 65U8G), MSRP $1,299.99
If you set aside the QN900A 8K Neo QLED TV series—a high-end luxury product that might be relatively hard to come by—the QN90A is Samsung’s best 2021 TV. The QN90A is available in four sizes, ranging from 55 inches to 85 inches.
Here’s the series at a glance:
- 55-inch (Samsung QN55QN90A), MSRP $1,799.99
- 65-inch (Samsung QN65QN90A), MSRP $2,599.99
- 75-inch (Samsung QN75QN90A), MSRP $3,499.99
- 85-inch (Samsung QN85QN90A), MSRP $4,999.99
The QN90A offers 75- and 85-inch options for people who are looking to splash out on a big, room-dominating TV, but both of the Hisense U8G’s size options are priced far, far lower than their Samsung counterparts. Barring any discounts, the 55-inch U8G is about $850 less than the 55-inch QN90 at time of writing. The 65-inch QN90A is about twice as expensive as the 65-inch U8G.
Our pick: Hisense U8G
Both of these TVs are premium flagships, and their outward appearances certainly play the part—these are top-shelf TVs through and through, and as such, their materials look sturdy and swanky. That said, there are some key differences that might factor into your decision-making process.
The Hisense U8G is a handsomely cut (albeit chunky) panel that rests atop an eye-catching, butterfly-shaped stand. 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. That said, the stand’s footprint is pretty big, so depending on your TV stand’s depth, it might crowd the surface.
For folks who embrace the unconventional, the U8G’s blend of posh and unique style might be attractive. For those who want to play it safe with some minimalism, the U8G’s design might be too off-beat.
The Samsung QN90A’s panel is thinner than the U8G’s and, from a visual standpoint, the rear chassis is less busy. Rather than rely on end-mounted feet, this handsome slab sits atop a curved, center-mounted stand that allows generous space for the placement of a soundbar and/or external streaming devices.
Cable management slots are incorporated into both designs—which is convenient—but given the large footprint of the U8G’s stand, the QN90A will likely offer more tabletop flexibility. And although beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the QN90A’s sleek, minimalist design is more our speed.
Our pick: Samsung QN90A
Features and smart platform
Being high-end TVs, both the U8G and the QN90A are kitted out with an array of features and enhancements. Before we get into some of the differences, let's take a look at which features these two TVs have in common:
- 4K resolution
- HDR (HDR10, HDR10+, HLG)
- Quantum-dot color
- 120Hz refresh rate
- HDMI 2.1 (4K @ 120fps)
- Variable Refresh Rate (VRR)
- Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)
Both TVs also feature built-in smart platforms, of course: the U8G is loaded with Android TV and the QN90A features Samsung’s Tizen-based Smart Hub. While we love the near-endless flexibility offered by Android TV, we find Samsung’s smart platform to be flexible enough and easier to use.
The U8G and the QN90A both offer High Dynamic Range (HDR), but only the U8G arrives ready to display Dolby Vision content. As of 2021, no Samsung TVs on the market support Dolby’s superior HDR format.
While both TVs offer HDMI 2.1 ports, only two of the U8G’s four HDMI ports carry the spec. On the other hand, all four of the QN90A’s HDMI ports are of the 2.1 variety. This might not seem like much of a difference, but consider this: if you own a Xbox Series X, a PlayStation 5, and an eARC-enabled soundbar, one of your exciting new gaming consoles will need to be relegated to an HDMI port that doesn’t support next-generation gaming features. With the QN90A, this isn’t an issue.
And although the U8G is no slouch when it comes to bells and whistles, it can’t quite compete with Samsung’s integrated software (Samsung Health, Samsung’s Game Bar, and support for Q-Symphony soundbars, for example). Between these enhancements, the superior smart platform, and the QN90A’s additional HDMI 2.1 ports, the winner is clear.
Our pick: Samsung QN90A
Let’s get one thing out of the way: The U8G and the QN90A are among the best LED TVs you can buy today. Their quantum dot-equipped displays deliver rich, accurate-but-psychedelic colors and searing highlights. In fact, these are the two brightest TVs we’ve tested this year, so both will pop in rooms that get a good amount of light.
Another similarity is that these two TVs look their best when viewed from a direct, head-on angle—move to the side and you’ll notice light bloom and slightly washed-out color. The good news? Due to their brightness, both TVs handle off-angle viewing better than most TVs equipped with VA-style panels.
Where you’ll start to notice some significant differences between the two is during dark content. Both TVs feature full-array local dimming, but while the U8G maxes out at 360 zones for the 65-inch model, the 65-inch QN90A undoubtedly offers far more. This is because the QN90A features mini-LED backlighting, meaning the LEDs are substantially smaller. The addition of more LEDs—together with their small stature—makes the QN90A more nimble when it comes to contrast control. In other words, darker portions of the picture can remain dark, even when brighter picture elements come into play.
We’ve spent a considerable amount of time with both TVs, and while they’re similarly impressive, the QN90A is noticeably better at limiting light bloom during darker scenes. So while the QN90A won’t net you Dolby Vision support, it is, pound for pound, the more cinematic experience.
Our pick: Samsung QN90A
And the winner is…
From its dazzling performance to its maximalist approach to features and enhancements, the Samsung QN90A is a better TV than the Hisense U8G. If you want the best, it's the Q90A all the way.
When all is said and done, however, the U8G might end up being one of the most value-forward TVs of the year, as it essentially offers about 80% of the QN90A experience for a fraction of the cost. It’s as bright as the QN90A, delivers incredible HDR color, and comes with a toolbox full of gaming-related features.
If you’re looking for better hardware, better performance, and a better selection of features, go with the Samsung QN90A. If you want to be thrifty while still landing one of the best TVs of the year, the U8G is a perfect suitor.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.