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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Hisense U7A Review

Hisense U7A Review
PRICE WHEN REVIEWED
  • £599
Hisense isn't a brand you're probably too familiar with. However, like certain phone companies, this Chinese brand is making waves in the UK for its solid-value mid-range TVs. The U7A is a prime example, offering good image quality along with decent specs at a lower price than you'd expect.


It's an official 'World Cup 2018' TV and displays the logo when you turn it on. That'll seem strange a few months after the tournament finishes, but a software update could change it for something subtler.

HISENSE U7A REVIEW: PRICE & AVAILABILITY
The U7A is the baby brother of the U9A range, being both smaller and having lesser specifications.

It's available in 50, 55 and 65in models, the latter of which is the only crossover with the U9A that comes in 65- and 75-in versions.

Availability is good, and you'll find the TVs stocked by Currys, AO.com , Very, Co-Op and others.

Technically the 55in model - H55U7A - is £799, but it's £599 almost everywhere you look. That means it's cheaper than the non-discounted 50in version, so is the pick of the range.

They're not available in the US, and the 65in model will set you back around £1199 - twice the price of the 55in.

HISENSE U7A REVIEW: DESIGN & FEATURES
No-one will accuse you of buying an ugly TV if you opt for the U7A. It has a study aluminium 'V' stand that takes just a couple of minutes to screw to the television.

Its bezels are extremely thin, too, as it the top half of the screen. The lower half, when viewed from the back, sticks out to accommodate all the electronics and inputs, but it's still quite svelte given the price.
Connectivity is also better than certain similarly priced rivals with four HDMI 2.0b inputs which all support HDCP2.2. However, only two will take a 60Hz 4K input with the other pair limited to 30Hz.

802.11ac Wi-Fi is built in, and there's a rear-facing Ethernet socket if you prefer wired networking. Two USB ports allow you to attach a hard drive for recording and pausing live TV (Freeview Play is built in) and plugging in a second drive to watch MP4, MKV and other formats.

There's also a bog-standard satellite tuner if you have a dish.

Audio is output via optical S/PDIF, a headphone jack or the TV's own 20W speakers. They're no match for a good soundbar, but are plenty loud enough - if lacking in bass - if you do need to use them.

It's possible to wall-mount the U7A, but if you don't you'll need a fairly wide unit to place it on as the 'crow's foot' stand is almost as wide as the TV itself.

The panel is LED backlit, as opposed to edge-lit, and unlike Philips' 6703, it offers local dimming. This is where sections of the screen can be dimmed independently of others, leading to (in theory) deeper blacks.

Interface
The U7A uses Hisense's Vidaa U interface, which we like a lot. It keeps thing clean and simple and offers very quick access to the stuff you want, and hides away the nonsense you don't.

The remote control is decent, too. Possibly slightly button-heavy for some, but it has useful shortcuts to Hisense U7A review, picture mode and a dedicated sport mode button.

The latter is there because the U7A is ostensibly aimed at football fans, but don't dismiss it if you're not into sports: it's great for watching normal TV and gaming too.

As there's Freeview Play, you get all the catchup apps including iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, Demand 5 and more. Netflix and Amazon players are compatible with 4K streaming, as is YouTube.

Settings are easy to navigate and it's quick to switch between picture modes. These are kept to a minimum: Standard, Cinema Day, Cinema Night, Dynamic and Sport.

For each you can tweak the advanced settings and save them per source, which is a handy  ability.

When watching TV from the in-built tuner, the software will auto-detect when it thinks you're watching sports and offer to switch to the Sports preset.

Tweakers will appreciate the picture quality settings, which include the abilty to fine-tune how much local dimming is applied. There are four settings for Ultra Smooth Motion, which does a decent job of reducing judder without eliminating detail. One of the settings is specifically for film, so you don't get the high-frame rate look when watching movies.

We also like that the resolution and frame rate are shown in the top-left corner when you press the P.Mode button twice, and this will also tell you when your source is outputting HDR too.

Speaking of HDR, the U7A supports HDR10 and HLG and, when receiving an HDR input, you'll have a set of HDR-specific picture modes: Day, Night and Dynamic. The latter is the one you'll likely prefer as it boosts colour saturation.

Performance
Considering the price of the 55in model we tested, image quality is remarkably good.

Black levels are impressive, as is backlight uniformity. If we're being picky, it's possible to notice slight unevenness in the top corners when light colours are displayed, but it's a minor quibble.

It's not amazingly bright with a peak brightness of around 300 nits, so as with the Philips 6703, you won't get the same impact from HDR content as on a TV that's twice as bright.

The standard mode is great if you want natural colours, but for any content that benefits from vibrant hues, the Dynamic mode proves that the LCD panel is capable of some zing.

If there's any real criticism, it's that viewing angles aren't the best. As soon as you move off-centre left or right, colour saturation drops noticeably. But if your layout means you're sat head-on, there's really no issue.

SPECS
  • Screen size/resolution: 55in, 3840 x 2160 pixels
  • HDR10, HLG support
  • Contrast ratio: Not stated
  • Brightness: Not stated
  • Speakers: 20w (2 x 10W)
  • Built-in tuner: Freeview HD, satellite
  • EPG: 7-day
  • Inputs: 3 x HDMI (all support HDCP2.2), 1 x Component
  • Outputs: Digital audio optical, headphone jack
  • Networking: 10/100 Ethernet, Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Ports and slots: 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0, CI slot
  • Physical dimensions (w/o stand): 1233 x 765 x 70mm (w/h/d)
  • Weight: 17.4kg
  • Average power consumption: 110W (average), B Energy rating
  • Warranty: 1 year return-to-base

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