What is the Hisense H55U7A?
The U7A is available in three screen sizes, the 50-inch H50U7AUK (£649), this 55-inch H55U7AUK (£699) and the larger 65-inch H65U7AUK (£1199) that Steve reviewed recently. With a quick look around the internet we found the H55HU7A we are reviewing here available for £579 from John Lewis and Currys PC World (August 2018) so it can be considered a budget screen. The drive of Hisense is to offer cutting edge and high performance products that challenge the ‘old guard brands’ at competitive prices. There is no doubt they are gunning for the value for money award, so does that translate to excellent image quality? Let’s find out.
The U7A screen has no physical bezel but there is a 10mm black edge to the panel image around the sides and top, with a 20mm section to the bottom of the screen. Here we get the Hisense logo in the centre of the bottom edge and to the left is a clear plastic bubble, which houses the standby light. Around the edge of the screen is a metal strip, which is silver to the top, black on the sides and then a silver design to the bottom that widens to the right hand side, looking from the front.
Overall the 55U7A has a nice contemporary design with a good level of build quality considering the price point. There is a nice use of metals within the design that give it a solid and stable feel with some nice design touches like the silver top and bottom edges, and slim appearance from the side view.
It’s important to point out that only HDMI 1 & 2 are full bandwidth HDMI 2.0 capable (full 4:4:4 50/60Hz 4K signals) with 3 & 4 capable of only accepting HDMI 1.4 signals (up to 4K 30p). Whist this is a shame it also mirrors the approach of other manufacturers in the current market. There is also support for CEC, MHL and ARC from the HDMI slots.
There’s built-in Wi-Fi (802.11ac, dual-band 2.4 and 5GHz) as well as an Ethernet slot, three USB ports (two 2.0 and one 3.0), Freeview HD and satellite tuners, and an optical digital input.
The finish is in black with a glossy edge and satin back to the raised buttons. The rear is rounded so it fits neatly in the hand and there is a decent weight to the unit that make it feel solid.
There are two large direct access buttons to the bottom of the remote for YouTube and Netflix as well as accessing the Apps and Media connected to the TV via your network. The symbols used on the buttons, replacing the traditional text, are intuitive and easy to understand and the keys are large enough to help find what you want in the dark. Sadly there is no backlight.
Finding your way around the Freeview Play channels was easy but not as intuitive as BT or SKY set top box UIs or the one used by Panasonic, but you can soon find your way around and the channels you want to watch. The TV guide is Freeview Play based so allows plenty of options that include every catch up service for the terrestrial broadcasters.
Hisense H55U7A Features
The U7AUK can support HDR10 and HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) and Wide Colour Gamut signals but there is no support for Dolby Vision or HDR10+ and we are not aware of Hisense being able to add either to this set in the future, so don’t go buying one on the possibility that it might happen, chances are it won’t. Hisense call their HDR support HDR Perfect.
Ultra Colour, Ultra Contrast and Ultra Motion are Hisense marketing terms for the various image-processing features on board the 55U7A. Ultra Contrast uses the local dimming to adjust the brightness on a scene-by-scene basis to try and give the best contrast performance possible. The Hisense U7A doesn’t use Quantum Dots for the colour performance of the panel, so it will be interesting to see exactly what Ultra Colour ends up looking like. Ultra Motion is the name for the frame interpolation technology employed on the U7A that adds in frames to make motion appear smoother.
Out of the Box Measurements
Moving to the colour gamut (top right) we are looking for tracking to be close to the Rec.709 standard for SDR HD material. We can see our cyan push from the white balance results in the tracking chart here which has pulled most of the tracking across towards the cyan side of the chart. For the most part the tracking points from 75% saturation and below are more or less covering the Rec.709 points but shifted due to the white balance of the preset. By calibrating the white balance we should see those points fall back to where they should be. Colour luminance, which is not shown in the above graph, is actually very good indeed, so we are confident that with a slightly more accurate white balance setting from factory, Hisense would be able to get very accurate TVs out of the box, so it’s a shame it just misses on this occasion. Obviously you have to accept there will be some panel variance on a mass produce consumer display at this price point.
Moving to the Rec.709 colour gamut for HD (top right) we can see that fixing the white balance has fixed the issues of the tracking moving towards cyan. We also used the built-in CMS to apply very slight adjustments to get everything lined up as closely as we could. We then rechecked that the luminance (not shown) was also where it should be. We are really quite happy with the result obtained here and there are no visible errors with onscreen material with skin tones looking accurate and no saturation issues or overly bright colours. All in all the U7A puts in a good calibrated performance.
Wide Colour Gamut (top right) results are shifted towards cyan just like our SDR results which points to the Hisense not copying over those settings for HDR content, it has a separate preset for this, which is welcome. Actual colour tracking was not great but it managed something of an attempt to try and cover some of the gamut points. This didn’t manifest itself into anything that was overly objectionable with actual HDR viewing content with most colours looking decent enough, if a little drab and lacking saturation.
No matter how we tried to measure the Hisense U7A we couldn’t get a peak brightness measurement higher than 260nits. We used CalMAN and Klein software along with changing to dynamic mode, upping contrast and generally looking at what we could be missing, but it didn’t change the result. It was the same for full field, 10% and 5% window measurements. This matches the EOTF results so the U7A is only capable of 253nit peak brightness. This was also confirmed with our hours of watching various well know HDR10 content and finding that there was a real lack of dynamic range on the U7A with all of it. It looks like a slightly brighter overall SDR image, but not a high dynamic range image. Hisense obviously know the weakness of this panel and as such has set about making sure that it’s HDR playback doesn’t show up the shortcomings but not pushing hard to produce an image that might get brighter but be less natural looking and harder to watch. Results were 63% XY for Rec.2020 colour coverage and 71% UV, plus 88% XY and 94% UV. However colours were muted and less vivid and saturated than expected in the HDR mode, which points to lacking colour luminance overall. Again the U7AUK is set up to map HDR content to match its strengths here. One area where the lack of brightness helps is with the edge LED lighting which is less noticeable than other such TVs which are far brighter with HDR content, so there is no obvious light pooling or clouding in HDR modes.
Hisense H55U7A General Performance
Panel Uniformity and Viewing AnglesThe U7A uses a VA panel which means that it produces some excellent black levels, but at the expense of the viewing angles. Viewed directly the Hisense gives its best performance for contrast and colour, but stray off even just 30 degrees and this drops off quickly. It also makes the edge LED lighting more noticeable and you notice more in the way of light pooling and clouding onscreen. So this TV is not the best option if you have a few seats off axis.
Panel uniformity was also average on our review sample with some noticeable colour changes on a full white field pattern and some dirty screen effect (DSE). This was also noticeable on football viewing with visible bands and DSE visible in the large areas of green. Viewing in the dark also exhibited clouding issues at the bottom of the screen where the LEDs are positioned, although this was more minimal in the best viewing position. Indeed sitting directly on mitigated most of these issues and the TV is not as bright as some LED LCDs, so light pooling and DSE were not as pronounced on the U7A. These are all issues with the technology in general and visibility of these items will vary, as panels tend to vary from set to set. It is something to be aware of.
Black Levels, Contrast Performance and Local DimmingAs the 55U7A uses a VA panel the black levels are actually good for an LED LCD TV with a measured performance of 0.03nits with the local dimming off. We also saw no improvement in this figure with it switched on in the low setting. We wouldn’t actually use the TV with the dimming set any higher as it visibly adjusts the entire screen brightness and can start pumping luminance with tricky scenes.
Contrast is not the strong point of this TV especially when it comes to the HDR performance, but used in a typical living room it produces a reasonable picture quality for SDR and a more muted HDR performance.
Motion Handling and Video ProcessingWithout using the Ultra Smooth Motion feature on the 55U7A the TV managed to perform to a very reasonable standard with TV and film content. It displayed 24fps material correctly with no induced judder or blur and motion resolution was clocked at around 300 lines, which is what we would expect from an LCD panel. Given it uses a 120Hz panel we also saw no issues with 50/60Hz material and 50i was also displayed correctly with no frame skipping or repeating.
Switching to the Ultra Motion frame motion features we have five settings – Film, Clear, Standard, Smooth and Off. Film basically repeats frames with 24fps material, where the other settings all add frame interpolation and with it varying degrees of SOE (Soap Opera Effect). These settings may be preferable to user watching video content and fast moving sports and some experimentation would be an option for users. We wouldn’t use those settings with drama or film content.
Watching HD broadcast material in 1080i or Blu-rays showed that the video processing on-board was able to manage the job of upscaling this content to the panels native resolution. It also passed all our usual tests with flying colours giving us no concerns that it can handle every day tasks as well as the latest 4K content. Some broadcast SD is beyond saving by even the best in the business, so just don’t expect miracles if you watch those channels, but why would you get a 4K TV and then do that!
Input LagThe H55U7A has a games mode switch in the picture presets that should be switched on to get the lowest lag time possible. Input lag was 31ms in both SDR and HDR varieties and gaming on the Hisense U7A was good fun with an HDR image that was consistent and bright enough throughout, with no dimming over time. We didn’t have any fear of leaving logos and HUDs on screen for long periods of time and there wasn’t any issues with edge blur or motion in general. While it is far from being a bright TV in HDR terms, we did find it useful and relaxing to play for long periods.
Sound QualityThere is no fancy acoustic screen or soundbar with the Hisense H55U7AUK but there are stereo speakers that fire downwards from the panel and are powered by 15w per channel. Sound quality however can be best described as functional and below average. We found the sound quality was very shrilly in all the various settings and also had the odd occasion where switching on the TV we were met with no sound at all and had to factory reset from the sound menu to fix this. We think this is likely a bug on our review sample and not a major issue for other owners.
Hisense describe their sound system as dbx-tv and in their marketing claim it is as good as a soundbar. We tend to disagree with that assessment and would recommend that if you are considering this TV you should leave some room in the budget for a quality soundbar. Overall the Hisense sound quality is functional but probably the weakest part of this package in performance terms
Hisense 55U7A Out of the Box SDR Picture PerformanceDynamic Mode – As you would expect by the naming of this picture preset it has everything turned up to the maximum, so there are very blue looking whites with a blue cast to the entire image, along with oversaturated colours and image sharpening turned up full. This at first might give an image that draws the eye but keep watching and you soon see issues with edge enhancement, motion artefacts and everyone looking well tanned with plasticine faces. Because of the brightness push (although this is still not a bright TV in LCD terms), facial pores and shadow lines are missing which makes everyone look like they have had Botox, and other detail is blown out making images bright, but flat and two dimensional, with bloated edges that are over enhanced. It’s best to avoid this preset.
Sports Mode – This is almost identical to the Dynamic mode in terms of brightness and colour, but with a warm white balance that is less blue. This is still not accurate but helps with detail retrieval in faces and other areas that were blown out in the Dynamic mode. The motion enhancements suit fast moving sports action but there are also issues with some artefacts from the frame interpolation. You can get a more accurate image for colours and white balance elsewhere and the same motion, but if you want bright and vivid with your sports it does what it says in the description, but we still wouldn’t personally choose to use it.
Standard Mode – Like most other TVs on the market the Standard picture mode is a catch all set up which has reduced brightness, more reasonably saturated colours and better white balance, but it is still not the most accurate setting for film and TV viewing. It also has many picture processing features switched on as default. Adaptive Contrast, Ultra Smooth Motion, and Noise Reduction features are all switched in their medium settings and we would switch these off for a more accurate picture quality and motion. Soap Opera Effect is apparent here (and in the top two presets) which can make dramas and films look like video and we noticed a lot of artefacts caused by the frame interpolation. Once these are switched off the Standard mode could be used for bright room viewing if you find Cinema Day or Night to struggle during the day. It is certainly a personal preference decision to use this preset.
Cinema Day or Cinema Night – These are the most accurate picture modes out of the box to watch TV and film content. There are still some of the picture processing features turned on in the low settings which we would advise are switched off for the most part. Once done we found the out of the box performance to be very good at this price point, with accurate enough colour reproduction and good white balance which adds back some much needed warmth compared to the very blue images in the other presets. The differences between these two presets are the gamma curve where the Day setting is 2.2 and Night is set to BT.1886 for dark room viewing.
We found the satin effect to the front of the H55U7A screen helps in bright rooms to stop major issues with screen reflections and the Cinema Day preset we found to be bright enough to cope in such a room. You can also adjust the backlight slider in the menus to raise image brightness if you find the default is struggling, keeping the white balance advantage rather than moving to one of the blue and cool looking brighter modes.
In daytime viewing we had no issues with the U7A watching HD TV channels and Blu-rays. In darker rooms we did start to notice some issues with missing shadow detail and some edge blooming around bright white text against black backgrounds. We also noted there was a degree of DSE present, especially with uniform colours over the majority of the screen and some light pooling and bands. These issues were not overly bad, but we mention them for completeness of our assessment. If you move off axis then these issues do start to become far more obvious and off-putting. We found saturation of the colours to be a little muted with HD SDR but again this wasn’t a major issue for the majority of our viewing. Even with 2.40:1 content the black bars when viewed straight on remained black enough to not cause any distraction. Animated content looked bright and vibrant and sports managed to display the kits with decent amounts of detail and motion was great with minimal blur. We didn’t notice any black trailing with fast moving content either. Overall the U7A dishes up the type of image performance we expect for the price point and technology being used.
Hisense 55U7A Out of the Box HDR performanceYou have a choice of three picture modes when the TV switched over to High Dynamic Range. You have HDR Dynamic, HDR Day and HDR Night. We found that while HDR Night was a little darker than Day and Dynamic, it had the batter balance of image luminance and tone mapping of the PQ curve, giving items more detail and depth. The major problem for the 55U7A is it’s lack of overall image brightness and what you are watching is an image just slightly brighter overall than the SDR image, but at least it is a consistent and solid image and it doesn’t have instances of being overly bright or dark. Shadow detail is good with some clipping just above black, but it remains black and not dark grey, so adds solidity to the image. The New Vegas scene in Bladerunner 2049 is well rendered with no posterisation given the vast levels of orange light and gradations of hue, which are handled really well here with no obvious issues. Peak highlights are dull however and there is a lack of visual pop to well trodden demo scenes we use for all TV reviews. However it has to be said that the excellent APL handling and tone mapping do give you an image that doesn’t show up any glaringly obvious image issues, unlike far brighter LCD models at higher price points. Basically you are not getting an HDR image here, but you are getting a representation of the 4K HDR discs with superb resolution and a nicely consistent image which is only a little muted colour wise and dim HDR wise.
We found HDR gaming to be the same as the film watching and here you could also use the dynamic mode if you wanted a tad more image brightness at the cost of the darker and more realistic luminance (gamma) curve. Brightness is constant here and doesn’t dim at all, giving you a good platform for immersive gaming, but the lack of bright highlights does render the HDR gaming experience as dull. You may as well be gaming in Rec.709 HD as the Hisense just can’t display a high dynamic range, wide colour image in any way, but that is an issue for all sets around this price level. The advantages here are hours of 4K gaming with a bright image and no dimming with the added plus points of no image retention or burn-in. It’s just a shame that the lag time wasn’t down there with the best screens available, but then you are paying far more money for those.
Hisense 55U7A Calibrated Image QualityWith SDR content the Hisense 55U7A looked excellent with good white balance and colour saturation. Skin tones looked natural and we had no issues if red push or any tint to whites. Black levels were decent with just a little shadow detail missing here and there, and gamma was a little brighter than we would want in the lower reaches of the image, so some shadows did look a little lighter and washed out than we would like. But for the majority of our viewing, sitting straight on the TV, we had no issues with the image quality on offer when it came to colour accuracy and greyscale.
Within certain scenes the Hisense 55U7A was able to display a very cinematic image with Blu-ray, with excellent detail and sharpness and good motion. Ultra HD material also looked great with the 4K resolution showing up the best of this TV with Planet Earth II. With lush greens and vibrant colours of the Jungles, the U7A did an excellent job of conveying the stunning cinematography on show. Only with the more challenging darker, at night scene did the Hisense start to struggle with a lack of contrast, but overall the 55U7A is very good with SDR content.
Our only real complaints are with HDR content as mentioned above, but given the price point we are talking about, there are very few TVs that can offer up anything much better. At least here there is no issue with highlight clipping as it is unable to get anywhere close enough to the brightness required for that to be a problem, instead we get a slightly brighter image than the SDR Rec.709 on offer, that has a consistent APL level and just lacks dynamic range and wide colour saturation. That doesn’t make the images on offer with 4K Blu-ray unwatchable; it’s just not HDR in any real sense. You still get the resolution and colours that are more towards Rec.709 than P3, but with such a stable image you can still enjoy your 4K discs and streaming shows with a decent cinematic look that just lacks the pop of TVs further up the ladder. You need to spend quite a bit more to get HDR that truly pops and it is not true that all LCD TVs are bright and good for High Dynamic Range.
U7A Video Review
- Decent SDR out of the box picture quality
- Good calibrated SDR performance
- Good input lag for gaming
- Excellent build quality
- Intuitive Smart TV system
- Good amount of streaming apps on offer in 4K HDR
- Great value for money
- Lacklustre HDR performance with a lack of brightness
- Narrow viewing angles
- Could be more accurate out of the box
- Only two HDMI 2.0 inputs
Hisense H55U7AUK 4K TV Review
However what the Hisense does offer is good value for money and a TV that is likely to manage all your normal living room tasks of gaming, TV shows and movies in HD and Rec.709 colour. It will display 4K from streaming services and 4K Blu-rays, but with the restricted performance with HDR to be expected at the price point. That doesn’t mean that the picture on offer is terrible, far from it. We get excellent resolution, motion and very reasonable colour, just not a wide gamut. We also get a brighter and balanced image with HDR material, just without the peak highlights and deep blacks adding that POP the more expensive models can muster. But you also don’t get the issues with blown out extremely bright highlights and instead it’s a bit more balanced. As a compromise and looking at what the vast majority of the Hisense customers at this price point will be watching on it, this TV manages real value for money when set up correctly.
The U7A is a solid TV with very good HD image quality, excellent build quality, useful features and a solid and stable smart TV system which offers most of the major applications in 4K as well. We also know that Hisense does listen to feedback from users and reviewers and we look forward to seeing how they improve things going forward, especially with HDR. And that is the only real weak point here with the 55U7A, although admittedly that will only affect a small section of the market, for now.
So given all that we have found within our review and managing expectations at this level of the market, we definitely feel that if your budget can’t go any higher, you should certainly demo the Hisense H55U7AUK and it comes with a recommendation.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
SDR Picture Quality
HDR Picture Quality
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box
Picture Quality Calibrated
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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